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San Diego Film Festival

For years I have written about the San Diego Film Festival downtown, not expansively but with a desire to call some attention. I have attended sporadically. Packed screenings for local debut talents, James Woods vamping a crowd with his barn-burner personality, and William Shatner holding forth proudly for his small film, stand out in memory.

Founding director Robin Laatz, husband Karl Kozak (head programmer), and their devoted supporters have kept the event going. Their fest celebrates its tenth anniversary, Sept. 28 to Oct. 2. Most of it happens at the Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15, at Fifth and G.

The usual down-take on the SDFF has been that it shows mostly indies and neophytes with faint commercial prospects and very few international or auteur works. Also, that it’s a party fiesta, bound to Gaslamp Quarter interests and the zeal to wine, dine, and shmooze (truth be told, that also factors heavily at Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, etc.).

Opening this year with 50/50, which opens commercially just two days later, the SDFF is dedicated to letting hopeful filmmakers find a screen and a responsive audience. It does so in an enjoyable, very San Diegan way. Before the spree (films, workshops, awards, panels, and parties) the site to visit is sdff.org.

Reviewed in listings: Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, Dolphin Tale, Love Crime, Restless.

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