Celebrating Cinema

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NBM_26_Allison Hata_By Jody Tiongco-3Spring is, for good reason, one of my favorite times in this city. The sun is out and it’s warm enough for beach days and Balboa Bars, but it’s not so crowded that you’re sitting elbow to elbow with another person on the sand. But beyond the great weather—which we basically have all the time, so I shouldn’t complain—what I’m most excited for is the Newport Beach Film Festival rolling out the red carpet at theaters across the city.

To put it simply, I love movies. There’s a sense of escapism in the act of settling down for a couple of hours and being pulled into a story that has nothing to do with your own reality. The same can be said for TV shows, books and music—you get an opportunity to imagine what it’s like being in another person’s shoes and feel what they’re feeling at that moment. Good movies give you a chance to explore something new, and great movies give you a new perspective on life.

The Newport Beach Film Festival has it all, from shorts and animations to documentaries and international spotlights. My sweet spot, however, is the features—an area where the festival never fails to disappoint. Last year, my favorite event was the U.S. premiere of “What Maisie Knew,” an incredible indie flick that took me on a roller coaster of emotions. The movie showcases bad parenting at its finest (or maybe its worst?), and as the titular character’s rock star mother and absentee father battle it out on screen, it’s easy to feel the confusion and heartache experienced by 6-year-old Maisie.

Though that film never went on to be a major box office blockbuster, plenty of others that debuted at the Newport Beach Film Festival have achieved impressive levels of critical and financial success worldwide. In this issue, we added a star-studded spin to our usual coverage, highlighting breakthrough films that have premiered at the festival in its long history (“Cinematic Success,” page 34). These are all titles you’ve likely heard, whether it’s for a cast of recognizable stars or for racking up nomination after nomination during awards season: the much-lauded, Oscar-winning “Crash” that established our coastal festival as a major player on the circuit; my personal favorite, “(500) Days of Summer,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt; “The Illusionist,” a period piece written and directed by Neil Burger; and so many more.

In 2014, the festival celebrates its 15th annual event with nearly 400 films in just eight days. Though the lineup won’t be officially announced until after press time, I’m confident that this year will again help propel notable films into the global spotlight.
You can find me at Big Newport on opening night April 24—I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Warm regards,
Allison Hata
Group Editor
allison@firebrandmediainc.com

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