San Diego International Film Festival begins Oct. 15

Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci star in "The Irishman," Martin Scorsese's new drama about hitman Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran (De Niro) and the role he played in the disappearance of union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).

With everything from major box office draws to short films by students, the San Diego International Film Festival will be held Oct. 15-20 at multiple venues throughout the city.

“It’s a great opportunity to come out and really immerse yourself in the experience,” said Tonya Mantooth, the festival’s CEO and artistic director.

The festival will begin Oct. 15 at Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave., in downtown San Diego with a screening of “Jojo Rabbit,” a World War II satire that received one of the top awards at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Mantooth said the festival’s slate of films, selected from the thousands of submissions the festival receives, were chosen to capture many of the most important issues going on around the world, such as sex trafficking, animal poaching and social justice. Among this year’s documentaries, “Breaking Their Silence” highlights the women risking their lives to stop the poaching of wild animals, “Bellingcat” examines a citizen investigative journalist collective that has risen to prominence, and “Tribes on the Edge” shows the threats faced by indigenous groups.

Major motion pictures in this year’s lineup include “The Irishman,” directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. Based on a memoir about hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran’s involvement in organized crime, Sheeran (De Niro) recounts his involvement in the disappearance of union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). The film premieres Oct. 17 at ArcLight Cinemas, 4425 La Jolla Village Drive, with a pre-screening reception at 5 p.m., followed by the movie at 6:30 p.m.

“We try to give everybody an experience they want,” Mantooth said.

Honorees at this year’s festival include Laurence Fishburne, who will receive the Gregory Peck Award for Cinematic Excellence; Pitbill, who will receive the Music Icon Award; and Lindsay Wagner, who will receive the Humanitarian Award.

“We encourage people to buy a pass, spend as many days with us as you can,” Mantooth said.

At Arclight Oct. 20, this year’s festival will also feature a culinary component that provides viewers food tastings inspired by the films they see.

The other venues that will host film festival events are the Pendry, 550 J St., and Theatre Box, 701 Fifth Ave., in downdown San Diego.

Tickets for the San Diego International Film Festival are available for individual movie screenings, and passes ranging from $79 for single-day access to $599 for a VIP member pass. For more information, visit