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San Diego International Film Festival turns 20, as pandemic brings new methods

An enduring festival around film created for 2021
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Posted at 5:50 PM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 14:45:59-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The red carpet will be rolled out as, this year, the San Diego International Film Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary.

With 160 films, a virtual village, famed landmark screenings, outdoor cocktail parties, and a military fundraiser on the flight deck of the USS Midway, the festival is proving that the pandemic may force a new footprint, but there’s still a way to create an enduring festival around film.

Tonya Mantooth, the CEO and artistic director of the SDIFF, and her team wanted to bring "people and place" together with film holding screenings at Balboa Park, Mission Bay, and an aircraft carrier on the Embarcadero.

Opening night on Oct. 14 will be Academy Award-winning Joaquin Phoenix in "C’mon C’mon," a story of a radio journalist who travels the country with his nephew and begins to see the world through the eyes of a child. A theme of relationship re-commitment Mantooth says is especially pertinent right now.

Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal makes her directorial debut with "Lost Daughter," starring Olivia Colman, and Jane Campion, who brought us "Piano" 17 years ago, directs "The Power of Dog." There’s talk both women could see nominations for Best Director.

“All the in-person screenings are films I think we will see on the awards track," Mantooth says.

"Do Not Hesitate" is one of three films in the festival shedding light on the sacrifice and service of our nation’s military. The top war documentary in history, "The Hornet’s Nest," will play on the USS Midway, with proceeds going to RTAG, an organization helping veterans find employment.

Filmmaker David Salzburg created the real story from footage shot by embedded war journalists during the surge of the war in Afghanistan. Salzburg hopes it also inspires viewers to ask how can I help.

The power of film, broadening, enlightening, transforming, or just providing an escape, even if just for a time.

The SDIFF runs from Oct. 14 through Oct. 24. Tickets and a schedule of events can be viewed online here.