Newport Beach Film Festival Announces Opening and Closing Night Films

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Film Festival marquee at Lido Theatre, from a previous Newport Beach Film Festival screening. Photo by Chris Trela

The 2023 Newport Beach Film Festival has announced the opening and closing night films that bookend the festival that runs October 12 through 19.

The opening night film on Thursday, Oct. 12 is the Los Angeles Times Envelope screening of “The Absence of Eden,” directed by Marco Perego and starring Zoe Saldaña. The opening night film returns to the Edwards Big Newport theatre, which will host a red-carpet event prior to the screening. The filmmakers will be in attendance for a moderated interview prior to the screening. There will be a post-screening gala at Fashion Island.

The festival will close with Focus Features’ “The Holdovers,” directed by Alexander Payne and starring Paul Giamatti, on Thursday, Oct. 19 at the Port Theatre in Corona del Mar.

In between opening and closing night, the Festival will host world premieres, awards contenders, nightly special events and compelling conversations with filmmakers.

Zoe Saldaña stars in “The Absence of Eden”

“The Absence of Eden”

“The Absence of Eden” centers around an ICE agent (Garrett Hedlund) struggling with the moral dilemmas of border security and an undocumented woman (Zoe Saldaña) fighting to escape a ruthless cartel who cross paths and work together to save the life of an innocent girl.

The film is produced by Academy Award-nominated producer Julie Yorn and Marco Perego, along with Robert Kravis and Karl Herrmann under their banner of Pioneer Pictures, and Academy Award- nominated producer Alexandra Milchan.

Academy Award-winning director and producer Martin Scorsese, and Rick Yorn serve as executive producers, alongside Zoe Saldaña’s Cinestar Pictures, Ingenious Media, Ashland Hill, Sycuan Tribal as well as Ruben Islas, Jolene Rodriguez and Stanley Preschutti.

Paul Giamatti (center) stars in “The Holdovers”

“The Holdovers”

“The Holdovers” follows a curmudgeonly instructor (Paul Giamatti) at a New England prep school who is forced to remain on campus during Christmas break to babysit the handful of students with nowhere to go. Eventually he forms an unlikely bond with one of them — a damaged, brainy troublemaker (newcomer Dominic Sessa) — and with the school’s head cook, who has just lost a son in Vietnam (Da’Vine Joy Randolph).

The Focus Features comedy is directed by Alexander Payne and produced by Mark Johnson, Bill Block and David Hemingson. Chris Stinson, Tom Williams, Andrew Golov and Thom Zadra serve as executive producers.

Tickets to the Opening Night Film and Gala are $225. Tickets to the Closing Night Film and Gala are $145. Gala events are open to attendees 21 & older. For Festival passes, tickets, and complete line-up, visit

About Newport Beach Film Festival

Recognized as one of the largest luxury lifestyle film festivals in the United States, the Newport Beach Film Festival brings an internationally curated collection of films and vibrant cultural gatherings to the beautiful Southern California coast.

Committed to championing the work of original storytellers from around the globe, the Festival celebrates contemporary screen culture, cinematic excellence, engaging the community in compelling conversations with filmmakers and artists.

The Newport Beach Film Festival is sponsored in part by UCI Health, Los Angeles Times, The Macallan, Fashion Island, and the City of Newport Beach.

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