Lights! Camera! La Jolla! San Diego Film Festival comes to The Village

Nicole Gale Anderson in a scene from “Red Line.” The thriller, about a bomb attack on the Los Angeles subway system, was shot almost entirely in San Diego. Directed by former San Diegan Robert Kirbyson, it screens 6 p.m. Sept. 29 in the Gaslamp and at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla. Courtesy Yellow Line Pictures
Nicole Gale Anderson in a scene from “Red Line.” The thriller, about a bomb attack on the Los Angeles subway system, was shot almost entirely in San Diego. Directed by former San Diegan Robert Kirbyson, it screens 6 p.m. Sept. 29 in the Gaslamp and at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla. Courtesy Yellow Line Pictures
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Quartet,” Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, screens 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29 in Sherwood Auditorium of the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla. The film, which received rave reviews earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival, involves the residents of a home for retired opera singers. Courtesy

San Diego Film Festival

■ When: Sept. 26-30

■ Where: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 700 Prospect Street, La Jolla; Reading Theater, 701 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

■ Tickets: Individual films $14 pre-sale, $16 door

■ Passes: $75-$500 ■ Schedule/Tickets:

sdfilmfest.org

VIP Lounge (21+)

■ Where: Roppongi, 875 Prospect St.

■ When: Sept 28-29, 5-9 p.m.

By Pat Sherman

With fresh energy and leadership at the helm — and a bevvy of A-list events and 50 percent more screenings — San Diego Film Festival (SDFF) organizers are upping the ante for 2012 and beyond.

A primary component of SDFF’s growth strategy is the addition of La Jolla as a venue for several of its top screenings, including “Quartet,” actor Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, and an opening night appearance by legendary filmmaker Gus Van Sant (“Milk,” “My Own Private Idaho”), who will be honored with a career retrospective and a screening of his 1997 drama, “Good Will Hunting” (starring Matt Damon, Robin Williams and Ben Affleck).

“La Jolla’s inclusion was really important,” said the festival’s new board president, Kevin Leap, noting that screenings will now be split between the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) in La Jolla and Reading Theater in the Gaslamp, where the festival has been based for years.

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Nicole Gale Anderson in a scene from “Red Line.” The thriller, about a bomb attack on the Los Angeles subway system, was shot almost entirely in San Diego. Directed by former San Diegan Robert Kirbyson, it screens 6 p.m. Sept. 29 in the Gaslamp and at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla. Courtesy Yellow Line Pictures

“There are a lot of people in North County, La Jolla included, that just won’t go to the Gaslamp,” Leap said. “La Jolla has such a high propensity for supporting the arts that we wanted to make it as easy as possible for La Jollans (to attend).”

This year’s festival, Sept. 26-30, includes 112 films, documentaries and shorts, including 11 world premieres and 16 West Coast premieres — all jury-selected from 1,300 submissions.

Tickets for individual movies are $14 pre-sale and $16 at the door. Passes range from $75 for an entire day of screenings to $500 for a VIP festival pass granting access to all four days of screenings, events, and panels.

Leap said organizers wanted to hold their “most prestigious event,” the Van Sant tribute, in La Jolla.

“He is the embodiment of what an independent filmmaker begins as and can become,” Leap said. “He makes films for the sake of beauty and art. It’s not 10,000 explosions and people flying across the screen; it’s independent film at its highest level.”

A VIP cocktail reception with Van Sant will be at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27 at MCASD, followed by a 30-minute film retrospective and “Good Will Hunting” at 7 p.m. in Sherwood Auditorium. Tickets to the cocktail reception are $125, or admission is free with purchase of a VIP pass.

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Four days of exceptional films will screen at MCASD’s Sherwood Auditorium Sept. 27-30, with a rare guest appearance by Gus Van Sant (pictured). Courtesy SDFF

Leap said festival organizers envision the SDFF evolving into “Toronto West.”

The Toronto International Film Festival (held this year Sept. 6-16) draws more than 250,000 attendees — numbers Leap feels SDFF could eventually achieve, given the city’s proximity to Hollywood, as well as its plethora of hotels, restaurants and attractions.

The SDFF board consulted Sundance Film Festival organizers, as well as those with festivals in Toronto, Tribeca, Napa, Aspen, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara to gain insight on growing SDFF from last year’s attendance of about 8,000 to an internationally acclaimed festival drawing 100,000 film lovers.

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