SLO Film Fest 2018… still setting records!


The 24th Annual San Luis Obispo International Film Festival (SLO Film Fest) has had another successful year, beating previous records for attendance and ticket and pass sales. The annual cultural event, presented March 13-18 this year, has been steadily growing in popularity and reputation.

Just announced today, the SLO Film Fest has been included once again on the coveted “Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” list published by MovieMaker Magazine. This list guides filmmakers on their submission choices and has dramatically increased the Festival’s film submissions since it was first listed four years ago. Read all about it!

2018 Festival submissions once again broke records with 1100 films submitted. 34 features and 34 short films were selected for the George Sidney Independent Film Competition, and 26 films were selected for the Central Coast Filmmaker Showcase. The Filmmakers of Tomorrow youth competition was comprised of 22 films from all over the world.

Overall ticket and pass sales increased 11% over 2017. Festival attendance increased again by 9% this year to 12,500 admissions, and festival sponsorships increased by 35% over 2017.

Out of county attendance continues steady growth with more visitors, including festival filmmakers staying longer than they used to, spending an average of 3 nights in city and county hotels. Approximately 30% of the attendees come from outside San Luis Obispo County.

SLO Provisions and other great local restaurants, wineries and breweries were on hand in the Festival Tent on Awards Night.

The Festival had a more noticeable presence in downtown San Luis Obispo this year. The Festival Hospitality Tent was located in Mission Plaza and was the hub for networking, a number of parties with live entertainment, wine tasting, food catered by local restaurant Taste!, and weekend panels.

The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival opened with a large and enthusiastic crowd enjoying Shubhashish Bhutiani’s HOTEL SALVATION at the Fremont Theatre after continuing the Bollywood-themed evening under the SLO festival’s tent at the Mission steps with dancers from the Cal Poly Indian Student Association, party favors, Central Coast wine, beer and a mixture of savory Indian and American food.

Coast 104.5’s Adam Montiel hosted Surf Nite and a fun Q&A with Big Wave surfers & filmmakers.

However, that evening managed to pale in comparison to the raucous standing room only crowd that turned out for the festival’s signature “Surf Nite” also at the Fremont, featuring Tim Bonython’s latest film, THE BIG WAVE PROJECT and Ross Haines’s THE AGAVE GUN.

Other highlights included filmmaker panels featuring Spotlight Award honoree Robin Swicord, Nicholas Kazan (REVERSAL OF FORTUNE), Anthony Peckham (INVICTUS), Scott Budnick (THE HANGOVER), and others. Programming and events also highlighted women and female filmmakers, like the ironically-titled “Women Belong in the Kitchen,” where female chefs and restaurant owners competed in a “Chopped”-style competition, before the documentary A FINE LINE, about the rarity of women in commercial kitchens. LET IT SHINE, a film documenting the SLO Women’s March, and Jennifer Townsend’s CATCHING SIGHT OF THELMA & LOUISE, the 79-year-old first-time filmmaker’s in-depth look into the effects of that iconic film many years after its release, were screened among others.

Pam Grier entertained Ben Mankiewicz and the audience with amusing stories from her colorful career.

The SLO Film Fest was capped by the award presentations featuring two accomplished women in film, with Pam Grier receiving the King Vidor Award on Saturday night. She then participated in a lively conversation with Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz in which she regaled the SLO audience with stories including teaching Fellini how to make fried chicken, being thrown out of the Troubadour with John Lennon, and Quentin Tarantino stopping L.A. traffic to meet her.

The next evening, Robin Swicord received the Spotlight Award from Festival founder, Mary Harris and then spoke with Variety’sJenelle Riley about her career as a screenwriter in Hollywood.

The six day festival also included a series of films focused on the Beat Generation; a record number of films about wine, including the brand new documentary, ANDRE: THE VOICE OF WINE, with filmmaker Mark Tchelistcheff in attendance, as well as a movie event at Tolosa Winery to introduce their new Spanish wine.


The Festival also partnered with Cal Poly and Allan Hancock College to present a special screening of 2018 Oscar Documentary nominee, LAST MEN IN ALEPPO, with Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad in attendance for a memorable Q&A. Proceeds of more than $1400 were donated to the White Helmets, the heroic subjects of the documentary.

A record number of 143 screenings filled San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles and Morro Bay theatres with appreciative audiences, with all competition films screening three times this year. Winning films were played for four days after the Festival ended, at the Downtown Cinemas in SLO. To find out which films won awards, click here.

To watch the King Vidor Award presentation and conversation with Pam Grier, click here. Thanks to the YMCA Youth Institute filmmakers and Dan Hartzell for recording that entertaining evening for our archives!

Plans are already underway for the next SLO Film Fest, scheduled for March 12-17, 2019. Sponsor inquiries are welcome and the festival will be accepting new film submissions in July 2018. 2019 Festival Passes will go on sale in mid-May.

See you at the next one!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

Schedule of Winning Films now posted!

Congratulations to all the winners in the following competition categories. Winning film in the George Sidney, Central Coast and Audience Award categories will play this week, from Monday-Thursday at the Downtown Cinemas.

Festival passes WILL NOT be accepted, and there will not be filmmakers present. But you’ll have a chance to catch up on some of the films you might never get another opportunity to watch! All movies are $8.50 and include a medium popcorn!

Downtown Cinemas, 888 Marsh St. San Luis Obispo


Feature-Length Documentary: BECOMING WHO I WAS
Plays M, T, W, Th at 4pm

Feature-Length Narrative: BEAUTY MARK
Plays M, T, W, Th at 1pm

Plays M, T, W, Th at 1pm

Short Documentary:  PRINCE OF SMOKE
Plays M, T, W, Th at 4pm

Student Film: MAN ON FIRE
Plays M, T, W, Th at 7pm


Feature-Length Documentary: BROKE: The Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 2015
Plays M, T, W, Th at 4pm

Short Narrative:  MAUDIE
Plays M, T, W, Th at 1pm

Short Documentary: THE BOATMAKER
Plays M, T, W, Th at 7pm

Student Film: DADDY
Plays M, T, W, Th at 7pm


Best Documentary Feature: FIDDLIN’
Plays M, T, W, Th at 1pm

Best Narrative Feature: STREAKER
Plays M, T, W, Th at 4pm

Best Short Documentary: MY INDIANA MUSE
Plays M, T, W, Th at 1pm

Best Narrative Short: RECEPTION
Plays M, T, W, Th at 4pm

Best in the Fest: SKID ROW MARATHON
Plays M, T, W, Th at 7pm


Best Individual: Peel (High School) /// Maybe the Monster (middle school)

Best Group: Mind Trap (high school) /// The Wild Child (middle school)

Best SLO County: One Life

The Wild World We Love Award: How to Keep Wildlife Safe

Best Animated: Gourmet Stray

Best International: TIE: Jasmine Stung and Cycle, Cycle, Cycle



It’s Closing Night of the SLO Film Fest!

It’s been six days of Film Wine and Fun in San Luis Obispo County and it is with mixed feelings that we close the curtains on SLO Film Fest 2018! It’s been so much fun…and we’re pooped! Hope you’ve all enjoyed the week as much as we have.

There’s still one event left and that’s our Closing Night Awards event, where we will present awards in three categories – Filmmakers of Tomorrow Showcase, Central Coast Filmmakers and Audience Awards – as well as the Spotlight Award presentation to screenwriter/producer/director, Robin Swicord. Following that, we’ll present the Audience Awards, and our closing night short film.

That all starts at 6:00pm and it’s a FREE event! We’ll also be raffling off a pair of 2019 SLO Film Fest Mogul (all access) passes so that’s worth showing up for right there! As if that wasn’t enough, we’ll be raffling off a couple of tickets to Cal Poly Arts upcoming show, SENSE & SENSIBILITY! Winner must be present to win.

We’ll pick winners right after a screening of Robin Chilton’s 10 minute closing night movie – THIS PLACE: A Birds-eye View of the Majestic Central Coast.

See you at (what’s left of) the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

SLO Film Fest Day 4 and lots of fun ahead…!

The SLO Film Fest is kicking into high gear now as more filmmakers arrive in town and the weekend is almost here!

Tonight is the now legendary SURF NITE IN SLO, and we’re excited to see the regulars and the newbies at the Fremont Theatre tonight for what should be another epic evening of BIG WAVES on the BIG SCREEN with Tim Boynton’s THE BIG WAVE PROJECT!

We are hoping the weather behaves and if so, the Woody Club will be there in all their splendor. If not, bring an umbrella and a warm, waterproof outfit and be prepared to spend a little time outside as we try to move the line as quickly as we can. There will be a bar in the Fremont Theatre lobby and the concession stand will be open, so come early, get a seat and grab a drink and some popcorn and enjoy the great pre-show video and music that Surf Nite Coordinator, Tim Eidson has put together. Adam Monteil from Coast 104.5 will be there to host!

Tickets are no longer being pre-sold, but we will be selling Rush Tickets at the box office at 6:45pm so again, wear something cozy and get ready to stand in line if you don’t have a ticket. The last few years, we’ve managed to get everyone in, so stay optimistic!

There’s so much happening today, tomorrow and Sunday I can’t begin to write about all of it. Please go to SCHEDULE if you haven’t already, and take a look…and start planning your weekend accordingly!

THIS JUST IN – We have just added a great short film to CLOSING NIGHT and made it a free event to all. We know it’s Sunday evening and people don’t want to be out late, but we definitely encourage you to come and cheer on the winners in the Central Coast, Filmmakers of Tomorrow and Audience Award categories. Then Variety’s Jenelle Riley will sit down with accomplished screenwriter Robin Swicord after the presentation of the Spotlight Award, for a fascinating conversation about her career and movies, including clips from many of them.

And to close, we are going to play a short film by another Robin…Robin Chilton who is a SLO resident and has a brand new 10-minute film that screened on Wednesday evening in the Central Coast category. THIS PLACE: A Birds-Eye View of the Majestic Central Coast will take us on a jaw-dropping flight over the Central Coast and is the perfect way to close the Festival.

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director


SLO Film Fest Day Two, Tribune’s Best Picks and more…!

Opening Night was a “Bollywood” Hit and there are some great photos taken by our festival photographers on Facebook now. Check them out and maybe you’ll find yourself sipping on some great wine, nibbling on delicious food from Taj Palace or Taste! or getting a henna tattoo! Thanks to all our sponsors for making it a wonderful Day One!

Cast/crew of “Dirty Laundry” in front of the Festival Tent, located in Mission Plaza.

Filmmakers are pouring into town as fast as the rain! We are excited to welcome many of them tonight at screenings in three different theatres in downtown SLO, and at a Red Carpet reception at the Festival Tent, beginning at 5pm. 

Tonight it’s all about the Central Coast Filmmakers but there are also a number of films playing that are in our George Sidney Independent category, so take your pick. If a theatre fills up and you can’t see the film you were hoping to, all of the George Sidney category films are playing three times during the festival so you’ll have more chances. We’ll also be playing winning films in all categories next Monday through Thursday at the Downtown Cinemas. That schedule will be posted on Sunday evening. (passes will not be honored next week and there will not be Q&A’s with filmmakers however.)

To find out what playing this evening, just go to SCHEDULE and take a look.

Sarah Linn’s article in today’s Tribune will give you some good ideas of what to see in the next few days! Click here to read her “10 Best” picks.

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

SLO Film Fest – Let it Rain!!!

More rain is on the way!! In many places that would be a bit of a downer before a six-day festival begins, but here in drought-land, we celebrate rain as much as we do movies and moviemakers!

So bring it on!!! Movies and rain kind of go together anyway. Get your umbrellas ready for an incredible week of Film, Wine and Fun!

We are very excited to honor actress Pam Grier next Saturday night at the Fremont Theatre and equally excited to announce that our tribute film that night, after the awards ceremony will be the iconic JACKIE BROWN!

Quentin Tarantino’s follow-up hit after PULP FICTION, includes the all-star cast of Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Robert Forster, Brigette Fonda and Michael Keaton. Pam Grier plays a middle-aged woman who finds herself in the center of a major conflict that will either make her a profit… or cost her her life. She brilliantly outsmarts and outfoxes them all, staying true to her reputation as “the baddest one-chick hit-squad that ever hit town!”

Fortunately, she’s hitting OUR town on Saturday, March 17th and will be presented with this year’s King Vidor Award by Turner Classic Movie host, Ben Mankiewicz who will then sit down with her for a fascinating conversation. Then we’ll screen 1997’s JACKIE BROWN on the Fremont’s Big Screen.

The price of admission for all of this, plus the George Sidney Independent Film Awards to winning filmmakers in five categories, is only $20 ($15 for students and Film Society.) It’s a Red Carpet Event so Full Access passes and Red Carpet tickets only! To purchase tickets or find out more about the event and the after-party, click here.

If you’re interested in how movies get made (and who isn’t?) then you better not sleep in and miss our Behind-the-Scenes Panels that are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday mornings in the Festival Tent and at the Palm Theatre. Everything – from the challenges of shooting action footage, to screenwriting with the experts, to how Harvey Weinstein’s outing is changing things in Hollywood – will be discussed. Thanks to sponsors Martin Resorts and Blackhorse Espresso and Bakery for their support. Coffee and muffins will be available starting at 9am. Admission is free to all pass holders, and $5 for everyone else.

We are also excited about a Breakfast Screening at the Fremont Theatre on Saturday, March 17th at 10am. New this year, come and enjoy coffee and muffins from Blackhorse and a new documentary produced and narrated by 2015 King Vidor Award recipient, Jeff Bridges – LIVING IN THE FUTURE’S PAST. Director Susan Kucera will be there for a Q&A (Jeff wanted to be, but he’s in Vancouver shooting something I’m sure we’ll hear about soon!)

Looking forward to seeing you at the Festival!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

BIG THANKS TO MARTIN RESORTS and their beautiful and welcoming hotels. Martin Resorts has been a loyal Festival Sponsor for many years!

New guests & auction item announced for Surf Nite in SLO

Surf Nite is shaping up to be another epic event this year with the North American premiere of THE BIG WAVE PROJECT on the Big Screen at the Fremont Theatre. Director/Cinematographer Tim Boynthon will be here from Sydney, Australia and Big Wave Tour founder and surfboard shaper, Gary Linden will be joining us from Southern CA. Gary is featured in the short film THE AGAVE GUN, playing before the feature.

Surf Nite is presented by Visit SLO CAL / Film SLO CAL, and also sponsored by Apple Farm, City of Pismo Beach, Cliffs Resort, Coast 104.5, Quality Suites San Luis Obispo, Sea Venture Resort, and Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort.

We are delighted to also welcome Maverick’s surfers, Sarah and Mike Gerhardt. Sarah grew up on the Central Coast is very excited to return for her first Surf Nite experience.

Sarah started surfing during her freshman year of high school in Pismo Beach and four years later took her first trip to Oahu’s North Shore to begin a big wave dream. She became the first woman to paddle and tow into large surf on Oahu’s outer reefs. Surfing was a passion but her real focus was earning a BS in chemistry from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. After graduating from Cal Poly she returned to Hawaii to surf until graduate school started.  While on Oahu, Sarah married her big wave partner, Mike Gerhardt and they moved to Santa Cruz for work, surf, and graduate school. They paddled out together to Mavericks in 1998, and after watching Mike ride waves, she eventually caught waves too, becoming the first woman to surf Mavericks. Since then, Sarah completed her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, surfed Mavericks many more times, had 2 children, completed a Post-Doc in Molecular Biology and is now a Chemistry Instructor and Cabrillo College. She lives with her family in Santa Cruz, where they enjoy board sports and volunteering with the Ride A Wave program and partnering with Save the Waves Coalition.

Mike grew up in Malibu California and has been surfing since age 7. Mike was invited to surf in the Maverick’s contest in 2005, but due to a shoulder surgery could not compete. He came out swinging the next season and survived another shoulder injury! He has been a finalist in several of the biggest long board club contests held in Santa Cruz and Pacifica. He has been on PBS, The Learning Channel, and several local news stations and in several Maverick’s videos. He is also involved in his community, as the tandem surf coordinator for the Ride A Wave (R.A.W.) foundation (, which gives mentally, physically, and financially challenged kids and adults a day on the beach and a chance to experience the joy of the ocean.

Joel Tudor, Walter Hoffman, John Peck, Peter Cole, Bruce Brown, Linda Benson, Gerry Lopez (all pictured here) and Jack McCoy, Bud Browne and Fred Van Dyke, signed the collectible poster in this year’s special Surf Nite auction.

If you haven’t got your tickets for Surf Nite yet, do not wait! And don’t miss the chance the bid on a piece of history! In 2008, Surf Nite honored filmmaking pioneer Bud Browne, who was 95 years old at the time. He was surrounded by legendary surfers who had flown in from around the world to pay their respects, and we had them all sign a poster that commemorated the event. The poster was designed by longtime Surf Nite Coordinator, Tim Eidson.

We are now putting that poster up for grabs at this year’s Surf Nite, ten years later! Starting bid will be $500 and Surf Nite host, Adam Montiel (Coast 104.5) will auction this cool piece of memorabilia before the movie begins. This year’s Surf Nite is dedicated to surf filmmaker and two-time Surf Nite guest, Bruce Brown.

To read more about Surf Nite and purchase tickets, click here!

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director