SLO Film Fest – Day Two announcements and updates

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

Record attendance last night at our Opening Night party and Red Carpet Event proves to me that San Luis Obispo is gearing up for an exciting 5 days of FILM, WINE and FUN!!! What a wonderful night it was!

Today the Festival is focused on celebrating the work of many filmmakers from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Monterey Counties. Their films are playing on nine screens in San Luis Obispo, beginning at 4pm, so come out and support local filmmakers this evening! Big thanks to loyal sponsor Pacific Eye as the presenter of the Central Coast Filmmaker Showcase.

There will also be George Sidney Independent Films playing throughout the evening at the Downtown Cinemas, the Palm Theatre and our newest theatre at SLO Brew’s Rock. Tonight, local visionary Blake Irving will be attending the first screening of BIAS with filmmaker Robin Hauser (he’s in the film) so expect a lively Q&A.

See below for a list of filmmakers who will be attending their films tonight for Q&A’s! To read more about these films, click here!

Central Coast Filmmakers Attending the Festival Today

Casey McGarry, Director/Producer – CASCARON
Eric Palmer, Director – GAMBATTE KIMASHITA: Japanese Flower Growers of the Salinas Valley
John Gange, Director/Writer/Producer – MORE MILK
Norm Pillsbury, Exec. Producer – MORE MILK
Cast members of MORE MILK
Alex Astrella, Director/Writer/Producer – TRIAL BY FIRE
David Bradstreet, Co-Writer – TRIAL BY FIRE
Frank McGinity, Producer – TRIAL BY FIRE
Freddy Gaitan, Director/Writer/Producer – KING OF COMFORT COURT
Taylor Carson, Producer – #ttyl
Ellen Osborne, Director/Writer/Producer – REBOOT
Jody Belsher, Director/Producer – SOBRIETY ROAD
Teri Bayus, Director – A DOOR CLOSED
Sophie Martino, Writer – A DOOR CLOSED
Harry Rabin, Cinematographer/Producer – IN THE PATH
Kyle Plummer, Director/Writer – NIKKI
Arthur Cowles, Actor – NIKKI
Gail Griffiths Stamos, Director – A DINNER GUEST
Cal Poly Student Filmmakers – CAL POLY SHORTS

Retrospective Film Series Filmmakers Attending the Festival Today

Lisa MacDonald, Media Specialist – THE BRAINWASHING OF MY DAD

George Sidney Independent Filmmakers Attending the Festival Today

Guillermo Garcia Lopez, Director/Producer – DELICATE BALANCE
Rodrigo Bernardo, Director/Writer/Producer – MAYBE A LOVE STORY
Jacqueline Sato, actor – MAYBE A LOVE STORY
Robin Hauser, Director/Writer/Producer – BIAS and TINO
Vanessa Pridgen, Animator – TWO BALLOONS

Opening Night excitement and a few updates!!

It’s OPENING NIGHT at the SLO Film Fest…a day many of us have been waiting for for a long time! The sun is shining, the sky is blue and we are gearing up for some crazy fun that starts tonight at 5pm at Luna Red, and continues on to the Fremont Theatre for a very special Evening with Katharine Ross and the Malibu Coast Silent Film Orchestra.

Tickets are still available for the Red Carpet Event at the Fremont Theatre that begins at 7pm. You can buy them online by clicking here, or tonight at the box office. Sorry, but tickets are no longer available for the party at Luna Red.

There’s lots more to come! We shine the spotlight on Central Coast Filmmakers tomorrow with a “Red Carpet” cocktail party at our new Festival Lounge, sponsored by Driscoll’s, which will be open to Central Coast filmmakers and mogul pass holders tomorrow evening. Special thanks to Festival Lounge Coordinator Tyler Skinner! She has been working hard over the last couple of months to create a cool vibe in the lounge and pull together many details to make it a fun and comfortable place to network and party. We have some incredible wine sponsors once again this year, and the amazing TASTE restaurant will be serving up some great food and beer from our generous beer sponsors.

We’ll also have live music playing there on Thursday and Friday evenings, from 5-7pm. The Taproots will be playing during the Magic Hour reception on Thursday and Susan Ritchie, also known as R & R will play on Friday evening. More music announcements coming up soon!

Don’t miss the 25 Film Retrospective, sponsored by Visit SLO Cal/Film SLO Cal, playing throughout the festival. You can see which films have been selected by clicking here! One of those fun films, that we wanted to screen at the festival but never did, is PICK OF THE LITTER, sponsored by Hughes Charitable Foundation. It’s playing on Saturday at 1pm at the Fremont Theatre. A donation from the proceeds of this screening will be made on behalf of the SLO Film Fest and Hughes Charitable Foundation to New Life K9 Training Service Dogs, a wonderful program run by Thousand Hills Pet Resort.

Finally, be sure to check out our newest (and very groovy) theatre – SLO Brew’s Rock! It’s a beautiful concert/theatre venue right next to the restaurant on Aerovista Rd. With 200 seats, state-of-the-art audio and video, and a fully-stocked bar, great craft beer on tap and a restaurant that serves a wide variety of delicious food – how can you go wrong? Festival Coordinator Nancy Ross Joynt will be there to greet you most days and we’ve selected some excellent festival films to screen there – so don’t be shy, give it a try!! Our new Movie Newbie Passes can be used there for up to 4 people per screening!

Here we go!! The 2019 SLO Film Fest is starting today! Woooohoooo!!!

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

Got your Surf Nite tickets?

Surfers Unite! The California premiere of SATORI by South African filmmaker Rick Wall will be featured on the Big Screen at the historic Fremont Theatre in San Luis Obispo on Friday, March 15th at 7pm. Cape Town residents, filmmaker Rick Wall and SATORI surfer Rod Torr will attend, along with native South African, former World Surfing champion, Shaun Tomson.

Surf Nite in SLO is presented by Surfing for Hope, a non-profit organization in Pismo Beach created to help inspire people challenged by cancer through the positive energy of surfing.

Surf Nite is also presented by the City of Pismo Beach and sponsored by Cliffs Hotel and Spa, Sea Venture, Sycamore Mineral Spring Resort, Apple Farm Inn, Coast 104.5, Quality Suites San Luis Obispo, Anthony Peckham and Hilary Saner.

The beautifully cinematic SATORI, shot in dramatic black and white and color, documents a close-knit group of local big wave surfers who have dedicated their lives to the ocean and riding the huge waves off the shores of picturesque Cape Town, South Africa. “Satori” is a Japanese Buddhist word meaning a sudden moment of awakening or ‘glimpse of truth’ – the essence of surfing for many.

Shaun Tomson

2017 Surf Nite special guest Chris Bertish is featured in the film along with an interesting cast of characters from all walks of life.

Director/cinematographer Rick Wall and surfer Rod Torr who is also featured in the film, will be in attendance for a Q&A hosted by Coast 104.5’s Adam Montiel. Santa Barbara resident Shaun Tomson will join them to talk about surfing in South Africa.

Opening for SATORI will be a 30-minute documentary by filmmaker Graham Nash, and produced for Vans. In 2017, pro surfers Patrick, Dane and Tanner Gudauskas, and Michael February, hosted a surfboard drive to benefit the Waves for Change organization in Cape Town, South Africa. CAN’T STEAL OUR VIBE follows their journey to provide surfboards and a positive outlet to disadvantaged youngsters to help overcome the adversities of poverty, violence and abuse. Filmmaker Graham Nash will attend with Dane Gudauskas.

There will be a wine/beer bar in the lobby beginning at 6:00pm. A raffle of surf-themed items will be part of the excitement that evening, as well as an After- Party at the Festival Lounge in downtown San Luis Obispo.

Friday, March 15 – 7:00pm
Fremont Theatre, SLO

$20 General
$15 Students & SLO Film Society

Mogul passes & Red Carpet tickets can be used for this event and After Party.

Limited tickets are still available but pre-sales will end soon!
Tickets will be sold first-come, first-served beginning at 6:30pm

Thanks to our loyal Surf Nite sponsors!

Get ready SLO! Alfred Molina is coming!!!

Did we mention that we are VERY excited that critically acclaimed actor Alfred Molina will be this year’s King Vidor Award honoree?

Presented by BHE Renewables and JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, the King Vidor Award presentation will take place immediately after the George Sidney Independent Film Awards ceremony on Saturday, March 16 at 7:00PM at the Fremont Theater (1025 Monterey Street). See below for some interesting trivia about the history of our King Vidor Award!

Following the presentation, Turner Classic Movies’ Ben Mankiewicz will host a discussion of Molina’s career including a number of his iconic film roles.

This annual celebration of film is also sponsored by The Tribune, New Times, KSBY, 93.3 KZOZ, and The Movie Experience.

Alfred Molina is an accomplished London-born actor whose diverse and distinguished gallery of performances has led to a lengthy and triumphant career. Effortlessly moving between film, TV and theatre, Molina is an authentic artist who is able to morph into a diverse mix of nationalities and personalities.

Alfred Molina and Selma Hayak in “Frida”

As a chameleon actor, Molina possesses an uncanny ability to nail character driven roles. Some of his most unforgettable performances include his SAG Award-nominated performance as hedonistic Mexican muralist Diego Rivera in Julie Taymor’s rave reviewed multi-award nominated film FRIDA (2002) opposite Salma Hayek, deranged drug dealer Rahad Jackson in Paul Thomas Anderson’s modern classic BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997), and comic book villain Doc Ock in Sam Raimi’s blockbuster hit sequel SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004). READ MORE ABOUT ALFRED MOLINA >

Molina as Doc Ock in “Spiderman 2”

Many festival-goers will remember last year’s hilarious dark comedy short, SAM DID IT, starring Alfred Molina as himself! We’ll be bringing back this entertaining 10 minute film by Dominic Burgess as part of the 25th Anniversary Retrospective, and it will screen on Sunday, March 17 at 3:30pm at the Downtown Cinemas with the feature film, HAWAII.

The George Sidney Independent Film Awards, presented each year in several categories, are juried by film and media professionals. Major festival sponsors will be on hand to present the awards, and all winning films will screen at the Downtown Cinemas during the week after the festival (March 18-20) courtesy of the Sanborn Family/Downtown Centre Cinemas.

The evening will culminate with a screening of CHOCOLAT after the awards presentation and an Awards Night After-Party that will also begin right after the awards event at the SLO Museum of Art, an easy walk from the Fremont Theatre at 1010 Broad St. All full access passes will have priority access and then $50 rush tickets will be sold at the door. Wine, beer, martinis and food provided by local purveyors will be available and The Tipsy Gypsies will entertain with their unique blend of fabulous music.

BUY NOWSaturday, March 16
Fremont Theatre, SLO

$20 General / $15 Students
Movie Mogul (All Access) passes and Red Carpet tickets can be used for this Red Carpet Event.

Festival Founder Mary Harris, and the first King Vidor Award recipient, film director/producer, George Sidney.

We are proud to say that quite a few of the original board members of the SLO Film Fest are still involved in the festival, as volunteers, sponsors and attendees. I asked longtime festival volunteer John Harrington about those early years and he sent me this fun story that I had never heard…about how the first board of directors came up with the annual Career Achievement Award named for King Vidor.

King Vidor on set.

“Mary (Harris) said that we should have an award for a distinguished person at the festival, and asked for suggestions about someone in the industry whom we could honor with an annual award. Everyone looked at each other, but no one seemed to have anything even vaguely in mind.

I quickly suggested King Vidor. The name drew a few blank stares until I listed a few of his films. I met King not long after I came to Cal Poly in 1976 and spent a fair amount of time with him at his ranch as well as driving him around on various jaunts until he died in 1982. I very much enjoyed King (surprisingly, most of our conversations were not about movies) as well a spending time at his ranch on Vineyard drive in Templeton. Everyone on the board immediately agreed that we should honor this local and great master of American filmmaking, and I’m pleased that his name still honors our festival.” – John Harrington

Don’t miss this year’s King Vidor Award recipient, the legendary Alfred Molina, live and in person at the Fremont Theatre on Saturday, March 16!

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

Epic films coming to the Fremont’s Silver Screen next week!

We are very excited to kick off our 25th SILVER SCREEN anniversary with a unique musical performance by legendary actress Katharine Ross, followed by BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID on the Big Screen at the Fremont Theatre! Now 50 years old, this digitally remastered version will look even better than the original, and will cap off a sensational evening that will open the 2019 SLO Film Fest in style! Opening Night details and tickets >

Katharine Ross and Jim Svejda, Classical Radio KUSC

For a sneak preview of what will be happening that night, and some fun chit-chat with special guest Katharine Ross and the Malibu Coast Silent Film Orchestra’s talented composer/violinist, Maria Newman, you can listen to a conversation between them and well-known classical radio host, Jim Svejda on KUSC, tomorrow evening (Friday, March 15) at 10pm.

Come and see Katharine Ross and Maria Newman on stage at the Fremont Theatre next Tuesday, March 12th when they collaborate on a unique musical and spoken word piece, and then sit down for a conversation with me before the movie begins. This is one of those Magical Movie and Music events you won’t want to miss.

Luna Red will host our Opening Night Party on Tuesday, March 12

Start the night off at Luna Red, just blocks from the Fremont Theatre, where their friendly staff will greet you with Luna Red’s signature Sangria, or a refreshing craft beer from 7 Sisters Brewing, or a glass of wine from amazing local wineries that include Cinquain Cellars, Castoro Cellars, Sculpterra Winery and Stanger Vineyards!

The Shawn Clark Family Band will be playing some fun country-inspired tunes, and attendees will have an opportunity to meet Katharine Ross and Maria Newman. Delicious light appetizers will be served at this event, and concessions will also be available at the Fremont Theatre.

BUY NOWTickets are $50 for the party and theatre, or $25 for just the theatre event. Party tickets are limited so don’t delay if you don’t want to be disappointed!

Opening Night Party – 5:00-6:30pm  Luna Red  1023 Chorro St.
An Evening with Katharine Ross – 7:00-10:00pm  Fremont Theatre, 1025 Monterey St.


EL CID (1962)
This was the first movie ever screened at the first SLO International Film Festival on November 4, 1993 at the Fremont Theatre! When was the last time you saw a classic like this on the big screen?
Saturday, March 16  2:45pm

MARY POPPINS Sing-along (1964)
It’s been a long tradition at the SLO Film Fest to sing-along with a great old classic and this is the perfect year for Mary Poppins! Bring the whole family. Song lyrics will be on the screen so no need to memorize ahead of time!
Saturday, March 16  10:00am

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we just had to screen this wonderful romantic and enduring classic, directed by John Ford. Starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, it was the first American feature to be filmed in Ireland’s picturesque countryside.
Sunday, March 17  2:30pm

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director

Many thanks to our Opening Night Sponsors for their loyal support!



How to “Fest” at the SLO Film Fest? Here are a few tips…

Two Balloons (Narrative Short category)

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the huge choice of movies, special events, parties and panels that begin a week from now, don’t worry. You’re not alone!

The SLO Film Fest is a mind-boggling  smorgasbord of movies for all tastes. There really is something for everyone – but how do you figure out what to see and when?

That’s when the fun begins! Start by figuring out which days you have to devote to festival-going, and perhaps what kind of festival pass you have. Passes are definitely recommended if you’re serious about seeing movies, but keep in mind that you’ll have to wait in a few lines even with a pass…that’s just the way film festivals work.

And you’ll have to be ready to change your plan quickly if the screening you’re going to fills up with excited festival-goers who managed to get there before you! It happens! There are only so many seats in each theatre and pass holders will be given priority seating up to 15 minutes before each screening begins. So try not to waltz in 3 minutes before the screening time and expect to get a seat because you’ll probably be disappointed.

We have staggered the start times so that if this happens, you can sashay right over to another nearby theatre and see something else!

Special event tickets are available in advance but most regular screenings are not sold in advance so we can be sure to accommodate pass holders. Tickets will be sold if available 15 minutes before each screening at the box offices.

Once you have figured out your time and possibly your pass constraints, you’ll have to get serious about making some choices. A lot of experienced festival goers like to get out the print guide (available at our HQ and sponsoring venues all over the county) and circle all the films that look like good possibilities. You can also peruse everything online and even print the day by day schedule!

We have provided descriptions, trailers and in some cases, websites so that you can do some research if you have time. Or you can just read the title, look at the photo and decide if it looks like something you’d like! Or just let your partner decide if they’re the control freak in your relationship. Then if you don’t like the movie, at least you won’t have to take the blame!

You will also see notes on which filmmakers and special guests will be attending when you read about the films, and updates will be sent out next week.

We’ve organized movies by date, by category and by genre so there are a few different ways to search. We’ve also posted our “print guide” online so you can download it and read that version page by page. If you look under SCHEDULE you’ll also see Special Events and Shorts Programs you will want to consider.

Any changes to the Festival Schedule will be posted on our home page so do take a look each day to be sure.

For example, we have just changed the plan for the Saturday morning panel. It was going to be about extreme cinematography but due to filmmaker availability, it will now focus on PR and Distribution, a fascinating topic that often makes or breaks a film’s success. Festival publicist John Wildman will moderate and panelists will be announced soon.

We are also adding a new special guest to the last film in the FACING FASCISM program. Lisa Snow is coming to speak at a Q&A after THE BRAINWASHING OF MY DAD. She is the author of Mind, Media and Madness, and worked closely with director Jen Senko during the making of this film. Thank you to The Coastal Awakening creator and our festival sponsor, Bob Shanbrom, for coming up with the idea for this provocative and timely series of films and speakers, all scheduled for Wednesday, March 13 at the Palm Theatre:


Happy 30th Anniversary to the Palm Theatre, Jim Dee and his incredible staff! Thanks for being a loyal Festival venue since the very beginning!

See you at the movies!

Wendy Eidson
SLO Film Fest Director



Two-time Oscar winner for GREEN BOOK coming to the SLO Film Fest!

Nick Vallelonga celebrates after winning two Academy Awards for “Green Book,” at last Sunday’s awards ceremony. Photo courtesy Nick Vallelonga.

Screenwriter/Producer Nick Vallelonga probably didn’t dare to dream that he’d win an Oscar at last Sunday’s Academy Awards. But incredibly, there he was on stage to accept TWO! One for Best Original Screenplay that he wrote with Peter Farrelly and Brian Currie and the Best Picture Oscar, which went to producers Vallelonga, Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly.

Vallelonga celebrates backstage with fellow winner, Lady Gaga. Photo courtesy Nick Vallelonga.

GREEN BOOK is based on a story about his father, Frank Anthony Vallelonga (played by Viggo Mortensen) who struck up an unusual friendship with pianist/composer Don Shirley (played by Oscar winner Mahershala Ali) on a Southern road trip in the early 60’s.

We are thrilled to welcome Nick Vallelonga to the SLO Film Fest for three screenings of the short film he directed, UNORGANIZED CRIME. He’ll be here with the film’s writer/producer/actor, Kenny D’Aquila, on Thursday and Friday for screenings at the Downtown Cinemas and Palm Theatre.

Alex Meneses and Kenny D’Aquila co-star with an excellent ensemble cast in “Unorganized Crime.”

The entertaining UNORGANIZED CRIME features an all-star cast that includes Chazz Palminteri, Lani Kazan, and Carmine Caridi. Under-appreciated “family” member Gino Corso (Kenny D’Aquila) is finally given an opportunity to prove himself worthy of New York’s fifth largest crime syndicate. What transpires is a humorous tale of a family seeking common ground and a loving wife torn between loyalty and survival. This 30 minute comedy/drama is sponsored by Tom Sant & Susan Hirsch / Hyde Park Partners.

It screens on Thursday, March 14 at 1:15pm at the Downtown Cinemas with THE TRAFFIC SEPARATING DEVICE, and again that day at 4:15pm at the Downtown Cinemas with THE MODERN LIVES and SOPHIE’S QUINCEANERA. It also screens on Friday at 10:00am at the Palm Theatre with A GIRL NAMED C. Tickets are not sold in advance, but Festival Passes can be used for these screenings and pass holders will have priority seating up to 15 minutes before each screening.

For more information about Festival Passes, and to see which film/events are being pre-sold, please click here. For the full festival schedule, click here.

Thanks to the City of San Luis Obispo for its loyal support of the SLO Film Fest since its inception in 1993! We are very proud to be one of the most important (and most fun!) cultural events in the city each year. Staying in San Luis Obispo is half the fun since it’s an almost entirely “walkable” festival. Click here to find out where to stay and book your SLO Film Fest adventure soon!