Max and Jake Caliger were in for a treat at the Newport Beach Film Festival opening Thursday.
The Newport Beach residents, who are 12 and 13 years old, respectively, arrived early at the Edwards Big Newport 6 to see their favorite band, Green Day.
As it turned out, they got what they wanted — and then some. The Caligers positioned themselves at the end of the red carpet where the night's stars were arriving, and as Billie Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool and Mike Dirnt passed by, they stopped for a photo with the brothers.
"We're so excited — I was, like, crying when I saw them," said Max, who had the unique pleasure of seeing Armstrong laughing and pretending to choke him.
Clad in T-shirts with the band members' faces printed on them, the brothers carried a guitar and even their favorite Green Day album to express their love of the Grammy-winning punk-rock band. The boys' mother, Angela, added that her sons had been hardcore fans for years and were part of the mosh pit at the band's April 18 concert in Los Angeles.
"They have so much stage presence, put on a great show and write awesome music," Jake said.
The Caligers were particularly lucky in retrospect. While they scored a photo and personal interaction, the band, which was greeted with loud cheers (from mostly female admirers), left a moment later and refrained from giving media interviews.
The eight-day film festival, one of the most prominent in the region, debuted with the West Coast premiere of "Broadway Idiot" — a documentary woven around Green Day and its Broadway precursor "American Idiot." Before last night's show, the 80-minute film had been screened only at the South by Southwest Conferences & Festivals in Austin, Texas, in March.
This year, reviewers and programmers sifted through 2,700 films and handpicked the best 380. Over the next week, a music video program and action sports series will be rolled out, as will showcases of films from around the globe.
Filipino actor Jericho Rosales and filmmaker Ian Loreños took a 13-hour flight to be part of the festivities and celebrate the upcoming premiere of "Breakaway (Alagwa)," which centers on human trafficking in the Philippines. It's scheduled to play Sunday.
"I'm just really honored to be here," Rosales said of his second time at the festival. "I don't know what to say — I'm just very excited for our film to be seen by many other directors, actors and, of course, the locals here."
Usually seen in romantic movies, the Manila-based star revealed that he was drawn to his latest project since it was "dark" and gritty and contained an element of advocacy. The team filmed for 11 days, he said, which made for long days and hard work.
"Normally when I receive scripts, it's the opening that gets me, but with this one, after reading 10 pages of it, I immediately said, 'Yes,'" he said about "Breakaway," for which he is listed as co-producer. "It was so real and true, and as an actor it challenged me."
Big Newport attracted a large turnout more than an hour before the lights were dimmed for the film. Newport Beach's first couple, Mayor Keith Curry and his wife, Pamela, were part of the early arrivals and revealed that they have created a schedule and plan to be at an event every day of the festival.
"This festival brings people from all over the world into Newport Beach to enjoy our community and all that we have to offer, but also to see some wonderful films," the mayor said.
Some filmmakers, who are counting down to their own screenings, were motivated to be part of the festival kick-off because it afforded an opportunity to network.
Eagerly anticipating the audience's reaction to his submission, "Wiener Dog Nationals," director Kevan Peterson was looking forward to potential conversations with fellow directors.
Meanwhile, Austin Anderson, one of the actors in the film, said, "I'm just looking forward to seeing what people think of the movie, to be honest. I saw it once and was impressed."
Viewers must be impressed, too, since both screenings of the film are sold out — the first one in under five hours, a festival record.
Others, like longtime Disney lyricist Richard Sherman, of "Mary Poppins," "Jungle Book," "It's a Small World (After All)" and "Winnie the Pooh" fame, traveled from Chicago to have some fun.
"I'm going to enjoy myself watching new films and talent, and I'm looking forward to being surprised and happily gratified," he said.
Michael Gladis, popular for his role of Paul Kinsey on the TV series "Mad Men," echoed the sentiment.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the show and the after-party tonight," he said with a chuckle. "That'll be fun."
At the festival for the first time, Gladis will be at Via Lido Plaza on Friday in support of his latest venture, "In Security," which also stars Ethan Embry, Ving Rhames and Adam and Alan Arkin.
"It was the most fun movie I've shot in my life," he said. "We just laughed and laughed and laughed."
Gretchen Rossi, one of the "Real Housewives of Orange County," who was flanked by her new fiance, Slade Smiley, attended to show her support of the arts. Lydia and Doug McLaughlin, newcomers to the reality show, the first of the now-vast "Housewives" franchise, also made an appearance.
A soiree was scheduled after the screening with a performance by Taylor Hicks in the Fashion Island courtyard.
"I was requested to come over and perform, and I knew that this film festival had grown legs in the last few years, and I jumped at the chance to perform at the after party and, obviously, see the film," Hicks said.
According to the singer, winning the fifth season of "American Idol" — which he called the "only game in town" — was a blessing and came with opportunities like his debut at the Newport Beach Film Festival.
When asked about his set list, he joked, "I guess how many songs [I perform] depends on how many glasses of wine I have."