Newport Beach Film Fest Opens Tonight, But You Never Would Have Thunk It Days Ago
|Another world premiere, Shanghai Calling, bookends the Newport festival May 3.|
"Newport is very committed to working with young filmmakers," says Schwenk, noting it's the eighth year of the youth competition.
Dennis Baker, who organizes the youth competition, says one invite-only event this year will put young filmmakers on a harbor cruise with professional moviemakers.
"It will be a one-on-one ratio of students and working filmmakers," Baker vows. "We want to make sure they interact so it's not students on one side and filmmakers on the other."
Both wind up getting something out of the experience, he notes: "The filmmakers love the young people's enthusiasm, and the youths like getting that dose of reality."
Baker's official job is directing the shorts programs, and like the features and documentaries, he sees the quality rising each year.
"We are going to have to turn away a lot of movies," he says. "It's very competitive this year. There will be 30-40 movies we'll turn away that we would be proud to show, we just don't have the screen time."
After Shanghai Calling rolls at the Lido May 3, the closing-night party returns to the plaza surrounding the theater, after last year being held on a street and in shops a block away. Because the final night's Lido screening always sells out, the festival has added more quality films at other theaters, so partygoers will still have something worthy to screen before getting their Absolut on.
Days before opening night, Schwenk was under no illusion that his staff and the remaining hairs they had yet to pull out of their heads are along in making the cinextravaganza a success, pointing out that 60,000 volunteer hours went into last year's run. But it's not all about them either, it's the movie fans, according to the CEO. And as long as the quality is sustained, they will come.
"The festival draws many viewers with flexible schedules, including housewives, physicians and waiters," Schwenk says. "People will play hookey for a good film."
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