The Fourth Annual Coronado Island Film Festival Concludes Successful Run - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

The Fourth Annual Coronado Island Film Festival Concludes Successful Run

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Posted: Friday, November 15, 2019 2:24 pm

The Fourth Annual Coronado Island Film Festival was a rousing success according to CIFF Executive Director Merridee Book. “Overall, it was a phenomenal year, with no glitches. There were no major surprises and it went off like clockwork. Our filmmakers were very happy and spoke so highly of the Coronado community. We had comments that it was a remarkable experience, which is really good to hear.”

As for her favorite part of the weekend, Book said, “The highlight was the Leonard Maltin Celebrity Tribute, which provided so many priceless unscripted moments. The Pop Culture Panel was great with Funko CEO Brian Mariotti, Funko Founder and VP of Apparel Mike Becker, and David Romero of Eddy Grace Films was great. Romero did the trailer we ran before each film. And having the Funko guys as part of the festival was pretty amazing. Personally seeing the whole festival come to life was a highlight. You plan, plan and plan and it’s all on paper. Then all of a sudden, it’s here. Everybody comes to life, the filmmakers come to town, and people pick up their passes. It’s a magic dynamic you have no control over.”

The ‘priceless unscripted moments’ Book referred to in the previous paragraph are a reference to nine-time Emmy winner, Oscar winner (“The Last Picture Show”) and CIFF honoree Cloris Leachman. The 93-year-old Leachman performed most of her interview at the Tribute wrapped on and around the 68-year old Maltin. Sunday night and Monday, I was involved in half a dozen learned discussions as to whether Leachman, who has incredible comedic timing, was acting or just being Cloris Leachman. The jury is still out.

Here are some of my personal highlights of the Festival, using a simplified grading system of ‘Hit’ or ‘Miss.’ Life is too short to get into thumbs up or down, or grading on a number of stars.

• Hit – My favorite movie of the weekend was “Sing Street,” which Maltin nominated for inclusion in the Festival, and was the subject of an article I wrote about him and the film. Set in Ireland, during a time of economic downturn in the United Kingdom, the film focuses on a young high school student who forms a band for the sole purpose of creating a music video in which his imagined, then real girlfriend can appear. Ultimately an upbeat film, it was fun to watch.

Hit and Some Miss – Probably no movie in the festival created as much discussion as the Opening Night feature “Marriage Story,” starring Scarlett Johannson and Adam Deriver. Johannson will likely get an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and as a guess Driver will get a Best Supporting Actor nomination. The writing was brilliant, as was the cinematography. The underlying theme of the movie is divorce and thankfully for the audience and ultimately the movie, there is just enough humor to lighten the mood on occasion. Laura Dern is great in a supporting role, but “Marriage Story” isn’t an easy or comfortable watch, hence the wildly opposing view on the film.

Hit – “The Etruscan Smile” which stars Brian Cox is about a cantankerous Scotsman who reunites with his Millennial son and his family, who have relocated to San Francisco. Cox’s character bonds with has new-born grandson in a mixture of Old World meets New World. Cox is very good in the role, the scenery of the North Coast of Scotland is beautiful, and Patricia Arquette is surprisingly good in a supporting role. “The Etruscan Smile” is worth a look when it reaches Netflix or Amazon.

Swing and a Major Miss – “A Hidden Life” is 173 minutes long, closing in on three hours, with a plot line that can be summarized as follows: ‘Austrian farmer refuses to take an oath of allegiance to Adolf Hitler.’ It’s a character study that ambles, trips and ultimately falls. It would have been much more powerful in a 90-minute format. The cinematography of the Austrian Alps is majestic, but even that can’t carry this load.

Miss, Hit and Hit–The three Culinary Cinema experiences offered some great experiences, two good films and one that missed the mark badly. The movie “The Spirit of a Nation” ran for 79 minutes and was repetitive to the point of being downright boring. Conversely, the tasting sample from Tahona Bar in Old Town Agave included a dazzling Seafood Ceviche and three types of Mescal. Culinary Cinema II was the movie “Funke” about American Chef Evan Funke and his pursuit of creating perfect pasta. Coronado Resident and Chef Matteo Cantaneo from Buona Forchetta, soon to be adding a Coronado location of that eatery, responded to the tasting challenge by creating wonderful ravioli in a cream sauce. Since I live about a two-minute walk from the new Buona Forchetta location, the tasting was especially memorable. The third Culinary Cinema, the movie “For Grace” was the movie which preceded a tasting from Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse located 901 Bayfront Court, near the Gas Lamp District. I had seen “For Grace” a while back on Netflix, which I remembered about 30 seconds into the film. No matter, it was well worth another watch, as it depicted the rise, fall and rise again of Curtis Duffy, a three Michelin star chef in Chicago. Del Frisco’s two pronged food sampling was pepper encrusted bacon with a maple glaze, and a mini-crab cake, both of which were delicious.

Hit–For something out of the norm, the Diane Warren interview with Maltin, accompanied by singer-pianist Marisa Corvo was delightful. Warren, has had enormous success as a songwriter over the years, including winning a Tony, a Grammy, a Golden Globe and 10 Academy Award nominations. She is also a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame since 2001. Corvo has a wonderful voice and command of the piano, plus she sang 10 songs that Warren wrote. It all combined to create a great 90-minute program.

Hit-The winner of the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature was the film “Yuli,” which focused on the life and career of Cuban-born ballet dancer Carlos Acosta. Born into poverty in Havana, Cuba, Acosta was a principal dancer for London’s Royal Ballet for 17 years. “Yuli” portrays Acosta at three different ages, with the real Carlos Acosta performing in the movie. This is a very good movie, and worth the time. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles.

A movie that I didn’t see, but my wife Sharon did is “One Last Deal.” She said that movie and “Sing Street” were her two favorites. Three other movies that were recommended to us by friends that we will watch for on Netflix-Amazon are “The River and the Wall,” “Wish Man,” and “Clemency.”

We’ll conclude the 2019 CIFF recap with additional words from Merridee Book. “We have a ‘Flash Your Pass’ promotion going on, where you flash your CIFF movie pass at a participating business and you get a discount or a deal from a sponsor that is listed on the CIFF website. It adds value to the pass. The festival is over, and you can still enjoy it by flashing your pass.”

Go to to get the names of participating businesses and other offer details.

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