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SCV Film Festival

Enjoy three days of family films at the the REP, produced by professionals and local up-and-comers

Posted: January 7, 2011 6:00 a.m.
Updated: January 7, 2011 6:00 a.m.

The SCV Film Festival opens tonight.

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If you are a film buff, like to catch future stars on the rise or just have a free weekend, the Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival, held tonight, Saturday and Sunday, is the place to be. The three-day event will feature quality family films from professional filmmakers and those produced by local high school and junior high school students.

This year's sixth annual festival offers a series of thought-provoking, funny and heartwarming films. Most films are appropriate for audiences of all ages and the festival takes place at the Repertory East Playhouse in Old Town Newhall, located at 24266 Main Street.

This year, the popular Script 2 Screen, Junior High and High School film screenings are back. At these screenings, local youth, as well as other talented youth from across the U.S. in the High School category, find their work featured alongside quality, professional, independent short films. It's a great opportunity to celebrate budding creativity and see professional work with filmmaker Q & As.

"This integration of professional films and youth-produced work has been a very beneficial change in our programming lineup," said Ramon Hamilton, the festival's executive director and co-founder. It allows the pros to screen their films for their target audience (families) and get valuable feedback. And it gives the young filmmakers an opportunity to view professional work, meet the professional filmmakers and "pick their brains."

In addition to the unique youth component, this year's diverse films include quality professional and collegiate films from across the United States and abroad, with projects by Canadian, Australian and Dutch filmmakers.

"Interestingly, one of the festival's films, ‘Grandma's House,' was made by a filmmaker from Amsterdam, but was actually shot right here in Santa Clarita," Hamilton said. "The director, Arend Steenbergen, received the Best Film Shot on Film award a few years ago and picked up his prize, 16 mm film, when he was visiting the U.S. Rather than worrying about getting the film back to Amsterdam, he decided to shoot a film in Santa Clarita and L.A. while he was in the U.S. It's exciting to feature that film in this year's festival."

Here is a sampling of other films in this year's event:

"The Mustard Stain," also shot locally, is a comedy by brothers Alex and Sam Tello, who are based in Santa Clarita. Their film takes a humorous look at a socially awkward neat-freak whose typical office day spirals out of control. "The Mustard Stain" screens Saturday afternoon, Jan. 8, alongside other comedic shorts featured during the Junior High School film block.

"Long Story Short" is a heart-warming comedy made by a group of comedians from Los Angeles' Upright Citizens Brigade, including writer-actor Whit Hertford ("Glee," "Jurassic Park"), actress and producer Nora Kirkpatrick ("Greek," "CSI") and actor Matt Jones ("Breaking Bad"). "Most films these days don't feature a genuine underdog," said Hertford, "but ‘Long Story Short' not only features a character that is a true underdog, but does a compelling job of making us root for him whole-heartedly."

This film is featured during an eclectic Saturday night screening with films that will make you laugh and touch your heart. This film block includes comedic shorts and dramas more appropriate for adult audiences than much of the rest of the festival's films.

"Alex et les fantomes" ("Alex and the Ghosts"), an animated film that tells a story of childhood magic and wonderment around a legendary hockey team, unites past and present and will touch the youthful hearts of sport fans of all ages.

Director Eric Warin worked on the much celebrated, critically acclaimed and Academy Award-nominated animated film, "Les Triplettes de Belleville" ("The Triplets of Belleville") directed by Sylvain Chomet. Warin was responsible for creating more than 400 characters for the Tour de France sequence.

"Alex and the Ghosts" screens Saturday afternoon during the Script 2 Screen film block, which features films made by participants of the festival co-founders' Script 2 Screen film classes, as well as other professional, short films appropriate for all ages. This Saturday afternoon tradition has become a favorite of the festival, selling out for two years in a row.


"Red Dust" and "Speakers' Corner" are among two of the five engaging documentaries included in this year's festival. "Red Dust" highlights the daunting obstacles facing Chinese female factory workers poisoned by the carcinogen cadmium, and comes from a talented L.A.-based female filmmaker. "Speakers' Corner" also has an international flair, as it shows the diverse group of people that gather and "perform" at Britain's famous Speakers' Corner (in Hyde Park), where, since 1872, people have gathered to exercise their rights to free speech. Both films screen during Friday's (Jan. 7) 8 p.m.

Documentary block, which is rounded out by "Haitian Hope," a film from a San Diego high school film teacher's two-week volunteer experience at a Haitian field hospital. The other two documentaries in this year's festival screen during Sunday evening's (Jan. 9) High School film block. "No Pity," a poignant expose of pity-based disabilities fundraising, was made by 14 year-old Drew Goldsmith, who himself has significant disabilities. His films have received awards at numerous festivals. "Jr. Posse" also screens Sunday night and tells the inspiring story of Mayisha Akbar's Equestrian Training Program for youth in Compton.

"Now that we are in our sixth year," said Hamilton, "it's been interesting to note where filmmakers who have been a part of the festival are now. Many of them are doing really great work and have been really successful. In some ways, our festival is part of that success." Filmmaker Neil Mandt's film "Last Stop for Paul" received the Independent Spirit Award at the 2006 SCV Film Festival and went on to be released theatrically, to air on Starz, and is directly linked to his current television success, which includes the TV Series "Destination Truth," a popular travel show, and "Next Stop for Charlie," which can currently be seen on Showtime.

Another success story is that of Santa Clarita's own Daryn Tufts. While Tufts is currently based in Utah, he grew up in Santa Clarita and his Christmas film "Stalking Santa" definitely ranks among one of the favorites of the festival. The film was an award winner at the festival and has been followed by another hit comedy, "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend," starring Alyssa Milano, which came out in 2010.

Of course, there was also last year's festival favorite, "My Name is Jerry," which featured Santa Clarita resident Doug Jones, known predominately for his character work in many films, particularly those of Guillermo del Torro, especially "Pan's Labrynth" and both films in the "Hellboy" series. Jones continues to be a busy and sought-out actor.

In the short film category, the festival has also seen its share of highly successful projects. Made by Wenchung Lu as a Cal Arts student, "The Shoes," featured at the first SCV Film Festival, was a Student Academy Award Nominee. Subsequently, "Binta and the Great Idea" was an official Academy Nominee in the short film category, and last year's award-winning "The Mouse that Soared" has qualified for consideration in the animated shorts category.


"This year we have a greater mix in terms of the diversity of films," Hamilton said. "And the level of the locally-produced youth films has been phenomenal. I think anyone coming to the festival is going to be pleasantly surprised with the overall quality of films."

"Given the past critical acclaim of films selected to our festival, we are always excited to give people locally here in Santa Clarita opportunities to see quality films and to meet filmmakers at critical launching points in their careers," explained festival co-founder Jennifer Fischer. "It will be interesting to see which films from this year's event go on to become critical successes or lead to future TV or film projects for the filmmakers or actors involved with the projects."

As always, the SCV Film Festival remains affordable for all, with daily passes priced at $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.

The SCV Film Festival is sponsored, in-part, by Fujifilm, Gorilla Software, SCV Bank, LA 411, SCVTV, the City of Santa Clarita, Final Draft, the College of the Canyons and the Repertory East Playhouse. For more information about the sixth annual Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival, visit www.scvfilmfestival.com.

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