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The 11th San Diego Film Festival will host a Gus Van Sant tribute and retrospective this September with the director in attendance.

Festival president Kevin Leap tells The Hollywood Reporter, "This is the first time he's had a film-festival retrospective."

It's no wonder, particularly when one considers Van Sant's heinous shot-by-shot remake of Psycho.

But seriously, this is indeed good news for the festival which will be held Sept. 26-30. In it's former incarnation, the SDFF was not much more than a collection of film festival rejects spooled together to form the basis of an excuse to throw post-show galas.

Leap, former publisher of Angeleno and San Diego Magazine, heads a five-person team that assumed the festival's reigns in March. Getting a director with Van Sant's name recognition is a laudable accomplishment.

Leap told THR, ""We plan to have about 160 screenings, compared to about 90 or 100 last year. We're being pretty ambitious."

The 11th SDFF will continue to be held at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15 in addition to this year's new location, Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla's Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Van Sant retrospective and awards ceremony is slated to be held at Sherwood, but they might want to rethink that decision. The video and 35mm projectors in Sherwood's booth aren't up to par. While it's a much more prestigious venue to hold an awards ceremony, honor Van Sant's films by presenting them (in 35mm!) at the big Gaslamp.

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Comments

dannybaldwin June 14, 2012 @ 11:47 a.m.

Forget about the "Psycho" remake. Will it include "Restless"?

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kozakkarl June 14, 2012 @ 1:56 p.m.

Scott in regards to your statement that -- "In it's former incarnation, the SDFF was not much more than a collection of film festival rejects spooled together to form the basis of an excuse to throw post-show galas."

That statement is completely baseless and in my OPINION - you're an idiot for even stating it. It shows how little you actually know about festivals.

As the former programming director of the San Diego Film Fest for 10 years, it's a fact that each year myself and the programming team screened over a thousand film entries, solicited the top festival winners (Sundance, LA, Tribeca & Palm Springs), and met with up and coming filmmakers - all to get the best films we could. I know, I was there, you weren't. You were busy trying to be a critic. I can tell you that our programming was as good, or better than a number of other festivals in our category. I know because I attended many of those festivals over the years and would often encounter the same films thats were on the festival circuit. That's a fact.

And the fact the festival threw great parties & galas was irrelevant to the film line-up. Nothing was better than sharing a drink and story with the filmmakers and actors at those parties. As a matter of, I believe the new SD Film Fest oragnization is planning to have some special parties as well. But maybe you're just not a "party person".

Lately, you've taken several cheap stabs at the festival in the media. I'm not sure why, but I could guess...

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Scott Marks June 14, 2012 @ 2:53 p.m.

I'll save you the guessing game. While we have a handful of outstanding festivals in town, I tend to avoid them by nature. Art shouldn't compete for silver loving cups. If a film is THAT good, chances are it will get a commercial playdate. Such was the case of Michael Knowles' exceptional "The Trouble With Bliss" a film that took home the Best Narrative Feature award at the 2011 SDFF and opened at the Gaslamp in April.

Truth be told, the overall selection of films at SDFF was fairly pedestrian. (What was the ratio of American to foreign language films?) After the first year, I stopped going. I would check out each year's lineup, but honest to god there was nothing that compelled me to leave the house.

On a professional note, I did reach out to promote the festival on several occasions. I still appreciate the Richard Dreyfuss interview the festival set up for me while at SDNN, but SDFF's promotional machine wasn't always firing on all pistons. I don't ever remember receiving a screener, let alone a screening invitation for one of your movies. Calls for interviews or press information went unanswered. It was as if they didn't want to promote the films being shown. How can I be busy trying to be a critic when you don't give me the opportunity to write about your stuff?

There is no way that you or anyone will ever convince me that the old regime didn't work harder at party planning and catering than they did film selection. I am not the only critic in town to call SDFF out on this. David Elliott wrote about it in the pages of "The Reader" and two months ago the U-T's Nina Hall asked me for a quote to back her up.

I was delighted to hear that Kevin Leap took control of the festival. From the look of things, he's not one to put the party before the pictures.

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dannybaldwin June 14, 2012 @ 5:45 p.m.

I DID go to the movies at SDFF -- 46 of them over the years, to be exact, because I am a masochist -- and I can confirm that the vast majority of titles were brutal. Opening night, closing night, and the prime shows on Saturday--always the most commercial movies in the festival--were often the only good ones. And as Scott asserted, these would all open theatrically soon thereafter.

In fact, I just investigated, and over five separate years of attendance, I saw ONE good movie at SDFF that didn't ever receive a proper San Diego release ("Inside the Circle").

Sure, it can be tough to book a smaller-market fest, but they could have at least peppered things up with easily licensed repertory screenings, like this van Sant retrospective.

But hey, I'm really optimistic that things will turn around this year, too. God willing...

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