Please Stand By


What to do when the festival film you've come to see starts late or gets replaced by a movie you didn't want to see? Read a book and chill. Such snafus are as much a part of movie fest lore as the indie director with the big dreams.

"Definitely," says Jeffrey S. Conner, executive director of the Newport Beach International Film Festival, which opens today. "Making 'Titanic' and printing 3,000 copies is different from independent filmmaking."

Last year several entries in the Newport Beach festival screened late or weren't shown at all, which left moviegoers the choice of watching something other than what they came for or nothing at all.

Many such mishaps were linked to trafficking problems or to aspiring producers with meager budgets; they could afford to make only one or two copies of their movies--which they had also promised to one or more other festivals around the world going on about the same time, Conner said.

Submissions to this year's fest rose by about 200 to 625, Conner said, so organizers were able to be more selective and choose technically superior films by producers who had higher budgets and could afford to make more copies. (This will mean better color and sound quality too, Conner added.)

Scheduling conflicts should be fewer this year because no other festival is on right now, Conner said. Closest on the calendar are one two weeks before and one three weeks after the local one.

"We won't have to worry about the only copy of a film coming from the Tokyo Film Festival and getting it through customs" overnight, he said.

Still, glitches are never completely avoidable, so bring that paperback. Other festival tips:

* Buy tickets by phone through ETM Ticketing, (888) 386-8497, at ETM kiosks and through the festival's World Wide Web page: If you can't plan ahead, keep this in mind: 24 hours before each screening, 25 tickets will be put on sale at the box office. In addition, five minutes before each show, up to 25 unclaimed Total Access Passes (which allow admission to all screenings) will be released for purchase.

* Get a free festival schedule at any Edwards movie theater in Newport Beach, the Edwards South Coast Village in Santa Ana and Edwards Town Center in Costa Mesa, Captain Blood's Village Theatre in Orange or at any Pavilions market in Orange County; Pavilions stores also have ETM ticket kiosks.

* Keep current with the festival's information line, (714) 546-3456, which provides daily updates, including schedule changes.

* Cross your fingers and hope the movie you want to see doesn't sell out. As of press time, these screenings were full (except for late-release tickets):

"Circles," Friday, 7:30 p.m.

"Violent Times," Sunday, 6 p.m.

"Big Wednesday," Wednesday, 7 p.m.

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