The Newport Beach Film Festival launched its week-long marathon screening of more than 300 films on Thursday, Oct. 21 with the world premiere of a documentary about the history of Vans and its founder.
Now, film fans are descending on Newport Beach to view a variety of short and full length narrative, documentary, action sports and other films that are screening through Oct. 28.
Several filmmakers have reached out to the NB Indy to draw attention to their individual films. Here are a few highlights that are screening this weekend and next week:
“Electric Jesus” (Oct. 28): Billed as “a wistful coming-of-age music-comedy,” this film takes place in the summer of 1986 and follows shy teenager Erik when his dream comes true of running sound for his favorite band, 316—a Christian hair metal band. While on tour, a pastor’s daughter stows herself away in the band’s RV after a church performance in Alabama. She ends up becoming the band’s muse, head-turning opening act, and Erik’s first love.
“We’re All In This Together” (Oct. 26): Written, directed by and starring Katie Boland as twins, We’re All In This Together focuses on the Parker family, who have had their fair share of complications. When matriarch Kate Parker miraculously survives plummeting over a waterfall in a barrel (a feat captured on a video that goes viral), suddenly, the dysfunctional Parkers have to do something they never thought possible: act like a real family. Dealing with themes of trauma, mental illness and unexpected redemption, “We’re All In This Together” is a never before seen story with a tour de force performance by director Boland at the heart of the film.”
“Medicine Man: The Stan Brock Story” (Oct. 25): This award-winning documentary feature, directed by British filmmaker Paul Michael Angell, has already shocked, angered, and inspired audiences from coast to coast at notable film festivals. The film recounts Stan Brock’s extraordinary life story, tracing his journey from anaconda-wrestling TV star to free healthcare provider of last resort for countless Americans, and offers a unique perspective on the US healthcare crisis as seen from the front lines. Angell, who spent nearly a decade helming the production, stated, “Our only hope is that this film will show people what is really at stake when talking about healthcare provision. People need to realize that there are Americans out there who have no choice but to camp out in parking lots overnight to get their teeth pulled in sports halls and fairgrounds. This happens every weekend, all across the United States. Healthcare is fundamentally a human issue and should not be treated as a political football. That was always central to Stan Brock’s beliefs, and I hope that is people’s key takeaway after seeing this film.”
“Pure Grit” (Oct. 24): Chronicling three years in the life of a young Native American woman, Pure Grit is described as “a thrilling and intimate tale of extreme bareback horse racing, young love and hope when all seems lost.” Sharmaine is a former horse racing champion, determined to ride and win. It’s been a year since she last raced. A year since her sister was paralyzed in a catastrophic accident on the track. Sharmaine quit racing to care for her. In the stunning Wyoming wilderness of the Wind River reservation, Sharmaine and her new girlfriend Savannah begin to build a life for themselves. But the atmosphere at home soon deteriorates and the young lovers are forced to leave for the industrial Commerce City, Denver. The city brings freedom and opportunity, but also distractions and a strain on their fledgling relationship. When racing season starts, Sharmaine sees the potential for a fresh start, but life, like the race track, doesn’t always go according to plan.
“Unfinished Lives” (Oct. 23): In 2014, 24-year-old USC graduate student, Xinran Ji, was beaten to death by four teens when returning home from a study session. A lawyer, Rose Tsai, took it upon herself to tirelessly advocate on his behalf and represent his parents, as they attempt to understand the senseless tragedy together. This documentary has won numerous film festival awards, including Gold Medalist at the 47th Student Academy Awards, and Best Documentary and Special Jury Award at the 2021 BAFTA Student Film Awards.
“Wichita” (Oct. 24): Director Sergine Dumais’ directorial debut, the short “Wichita” was written and produced by Bo Price and has won numerous awards at film festivals around the country. It’s part of the “Short Edge of your Seat” collection of shorts, and tells the story of a modern woman who receives an unexpected request from her husband while in the arms of her lover. Sara only has a few minutes to race home before she gets busted. The filmmakers state that “in this crazy and humorous race-against-the-clock, we see how fast a woman will run to save her marriage.” The filmmakers are currently developing “Wichita” into a feature.
“What Would You Do?” (Oct. 24): This film screens as part of the “Odds and Short Ends” collection of short films. Stemming from a casual conversation among friends and brought to life with the hope of evoking large-scale dialogue, “What Would You Do?” explores morality and human behavior through the actions of the story’s main characters. The audience will witness how the characters act and respond when faced with the same moral dilemma.”
For tickets to these films screenings and more information on the Newport Beach Film Festival, visit www.NewportBeachFilmFest.com.