When you mention FILM FESTIVALS to the average person on the street, immediately they may think of Sundance or Cannes. Yet my favourites sometimes end up being the small festival making its debut on the festival circuit. That was the case back in 2009 when I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area and a group of film enthusiasts decided to hold the Inaugural Sausalito Film Festival. I was fortunate to be a part of the event staff and it was an amazing experience.
So when I visited Coronado Island (near San Diego) at the end of 2015 and learned they were planning to host the Inaugural Coronado Island Film Festival in January, I immediately knew I needed to be a part of it. I was on a four-month book tour at the time promoting my 7th book, PEARL, yet intuitively the pull to return to Coronado for those four days in January was so strong I couldn’t ignore it. After leaving the island in December and heading to the East Coast for a number of book signings, I contacted the organizers and offered my support. I shared my experience and how I wanted to help out any way I could. They were thrilled and accepted. I simply said, “PUT ME TO WORK!”
What do you get when you combine a beautiful seaside village, a stunning historic hotel, and an amazing community made up of kind-hearted film enthusiasts? Well - the Coronado Island Film Festival in all its glory. Those four days were magical, and for a first-year festival, the organizing committee went above and beyond all expectations.
The festival was led by two EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN, Doug St. Denis (Founder & Executive Director) and Mary Sikes (President & CEO). Andy Friedenberg, who founded the Cinema Society of San Diego back in 1983 was brought in to help produce the festival and did a magnificent job. The heart of the festival was made up of a couple hundred volunteers who welcomed the world to Coronado, and their hospitality was first rate. I felt so welcomed that I actually ended up moving to Coronado for a bit to write my next book, and I will always cherish that time.
The Opening Night Gala took place at the historic Hotel Del Coronado in the Crown Ballroom which was stunning. The who’s who of the film world was in attendance and everyone was excited to showcase the work of filmmakers near and far. The Vintage Village Theatres along with six other venues housed films, panel discussions and other events throughout the four days. A Festival trolley transported film patrons between venues, but most could be found in walking distance from the downtown core. Renowned film critic and author, Leonard Maltin shone in his role of Festival Host and is back for his third year in 2018 also serving as Honorary Jury President.
Throughout the four days I helped out in various ways, from hospitality and welcoming people to the festival, to capturing photographs and video of the filmmakers, parties and panel discussions. I loved every moment. The biggest thrill for me was having the opportunity to watch the Pixar film, INSIDE OUT with Golden Globe winning producer, Jonas Rivera who would go on to win the Oscar shortly after we met. He loved my book, PEARL and I loved welcoming him to the festival.
The festival wrapped in the most glorious of fashions, with a screening of the classic 1959 film, SOME LIKE IT HOT on the big screen set up on Del Beach just behind the Hotel Del Coronado. Festival patrons gathered in beach chairs surrounded by fire pits and enjoyed the film. It was truly a magical experience and one I soon won’t forget. I’m so grateful to the organizers of the festival for allowing me to take part. I learned a lot and made lifelong friends.
Come Veteran’s Day weekend (November 9-12) the community of Coronado, California welcomes you back for another exciting year.
Learn more HERE.