August 12, 2022

San Diego International Film Festival changes format as it turns 20

For 2021, the San Diego International Film Festival returns with a new format adapted to the COVID-19 era.

Last year’s festival was severely limited, due to COVID-related restrictions, and was reduced to just four days. Some screenings took place in drive-ins, while everything else appeared virtually. This year’s festival takes place over a more typical duration in line with previous years, from October 14 to 24.

Tonya Mantooth, CEO, co-founder and artistic director of the festival, said there will still be limited screenings but no longer in person. For the first time, selected screenings will take place in a dynamic way in venues across the city.

“This year we knew we wanted to create something that people feel comfortable with,” Mantooth said. “So, yeah, as things start to open up people are still being cautious and we really wanted to respect that.”

Mantooth explained that at the same time, the festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and the team really wanted to make a splash. Everyone decided the best way to celebrate the festival’s milestone while still being protected from COVID was to create smaller viewings at various locations around San Diego.

Ultimately, Mantooth says everyone at the festival understands that the general requirements include environments that “feel safe” and are “not huge”.

“Usually we have big parties and big galas,” Mantooth said. “This year will be a much more intimate experience with three days at Balboa Park, then at the Catamaran, where we turned the hotel’s meeting rooms into screening rooms and people can enjoy being on the bay. We also wanted to recognize the military influence in the city, which is why we will be on the Upper Midway Deck, honoring the men and women who serve, ”she said.

In keeping with the COVID era, there will always be a virtual viewing platform for those who have decided that in-person events are still too risky. Mantooth says that while a certain community is obviously lost because they can’t come together in person for these movie screenings, there are some obvious advantages to operating online, even in part, that the festival would like to continue. to move forward.

“We have experienced our ability to reach outside of the region… people just want to see great movies. The virtual elements allowed people to experience it again. We were also able to do question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers from all over the world. So while we still have a lot of filmmakers present, it was amazing to have a panel where you have a filmmaker in Russia, you have a filmmaker in Brazil, but anyone can be there. This is something that wouldn’t have happened before, ”Mantooth said.

Many of the films selected for this year’s festival reflect broader social and political pains that are felt around the world. Mantooth said about 3,200 films had been submitted from 65 countries – “a huge voice.”

Mantooth noted that many films feature female voices, including two gala films. “The Last Daughter” is directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal and stars Olivia Colman, and “The Power of the Dog,” which is based on a 1967 novel of the same name, is directed by Jane Campion.

Continuing down this path, race issues were something Mantooth said organizers were specifically looking to represent this year. “One of the things that is part of our mission statement is that there are a lot of things that divide us, but what we need to look for is what we can find in common. How to bridge this gap and not increase it? She said, referring to the racial divisions across society.

“One of the films is called ‘Finding a Scholarship’, and this will be one of our in-person screenings,” Mantooth said. It’s a racially divided city that comes together because of a shared church, bringing new perspectives to all of the characters in the film. A panel discussing these dynamics will accompany the screening, which includes KGTV’s local vice president Leon Clark.

“These are topics that a film festival can and should address,” Mantooth said. “Because it’s about ‘How do you walk in someone else’s shoes?’ Because that’s the only way to really develop a feeling of empathy. And once you have empathy, now you can have a conversation. This is how we think people can come together. This translates into what we have organized this year.

Additional highlights of the festival:

Mantooth notes that the festival was able to highlight “a lot of studio premieres” during the in-person screenings. She mentions “C’mon, C’mon” with Joaquin Phoenix as a special draw, as well as “Belfast”, a film about the unrest in Northern Ireland, which stars Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe and Judi Dench. She also cites “Spencer,” which talks about the late Princess Diana and stars Kristen Stewart, as being particularly fashionable.

“All of these movies are already generating Oscar buzz,” Mantooth said. “It’s an opportunity for an audience here in San Diego to come out and see these movies before everyone else.”

San Diego International Film Festival

When: October 14-24

Or: Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Museum of Art, Catamaran Resort, USS Midway Museum

Tickets: $ 259 VIP pass; $ 159 in-person festival pass; $ 50 for a pass for the screening and reception at the halfway point; $ 16 individual tickets. Virtual passes cost $ 49 or $ 29 for individual weekends.

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