Weird, Wonderful…and Definitely Memorable!

SLOFILMFESTEVENTFinalEditsFrancescaLeePhotography32of66.jpgLast night’s fundraising event at the Palm Theatre and Hotel SLO was everything we hoped it would be …and more! Special guest Steve Young entertained us with his funny and heart-felt documentary, and then followed up with rare and completely bizarre movies with musical tributes to things like Purina Dog Chow, “high tech” toilets, and the many uses of silicone in a love story that was as troubling as it was touching! To see wonderful photos of the evening by Francesca Rodriguez, click here!

SLOFILMFESTEVENTFinalEditsFrancescaLeePhotography23of66.jpgThank you to all who supported this event – from major sponsors, to silent auction donors, to attendees and volunteers! And thanks to Hotel SLO for hosting only a month after opening to the public. It is quite an amazing addition to the heart of downtown SLO, only steps from the Palm Theatre, SLO Rep, great restaurants, bars and stores.

Stay tuned for news in the coming months about the March 2020 SLO Film Fest. We are actively looking for film and event sponsors now, so please contact us if you’re interested. And festival passes are all discounted until the end of the year – and they make great gifts!

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

The Wild and Scenic Film Festival is coming…and other news


Wild and Scenic Film Festival is coming to the Central Coast!

Central Coast State Parks Association (CCSPA) invites you to join them as they host their third annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival, September 14-22. This year’s Festival features a fantastic lineup of films and activities to inspire film enthusiasts, families, and lovers of the outdoors.

Last year, 300+ filmgoers attended films over three nights. This year, they are expanding the Festival with a gala “Butterfly Ball,” a screening at the Fremont Theater (with an after-party at SLO Brew), and a family film afternoon at the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History.

Check out the film schedule, early bird tickets are still available till August 31st, you can purchase them here.

Historic Octagon Barn – Grand Opening – September 21st

Join The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County in celebrating the Grand Opening of the Octagon Barn Center. This free all-day event will be followed by a ticketed concert in the barn. The Shawn Clark Family Band will delight attendees with “music from the heartland.” Beer, wine and food will be available for purchase. Click here for for more info

SLO Film Festival Submissions – Early Bird Deadline, September 9th


Filmmakers, take advantage of our early bird submission deadline September 9th, all submissions are now being submitted through Film Freeway.

Become a Sponsor for the SLO Film Fest 2020

The festival will be here before you know it! Sponsoring our festival is crucial to helping us to continue to provide and bring films and the filmmakers from around the world to San Luis Obispo. We offer a number of sponsorship opportunities with amazing festival perks, so what are you waiting for? Become a sponsor today!

See you at the movies!

Skye McLennan
SLO Film Fest Associate Director

Great filmmaker reviews for the SLO Film Fest!

We are very proud to announce that our festival has ranked as one of the Top 100 Best Reviewed Festivals on FilmFreeway for the month of July!

According to reviews from real FilmFreeway users, our festival ranks in the top 1.5% of more than 8,000 film festivals and creative contests around the world.

FilmFreeway is the website that filmmakers from around the world use to submit their new films to a wide range of festivals around the globe. Click here to see our listing and read the reviews!

We’re especially proud to be in the company of 99 other amazing festivals that help independent film continue to thrive. As we say at the SLO Film Fest, Movies Matter!

We are accepting new films now for our March 2020 Festival, and our first early-bird deadline is coming up in early September. Click here to find out more about our competition rules and deadlines.

Stay tuned for news coming soon about some fun Fall Movie Events, 2020 Festival Passes and more!

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

SLO Film Fest is open for 2020 film submissions, SoCreate contest and news about Transformations!

The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival is gearing up for an epic 2020, and we’re ready to start accepting new film submissions from filmmakers all over the world. We’re searching for the very best new films of all lengths and genres, and have three different competition categories to submit to.

The George Sidney Independent Film Competition is open to all filmmakers and we typically choose about 35 short films and 35 feature-length documentary and narrative features. These Official Selections are screened three times during the 6-day festival and are eligible for cash prizes, as well as audience awards.

The Central Coast Filmmaker Showcase is open to filmmakers who live in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara or Monterey Counties. About 15 short and feature-length films are selected and will be screened on Wednesday, March 18, with a Red Carpet reception happening that evening as well. Those films are eligible for awards presented on the festival’s closing night, March 22.

To find out more about all competition rules, deadlines and fees, click here.

To submit to either of these categories, please go to Film Freeway and submit soon to take advantage of our early-bird fees.

Finally, the Filmmakers of Tomorrow Showcase is for youth filmmakers, 18 yrs old and younger. You can find all the rules for that competition by clicking here.

A local San Luis Obispo company is working on a new way for people of all ages to transform your amazing stories into scripts. Before you know it, you’ll be writing your very own movie, TV show, theatrical play, or YouTube masterpiece. It’ll be that easy.

And right now they have a cool promotion happening! Enter the SoCreate “So, Write Your Bills Away” Sweepstakes through July 12! One lucky winner will receive $3000 a month for three months to write a screenplay! For more information, click here and enter!

If you were lucky enough to catch TRANSFORMATIONS at our last festival, you’ll know what an inspiring and beautiful documentary it was…another great film from Alonso Mayo. He is excited to announce that it is now available to stream (at no cost), so watch and share!

Every year in Lawrence, Kansas, Brandon Eisman (aka “Deja Brooks”) teams up with other area drag queens to turn local women into divas for a pageant-style charity gala. But this year, Deja is only accepting local men who are “man enough” to discover what it means to go full drag. 39 min. USA
Director: Alonso Mayo / Producer: Nina Leidersdorff
Watch Trailer

Watch entire movie:

Stay tuned for more news coming soon. We are currently working on some changes that we think you’ll like and 2020 Festival Passes will go on sale in late August!

Enjoy the summer and stay cool if you can! Movie theatres are a great place to do that…and of course, the popcorn’s always better!
See you at the movies!
Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director


SLO Film Fest updates! Looking for screeners and Surf film alert

Happy June! We are staying busy working on ways to make our 26th Annual SLO Film Fest better than ever, and I look forward to sharing some exciting news and changes with you in the not-too-distant future.

Meanwhile, we are now accepting applications from anyone interested in being a “screener” for the 2020 SLO Film Festival. A volunteer screener watches a variety of films that are submitted to our festival by filmmakers from all over the world, and their evaluations are used to determine which films are ultimately chosen for the festival.

This is a time commitment and we are changing the procedures a bit this year, so please read the ‘fine print’ on the application form to be sure this is for you! Unfortunately we won’t be able to choose everyone and we are aiming for a very diverse group of screeners, so please don’t be disappointed if you aren’t selected this year…even if you have been a screener for past festivals.

Experienced screeners and newbies are welcome to apply and all screeners must complete the application form. Please open this form: 2020 Screener Application, fill it in and email it to no later than June 30th. We’ll be in touch a few weeks later to let you know if you’ve been selected. Some will start right away, and some won’t start until early fall. We are creating a video tutorial that will accompany the screening instructions.

In other news, the Downtown Centre Cinemas is screening a special Fathom presentation of HEAVY WATER on Thursday, June 13 at 7:00 and 9:20pm.

Big wave surfer Nathan Fletcher traces his lineage back to his grandfather, one of the pioneers of Oahu’s North Shore. Fletcher and other fellow surf and skateboard legends share insights from the pursuit of their passion. A voyage through the eyes of the surfing community that delves into the mid-set of the board sports culture and its roots, culminating in a spectacular, never-before-performed stunt, which once again raises the bar of what is possible. This one night only event features behind the scenes look at the making of the Acid Drop.

Stay tuned for more updates coming soon…and stay cool!

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
Festival Director

FUNNY STORY and SLO Film Fest review

Two years ago, we were lucky to add a great new comedy, FUNNY STORY, to our festival right after its premiere at Slamdance! We are excited for director Michael Gallagher and his charming cast as they present their theatrical release starting today in Los Angeles! It’s also available to stream on iTunes. Please help spread the word and support independent filmmaking at its best! For tickets and more information, click here!

READ ALL ABOUT filmmaker Colette Freedman’s first experience at the SLO Film Fest in MovieMaker Magazine’s Festival Beat: “Intimate Guest Appearances, Lively Panels, and Eats Aplenty at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival”


SLO Film Fest welcomes new staff and board members!


San Luis Obispo, CA (May 23, 2019) – The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival is excited to announce the addition of a key staff member and two new board members to its growing organization.

Skye McLennan joins the festival as an Associate Director and will work closely with Festival Director Wendy Eidson, the board and other staff members.

“I am thrilled to welcome Skye to the Festival team and look forward to working with her. She brings a wealth of festival experience, new ideas and a youthful perspective to our organization as we continue to grow into an important regional festival,” said Wendy Eidson. “We all recognize how important it is to bring in people with enthusiasm and innovation to keep an organization fresh and relevant.”

Skye McLennan grew up in Templeton, CA and went on receive her degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University. She also studied TV Documentary in Denmark at the Danish School of Media and Journalism.  A dual citizen of Australia and the United States, after college she moved to Sydney, Australia and worked extensively in film production design on short films, features, advertisements, music videos and documentaries.

She became involved in film festivals in high school. Her first volunteer position was with the SLO Film Festival. Over the next ten years she went on to work with major film festivals including the Sydney, Sundance, Tribeca and San Francisco International Film Festivals.  Since moving back to SLO County, she has been involved in the wine industry in both marketing and winemaking. In 2017, she launched her own rosé label, Magic Hour Rosé. She brings extensive marketing, programming and operational experience to the SLO Film Festival and looks forward to helping the festival continue to grow and flourish.

“As a local of San Luis Obispo County, I look forward to giving back to my community and working alongside Festival Director, Wendy Eidson to provide an incredible festival to fellow cinema lovers,” Skye McLennan said.

The Festival also welcomes two new board members, Janice Rohn and David Hardberger, both residents of Los Osos.

Janice Rohn is an executive leader and expert in high tech and a pioneer in the field of User Experience. She began her career at Stanford University, working on artificial intelligence, before joining Apple to design products and to help to create the Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines. She then moved into building and leading teams responsible for designing digital interfaces for AT&T, Experian, and many other companies. Janice has contributed to many design standards and holds design patents. She teaches courses worldwide, and is known for her expertise on a variety of topics, including design, product management, and organizational strategies.

Janice has been a resident of the Central Coast for almost 20 years. She has been attending the SLO Film Fest for over 10 years, and has also studied film production. Janice is excited to be joining the talented team of Board members and staff.

David Hardberger’s career has spanned several decades starting in the Universal Studios Optical Department. He worked on visual effects such films as CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, BLADERUNNER, STAR TREK – THE MOTION PICTURE, SPACEBALLS, STAR TREK – WRATH OF KHAN and the first film of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. His other work includes camera technician for the ShowScan process, a unit manager for two small features and a live action cameraman and second unit DP on several feature films.

David is a voting member of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. More recently, he has written and directed two short films that were filmed in the San Luis Obispo area. He lives in Los Osos with his wife, Maggie, who works as a production accountant on independent films, and their two cats.

More good news from the SLO Film Fest!

With an increasing number of film festivals popping up around the Central Coast, we are very happy to announce that the New Times has deemed the SLO Film Fest as the BEST FILM FESTIVAL of SLO County!

Pick up this week’s issue to see this honor in print or click here to see who else their readers chose as 2019 Best!

And speaking of other SLO County film festivals, there are two community events we thought you might want to know about…

SLO Motion Film and The Fremont Theater are proud to present: A Night of Patagonia Films – May 18th, 2019, at the historic Fremont Theater.

SLO Motion is a new film organization in San Luis Obispo, dedicated to building community through engaging experiences and films.  Valuing environmental activism, adventure, and community, SLO Motion sees film as the medium that anchors them all together.

On May 18th, 2019, four exciting Patagonia films highlighting mountain biking (Life of Pie), skiing (Treeline), running (Wolfpack), and surfing (Fishpeople), will showcase the connection between adventure and the environment and will feature a Q&A with surf legend Keith Malloy, director of Fishpeople.

Pre-sale ickets are available at BooBoo Records or at

Saturday, May 18th, 2019 – Fremont Theater
Tickets General Admission: $21
Tickets Students and Seniors: $19
Doors open 7:00pm
Feature Presentation 8:00pm with Keith Malloy Q&A to follow

For more information, visit or follow us on Instagram @slomotionfilm, Facebook @SLOmotionfilm

Attention Local Filmmakers!

CCSPA is a nonprofit organization supporting our local State Parks. They’re hosting the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, September 14-22, 2019. They are seeking submissions of short (<30 min.) films by local filmmakers to be shown during the Festival.

They’re looking for films which are environmentally focused / conservation minded, and relevant to the Central Coast. Some potential topics might include:

  • Programs, docents or volunteers in our local State Parks
  • Indigenous people and/or culture of the Central Coast
  • Issues related to local wildlife
  • Highlighting activities taking place on public lands from Ragged Point to Oso Flaco Lake

Sound intriguing? They want to hear from you! Email Alissa Maddren: events@centralcoastparks.orgor call (805) 548-0390.


SLO Film Fest announces 2020 dates and is on “the list” again!

We are already planning for our 26th Annual SLO Film Fest in 2020 and have determined the dates for next year’s festival.

The Festival will open on Tuesday, March 17 and close on Sunday, March 22. Festival passes will go on sale in late May with early-bird discounts, so stay tuned for more announcements coming soon.

Meanwhile, we are thrilled to announce that we have been listed by MovieMaker Magazine for the fifth time as one of the “50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.” The entry fee refers to the fee that filmmakers pay to submit films to festivals worldwide, and this coveted list includes great festivals from coast to coast in North America as well as a number of international festivals too. We are in excellent company and are very proud of this distinction. Here’s what MovieMaker Magazine has to say about our festival:

The SLO Film Festival is centered around its Hospitality Lounge, where moviemakers, press, and VIP passholders can mingle. Food and drink (from local breweries and wineries) is available, and the venue also hosts musical performances and weekend breakfast panels. Each moviemaker is assigned a volunteer Filmmaker Concierge. Festival Director Wendy Eidson says, “These volunteers make sure each guest knows when and where their screenings are happening, answer any questions, and generally ensure their guests are comfortable and content.”

To read the full article, click here!

Thanks again to all our loyal supporters, from attendees to sponsors to volunteers and filmmakers …you are all a big part of our success and we look forward to another great festival in March 2020!

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

SLO Film Fest Wraps Up Another Record-Breaking Festival!


Ashley Bell – “Love and Bananas”

San Luis Obispo, CA (April 3, 2019) – The 2019 San Luis Obispo Film Festival announced impressive audience and sponsorship growth numbers following the conclusion of the 25th Anniversary edition of the film festival two weeks ago on March 17. Winners of their jury awards for the popular film festival included Jesus del Cerro’s HAWAII (Best Narrative Feature) and Delila Vallot’s SATAN AND ADAM (Best Documentary Feature). Audience Award winners were topped by Benedikt Erlingsson’s WOMAN AT WAR*, chosen as Best Narrative Feature, Aaron Lieber’s UNSTOPPABLE: BETHANY HAMILTON, Best Documentary Feature, and Ashley Bell’s LOVE & BANANAS taking the Best of Fest award.

*San Luis Obispo County audiences can see WOMAN AT WAR at the Palm Theatre starting on April 5th!

Attendance and pass sales rose sharply by 15% and sponsorships were up 18% for the 2019 edition of the film festival.

The George Sidney Independent Film Awards took place on Saturday, March 16 preceding the presentation of SLO’s King Vidor Award to critically acclaimed character actor Alfred Molina. The festival’s Student Filmmaker Awards and Audience Awards were announced the following evening.

“While the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival has been on an upward trajectory as far as the number of audience members have been concerned for a few years now, this year’s response was seriously off the charts,” said San Luis Obispo Film Festival Director, Wendy Eidson. “There are lot of areas that one could chalk that up to, but we all know that it begins and ends with the quality of our films, and our award winners certainly exemplified a very fine year as far as that was concerned.”

Filmmakers Ryan Suffern, Lauren Schwartzman and Hammad Rizvi.

Additional winners in the George Sidney Independent Film Awards category included a tie in the Best Narrative Short category between Jason Maza’s THE LITTLE PRINCESS and Hammad Rizvi’s RANI. Best Documentary Short Film went to Leslie Iwerks’ SELLING LIES, and Lauren Schwartman’s DUST RISING won Best Student Film. The short films chosen for Audience Award nods were Nate Duncan’s THE INTERVIEW (Best Narrative Short Film), and Morgan Elliot’s BAND GEEKS (Best Documentary Short Film).

Chris Metzler – “Rodents of Unusual Size”

Winners of the Central Coast Filmmaker Awards were: Seanie Sugrue’s MISTY BUTTON (Best Narrative Feature), Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer, and Quinn Costello’s RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE (Best Documentary Feature); Dale Griffiths Stamos’ THE DINNER GUEST (Best Narrative Short Film); Alex Astrella’s TRIAL BY FIRE (Best Documentary Short Film); Ellen Osborne’s REBOOT (Best Animated Film), and Carlos Plummer’s BECOMING RICH (Best Student Film).

Sunday also featured awards given to the top high school and middle school students whose films screened in SLO’s Filmmakers of Tomorrow Showcase. Best Individual Achievement went to Kylia MaMure’s THE SIGHT YOU GAVE (High School), and Isabella Masrouga’s NEVER ENOUGH (Middle School), and

Carlos Plummer – “Becoming Rich”

Bo Yu Lin, and Shuo-Heng Li’s HI SIRI – OH NO – ITS MOM. The film chosen for Best Group Achievement was Brendan Hickey, Rachel Warshaw, and Claire Kikenny TAKEOUT, Emmet Arries’ BACKYARD WILDLIFE took The Wild World We Love Award (Pacific Wildlife Care Award), Riley Stewart won Best Film in SLO County with THE COMPLEX, Max Shoham’s HEARTH was named Best Animated Film, and Nina Rafique’s GROWTH won the Festival Directors Award for Creativity.

The Malibu Coast Silent Film Orchestra and Katharine Ross dazzled the Opening Night audience at the Fremont Theatre.

Kicking off the film festival was a special Opening Night event, “An Evening with Katharine Ross” at the Fremont Theatre, where Ross delighted the crowd with a performance reading from the true story from Margaret K. Wetterer’s “Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express,” accompanied by the Malibu Coast Silent Film Orchestra. As if that wasn’t enough, Ross then participated in a conversation about her acting career in a number of classic and beloved films before introducing a 50th Anniversary screening of BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID.

“Creature of the Black Lagoon” audiences enjoyed vintage 3D cinema.

Highlights of the Festival included world premieres of Dina Mande’s wine country documentary TIN CITY, and Guillermo García López’s thought provoking DELICATE BALANCE. Rodrigo Bernardo’s romantic comedy MAYBE A LOVE STORY, and Meaghan and Marie Wright’s documentary THE SOCIAL SHIFT, both made their U.S. premieres at the SLO Film Fest this year, and the filmmakers for each film were on hand for the debuts to talk about their films. The SLO Film Fest’s 25thAnniversary was celebrated with filmmakers returning to SLO for screenings of LIVES WELL LIVED (Sky Bergman), PLAGUES AND PLEASURES ON THE SALTON SEA (Chris Metzler), and BOTSO (Tom Walters). Other special presentations includeda 3-D presentation of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954), and a MARY POPPINS (1964) Sing-along, which continued a SLO tradition that started in 2000.

Surf Nite special guests Shawn Tomson, Dane Gudauskas, Graham Nash, Rod Torr and Rick Wall

The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival’s hugely popular “Surf Nite,” packed them in once again at the Fremont Theatre, featuring CAN’T STEAL OUR VIBE by Graham Nash, and SATORI, directed by Cape Town’s Rick Wall. Legendary South African surfers Shawn Tomson and Peter Townend were also in attendance.

Ben Mankiewicz and Alfred Molina sharing a laugh.

King Vidor Award honoree Alfred Molina charmed, entertained, and provided belly laughs for the crowd that came out to see the presentation of his award and conversation with Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz. Molina then attended the SLO Film Fest after party at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, where he met several film fans, took photos, and proved himself to be not simply an amazing actor, but quite the ambassador of film, as well.

You can watch most of the entertaining conversation between Ben Mankiewicz and Alfred Molina on YouTube! Video by Kyle & Carlos Plummer .

Hannah Marks chatted with Jenelle Riley on Closing Night.

Closing Night featured the presentation of San Luis Obispo native 25-year-old Hannah Marks’ directorial debut, AFTER EVERYTHING. Following the screening, Marks, who was named one of Rolling Stone’s 25 under 25 Artists Changing the World, discussed the film and her impressive young career with Variety’s Jenelle Riley.

2019 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival Jury

Colette Freedman – Novelist/Playwright/Screenwriter (QUALITY PROBLEMS, AND THEN THERE WAS EVE)
Karen Garcia – Journalist (San Luis Obispo New Times)
Kirk Honeycutt – Author/Film Critic/Journalist
Paul Lichtman – Producer/Screenwriter/Actor (SOPHIE’S CHOICE, Barney Miller, Mary Tyler Moore)
Terry Lichtman – Retired Talent Agent
Jenelle Riley – Journalist/Celebrity Host (Variety)
Tom Walters – Writer/Producer/Director (BOTSO)
Caleb Wiseblood – Journalist (San Luis Obispo New Times)

The 2019 San Luis Obispo Film Festival Award Winners:


HAWAII – Best Narrative Feature
Director: Jesus del Cerro

SATAN AND ADAM – Best Documentary Feature
Director: Delila Vallot

THE LITTLE PRINCESS – Best Narrative Short Film (TIE)
Director: Jason Maza

RANI – Best Narrative Short Film (TIE)
Director/Writer: Hammad Rizvi

SELLING LIES – Best Documentary Short Film
Director: Leslie Iwerks

DUST RISING – Best Student Film
Director: Lauren Schwartman


WOMAN AT WAR– Best Narrative Feature
Director: Benedikt Erlingsson
San Luis Obispo County audiences can see this film at the Palm Theatre starting on April 5th!

Director: Aaron Lieber

LOVE & BANANAS – Best in the Fest
Director: Ashley Bell

THE INTERVIEW – Best Narrative Short Film
Director: Nate Duncan

BAND GEEKS – Best Documentary Short Film
Director: Morgan Elliott


MISTY BUTTON – Best Narrative Feature
Director:: Seanie Sugrue

RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE – Best Documentary Feature
Directors: Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer, Quinn Costello

THE DINNER GUEST – Best Narrative Short Film
Director: Dale Griffiths Stamos

TRIAL BY FIRE – Best Documentary Short Film
Director: Alex Astrella

REBOOT– Best Animated Short Film
Director: Ellen Osborne

BECOMING RICH – Best Student Film
Director: Carlos Plummer


THE SIGHT YOU GAVE– Best Individual Achievement (High School)
Director: Kylia MaMure / Orange County, CA

NEVER ENOUGH– Best Individual Achievement (Middle School)
Director: Isabella Masrouga / Los Angeles, CA

HI SIRI – OH NO – ITS MOM – Best Individual Achievement (Elementary School)
Directors: Bo Yu Lin, Shuo-Heng Li / Taipei, Taiwan

TAKEOUT– Best Group Achievement
Directors: Brendan Hickey, Rachel Warshaw, Claire Kikenny / Seattle, WA

BACKYARD WILDLIFE– The Wild World We Love Award (Pacific Wildlife Care Award)
Director: Emmet Arries / Atascadero, CA

THE COMPLEX – Best Film – San Luis Obispo Country
Director: Riley Stewart / Arroyo Grande, CA

HEARTH– Best Animated Film
Director: Max Shoham / Toronto, Ontario, Canada

GROWTH– Festival Directors Award for Creativity
Director: Nina Rafique / Toronto, Ontario, Canada