2018 SLO Film Fest passes now on sale…and more!

Festival passes are now officially on sale for the 2018 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival! Take advantage of our early-bird prices – why wait? Festival passes make great gifts for a fellow movie-lover too!

New venues, more screening times, and other changes will be implemented to make your festival experience the best it can be in March 2018. We’re also working on plans for a special fundraising event this fall, so stay tuned for news in the coming months.

The 2018 SLO Film Fest is scheduled for March 13-18, 2018 so please save the dates. We are already busy planning six manic fun-filled days of Film, Wine and Fun in San Luis Obispo, which was just named California’s “best small town to visit” on Thrillist’s 50 Best Small Towns In America.

We welcome back Paul Metchik as SLO Film Fest Board President, and thank Pacific Eye’s Ahmad Amir for his two years in that important position. Melanie Spencer joins the executive board as Treasurer, and Joette Eisengart and Gary Harkins continue in their respective positions of Secretary and Vice-President.

A quick shout-out to a few films that were recently screened at the 2016 and 2017 SLO Film Fest’s and are now enjoying successful theatrical runs in cities across the country! Congrats to Hearing is Believing and Harold & Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story, as well as The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille, which will have its LA Premiere in early June at Dances With Films.

Finally, if you’re interested in finding out how to become a festival sponsor, or make a donation to this important non-profit organization that enriches our community in so many ways, please take a look at the 2018 Sponsor Brochure. 

If you were a 2017 SLO Film Fest sponsor, we hope you’ll continue your support at 2017 prices, in effect until November 30. Movies Matter!

Click here to purchase a 2018 Festival Pass! 

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

Leonard Loves SLO!

Leonard Maltin received the 2017 Spotlight Award from festival founder, Mary Harris on Closing Night.

The SLO Film Fest ended this year with a surprise award for well-known film critic/author/TV personality, Leonard Maltin, followed by a fascinating discussion between him and film music experts, Brad Dechter and Michael Nowak. Maltin also showed up in a variety of places throughout the weekend as he enjoyed movies and events with his daughter Jessie, her husband Scott, and his wife, Alice.

They loved their experience in San Luis Obispo so much that they highlighted our festival and town in a podcast just released this weekend. In Maltin on Movies #123: Film Festivals, he and Jessie talk about a variety of festivals, big and small and right around 27 min, they discuss their time in SLO!

Check it out! Click here to listen.

And then mark your calendars for SLO Film Fest 2018 – March 13-18! Festival passes go on sale on May 22!

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

SLO Film Fest continues to break records!

Again Named One of the “50 Top Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee”

The 23rd annual San Luis Obispo International Film Festival (SLO Film Fest) has had another successful year, beating previous records for attendance as well as both ticket and pass sales. The annual cultural event, presented March 14-19 this year, has been steadily growing in popularity and reputation.

Announced yesterday by MovieMaker Magazine, the SLO Film Fest has again been included on their coveted “50 Top Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” list. This recommendation serves as a guide for filmmakers when making submission choices, and has dramatically increased the Festival’s film submissions since it was first listed three years ago. The 2017 Festival broke all previous records at just over 1000 films submitted, with 72 of those selected for the George Sidney Independent Film Competition. As a result, total entry fees collected were up by 80% compared to 2016.

Festival attendance increased again this year to 11,500, an 18% gain over last year, and overall ticket sales were up 40%. Total pass sales were up an average of 52% and Mogul passes alone were up 83%.

Out-of-county attendance has shown steady growth with more visitors, including festival filmmakers staying longer, spending an average of three nights in city and county hotels. Approximately 30% of SLO Film Fest’s attendees come from outside San Luis Obispo County.

Media coverage of the Festival included articles in Variety, People, MovieMaker Magazine and Bay Area News as well as great local coverage in the Tribune, New Times, KSBY-TV, KCOY-TV, KCBX Radio, and the American General Media group of radio stations.

The Festival got major support from the City of San Luis Obispo’s TBID and used the funds to underwrite the Festival’s VIP Tent which was located directly behind the Fremont Theatre in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo. The tent was the hub for networking, a number of parties with live entertainment, wine tasting, food catered by local restaurant Taste!, and weekend panels.

The Festival kicked off with its most successful Opening Night ever, filling the Fremont Theatre to capacity for a “foodie” documentary after a party featuring 25 Central Coast restaurants, wineries and breweries. Closing Night was also bigger than ever, with a series of filmmaker awards followed by the presentation of the Spotlight Award to film critic and author, Leonard Maltin.

The King Vidor Award was presented to part-time North County resident Josh Brolin, by former King Vidor Award recipient Jeff Bridges. TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz hosted a wonderful Q&A before a party in Brolin’s honor at the SLO Masonic Lodge.

Variety’s Jenelle Riley hosted a Q&A with Todd Fisher before a screening of “Bright Lights” as a tribute to his recently deceased mother Debbie Reynolds and sister, Carrie Fisher. Todd Fisher also introduced a screening of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” at a new Festival venue, the historic Octagon Barn, after a BBQ dinner. Proceeds from this event were shared with The Land Conservancy.

Audience Award winner for Best Documentary was “Down the Fence”

A world premiere of “Down the Fence”, a documentary about horse trainers, sold out the 850-seat Fremont Theatre and filled the house with an unusual festival audience, many of them in cowboy hats. A record number of festival movies filled San Luis Obispo theatres with appreciative audiences, many saying that this year’s movies were “the best ever.” The 12th annual Surf Nite in SLO featured an Irish surf film and visiting Irish surfer, Tom Doidge-Harrison, on St. Patrick’s Day.

Plans are already underway for the next SLO Film Fest, planned for March 13-18, 2018. Sponsor inquiries are welcome and the festival will be accepting new film submissions in July 2017.

The SLO Film Fest is over but the memories will linger…

Josh Brolin proudly displays his King Vidor Award

“So much fun!” That’s what I kept hearing throughout the 6 days of Film, Wine, and Fun at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival.

Fun meant seeing great films that made you laugh, cry, think, and feel inspired. Fun meant seeing old friends as you walked through town and stood in lines hoping to get in to the movie you wanted to see. Fun meant sipping on first-class wines from around the county in our Festival Tent, and nibbling on delectable appetizers provided by the amazing Taste!

Todd Fisher and Catherine Hickland talk to Jenelle Riley

Fun also meant meeting and snapping selfies with celebrities Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges, Ben Mankiewicz, Leonard Maltin and a whole host of incredible filmmakers, athletes and special guests visiting the festival from around the state, country and world.

Fun for me was seeing everyone having fun!

Audience Award winner for Best Documentary – “Down the Fence”

Thanks to all for your support of the festival, from sponsors to volunteers to filmmakers, movie-goers and all the vendors who gave us screaming deals on things to help us stay within our budget. We have an amazing community and I couldn’t be more proud!

See you at the movies (after I sleep for about a week 😉

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director


Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the SLO Film Fest!

Three fun days have come and gone, with three epic days still ahead! We’ve had two wonderful tributes to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, and one of them was covered by Jenelle Riley in Variety! Read article.

Still ahead: Great films playing Friday, Saturday and Sunday all over San Luis Obispo. Check our Schedule for day-by-day listing.

Surf Nite in SLO is tonight – we’ll be pre-selling a few more tickets today and then will sell the rest at the door shortly before 7pm. Ticket holders, full access pass holders and red carpet ticket holders will be seated first.

Tickets are still available for the Indie Film & King Vidor Award event tomorrow night. Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges, Ben Mankiewicz and James Brolin will be arriving at the Fremont Theatre tomorrow before the event begins at 7pm.

On Sunday we have more great films, as well as the Filmmakers of Tomorrow Showcase, A Look Back at Avila Beach History, Hearing is Believing & Concert AND our Closing Night with Leonard Maltin and the movie SCORE!

And if you want to know more about the making of movies, do not miss our Behind-the-Scenes Panels happening on both Saturday and Sunday mornings in the Festival Tent. They are free to the public, and coffee and muffins courtesy of Blackhorse Espresso and Bakery.

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

SLO Film Fest starts today and has something for everyone!!

Tonight’s Opening Night and we kick off with a Mardi Gras style party that y’all have never seen the likes of! And that’s just the beginning as we then head into a busy five days of Film, Wine, Beer and Fun!

And there’s truly something for everyone! Do you love dogs? Then don’t miss the  World Premiere of THE BUDDY SYSTEM with an adorable specially- trained Golden Retriever in attendance (if they can get out of the East Coast storm in time!) We also have a short film at Surf Nite in SLO about surfing dogs…20 cute pups of all sizes on one surf board!!

If you like documentaries about history and politics, we’ve got that covered too. Check out BREAKING POINT: The War for Democracy in Ukraine, and FINDING OSCAR.

(Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)

How about fun stories about old Hollywood? Don’t miss our Tribute to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher tomorrow night at the Fremont Theatre. Todd Fisher is bringing along some costumes from “Singin’ in the Rain” too! How cool is that? There’s also THE LOST CITY OF CECIL B. DEMILLE and JOHN AVILDSEN: King of the Underdogs playing throughout the festival, as well as THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN at the Octagon Barn on Thursday night. There are still tickets available to that fun event!

Have a special interest in LGBT issues? Look no further. Check out THE FREEDOM TO MARRY, HAPPY, PUSHING DEAD, SIGNATURE MOVE, SWIM and JOANNIE: QUEEN OF THE PARADIDDLE.

I could go on….but gotta run! It’s Opening Night and there are still a thousand and one details to take care of before 5:30!

See you at the Festival! Laissez bonne temps roulez!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director