Stars come out for this year's San Diego International Film Festival

Festival runs September 28 – October 1

Frances Conroy, Gabriel Byrne, Nathan Lane, and Jon Michael Hill in No Pay, Nudity, one of the 100 films playing this year's San Diego International Film Festival.
  • Frances Conroy, Gabriel Byrne, Nathan Lane, and Jon Michael Hill in No Pay, Nudity, one of the 100 films playing this year's San Diego International Film Festival.

“Putting on a festival is kinda like having a baby,” writes Tonya Mantooth, executive and artistic director at the San Diego International Film Festival. “You don't remember the pain until you go into labor, aka prefestival chaos.”

Tonya had her work cut out for her, what with corralling the big events and 100+ features, documentaries, and shorts that will pass through town between September 28 and October 2. It was a tougher-than-usual year when it came to securing promotional interviews. Annette Bening, this year's recipient of the Gregory Peck Award of Excellence in Cinema, is shooting in London and was unable to free up time for more than one interview.

I'm a great admirer of George Varga, so much so that I'll link to his talk with Ms. Bening. George is a superb journalist best known for his writing on music. You don't see me reviewing Jimmy Buffet at Humphrey's, do you? Look, I don't begrudge him the interview one bit, but doesn't everyone know your one stop destination for all things cinema in this town is The Big Screen?

Do I regret not getting Annette to set for a tete-a-tete? You bet! Ditto Kate Beckinsale, whose changeful schedule made difficult to pin down whether or not she’d put in a personal appearance to pick up her Cinema Vanguard Award. By the time news arrived that she will indeed be at the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla to be a part of Variety’s Night of the Stars tribute, the deadline for print had passed.

Truth be told, I did manage to snag one interview that means the world to me. Look for my talk with veteran character actor, Joe Grifasi, coming this week to The Big Screen. His latest film, No Pay, Nudity screens October 1 at 3:30 pm and October 2 at 11 am. You probably don't recognize the name, but a quick visit to Google Images will bring palm to forehead followed by a resounding, "I know that guy!"

United Artists Horton Plaza

475 Horton Plaza, Downtown San Diego

The announcement of one big change is in order. This is the first year in its history that the SDIFF won’t be using the Gaslamp 15 as one of its home bases. The closure of the beloved theatre signaled a shift across the Quarter to what’s left of the UA Horton Plaza. Patrons once too lazy to make the two block hike from the parking facility to the Gaslamp are now just steps away from their destination. (Park on level onion.)

ArcLight La Jolla

4425 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite H60, University City

The second “festival village” is Arclight La Jolla. Heads up: the Genesee Avenue parking lot remains closed for reconstruction. They promised that the work would be done by fall, they just forgot to specify the year. Here are a few parking tips courtesy UTC Westfield. Either that or leave now.

For a complete list of times, titles, and events visit

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