The ninth annual Ojai Film Festival spools out its programs Nov. 6-9 with 57 independent films, lifetime achievement honor ceremonies and a seminar to fill in the four-day event.
Hosting sponsor and headquarters for the festival is the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa resort. Ojai has become a viable path for filmmakers and their work to get noticed.
That festivals such as Ojai, a four-day event focused on films that wouldn’t otherwise be seen in the mainstream but are of a very high caliber.
“There are so many more films being made since the advent of digital technology, and in the past eight years, the festival has sent over a dozen films on to win the highest honors in the industry, including Academy Award nominations and Oscars,” said artistic director Steve Grumette, who was one of the festival’s founders in 2000.
The Lifetime Achievement Award honorees are already in place: science-fiction author Ray Bradbury and the highly acclaimed directing/producing team of Lauren Shuler Donner and Richard Donner get feted on Saturday, followed by the Filmmaker Awards and the Closing Night Party. Hosts of the evening will be Malcolm McDowell and writer Peter Bellwood. Video presentations for Bradbury have come in from Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Roy Disney, adding to the stellar lineup of those who will be in attendance, including Edward James Olmos, Academy Award-winning actress Diane Ladd, and COPS producer John Langley.
The Donners have asked to screen Ladyhawke, and Bradbury asked to screen The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, the latter having a limited theatrical release. The special screenings will take place at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Matilija Junior High School auditorium.
The Donners will have a 30-minute Q&A afterward, and there is a video interview to be screened with Bradbury. A special opportunity for fans with tickets to the Lifetime Achievement Awards is to get one of these rare books signed by Bradbury, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. only in the lobby of the Hacienda Ballroom on the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa property. A ticket must be presented t to participate.
The hottest addition to this year’s festival is the Ojai Film Festival Celebrity Golf Classic, headed up by local Ojai resident and actor Malcolm McDowell. Other celebrities signed up to play include Tim Matheson, Bruce McGill, Mickey Dolenz, Bobby Herbeck, Robert Hays and Joanna Pakula.
Opening this year’s festival with the traditional free community screening, Grumette has chosen Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights to be screened under the stars on the recreation field at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. Grumette chose the film because of the huge positive response when Chaplin’s Modern Times was screened with live orchestral accompaniment earlier this year at the Ojai Music Festival.
“The film has a new digitally recorded soundtrack performed by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra that will knock your socks off,” Grumette said. “Plus, City Lights was recently declared one of the top 10 greatest love stories of all time by the American Film Institute. And I’m betting most people have never seen this film on the big screen, and almost surely not with this incredible music. It will be a triumphant opening night under the stars.”
Executive Director Maureen “Mo” McFadden said: “Although the population of Ojai is just a little shy of 9,000, those residents and businesses have supported the festival and films heartily and have given the festival its base for these nine years. That baseline of support along with Grumette’s ability to really pick the good ones, has made Ojai Film Festival a contender in the film festival circuit, and it’s really exciting.” Click here for a list of films.
Jury members this year are Narrative Shorts and Features: Catherine Ann Jones, Geraldine Kennon and Mark Solomon; Documentary Shorts and Features: Rex Weiner, James Becket and Robert Wise; and Animated films: Cathy Karol-Crowther.
All-access VIP passes are $300. Click here or call 805.640.1947 for more information about the event.
Mo McFadden represents the Ojai Film Festival.