Published August 19, 2003
Volume 11, Number 8

Goal Line Backs Fifth Annual California Independent Film Festival
Local Production Company Helps Turn Festival into a Local Event

Cloris Leachman  Film Logo
Academy Award winning actress Cloris Leachman is this year's honoree.

By George Walsh
Network Editor

Northern California may not be the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of movie production, but the area hosts its share of film work, from location shoots for major studios to independent films made by local actors and directors. That’s why the California Independent Film Festival, held in the Livermore Valley Wine Country November 1st and 2nd 2003, is a great attraction for local filmmakers as well as those who create audio-visual entertainment in other locations around the globe.

The California Independent Film Festival relies on monetary and in-kind sponsors along with local cooperation to support its existence. In recent years, the addition of a major sponsor from Hacienda Business Park, Goal Line Productions, has helped to elevate the Festival to a new level. Enlisting Goal Line’s president, Joe Madden, led to making the Tri-Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau a presenting sponsor along with the Livermore Wine Growers Association, which provided the festival with access to its great venues and great wine. “It gave the Festival a whole new character by really making it a unique destination,” Madden says. The festival also needed a first-class venue to assemble several hundred people for the award ceremony and gala. Goal Line donated its 7,000 square foot soundstage and company time to make the award presentation and gala a success.

The California Independent Film Festival was founded in 1998 by local filmmaker Derek Zemrak, who still acts as the Festival’s president. “Being an independent filmmaker, I know how difficult it is to find venues for screening your films,” Zemrak says. “I started the Festival to give myself and others a place to show their work. I always intended to have the Festival in the Tri-Valley.” In 1998, the California Independent Film Festival was held at the Pleasanton Hilton. The following year, it moved to a theater in Walnut Creek, and then to the Fine Arts Cinema in Berkeley. Starting in 2002, the California Independent Film Festival found its home in the wine country. “It’s a great venue, independent filmmakers and independent wine makers,” Zemrak says.

The entries in the California Independent Film Festival include features, shorts, mini shorts (under 10 minutes), music videos, animation, documentaries, and original screenplays. The Festival expects to screen nearly 100 films from the 300 that will be submitted. So far, submissions have been arriving from The U.S., Japan, Germany, Belgium, Thailand, Denmark, Spain, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. All of the films are screened in the barrel rooms of five Livermore Valley Wineries: Rios-Lovell Estate Winery, Cedar Mountain Winery, Concannon Vineyard, Stony Ridge Winery, and Tamas Estates Winery.

Beginning in 2002, the California Independent Film Festival began a new tradition of honoring a deserving member of the film community at its gala reception. Last year, attendees were treated to seeing academy-award-winning actor Martin Landau receive an award recognizing his achievements. This year, the Festival will be honoring Academy Award Winner, Emmy Award Winner, and Golden Globe Award Winner Cloris Leachman. “This is a true independent film festival,” Madden says. “These are movies ranging from those that hardly even have a budget to those that might have been made for a couple of million dollars. Madden is also pleased with the Winery Venues. “I can’t think of another event where you can eat popcorn, drink good wine, and see great independent films,” he says. “It’s fun turning a space that’s not normally a theater into a place that’s unique and enjoyable to watch a movie.”

Opportunities to participate in the California Independent Film Festival are still available to both filmmakers and those who would like to connect their business with the 2003 event through a sponsorship. For more information, visit the Festival’s web site at www.caindiefest.com.

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