More than 1,300 film submissions were pored over, and the final list was pared down to a carefully vetted 200 films, including 11 world premieres, 16 West Coast premieres and four U.S. premieres.
New this year is the variety of locations at which the red carpet will be rolled out. Films will be screened at two venues — the Reading Theater in the Gaslamp Quarter (701 Fifth Ave.) or the Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla, Sherwood Auditorium (700 Prospect St.) — during the festival, running Sept. 26-30.
Even bigger news is the star power that will be present at this year’s festival — namely, Academy Award-nominated director Gus Van Sant, who will be on hand for a tribute and retrospective at MCASD La Jolla on Sept. 27.
“Gus Van Sant’s independence and talent as a director make him truly stand out in this industry,” said film foundation board chairman Dale Strack in a recent statement. “We are honored to host what is sure to be the first of many film festival retrospectives to celebrate his films, his career and his vision.”
Van Sant, known for his success with indie and art-house films, will be present for a screening of arguably his best-known work, “Good Will Hunting,” which celebrates the 15th anniversary of its release this year. A retrospective of work spanning his career will be screened throughout the festival.
Other panels include a discussion and screening of documentary “Trek Nation,” featuring Rod Roddenberry, son of the late Gene Roddenberry, creator of “Star Trek,” as well as panel discussions with film executives and seminars for aspiring filmmakers.
The festival’s nightlife, meanwhile, promises to rival any party San Diego’s neighbor to the north could dream up, with the entire Gaslamp transformed into a cinematic paradise with screenings and parties scheduled for the duration of the festival. An “Almost Famous” block party on Sept. 28 will feature an outdoor screening of the film by the same name, complete with a visit from the original Pennie Lane (whose character is played by Kate Hudson in the film).
Tickets for individual films start at $14 for pre-sale and $16 at the door. Prices for multiple screenings range from $75 for a one-day pass up to $500 for a festival VIP pass to all screenings, premieres, events and panels on all days. For more information about the San Diego Film Foundation or for the full schedule of films being shown at the film festival, visit www.sandiegofilmfest.com.
Film highlights of the
2012 San Diego Film Festival:
• “The Sapphires” — It's 1968, and four young, talented Australian Aboriginal girls learn about love, friendship and war when their all-girl group, The Sapphires, entertain the U.S. troops in Vietnam. Sept. 26, 7 p.m. at Reading Theater, Gaslamp.
• “The Oranges” — A comedy about two families who have been lifelong friends, and the hilarity that ensues when a rebellious daughter returns home for the holidays and causes a scandal that forces everyone to re-examine what happiness really means tothem. Sept. 29, 6:30 p.m. at Reading Theater Gaslamp.
• “Quartet” — Cecily, Reggie and Wilfred are in a home for retired opera singers. Every year, they take part in a concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday on Oct. 10. Jean, who used to be married to Reggie, arrives at the home and disrupts their equilibrium. Still, the show must go on. Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m. at Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla.
• “Seven Psychopaths” (Part of Horror Fest at Gaslamp) — This comedy follows a struggling screenwriter who inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu. Sept. 29, 9 p.m. at Reading Theater Gaslamp.
• “Grassroots” — After losing his job, a journalist reluctantly agrees to help his oddball friend with his bid to earn a seat on the Seattle City Council. Sept. 30, 7 p.m. at Reading Theater Gaslamp.
• “Red Line” — Moments after departing from the Hollywood & Highland Metro Station, commuters on L.A.’s subway system experience a sudden explosion. Most passengers die on impact as the train is violently derailed and sent smashing into the tunnel’s walls. Sept. 29, 6 p.m. at Reading Theater Gaslamp, Sept. 30, 5:30 p.m. at Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla
• “The Story of Luke” – Luke’s world is turned upside down when his grandmother dies and he is forced to live with his dysfunctional relatives who have no patience for him or his senile grandfather, who they quickly force into a nursing home. For the first time in his life, Luke has a mission. Sept. 29, 7 p.m. at Reading Theater Gaslamp.
• “Man Inside” – Clayton Murdoch carries a terrible darkness inside him. As a boy, he was exposed by his father to murder and gang culture.
With his father now in prison, Clayton struggles to overcome what he was groomed to become, in a city where every day there is a constant threat of violence and death. Sept. 27, 8:30 p.m. at Reading Theater Gaslamp.
• “3,2,1 ... Frankie Go Boom” – A comedy about two brothers, a girl with a broken heart, a sex tape, an angel and a pig. Sept. 28, 7 p.m. at Reading Theater Gaslamp. Sept. 29, 8 p.m. at Coast Room La Jolla.