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


If you’ve picked up a New Times this week, you’ve already seen the wonderful stories about Josh Brolin, by Glen Starkey, and Todd Fisher and his family, by Ryah Cooley. There is also a great story about Josh Brolin in this week’s Ticket, by Sarah Linn!

Two very different men, but united by some pretty striking similarities. Both are lovers and part-time residents of the Central Coast (and North County ranches); both grew up in “the business” with famous parents, and both are surprisingly down-to-earth, friendly and generous. The SLO Film Fest is grateful for the opportunity to have them both in attendance this year, and tickets are on sale now for three events where one or both can be found.

Wednesday, March 15 – Todd Fisher will sit down with Variety editor, Jenelle Riley before a screening of BRIGHT LIGHTS. Click here for more information and for tickets.

Thursday, March 16 – Todd Fisher will bring a few costumes from THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN to the Octagon Barn for the dinner, movie, barn dance event that night. More details and tickets.

Saturday, March 18 – Josh Brolin will be honored with the 23rd annual King Vidor Award, presented by friend and colleague, Jeff Bridges. More details and tickets.

In an attempt to make our mind-boggling schedule a little easier to deal with, I asked Festival Board members to send me their ideal schedule if they had all day and night to “fest”. Admittedly, the board has not seen ALL the movies, but they are happy to share some suggestions based on what they’ve seen and heard.

Long-time board member, Susan Minker, sent her picks and pix, so here you have it! (tomorrow we’ll let you know what the lady in the mirror thought of her choices…:)

tues: opening night movie and party
wed: 5 pm: CC filmmakers nine lives etc (downtown cinema)
7 pm: tribute to debbie reynolds etc
thurs: 1 pm: fereshteh
4 pm: sid & marge etc.
7 pm: magicians
fri:    10 am: my mother’s wound
1 pm: shorts 2 etc (palm) (See Friday schedule)
4 pm: rebels on pointe
7 pm: perfect day and diani & devine
sat: 10 am: my life as a zucchini
1 pm: washed away etc. (downtown)
3:30 pm: down the fence
7 pm: king vidor
sun: 10 am: shorts 5 (see Sunday schedule)
1 pm: vici etc. (palm)
3 pm: hearing is believing
5:30 score; closing night awards and party

See you at the movies (next week!!)
Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

SLO Film Fest celebrates Int’l Women’s Day with movies and panels!

We are proud of the great lineup of films and panels at this year’s SLO Film Fest that celebrate women in diverse ways. Highlighting inspiring and talented role models, strong protagonists and just all-round cool chicks, check out this must-see selection in this year’s program:

Equal Means Equal
Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table
A Tribute to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher
Kick Ass Katie Lee
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Joanie: Queen of the Paradiddle
Signature Move
Hearing is Believing
Big Sonia
The Buddy System

Nadia Comaneci: The Gymnast & the Dictator
Take My Nose….Please!
Women In Film Panel
Fereshteh, Daughter of Ahmad
Heavens Floor
My Mother’s Wound
Girl Meets Roach
The Whole World
Free to Laugh
Unslut: A Documentary Film
Finding Home, For Now
Shining Brightly: Haley Comes Home

Bamboozled by all the choices in our festival? We do have a lot of amazing films playing in a very short time, so how do you decide what to see? I’ve asked our board members to make some “insider” suggestions. They may not have seen all the films yet, but they made some choices based on what they’ve heard so far, and what they would choose if they could “fest” 24/7.

Many of you regular festival goers know Denise Dudley. She practically lives at the theatre she hosts during the entire festival. This year she will be at the Downtown Cinemas again, with another loyal volunteer host, BK Richard, and she’ll be welcoming festival goers and filmmakers with big smiles and open arms. I asked her what she would pick if she could watch movies all day and night instead of greeting, MCing and picking up spilled popcorn between shows!

Hello from Denise Dudley, SLO Film Fest Board Member and Venue Coordinator for the Downtown Cinemas! Once again, we have a great festival lined up for this year. Here are some of my favorite (and a few less-than-obvious) screening picks:

Filmmakers of Tomorrow Showcase (It’s always fun to witness the pure, unbridled creativity of young filmmakers of all ages!)
Central Coast Filmmakers Showcase (Come see what our local filmmakers are doing—we definitely have some talented people in our community. In particular, don’t miss the screenings on Wednesday night at the Downtown Cinemas, 7pm.)
The Whole World (The filmmaker will be here from Madrid, Spain, for both screenings.)
The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Barn Dance at the Octagon Barn (Can you imagine a more fun evening?)
Joani: Queen of the Paradiddle (And who wouldn’t want to hang out with a bunch of fun lovin’ lesbian grandmas?)
Sea Gypsies: The Far Side of the World (I now want my son to become a Sea Gypsy.)
Rebels on Pointe (Because I happen to love the Trocs!)

See you at the festival!