Newport Beach Film Festival Opening Gala Set for April 25

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Lynn Selich interviews members of The Side Deal

Opening night of the Newport Beach Film Festival is always a dazzling affair, with a red carpet in front of Edwards Big Newport theater with filmmakers and actors, VIP speeches, the opening night film premiere, and of course the gala after-party across the street in the Bloomingdale’s courtyard at Fashion Island.

This year’s opening night is even more special—it’s the 20th anniversary of the Newport Beach Film Festival, and they’re ramping up the fun.

“We are tremendously proud and excited about our 20th anniversary,” said festival CEO Gregg Schwenk. “We have an amazing lineup of award-winning films from other festivals, including US, North American and World Premieres. We have the largest commitment from filmmakers attending in the history of the festival.

The opening night of the festival on April 25 features the West Coast premiere of a film called “Luce” that had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Directed by Julius Onah and starring Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Harrison Jr., Tim Roth and Norbert Leo Butz, “Luce” is about a married couple forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son, adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher threatens his status as an all-star student.

Opening night

“It was one of the most talked about films at Sundance” and was nominated for the Grand Jury award said Sara Sleeger, director of programming for the Newport Beach Film Festival. “It’s a strong film, we’re excited to be opening the festival with it.”

After the film, walk over to Fashion Island for the big after-party presented by Pacific Sales. Begin your Gala experience with a “Toast to 20 Years” sponsored by Korbel Champagne. Then, enjoy hosted bars by Tito’s Vodka and Peroni while keeping yourself hydrated throughout the event with LIFE WTR.

More than two dozen of the area’s top restaurants will be serving signature bites, including Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, Red O, Fig & Olive, and Great Maple. There will also be treats from Le Pain Quotidien, Nespresso, BToffee and Atomic Creamery.

The Side Deal

Once again, The Side Deal band returns to entertain on the mainstage. The Side Deal is Stan Frazier of Sugar Ray, Charlie Colin of Train, and Joel & Scott Owen of PawnShop kings. They are bringing with them a handful of impressive musical guests, including Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads), Jack Grisham (TSOL), Frank Agnew (TSOL), Bob Andrews (Generation X), D.H. Peligro (Dead Kennedys), Alfie Agnew (Adolescents), and many more.

“I don’t know how we’re gong to get them all on stage,” joked Colin, who serves as the festival’s musical director.

After opening night comes seven days of film screenings: nearly 350 films from 50 countries, from full length narrative and documentary movies to short subjects and music videos.

The Newport Beach Film Festival’s complete schedule is on their website at


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  1. The NpB Film Fest & La jolla Film Fest(Fred Sweet)are Just a Great Fun Events.i have been going there for years with my Family.Talk about NETWORKING ? this is firm is Working on a Documentary for my Song/Production & Script of “Soldiers Eyes”(ascap).the Musicians (and Friends)on the track are from the Kenny Loggins / Michael McDonald & Elton John bands, The Recording and much High level Press are Available for Review by Request.Contact: Joseph Nicoletti -Global Village Music-Film Group (ASCAP) P.O.Box 386 Laguna Beach, California 92652 USA Office 949-632-3338