Dreams come true at Malibu’s 4th film festival

"The Robert Amiel Triathlon," named for a Los Angeles police captain who emphasized physical fitness, began on Zuma Beach in 1985. Above, swimmers charge into surf at Point Dume.

Five years after its debut, the Malibu Film Festival is confident and growing strong. The festival’s motto boasts that this year’s program will “showcase the best of independent cinema.”

By Kristen Lowrey/Special to The Malibu Times

With new dates and some enhancements, it’s nothing but blue skies for this year’s festival, which had a soggy start its first year with rains soaked festival-goers. Festival founder David Katz is hopeful that it will be the largest turnout yet. He says the festival dates were moved from the original start date of Aug. 15, to Sept. 26 through Oct. 2, partially because Pepperdine is in session at that time and Katz hopes more students will attend the festival. The Pepperdine Ambassadors Council has been asked to serve as greeters throughout the week, which will promote ties between the university and the festival.

Promotion for the festival has also been expanded through all of Malibu’s publications as well as commercials, which can be seen on Charter and Adelphia cable systems. Driving down PCH it is hard to miss the banners hanging from light poles declaring the festival’s approach.

Last year, festivities began with a sumptuous evening at the castle home of Lilly Lawrence, a long-time supporter of the festival, featuring outdoor film screenings, a fashion show and a banquet. This year, the opening gala will move down the hill starting at The New Malibu Theater. Festivities will begin at 7 p.m. on Sept. 26 with the film premiere of “Lou,” which was co-written and directed by Bret Carr.

“Getting picked over 3,000 films in this festival is a dream come true,” Carr said.

Following the screening the revelry will continue with a fashion show, food, live music and entertainment at Duke’s Malibu. Tickets for the opening night gala can be purchased for $100 per person at TicketWeb.com where most of the festival tickets will

be sold.

One addition to the festival this year is a second theater as opposed to only using The New Malibu Theater.

“(The second theater will be) a House of Documentaries at the Malibu Library,” Katz said of the room that will be converted by Wexler Video Incorporated for the week. “This idea was taken from the pages of the Sundance (Film Festival). It’s a good way to show our growth.”

The House of Documentaries will host screenings on Saturday, Sept. 27, and Monday, Sept. 29.

What to see

Features that will be shown this year are “independent films that are very cutting edge films from around the world,” Katz said. “This year, like last year, we have a good number of Malibu filmmakers.”

Justin Lisson, a 16-year-old aspiring filmmaker and Malibu resident, created “Be Who You Are, Listen To What You Want.” Other Malibuites featured in this year’s festival include Jane Seymour in “Touching Wild Horses,” directed by Eleanore Lindo. Oliver Hudson and Dominique Swain star in “As Virgins Fall” by Steven C. Ward, and a film by Jeff Jensen titled “High Speed” will educate audiences about the world of superbike racing.

“We also have more established filmmakers,” Katz said. “[For example,] Vicky Jensen, her film is ‘Family Tree,’ was also the co-director of ‘Shrek.'”

Carr is particularly excited for the festival because it fulfills part of his lifelong dream.

“I was a nerdy imprisoned New York Jew and it was my dream to be an emotionally free surfer on the beaches of Malibu as an adult,” Carr said. “I surf at Surfrider and I thought, wow, I really love the community there.”

Carr moved to Malibu in pursuit of that dream and an audience for his film. Carr’s Web site, BretCarr.com, describes “Lou” as the story of a man who reaches the place in his life “when you decide between becoming your parent and having to kill the very behavior that allowed you to survive growing up at their hands.”

“Lou” was made on a budget of only $50,000, pocket change compared to industry giants today. However, the film did get some help from three Oscar winners, including Redecker. “Lou” will be shown at least three times during the festival, the first performance is Friday, Sept. 26, at

7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 27, is slated to show films for a younger audience such as “Chlorine,” a documentary on “pool skating,” a sport involving skateboarding in empty cement swimming pools. “[‘Chlorine’] really has a strong spirit,” Katz said. “It possesses great values.”

“A short film for people who like stories of the heart is ‘The Wormhole,'” Katz said, extending his personal recommendations for what to see.

Other youth-oriented films will include “‘The Neptunes present … The Eight Planet,’ a post-modern experimental documentary on

the producer/pop icon duo,” according to the festival program listed at the official Web site www.MalibuFilmFestival.com.

The site is the most comprehensive source of information for the festival with everything from the festival’s history to ticket purchasing, as well as a complete listing of all films in the festival and synopsis for those who might wish to plan ahead.

That’s a wrap

The festival will conclude with the Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Cream Liqueur Awards Ceremony, on Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. Taverna Tony’s will host the evening, which is priced at $100 per person. A more economic option to celebrating the festival winners is “The Best of Festival,” screenings of the winning films, which will take place Oct. 2.