Film Festival participation expands

There really is something for everybody at the 13th annual Newport Beach Film Festival.

Screening more than 400 short and full-length films from 50 countries, the festival, which will go from April 26 till May 3, will include fêtes, meet-the-artist conversations with actors and filmmakers, red-carpet nights and more.

In addition to new releases in all genres, the 2012 festival will also showcase some classic films. It also has an educational component.

Cory Ceizler of Quartararo & Associates said new elements of this year's festival include the use of the Port Theater and the remodeled Island Cinema. This year marks the largest number of venues to date, and the largest number of participating restaurants.

There will be 160 feature-length films, of which 81 are narrative features and 79 are documentary features. They are joined by 239 short films, which will be categorized into 40 shorts programs.

Local filmmakers will have a strong presence. The Collegiate Showcase will highlight 45 films from students at area colleges and universities, while 26 youth films by filmmakers ages 18 and younger also are on tap.

True to Newport Beach form, an Action Sports Film Series will show 19 films, five of which are world premieres, featuring sports like paddleboarding. A music film series has expanded to 12 films, and nine films from five countries make up the Art, Architecture + Design Film Series. An Environmental Film Series will spotlight water, nuclear, food and sustainability issues.

Following the opening night world premiere screening of "Jewtopia," featuring a large ensemble cast of celebrities and based on the hit play, at the Edwards Big Newport, the Festival's Opening Night Gala at Fashion Island will feature a variety of local restaurant tastings. Tickets are $125 for the screening and gala, or $80 for the gala.

"Our programmers review thousands of films each year, and 'Jewtopia' stood out with great performances from the ensemble cast," Ceizler said. "We also like the fact that even though the film is a world premiere, 'Jewtopia' is the longest running comedy in off-Broadway history. Additionally, our programmers felt that 'Jewtopia' would play well with the Newport Beach Film Festival audience and set a great tone for the rest of the evening, which includes a special performance from Broadway's 'Million Dollar Quartet.'"

The Festival will close with the world premiere of the Bill Paxton romantic comedy "Shanghai Calling" on May 3, and a subsequent celebration in the Via Lido Plaza.

If You Go

What: Newport Beach Film Festival

When: April 26 to May 3

Where: Various locations in Newport Beach

Cost: Varies


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