Whether you live in SLO County or somewhere beyond, here are my top 21 reasons why you don't want to miss this year's festival.
1. Movies matter. The SLOIFF screens documentaries, dramas, classics, narrative features, short films, animation and more, providing moments of laughter, sadness, fear, wonder and enlightenment on the big screen.
2. The festival is down to earth. Sure, their special events are full of glitz and glam and special celebrity guests, but SLO County's laid-back vibe always shines through.
3. Ticket prices are affordable. Forget the high-priced tinsel-town film festivals, the SLOIFF offers a variety of tickets and passes ranging from $12 - $285.
4. The focus is sharply on the filmmakers. Dozens of movies are screened throughout the festival. Filmmakers provide real-life insight by attending many of the screenings and engaging in Q&A's with the audience.
5. SLO County spans over 80 miles of coastline. Whether you're in need of a vacation or staycation, the California Central Coast is a real-life Shangri-la, brimming with unspoiled beaches. Catch a movie and an ocean sunset!
6. You can't beat the local Mediterranean climate. If you're currently stuck in a blizzard: there's hope. SLO County's temperate weather offers a reprieve from harsh weather conditions.
7. Movies and events take place countywide. From Paso Robles to Atascadero, to Avila and Pismo Beach, to downtown San Luis Obispo, several movie theaters and venues host festival screenings and events, providing plenty of opportunities to explore the region.
8. There's an abundance of wine. SLO County boasts over 280 wineries—maybe even more; I've lost track. Get out for a taste!
9. You won't go away hungry. The farm-to-table movement is alive and well in San Luis Obispo. Restaurants all over the county incorporate fresh, local fare into their menus.
11. Their high-energy Surf Nite in SLO is in its 10th year. "Hollywood Don't Surf" and "Big Wednesday" screen at the Fremont Theatre on Thursday, March 12, with some big names in surfing bringing down the house for a Q&A and after-party. The SLOIFF's 4th Annual Spotlight Award will be presented to writer/director John Milius.
|Me with actor James Cromwell.|
13. The SLOIFF and Friends of Hearst Castle are making history this year. On Friday, March 13, Orson Welles' controversial film, "Citizen Kane," will screen for the first time ever in Hearst Castle's decadent Hilltop Theater. Special guests will be in attendance—and yes, this event is already sold out.
14. You don't want to miss the Special Presentation Films. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the 80s hit coming-of-age movie, "The Breakfast Club." As one of this year's Special Presentation Films, the SLOIFF pays tribute to the late director John Hughes with a screening of his iconic film at the Fremont Theatre on Friday, March 13. A Q&A with film critic Kirk Honeycutt and other special guests will follow.
15. No other film festival presents a King Vidor Award. On the evening of Saturday, March 14, which celebrity will take home the coveted King Vidor Award? Stay tuned for the festival's big announcement.
16. You have the golden opportunity to learn from industry experts in Behind the Scenes Workshops/Panels. Over the festival weekend, a professional actor will offer acting classes for kids and adults, a visual effects experts will share secrets for creating the perfect scene, visiting filmmakers will educate guests with their real-life stories of making films, and a Warner Bros. restoration expert will share his story of bringing a lost film to pristine condition.
17. The Movie Mogul pass let's you do it all. If you purchase a Movie Mogul pass ($285), not only do you have access to all of the festival's screenings, receptions, workshops/panels, and all VIP receptions (excluding the Hearst Castle events), you'll receive the SLOIFF 2015 Tasting Pass, valid at participating SLO County wineries.
18. The festival staff and volunteers put on a world-class event. With only two paid staff members, a hard-working board, and a team of dedicated volunteers, what an amazing feat they pull off every year.
19. SLO County's generosity is contagious. This festival couldn't happen without the generous support of its sponsors. Whether you live here or visit, you can't help but notice the community spirit.
20. The SLOIFF has truly come of age. I've attended this film festival for many years and watched it evolve over time. I've said this before and I'll say it again: The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival just keeps getting better and better with each passing year.
21. The festival is truly a feast for the senses. Film, wine and fun in SLO County. Need I say more?
|One of San Luis Obispo County's spectacular Cambria sunsets in February.|
|The Edna Valley region's wine country shining bright in January.|