Arts & Life, Film & Television

CSULB filmmakers debut compelling short films at Newport Film Festival

The 24th annual Newport Beach Film Festival highlighted emotion on the big screen with an eight-day gathering from Oct. 12 to Oct. 19, which captured and celebrated multi-faceted accomplishments within cinema and storytelling.

Newport’s highly-anticipated lifestyle festival was hosted by the NBFF, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to bring the best in independent and international films. Over 58,000 film and food enthusiasts enjoyed the film screenings, industry events, awards programs, cultural celebrations and after-parties, catered by over 60 participating culinary partners.

Screenings took place at a variety of theaters within the Newport area, including THE LOT, Regal Edwards Big Newport, Starlight Triangle Cinemas and The New Port Theater. Award ceremonies, industry gatherings and after-parties scattered within the packed schedule were held at Fashion Island, Lido Marina Village, The Resort at Pelican Hill, Balboa Bay Resort, Sherman Library and Gardens and Time Nightclub.

The screened primary categories included 41 feature documentaries, 46 short documentaries, 60 feature narrative films and 133 short narratives, in addition to the spotlight and centerpiece categories.

The collegiate showcase was the designated category that premiered short films from Cal State Long Beach students on Sunday, Oct. 15. Six short films, no longer than 13 minutes, were displayed from primarily alumni who graduated during spring. The films included “Fight for a Dream (Luchar Por Un Sueño),” “Good Boy,” “Gutterpunks,” “My Mother’s Daughter,” “The Sky’s the Limit” and “Adversary.”

10/15/23 - Long Beach, Calif.: Short film directors, actors and friends pose for the press with bright smiles, following the debut of six CSULB short films at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
Short film directors, actors and friends pose for the press with bright smiles, following the debut of six CSULB short films at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Photo credit: Nuelle Obaseki

Between solemn moments of silence during the heart-wrenching murder of a street vendor in “Fight for a Dream,” or delighted laughter during the self-discovery of a self-proclaimed Satanist in “Adversary,” every emotion could be heard during the screening at the Big Newport theater.

“It was inspiring to see the culmination of hard work from fellow FEA students and classmates on the big screen,” said Keyan Madani, a student minoring in film and electronic arts.

“None of the films were the same, in terms of genre and theme, which was cool to see.”

Despite commonly associating the acronym “BLT” with a savory sandwich, the cast and crew for “The Sky’s the Limitlikely think of the Beach Launch Team on campus. The film, directed by Luke Pajari, documents the STEM student organization’s journey in building and launching a rocket.

“It [the film] demonstrates the spirit that even if you have the cards stacked against you, it is important to shoot for the stars and follow your goals,” Pajari said.

NBFF’s event schedule was jam-packed this year with industry legends, novice filmmakers and attendees who celebrated star power in entertainment with a slew of public and private events.

A special screening of the blockbuster animation film, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” was presented and followed by a conversation with two of the screenwriters, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Rainn Wilson discussed his most recent book at an Author Talk. Mark Ronson also filmed a live taping of a podcast, whilst receiving an award for Outstanding Achievement in Music for scoring “Barbie,” to name only a fraction of events that were hosted by the festival.

Attendees are encouraged to purchase a NBFF pass that grants early access to festival tickets, provides exclusive access to year-round screenings and special events and unlocks a streaming archive of more than 100 festival alumni films, industry Q&As and periodic alumni screenings, as well as special NBFF programming.

A total of five packages, ranging from $15 for short film entry to an inclusive $50 for spotlight films and party admission, provided unique tiers to the festival experience for fans to enjoy. If being immersed in a dark theater watching multiple films back-to-back does not seem enjoyable, a party admission-only ticket is available for $30.

For the casual and die-hard fans of cinema, or anyone just looking to celebrate during a weekend in early October, NBFF will be hosting eight days of film, food and fun for their silver jubilee, marking their 25th anniversary next year.

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