Event officials are putting the final touches on preparations for this year's Newport Beach Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday and will spotlight more than 350 flicks from 40 countries, along with red-carpet galas, special events and seminars during its weeklong run.
Now in its 12th year, the film festival is among the top events of its kind in the U.S., and it has become a boon to the local economy. The event, which is expected to draw some 50,000 industry professionals, actors and enthusiasts, ranks the highest in terms of economic impact among all events in Newport Beach, according to a study cited by Todd Quartararo, co-founder of the festival and owner of Q&A Marketing.
Additionally, the festival reaches 20 million people nationwide across all media channels through its ad campaigns, he said.
"The Newport Beach Film Festival draws a glamorous light on Newport Beach with its world-class films and celebrity participation, and it is overall a first-class event," added Visit Newport Beach spokeswoman Caroline Bruderer. "We are thrilled about the tremendous exposure the destination receives. It encourages visitors to stay and enjoy the films and special events throughout the week, and also explore the restaurants, beaches and other attractions Newport Beach has to offer."
This year, films – which range from classic to contemporary, short to full length, and include everything from documentaries, animation and student works – will be screened at Edwards Big Newport 6, the Regency Lido Theater, Sage Hill Theater and Triangle Square in Costa Mesa; the Edwards Cinemas at Fashion Island, where many of the selections are usually screened, is closed for renovations. However, the upscale retail destination will play host to several parties and special events.
Up first: a red-carpet screening of "East Fifth Bliss," starring Michael C. Hall, Lucy Liu and Peter Fonda, at Edwards Big Newport, complete with a question-and-answer session with the cast and crew. That will be followed by an opening night gala at Fashion Island in the Neiman Marcus – Bloomingdale's Courtyard. The event will feature culinary selections from more than 25 local eateries, a fashion show with styles from Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom, among others, as well as a hosted bar.
The event will come to an end on May 5 with the screening of "A Beginner's Guide to Endings," starring Harvey Keitel, at Regency Lido Theater. A closing-night celebration will be held at the Lido Village, with food from 118 Degrees, live entertainment and a range of other festivities.
Here's a look at some of the other films that will be screened during the event:
• "Lucky" will be shown on April 29 at 8 p.m. at the Regency Lido Theater. The film, which stars Colin Hanks, Ari Graynor, Ann-Margret and Jeffrey Tambor, is touted as a darkly comic nightmare and follows Ben Keller, a serial killer who wins the lotto.
• "Conception" will screen on April 29 at 8 p.m. at Triangle Square and again on May 5 at 7:30 p.m. The film's cast includes Pamela Adlon, David Arquette, Julie Bowen, Connie Britton, Sarah Hyland, Jonathan Silverman and Gregory Smith, among other stars. The romantic comedy follows nine couples in different stages of their relationships on the night they conceive.
• "Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean" will be shown during the "When Thinkers & Shorts Become Doers" program on April 30 starting at 3:30 p.m. at Triangle Square. The 40-minute documentary is narrated by actor Ed O'Neill and tells the story of Ugandan farmers who overcome intolerance through selling Fair Trade coffee.
• "Cookie" will premiere on May 1 at 6 p.m. at Triangle Square. The short film marks the directorial and writing debut of ABC's "Rookie Blue" star Enuka Okuma, and features Jennifer Finnigan and Jonathan Silverman. The flick is a "short film with a twist, proving 'life can't always be sweet.'"
• "Good for Nothing," which is touted as New Zealand's answer to the Spaghetti Westerns of Italy, will be screened on May 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Triangle Square. The film was directed by Mike Wallis and stars Inge Rademeyer, and it follows an unusual romance set in the rugged Old West.
• "Dad" will be screened on May 3 at 6 p.m. at Triangle Square. The short, from critically acclaimed New York City choreographer Gabrielle Lansner, will be presented during the "In Your Dancing Shorts" program. "Dad" features a woman traveling between her conscious and unconscious minds to reveal her innocent childhood relationship with her father.
For more information, visit newportbeachfilmfest.com.
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