Double Exposure: Jewish Community Center to host San Diego’s first Christian Film Festival next week
By Kelley Carlson
Hollywood has faith in San Diego.
Industry insiders and aspiring filmmakers are collaborating for the first San Diego Christian Film Festival, set from Dec. 27-30 in La Jolla.
The event will feature 65 films, entertainment, vendor booths, a silent auction, a roundtable, and an awards gala and reception. Everyone is welcome, which is one reason the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center was chosen as the venue, according to Anita Palmer of Glass Sea Productions, the organization behind the festival.
“It’s a great opportunity for family fun, something to do during the post-Christmas break,” said Richard Bagdazian, executive producer of the film festival. “We encourage the community to come out and enjoy it.”
One of the highlights of the festival is Youth Night on Dec. 28, which will feature the world premiere of “Cutback,” starring Matt Beacham of Fuel TV’s “New Pollution.” Filmed in Encinitas, it tells the story of a high school senior who dreams of being a surf pro but is forced by tragedy to re-evaluate his life. Members of the cast and crew, including Beacham and pro surfer Bryan Jennings, are scheduled to talk to the audience.
“We hope that youth groups and teens will take advantage of this great evening,” Bagdazian said in a news release. “There will even be a special drawing for a cast-signed skateboard, cool clothing and other stuff.”
Another featured event will be the Industry Insider Roundtable on Dec. 30. Mark Clayman, executive producer of the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” starring Will Smith, will be the keynote speaker. “I am privileged to be invited to share at the San Diego Christian Film Festival,” Clayman said in a news release. “Movies are an extremely powerful medium in today’s culture. It is vital that the Christian community encourage and support directors, writers and producers so that we can have an impact and influence on that culture.”Others on the panel include actor-director Corbin Bernsen, currently on the USA series “Psych”; Simon Swart, vice president of Fox Home Entertainment; Ken Wales, producer of “Amazing Grace”; Dan Rupple, former comedy writer for David Letterman; and screenwriter Andrea Nasfell, whose film entry “What If …” will be screened on Dec. 27.
The roundtable will be followed by a gala reception and ceremony, where awards in 22 categories will be presented. Bagdazian said about 150 films were submitted for the festival, and 65 were accepted. The top 28 will be screened, although festival-goers may request to watch any of the remaining 37 “honorable mention” titles on DVD in a “viewing bistro.”
“All 65 films are eligible for viewer’s choice awards,” Bagdazian said.
This festival is the first of its kind in San Diego and is not affiliated with ones shown in other cities such as Phoenix, San Antonio and Orlando, he said. It’s the brainchild of Bagdazian and a group of fellow screenwriters who noted that there were other film festivals in San Diego, yet none for the Christian genre.
“We thought a festival would be a good opportunity (for Christian filmmakers) to get exposure,” Bagdazian said. Fundamental planning began in July 2009, he said, with full production taking place this year, involving five board members and about two dozen volunteers. Competition for the films was held from February through May, with festival selections made internally.
Four jurors will decide on the awards during the festival: Karen Covell, director of the Hollywood Prayer Network and a producer; Dr. Alan Hueth, director of the film and TV program at Point Loma Nazarene University; producer and director Dallas Jenkins; and Susan Wales, executive producer of the annual Movieguide Awards, known as the “Christian Oscars.”
If you go
What: San Diego Christian Film Festival
Where: Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, 4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla
When: Dec. 27-30
Tickets: Online and at the door $8-$85; films free for youth under age 12; discounts for students, military and seniors
• Youth Night, beginning at 3 p.m. Dec. 28
• Industry Insider Roundtable, 6-7 p.m. Dec. 30
• Gala Reception, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 30 (gala ticket holders only)
• SDCFF Awards Gala, 8:30-10:30 p.m. Dec. 30
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