Star-Spangled Planner

Intro by Benjamin E. Farquhar

There will be much to be seen when the 14th annual San Diego Film Festival (SDFF) returns to the S.D. scene with five days of movies, plus pre- and post-screening parties at several of the city’s most popular venues.

SDFF will screen more than 100 films (features, documentaries, shorts) at the Gaslamp’s Reading Cinemas and La Jolla’s ArcLight Cinemas during the festival, which runs September 30 to October 4. But the stars won’t be only on the silver screen - they’ll also be appearing, in person, on discussion panels and at nightly after-parties.

Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon, for example, will participate in a panel called Social Justice Initiative, wherein she and Thomas Morgan (writer/co-director of Waiting for Mamu and Sarandon’s partner in the independent production company Reframed Pictures) will discuss a collection of documentaries that make an impact by bringing to light important social issues.

“Reframed Pictures is delighted to expand its involvement in bringing awareness to worldwide social issues through this partnership with the San Diego Film Festival,” Sarandon says. “We have much to look forward to.”

Other celebs expected to make appearances at this year’s SDFF include Danny Glover and Scott Eastwood. Alan Arkin, Beau Bridges, Josh Duhamel, Eli Roth and Michelle Monaghan attended the 2014 festival.

For a complete list of SDFF films and events, check the nonprofit’s website,, where movie buffs and star gazers can purchase single-movie tickets or five-day passes, the latter of which grant access to all film screenings, discussion panels and after-parties. Celebrity sightings included.

Fab Five

A sneak peak at a handful of films screening at SDFF 2015

By Michael Benninger

Fire up the microwave - it’s time get poppin’. Here’s a quick look at a selection of the star-studded movies slated to draw big crowds when SDFF lands in downtown and La Jolla theaters beginning September 30.


Director: Lawrence Roeck
Cast: Camilla Belle, Scott Eastwood, Walton Goggins, Danny Glover

In this heart-pounding Civil War-era western, part-time Encinitas resident Scott Eastwood stars as a young farmer hunting the Mexican gang that captured his wife. As he closes in on the brutal bandidos, the husband finds himself face-to-face with menacing criminals and mysterious tribesmen, endangering his own life with every step.


This is Happening
Director: Ryan Jaffe
Cast: James Wolk, Mickey Sumner, Cloris Leachman, Judd Nelson

A willful grandma goes rogue with her dead dog and five pounds of reefer after discovering that her troubled grandson and dope-slinging granddaughter are dropping her off at an old-folks home. As granny heads for Seattle with her granddaughter’s stash, the disaffected siblings have no choice but to chase their unmanageable matriarch while reluctantly reestablishing a relationship themselves.


Olivia Wilde & Luke Wilson " width="580" height="436" />Meadowland
Director: Reed Morano
Cast: Olivia Wilde, Luke Wilson, Elisabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi, John Leguizamo

An NYPD officer’s marriage devolves into madness after the young couple loses their son under an unimaginable set of circumstances. While the father struggles to cope with the tragedy and compromises his ethics, his shattered wife follows an even darker trajectory, repeatedly risking her own life while searching for stability.


Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Cast: Harvey Keitel, Michael Caine, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, Jane Fonda

Italian-born writer and director Paolo Sorrentino presents this film about two talented men in the twilight of their lives who venture to the Alps on vacation and learn it’s never too late to change their old ways. The feature includes scenes shot in Rome, Venice and other enchanting European locales, and is accompanied by a soundtrack of timeless tunes.


Sex, Death and Bowling
Director: Ally Walker
Cast: Adrian Grenier, Drea de Matteo, Selma Blair, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Joshua Rush

Largely known for her acting roles on TV shows including Sons of Anarchy, The Protector and Taxi Brooklyn, Ally Walker is also the writer and director of this film about an 11-year-old boy who enters a bowling tournament with his father. When the kid’s dad falls ill before the big game, it’s up to his famous and estranged uncle to step up to the alley and bring home a win.