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‘A Life of Endless Summers,’ Eugene Levy on top for abbreviated-so-far Newport Beach Film Festival

Bruce Brown pauses to reflect at "The Endless Summer" book launch party and celebration.
Bruce Brown, center, pauses to reflect at “The Endless Summer” book launch party and celebration of the 50th anniversary in 2017 of his surf exploration and travel movie. The late Brown is the subject of “A Life of Endless Summers: The Bruce Brown Story,” showing Thursday at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Newport Beach Film Festival is pivoting again in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with a premiere held drive-in style next week plus a virtual Lifetime Achievement ceremony that can hold cinephiles over until the full festival can move ahead.

The debut screening of “A Life of Endless Summers: The Bruce Brown Story” — a spiritual sequel to the seminal 1966 surf documentary “Endless Summer” — will be on Thursday at 8 p.m. on the upper level of the parking structure between Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom at Fashion Island.

Two days prior, the festival, in partnership with Variety magazine, will honor actor Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek,” the “American Pie” franchise) with a prerecorded show to be streamed on the Newport Beach Film Festival website. The first-ever NBFF Lifetime Achievement Award presentation, featuring “Schitt’s Creek” costars and other celebrity guests, shows at noon Tuesday on newportbeachfilmfest.com.

Schitt's Creek
David (Dan Levy), left, Moira (Catherine O’Hara), Johnny (Eugene Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy) from a publicity still from season two of “Schitt’s Creek” from 2016.
(Pop TV)

“A Life of Endless Summers: The Bruce Brown Story” is directed by the late Brown’s son, Dana, and is a tribute to the man behind the iconic surf film and the Oscar-nominated 1971 motorsports film “On Any Sunday.” The screening would have been the opening night film for the 21st annual Newport Beach Film Festival, and in a way, still is — although dates for the rest of the festival are pending.

The festival was originally scheduled for April but postponed after sweeping stay-at-home orders blanketed California. The festival rescheduled for Aug. 6 through 13 but delayed again for dates to be announced, after the reopening of movie theaters.

“The health and safety of our filmgoers and staff is our number one priority. While we are disappointed to not present a full festival in August, we are thrilled to bring the community together to celebrate and honor the legacy of Bruce Brown and his impact on documentary filmmaking and surf culture,” said Gregg Schwenk, festival chief executive and co-founder, in a statement. “With the festival’s longstanding commitment to action sports cinema and deep relationship with the Brown family, it is the ideal film to celebrate a legendary filmmaker in an iconic setting.”

Admission to the Thursday screening is $75 per car and includes a goodie bag. The showing doubles as the kickoff event for the Lot Drive-In Summer Movie Series, continuing weekly through Aug. 30. Tickets are available at newportbeachfilmfest.com.

“The 21st annual Newport Beach Film Festival is Southern California’s largest lifestyle film festival and fastest growing in the United States, bringing 50,000 attendees to our shores annually,” said Gary Sherwin, president and chief executive of Newport Beach & Co. “We applaud Gregg and the team for their incredible commitment to keep the spotlight on film, filmmakers and Newport Beach despite these unprecedented times.”

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