Published March 18, 2008
Volume 16, Number 3

Star-Gazing in Livermore—at Upcoming 10th Annual California Independent Film Festival 

Celebrity sightings in Livermore?  That’s just one of the attractions expected when the Tenth Annual California Independent Film Festival rolls into town for five days starting on April 16. In addition to screenings, parties, tributes, and awards, the event includes a Celebrity Poker Tournament and the inimitable Iron Filmmaker contest. A 24-hour whirlwind tutorial in filmmaking, this challenge kicks off with a warm-up workshop on the program guidelines, and then sends participants off to create a finished product to be screened and judged the following day.

“The festival is a lot more than just flickering lights and popcorn,” remarks director Wendy Madden, who has been involved in the event for the last six years. “We’re aiming to encourage and foster the art of filmmaking,” an undertaking that’s especially appropriate given the historical role of nearby Sunol and Niles Canyon as the atmospheric backdrop for the early movie business, she observes. “Audiences and filmmakers will have opportunities to meet and interact with the film industry’s elite. Seminars, filmmakers' breakfasts, Q&A sessions, and panel discussions all provide first-hand accounts of industry secrets, new techniques and equipment, budget issues, and on-set experiences,” Madden points out.

Since the festival was moved from November to its current time slot at the end of the Indie circuit, in mid-April, Madden has noticed a marked improvement in the caliber of films submitted. Entries this year number more than 1,200 across all categories. Attendance has grown to close to 5,000 people from all over the U.S. and eight foreign countries, and these visitors will make a significant contribution to the local economy. “We fill up the host hotel [the Livermore Courtyard by Marriott] every year,” Madden says. The action spills over into Pleasanton as many celebrities stay at the Rose Hotel.

This year’s Opening Night will feature a documentary, “On The Edge of Black and White,” by Pleasanton filmmaker Sean Laskey. In attendance will be old-time favorite TV stars Tony Dow (Wally) and  Ken Osmond (Eddie) from “ Leave it to Beaver”;  Marta Kristen (Judy Robinson) from “Lost in Space”; and  Jon Provost, Timmy, of “Lassie” fame.

Other features with gilt-edge credentials slated for viewing during the festival are “The Cake Eaters,” directed by actor Mary Stuart Masterson (who will be in attendance) and starring Bruce Dern (“The Astronaut Farmer”); “Take,” starring Minnie Driver (“Good Will Hunting”); “Flyboys,” starring-Tom Sizemore and Stephen Baldwin;  and “Alice Upside Down,” starring Luke Perry (“90210”), Penny Marshall (“Laverne & Shirley”), Alyson Stoner (“Cheaper by the Dozen”),  and Dylan McLaughlin (“Kicking and Screaming”).  Stoner and Mc Laughlin will both appear personally to host the Saturday morning children's short screenings.

Each submitted film is viewed at least six times during the first round of the screening process and evaluated on 12 industry standard categories. Festival founder Derek Zemrak and the programming staff utilize the screeners’ reviews while determining the final selections. A panel of eight judges, all industry professionals, selects award recipients in the various categories. For a complete schedule of events, which take place at a variety of venues in Livermore, visit the web site at http://caindiefilmfest.org/index.html.


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