By Michael Benninger
Hollywood will feel closer to home September 24 to 28, when tinsel town's elite grace Finest City movie screens and red carpets at the San Diego Film Festival (SDFF). Catch exclusive showings of yet-to-be-released films, some of which will be world premieres, and maybe catch sight of a celeb while mingling with actors and filmmakers during the post-movie after-parties.
In the past two year, two Academy Award-winning features - 12 Years a Slave and Silver Linings Playbook - screened at the festival ahead of their nationwide theatrical releases.
"Our festival has begun to position itself as the next stop on the awards trail following the Toronto Film Festival, putting San Diego on the map as a serious player in the industry," says Dale Strack, chairman and CEO of the nonprofit San Diego Film Foundation, which produces the event. "Consider it a sneak peek for anyone who loves to go to the movies."
SDFF 2014 will once again usher in an array of independent films, showcasing more than 100 titles at the Gaslamp's Reading Theater and La Jolla's ArcLight Cinemas.
"We have more filmmakers than ever attending this year's festival," says Tonya Mantooth, vice president and programming director of the San Diego Film Foundation. "We also have a record number of studio executives participating in our industry panels. We look forward to rolling out the red carpet so they have an amazing experience here in San Diego."
SDFF will begin announcing its official film lineup on September 1. Single-movie tickets are available for purchase, but real movie buffs will want to spring for five-day passes, which are good for all screenings, discussion panels and, of course, after-parties. (Celebrity sightings included.) In the meantime, microwave some popcorn and enjoy the following star-studded pages, which reveal a sneak peek of some of the the films showing at this year's festival.
Keira Knightley, Sam Rockwell, Chloë Grace Moretz
omantic ComedyUnsure of her future and unwilling to grow up, a sign-twirling woman (Keira Knightley) abandons reality upon realizing her life's gone nowhere since high school. After lying to her fiancé about going to a retreat, the woman instead befriends a troublesome teen (Chloë Grace Moretz) and falls in love with the girl's single father (Sam Rockwell).
ichard Dreyfuss*, Tatiana Maslany*
ComedyOscar-winning actor (and San Diego resident) Richard Dreyfuss stars in this offbeat comedy, which marks the directorial debut of 90210 (the one from the '90s) heartthrob, Jason Priestley. In the film, Dreyfuss plays Cas, a sickly senior who, accompanied by an aspiring young writer (Maslany, from BBC's Orphan Black), evades authorities after being involved in an inadvertent hit-and-run. Together, the two travel west across Canada, mirroring a childhood road-trip Priestley embarked upon with his father.
The Perfect Wave
Scott Eastwood, Cheryl Ladd, Rachel Hendrix
omance, DramaScott Eastwood, an Encinitas resident and son of Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood, stars in this faith-based drama about a young man, his passion for surfing and his first time falling in love. As the protagonist embarks on a quest for the perfect wave, unforeseen forces lead him down a different path, with far-reaching consequences.
The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley
DramaSet amid World War II and based on actual historical events, The Imitation Game tells the story of mathematician Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch, star of PBS' Sherlock), who was instrumental in the Allies' victory over Germany. Turing went on to develop some of the world's first computers, but later became an outcast, suffering persecution and prosecution after his sexual proclivities were exposed.
You're Not You
ilary Swank, Emmy Rossum, Josh Duhamel*, Ali Larter, Ernie Hudson, Marcia Gay Harden
George C. Wolfe
DramaKate (Hilary Swank) is a successful thirty-something whose ideal life falls apart when she learns she has the debilitating disease AlS. Assisted by her husband (Josh Duhamel), she hires an unqualified, directionless college student (Emmy Rossum) to be her full-time caregiver. As patient and caretaker bond, a sometimes silly, sometimes-sad relationship takes root.
The Good Lie
eese Witherspoon, Arnold Oceng, Ger Deruany
DramaProduced by longtime collaborators Ron Howard and Brian Grazer - and arriving in San Diego straight from its world premiere in Toronto - The Good Lie is based on the true story of four Sudanese refugees who win the opportunity to emigrate to America and move in with a strong, single Southern woman (Reese Witherspoon).