San Diego International Film Festival to celebrate 20 years

The San Diego International Film Festival has in-person and virtual offerings this year.

The San Diego International Film Festival returns Oct. 14-24, celebrating its 20th anniversary by highlighting the increased diversity throughout the film industry that has been achieved since it first started.

Many of the features, documentaries and short films highlighted this year were made by a wide array of filmmakers from around the world. The festival’s CEO, Tonya Mantooth, pointed to the rise in films made by women.

“I think we’re seeing so many more female filmmakers really make bold choices in their storytelling, which is great to see, but also seeing the audience really opening up to not only foreign films, but films that are made by filmmakers from diverse backgrounds,” she said. “I think it’s a reminder of really how far the industry has come and how far the audience has come as well,” Mantooth said. “I think we’re all so much more enriched when we can look at somebody else’s perspective and walk in their shoes. I feel like everybody becomes a better person by having that new perspective.”

This year’s events start Oct. 14 with an opening night screening of “C’mon C’mon,” directed by Mike Mills, and a reception at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. From Oct. 15-24, screenings will be held at the Museum of Photographic Arts, the San Diego Museum of Art, Catamaran Resort and other local venues. There will also be a Festival Virtual Village with on-demand options for viewers who want to stay at home.

The popular culinary cinema event, in which attendees sample a few dishes that complement a cuisine-themed movie, will return Oct. 17 at the Catamaran Resort.

Mantooth added that the film “C’mon C’mon,” starring Joaquin Phoenix as a radio journalist who goes on a cross-country trip with his young nephew, captures the togetherness with family that has been lacking during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If there’s anything we’ve learned from the last 18 months is that we all kind of went through the same thing together, alone,” Mantooth said. “We all dealt with our concerns, our fears and being alone. I think that gave us this longing for family that maybe we had lost sight of because we were all so busy. I think we now have kind of come back to community and come back to friends and family with a little bit of a reminder of how important that is. I think this movie brings you that piece.”

The festival’s closing night feature will be “The Lost Daughter,” directed and written by actress Maggie Gyllenhaal in her directorial debut. Looking ahead, organizers want to continue the festival’s ascent into one of the top destinations on the circuit.

“There’s definitely room for San Diego to have that kind of destination festival experience,” Mantooth said.

Attendees are required to be fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 PCR test within the past 72 hours to attend the festival’s in-person events and film screenings, according to a festival news release.

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