Coast Film Festival returns to Laguna Beach and will showcase 50-plus films

A screen from Teton Gravity Research's "Winterland,"
A screen from Teton Gravity Research’s “Winterland,” which was shown at the Coast Film Festival last year.
(Courtesy of Coast Film Festival)

After a successful first year, the Coast Film Festival returns to Laguna Beach this week on a larger and broader scale.

The cinematic event, which tailors itself toward outdoor living and the environment, will feature more than 50 films this year.

Laguna Beach resident Ben Warner co-founded the film festival — now in its second year — along with Enich Harris, a sports brand marketer, and Ben Classen, a lifestyle brand marketer.

“What’s really unique about our film festival is the oceans and outdoors collectively come together,” Harris said. “So often, they celebrate each other in parallel and not really together, and for us, we thought it was a really unique opportunity to bring the ocean community together with the outdoor world and celebrate both together in one festival.”

As a community that is known for its affinity for the arts and its scenic coastlines, Laguna Beach was chosen as a location where cinematic art could be presented and appreciated. Beyond that, Harris said that Laguna Beach can be an example because “it’s a really unique community where they have the long-term vision of protecting both lands around us and the ocean.”

Robert Thompson, currently the police chief in Dixon, will replace Laura Farinella, the first female police chief of the Laguna Beach Police Department. Farinella is retiring.

The festival this year will have a different look, as most events have, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thursday will kick off the live and in-person portion of the festivities with three days of film showcases at the Ranch in Laguna Beach. Tickets can be purchased at Tickets will not be sold at the venue.

There will be three sessions from Nov. 12-14, each running from 5-10 p.m. General admission for a night session is $50, while VIP tickets are $100. Event organizers said Wednesday that Thursday night is already sold out.

On Friday and Saturday, there will be three short film blocks: 10 a.m.-noon; 12:30-2:30 p.m.; 3-5 p.m. General admission for one of those blocks is $25 and a student ticket is $15.

There will be a limit of 150 guests per live event and seating will be socially distanced. Masks will be required when not eating or drinking.

The winner of the Coast Film Festival Greg MacGillivray Environmental Filmmaker of the Year Award will be announced on Friday night.

Following the conclusion of the live events scheduled, a virtual experience will offer more than 40 films from Nov. 15-22. The cost is $15 to view an individual virtual screening, and a pass to be able to watch all available films is $75. Those films are only viewable during the fore-mentioned dates.

A portion of the proceeds from the Coast Film Festival will benefit environmental nonprofit organizations.

“We’re making a deeper commitment to raising funds for three organizations,” Warner said. “Protect Our Winters, which is a climate change organization, Surfrider Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting [beach] access and the cleanliness of our oceans, and then third is Wings For Life, which is a nonprofit that raises money for spinal cord injury [research].”

Warner added that the film festival is starting a scholarship for Laguna Beach High School seniors to recognize emerging filmmakers.

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.