Malibu Film Festival founder says event will return to its city of origin next year.
By Ryan O’Quinn / Special to The Malibu Times
The sixth annual Malibu International Film Festival is in the record books and festival organizers declared the event a success and say that next year’s plans are already underway.
There were several noticeable changes to this year’s film festival including the time of year and the venue. The opening night party, premiere party and all the screenings took place in Santa Monica, but event planners say the festival will return to Malibu next year.
In addition to the locale of the screenings, a decision was made to change the time of year for the annual event from August and September to April. Festival founder David Katz said that decision was made for several reasons.
One factor was to alleviate traffic issues in the summertime, Katz said, and, “We also would like to boost tourism in Malibu during a time of year that is not a tourist-heavy time. This year, most of the events are primarily in Santa Monica, but next year most of the events [will be] in Malibu.”
Katz also pointed out that industry involvement tended to be higher this time of year and that should prove advantageous for those seeking to sell and distribute films.
The opening night party took place on Thursday night at the chic Viceroy hotel in Santa Monica. The outdoor event featured a well attended fashion show sponsored by Maui and Sons. Bikini clad models flaunted the 2005 Summer Collection on a catwalk appropriately situated between the hotel’s outdoor swimming pools amidst a décor of palm trees and surfboards.
“We couldn’t have asked for anything any better,” said Festival Director Tiffany Peckosh following the opening night festivities. “This wouldn’t have happened without our sponsors. We have a great group of volunteers as well.”
The film screenings began on Friday and took place at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. Twenty-eight of the 32 films screened during the weekend had their premiere at the festival. Friday night also saw a good turnout for the premiere party at the banquet hall at The Victorian at Heritage Square in Santa Monica.
Katz said he was grateful for the Santa Monica venues, but he was in negotiations with The Sunset Restaurant, Pepperdine University and The Wallace Theater Corporation so the 2006 festival would return to the city of origin.
“We are in talks with the Malibu Theater again,” Katz said. “We just need to raise sufficient funds to rent the theater. They have helped us out greatly in the past and we hope to grow together. The future is very important and I want to bring it back to Malibu.”
The awards party took place Monday night at Granita restaurant in Malibu. The red carpet affair got underway at 7 p.m. with several notables in attendance including honoree Pierce Brosnan, Malibuite Sally Kirkland and legendary talent manager Jay Bernstein.
“Malibu is a great place to be creative,” said Bernstein, who has represented the likes of Suzanne Somers and Farrah Fawcett among others. “It’s probably the best artist community in the world. Malibu is everybody’s dream.”
Most of Monday’s award winners were in attendance at the closing night party. Many credited the festival for giving them a venue to showcase works.
“It’s very exciting to be in this film festival because Malibu is a wonderful place,” said Joey Naber, star of “West Bank Story,” winner of the Special Jury Award for Live Action Short Film. “This is our first screening in L.A. and it’s great because of the connections that are available in a place like Malibu.”
Two of Monday’s most coveted awards went to the feature film “Hooligans,” directed by Lexi Alexander, which took home the Audience Award and Jury Award for Best of Fest Feature. The film starred Elijah Wood as an expelled Harvard student who goes to England and becomes entangled in the world of British soccer hooligans.
The final presentation was a special award given to Malibu resident Pierce Brosnan for Achievement in the Arts. Brosnan was introduced by his producing partner, Beau St. Clair. The duo formed the production company Irish DreamTime in 1996 with the goal of fostering new talent and producing independent films.
“This night for me is very personal and meaningful because I’ve lived in this community for many years,” Brosnan said. “Thank you people of Malibu, people with a passion for film. I’ve been blessed to work with the best people in this business. I want to thank my wife, too, because she is the backbone of my life and love, and career.”
Katz wrapped up the five-day festival by thanking the sponsors for their support and said the 7th Annual Malibu International Film Festival will be next April. The presenting sponsor once again this year was Paul Mitchell. Other sponsors included Maui and Sons, Patron Tequila, Viceroy Santa Monica, The Victorian, Duck Duck Mousse, Granita and Twin Fin. More information on the festival can be obtained by visiting www.malibufilmfestival.org.
Sixth Annual Malibu Film Festival awards
Best of Festival Feature-Audience Award
Dir. Lexi Alexander
Best of Festival Feature-Jury Award
Dir. Lexi Alexander
Best Documentary-Audience Award
“Mad Hot Ballroom”
Dir. Marilyn Agrelo
Best Documentary-Jury Award
“Between the Bridges”
Dir. Adam Ross
Best Documentary Short-Audience Award
“The Hot 8”
Dir. Greg Samata
Best Animated Short Film-Audience Award
“The Meaning of Life”
Dir. Don Hertzfeldt
Best Live-Action Short Film-Audience Award
“The Big Empty”
Dir. J Lisa Chang / Newton Thomas Sigel
Special Jury Award – Live Action Short
“West Bank Story”
Dir. Ari Sandel
Best Live-Action Short Film-Jury Award
Dir. Jake Varava
2005 Festival Honoree
Achievement in the Arts