It’s a wrap for Malibu Film Fest’s 5th year

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Academy Award Winner Martin Landau poses with filmmakers Greg Bennick and Patrick Shen, winners of the Audience Choice Award for best documentary "Flight From Death." Photos by Heather O'Quinn / TMT

Martin Landau turns out for closing party; comedian Andy Dick presents best feature film.

By Ryan O’Quinn/Special to The Malibu Times

The 5th Annual Malibu Film Festival ended its weeklong run last week with a packed closing night party at The Malibu Inn. Limousines filled the parking lot, and a long line wound around the inside of the venue for hors d’ oeuvres and drinks.

The eight-day event came to a close following multiple screenings of 80 films in four venues in Malibu and Santa Monica. Festival founder David Katz said this year’s focus was on quality of films rather than quantity and said next year’s festival would be shorter in length.

“Next year’s festival will be shorter and sweeter and earlier in the summer. We are going to utilize the resources Malibu has to offer like the beautiful beaches and the beautiful pier,” Katz said.

Katz also said he would like to see screenings return to the Wallace Theater in Malibu next year. This year the theater was not made available for screenings and Katz said he hoped the success of this year’s festival would convince the administration of the theater’s parent corporation to let the event return to the Malibu site.

Shortly before 9 p.m. on closing night, Katz made his way to the stage and thanked the sponsors, some of whom were in attendance, including Malibuite Jean Paul DeJoria of the fest’s corporate sponsor Paul Mitchell. There were other notables in attendance as well, including Malibuite Martin Landau and actor/comedian Andy Dick.

Katz then began dispensing the coveted awards, which were in the shape of a film canister and had the winner’s name and each film’s title inscribed on the top.

Prior to presenting the Best of Festival Award, Katz brought Landau to the stage with a rousing ovation from the standing-room-only crowd. “Malibu is filled with stars,” Katz said as he welcomed the Academy Award winner. “Not only the ones under the night sky, but the ones here in this room.”

Landau then introduced Andy Dick by presenting him with a special first-time award for Best New Production Company. Dick stood and walked on the head table to get to the stage and accept the award and present the final trophy of the evening.

Dick presented the golden canister and a $1,000 scholarship from his company to producer Joe Smith and director David Rosenthal for the feature film “See This Movie.”

In Katz’s closing remarks he announced that the Malibu Film Festival will be applying this week for accreditation from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and next year’s festival winners should be eligible as nominees for the Academy Awards.

Following the awards and the announcements, the party lasted well into the night as attendees mingled and continued to celebrate as well as praise the week’s activities.

“I feel very grateful to the Malibu Film Festival,” said Neal Sopata, director of the Best Animated Short Film “Bid ‘Em In.” “If it weren’t for these festivals, I would have no way to market myself.”

Other award winners complimented the festival as well, including Paul Kelleher and Ted Mattison, producers of Best Documentary “Nothing Without You.”

“This award is very validating,” Kelleher said. “[It means] we are barking up the right tree with this film. It’s nice to know we can make a documentary that is poignant, fun and uplifting.”

Katz said the Malibu Film Festival has withstood the test of time and has continued to grow in notoriety and attendance, and will continue to be a staple in the Malibu film community.

“Five years is the make or break point for any business,” Katz said. “The Malibu Film Festival is never going away. We will be here as long as I keep waking up.”

Next year’s 6th Annual Malibu International Film Festival will take place Aug. 4 through 8. For more information on the festival or film submissions visit www.malibufilmfestival.org.