SLO Film Festival Featured in MovieMaker Magazine

“The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival was one of the countless public gatherings that changed its plans because of COVID-19 — but it didn’t cancel them. Instead, it went online, becoming one of a growing number of temporarily online film festivals.

“I doubted that many filmmakers would agree to sharing movies in this public way, but decided it was worth asking,” SLO festival director Wendy Eidson told MovieMaker. “I put together an email to all the filmmakers and got an amazingly positive response almost instantly.”

The festival, in an idyllic town is Coastal California, may be a model at a time when many film festivals — from the cancelled SXSW to the postponed Tribeca and Cannes — decide the best way forward. Several are making the best of things with pivots to online, for the time being.” (From MovieMaker Magazine)

Read more here:

Announcing our 2020 Festival Winners

Cancelling the 2020 SLO Film Fest only 5 days before our opening night was a very difficult thing to do. But we are very fortunate in a way. Unlike other festivals that don’t have an online option, we’ve been able to share many of the festival films with pass holders this week. We’ll also continue to share the news as many of the of this year’s movies are released on various online platforms in the coming months.

It’s not ideal. We know that the personal experience of a film festival cannot be duplicated, but at least we’ve found a temporary way for the show to go on!

Needless to say, we’re very happy and proud to present a virtual Awards Ceremony this year as well…and a very international one too!

It was very gratifying to hear so many of our judges this year say what an amazing mix of films we had and how difficult it was to come up with a winner in each category. So, at the risk of sounding a bit corny, I want to stress that ALL of the festival films are winners this year simply because they were official selections in each of the competition categories. The winning films scored the highest points with the judges, but all of our filmmakers should be proud that they were worthy competitors in an outstanding year of festival films.

Let’s have a big round of applause for our 2020 filmmakers, and this year’s winning films!

Congratulations to all!

Wendy, Skye and the entire SLO Film Fest team

PS: Please take some time to watch and read the lovely acceptance speeches sent from around the world. They are a great reminder of why we do this. Movies Matter!

A St. Patrick’s Day Greeting from the SLO Film Fest

Ironically, we were trying to not focus on St. Patrick’s Day for this year’s Opening Night and instead had decided on a Nashville theme.

But now that March 17th is finally here, all I really want to share with you are these lighthearted St. Paddy’s themed videos – and the promise that we’ll be back in 2021!

Award-winning films in George Sidney, Central Coast and Filmmakers of Tomorrow competitions will be announced on our website on Sunday at 6pm

Stay safe, healthy and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

See you at the movies…bye and bye!

Wendy and the SLO Film Fest clan

PS. While you’re stuck at home, please enjoy some wonderful free films from our new sponsor MUBI!(Below)
And if you’re interested in watching a selection of our Festival films from today through Sunday, you must be a festival pass holder. A limited number of Movie Fanatic passes are still available and will give you special access. Click here to purchase.

We’ve partnered with our friends at MUBI to give you a free month of great cinema. With this curated streaming service, you’ll have access to an ever-changing collection of beautiful, interesting, and incredible films. All hand-picked by their curators. It’s like your own personal film festival – streaming anytime, anywhere. To claim 30 days free, visit

SLO FILM FESTIVAL 2020 Has Been Cancelled

As of this morning, the San Luis Obispo Public Health agency, in accordance with State health guidelines surrounding the impacts of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 has asked that the SLO Film Fest be cancelled. We are incredibly sad to have to now convey this news but the March 17-22 will not be happening as scheduled.

We will begin the process of working with filmmakers to find new ways to share variations of the festival’s program in the future, when it is safe to do so.
On behalf of our staff, volunteers, sponsors, vendors and many more who have been working hard for many months to present what was set to be our biggest and best festival ever. It is truly heart-breaking but we know this is the right plan of action at this time. We appreciate the love and support we get from our community and appreciate your patience as we sort out the aftermath and determine the best way forward. There will definitely be ways to share some of these exceptional films with our audiences.

Like many non-profit organizations and small businesses, these developments will deeply impact SLO Film Fest creating a significant financial loss. For that reason, we are requesting that festival-goers please consider converting their festival pass and ticket purchase into a donation. However, all 2020 passes will be honored for next year. 

Individual tickets will be offered a voucher good for a future event or the next edition of the film festival. We will be in contact with all patrons over the course of the next few weeks to offer more details regarding ticketing.

We appreciate everyone’s patience as the organization navigates this difficult time. Any questions can be sent to

Thank you,


SLO Film Fest adds special guests for Sundance Hit DINNER IN AMERICA

We are very excited to announce that the stars of Adam Carter Rehmeier’s DINNER IN AMERICA, Kyle Gallner and Emily Skeggs, have just been confirmed to attend next week’s film festival. Rehmeier’s audacious crowd-pleasing comedy stars Gallner as an on-the-lam punk rocker who connects with a young woman (played by Toni-nominated Skeggs) obsessed with his band. They go on an unexpected and epic journey together through the decaying suburbs of the American Midwest. The film features a cast of favorites including Pat Healy, Hannah Marks, Jennifer Prediger, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Lea Thompson. 

Marks, who stars in the Closing Night selection, Benjamin Kasulke’s BANANA SPLIT, will also join Rehmeier, Gallner, and Skeggs, for the Sunday, March 22 screening at 4:00PM at the Fremont, for what promises to be a very entertaining post-screening Q&A.

The 26th Annual SLO Film Fest will wrap up with an awards celebration for Central Coast Filmmakers, Youth Filmmakers of Tomorrow and the coveted Audience Awards, to be presented by Festival sponsors. Following the awards will be a screening of BANANA SPLIT.

BANANA SPLIT, directed by Benjamin Kusulke, stars Hannah Marks, Dylan Sprouse, Liana Liberato and Luke Spencer Roberts in a comedy about two high school senior girls who develop the perfect kindred spirit friendship with just one little problem: one of them is dating the other’s ex.
Comedy | 88 min. | PG-13.

Presented by Paco y Amigos and City of SLO
Also Sponsored by Coast 104.5

Sunday, March 22 – Screens with PASO: A GOODBYE STORY
6pm | Awards
7pm | Movie + Q&A Fremont Theater, SLO


Last year was our first year at SLO Brew Rock, quickly becoming one of the hottest venues in town. The Rock features fantastic food on site, a full bar, and a new distillery, Rod & Hammer’s SLO Stills where you can taste spirits cut with Pacific Ocean! Check out just a small preview of our amazing line-up at The Rock!

Vertical Harvest (VH) is a highly innovative but risky experiment in growing crops and providing meaningful employment for people with disabilities. Plants and people grow together in this intimate portrait of one community’s attempt to address timely and pressing issues around local food production, inclusion and opportunity.


A visually beautiful film that offers a recipe for tolerance and hope. Combining Arab and Jewish chefs and asking them to collaborate on mouthwatering local dishes. Film is paired with Middle Eastern appetizers.


An on-the-lam punk rocker and a young woman obsessed with his band unexpectedly fall in love and go on an epic journey together through America’s decaying Midwestern suburbs. Recently premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2020.

A man on the verge of a promotion goes out to celebrate and takes a mysterious hallucinogenic drug that begins to tear down his reality and expose his life for what it really is. This complex story, which drags star Justin Long (TuskLive Free or Die Hard) through some unconventional hardships, keeps you guessing. 

Did you know?
Our Newbie pass is good for the SLO Brew Rock and Fremont Theatre!  It can be used by one person for four regular screenings, or by four people for one! Or any combination that adds up to 4 uses. Only $40!

Make sure to grab your Opening Night: Nashville Comes to SLO tickets soon as these are selling fast!  Pre-sale tickets for Surf Nite are no longer available, but you can potentially purchase tickets at the door, we suggest arriving early!

In regards to COVID-19, we are still currently planning to continue the festival as scheduled.  Please read our current statement here.

Movies Matter!

Wendy Eidson & Skye McLennan
SLO Film Fest Director & Associate Director

Update on Coronavirus impact at SLO FILM FESTIVAL

We wanted to provide you an update on our upcoming SLO Film Festival 2020. Currently we are proceeding as scheduled, March 17th – 22nd. We are monitoring the situation daily in our county and speaking directly with our venues, board and staff to ensure our festival is a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

According to the SLO County Health Department there are no known cases of Coronavirus in the County and we are currently at low risk. But we encourage all patrons to take precautionary measures which include regular hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you are ill.

For more information about the outbreak please refer to the CDC website

We are committed to making our festival a safe place for our patrons and during the festival we will be taking measures to ensure the safety of our volunteers, patrons and visiting guests. We are also speaking directly with traveling filmmakers to ensure that they make the best decisions in everyone’s interest. None are traveling from outside North America however.

We want you to know how much we appreciate you and appreciate your being patient as we navigate the next two weeks.  Thank you for supporting us and we are still very excited to put on an amazing program for you.

If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at

Thank you,


From Farm to Table

We have a number of films this year that focus on sustainable farming, agriculture and more! These are increasingly popular and important topics that we are pleased to share with our audiences so we can all find new ways to be more sustainable and eco-conscious.

Experience the magic of the Octagon Barn with a sneak peak of the PBS series, WALKIN’ CALIFORNIA and an episode that features our own local Pismo Preserve, a recent Land Conservancy project. Then enjoy the beautiful, multi-award winning documentary THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM which chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature. 

Highlights also include a scrumptious BBQ dinner from Old San Luis BBQ, beer from Oak & Otter Brewing, hard kombucha from BoochcraftAND wine from two local sustainable wineries, Villa Creek & Tablas Creek.

Sponsored by:
The Land Conservancy of SLO County, The SLO Movie Group, Old San Luis BBQ and 98.1 KJUG, Tablas Creek, Villa Creek Cellars, Oak and Otter Brewing, Boochcraft

Thursday, March 19th – 5:30pm

Much of the food on our tables comes from the intrinsic act of pollinating the flowers that become the fruits, vegetables and nuts we eat. This cinematic journey around the United States follows migratory beekeepers and their truckloads of honey bees and notes the devastating loss of bee hives and the impact on our food supply.

Vertical Harvest (VH) is a highly innovative but risky experiment in growing crops and providing meaningful employment for people with disabilities. Plants and people grow together in this intimate portrait of one community’s attempt to address timely and pressing issues around local food production, inclusion and opportunity.

Filmmaker Steven Latham takes audiences on an odyssey throughout America to places few people have seen or even know about. Whether you’re a horse person or not, this film will make you fall in love with America all over again and understand why the protection of our wild horses and our public lands are worth fighting for. 

This film exposes the high cost of such cheap fish and the forces threatening local fishing communities and public health by revealing how our choices as consumers drive the global seafood trade. But it also talks about a new movement underway to return sustainability to both fish and fishermen.

Make sure to grab your Opening Night: Nashville Comes to SLO and Awards Night tickets soon as these are selling fast! 

In other news, we want you to know that we are closely monitoring the Coronavirus situation and speaking directly with local agencies and the County of San Luis Obispo.  Currently we are at low risk in San Luis Obispo, and at this time will continue to proceed with our scheduled festival. 

Movies Matter!

Wendy Eidson & Skye McLennan
SLO Film Fest Director & Associate Director

Added screenings of The Big Chill and Star Wars:The Empire Strikes Back!

We’re very excited to announce two additional screenings that honor our King Vidor recipient, Lawrence Kasdan.

A bittersweet reunion of 30-something college friends is both cathartic and revealing, when eight friends pour out their hearts after a funeral for one of their old pals. Amidst laughter, tears and a raucous dinner cooked in the big Southern house they’ve rented for the weekend, writer/director Lawrence Kasdan hits all the right notes while exploring the angst of a generation of college graduates who’ve moved on to adulthood and all its complexities.

Sponsored by Franklin M. Seiple, Architect

Saturday, March 21 
Downtown Centre Cinemas – 1:15pm

 “The Star Wars saga continues!” While the Death Star has been destroyed, the battle between the Empire and Rebel Alliance rages on…and the evil Darth Vader continues his relentless search for Luke Skywalker.

This was Lawrence Kasdan’s first Star Wars writing assignment in a series of sequels and is still considered by many the best of the entire blockbuster franchise. “The Empire Strikes Back isn’t just the best Star Wars film. As a piece of filmmaking, it’s all by itself.” Vulture – Every Star Wars MovieRanked, David Edelstein, 12/18/19.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see this epic classic on the Big Screen at the Fremont Theatre after an interview with screenwriter and 2020 King Vidor Award recipient Lawrence Kasdan, with TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz.

Saturday, March 21st
Fremont Theatre – 9pm
(Rush tickets available at the door)

Check out some of our Hollywood & Vines events! Movies paired with Food, Wine & More!

A visually beautiful film that offers a recipe for tolerance and hope. Combining Arab and Jewish chefs and asking them to collaborate on mouthwatering local dishes. Film is paired with Middle Eastern appetizers.

Come experience two local Paso Robles wine films featuring J. Dusi Winery and Eberle Winery. Between the films, there will be a Q&A with Adam Montiel of The Cork Dorks and tasting of wines in the lobby.

Travel to Japan for the day with a screening of local short documentary film MOCHITSUKI and feature THE STORY BEYOND A CUP OF SAKEIncludes with mochi and sake tastings 

Come and see the newly renovated historic dairy barn on the edge of SLO, and enjoy great
wines, beer and an Old San Luis BBQ dinner, followed by WALKIN’ CALIFORNIA: PISMO
and the highly acclaimed THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM.

Major Thanks to Loyal Sponsor

Downtown Centre Cinemas
The oldest existing theatre company in the western U.S., the roots of the Sanborn Theatres family business go all the way back to the beginning of the industry. After working in production on early movies in Hollywood, A.L. Sanborn first acquired a playhouse in 1919 that featured a pipe organ. In 1921, he opened the Rivoli in Southern CA, followed by the Rialto in 1923 and the El Monte that featured another novelty – air conditioning! Son Bruce got involved in the theatre company in 1989 and supervised the growth from 25 to 100 theatres, from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. In 1990, the company became The Movie Experience as it modernized seating and state of the art projection. In March 1994, the Downtown Centre Cinemas 7 opened and the Sanborn Family is honored to once again partner with the SLO Film Fest.

We are deeply saddened to hear about the devastation in Nashville. Our Nashville-themed Opening Night we will be celebrating the beauty and voices of Nashville. We will be accepting donations at our event for The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee #nashvillestrong

Movies Matter!

Wendy Eidson & Skye McLennan
SLO Film Fest Director & Associate Director

Get your Surf Nite tickets soon!

Surf Nite tickets are selling fast, so be sure to secure your tickets to our popular event! Don’t miss the chance to see Brent Storm’s award-winning WHITE RHINO with big wave surfer Dave Wassel traveling from Hawaii for the event. Surf photographer Brian Bielmann, director Brent Storm, producer/narrator Julie Romaniuk and producer Randy Olson all in attendance. Surf Nite will open with Santa Barbara filmmaker Heather Hudson’s new short documentary that about female surfing pioneer, Marge Calhoun. 93 – LETTERS FROM MARGE will be introduced by her colleague and surf legend, Linda Benson.
Presented by Surfing for Hope FoundationCity of Pismo Beach
Also Sponsored by Cliffs Hotel and Spa, Sea Venture, Sycamore Mineral Spring Resort, Apple Farm, Coast 104.5, and Quality Suites San Luis Obispo

Friday, March 20

Fremont Theatre – 7:00pm

Love the ocean? Check out our other water-centric films!

In an attempt to escape comfort, reconnect to the natural world and set a new bar for ocean adventure, SLO County residents and twin brothers Casey and Ryan Higginbotham decided to embark on a 2,200-mile paddle from Alaska to Mexico with 18 foot paddle boards. 
Sponsored by Pacific Eye Surgeons

Screens with short documentary WATERPROOF

This story by Born into Brothels director Ross Kauffman, dives deep into the lifeguards perspective of East Hampton and their crusade to create a safe swimming environment.
Sponsored by Anthony Peckham & Hilary Saner

Thursday, March 19
Fremont Theatre – 7:30pm

With never-before-seen footage from surfing’s Golden Age, and outtakes from some of surfing’s most well-known filmmakers, this is a story of craftsmanship, work ethic, renegades and tradition.
Sponsored by Surfing for Hope Foundation & the Nelson Family

Saturday, March 21
Bay Theater -11:00am
Screens with WATERPROOF

Major Thanks to Loyal Sponsors

The Cliffs Hotel and Spa,Sea Venture Beach Hotel, Sycamore Mineral Spring Resort, Apple Farm are proud to be longtime Major Sponsors of the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. These hotels offer truly unique accommodations, stellar amenities, and unforgettable memories.

Stay tuned for more exciting announcements!

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson & Skye McLennan
SLO Film Fest Director & Associate Director

Classic Mexican Cinema on the Big Screen…and more!

This newly remastered classic from the UCLA Archives can be seen on the Big Screen at the Fremont Theatre. Featuring 1930’s Cal Poly grad Pedro Armendáriz in the leading role, this is the story of a revolutionary soldier who falls into a difficult love affair in the town of Cholula. After the movie, Armendáriz will receive a posthumous award presented by Cal Poly president, Jeffrey Armstrong. A representative from the Los Angeles Mexican Consulate will accept the award on his behalf.

Saturday, March 21 – Fremont – 1:00pm
Sponsored by 
Latino Outreach Council

NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY with pre-reception at JUSTIN Downtown Tasting Room, 811 12th Street
At the JUSTIN Downtown Tasting Room on the park, a pre-movie reception will include their incredible wines and Mexican-themed appetizers. A short walk from there, the Park Cinemas will screen NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY, a wonderful whirlwind tour through the life and work of the 97-year-old cookbook author and environmental activist who has spent her life mastering Mexican cuisine.
Friday, March 20
Pre-party at 5:30pm, movie at 7pm

Sponsored by JUSTIN Winery & Vineyards & Jacqueline Frederick Law Firm 

Join us for a celebration of the unsung heroes of Nashville! We all hum their tunes. We know their words by heart. And we tell the story of our own lives through their art. Yet few of us know their names. This is a film about one of the most important and unknown forces in music: the Nashville songwriter.

After the movie, we’ll meet Nashville singer-songwriters, with Central Coast roots, Jude Johnstone and Jade Jackson. They’ll chat with the film’s director Chusy Jardine, about their personal experiences and entertain with a few of their original songs.

Tuesday, March 17
Opening Night Party at Luna Red      
It All Begins with a Song plus Q&A and performances by Jude Johnstone and Jade Jackson – Fremont Theater
Presented by French Hospital Medical Center
Also Sponsored by Luna RedNovoMint + Craft98.1 KJUG and Adamski Moroski Madden Cumberland and Green LLP

Major Thanks to Loyal Sponsor

New Times is San Luis Obispo County’s news and entertainment weekly. Celebrating over 30 years of publishing the largest circulated paper in the region; covering local news, politics, opinion, food, wine, arts, and entertainment each week. New Times is locally owned and operated in San Luis Obispo and is home to 55 Fiction, Best Of San Luis Obispo County Readers Poll, Winning Images Photography Contest, The New Times Music Awards, and the Shredder.

We have so many wonderful things to share with you over the next few weeks! Come by our Headquarters at Hotel San Luis Obispo (Entrance on Morro St) to pick up your program guide & passes!

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson & Skye McLennan
SLO Film Fest Director & Associate Director