65 Global Films on Tap This Month at Independent Film Fest

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Vinnie Van Patten’s 7 Days to Vegas opens the California Independent Film Festival at the Orinda Theatre Aug. 23.

    From an impoverished Kenyan village to the deserts surrounding Las Vegas and through the crowded streets of India, the 22nd California Independent Film Festival takes attendees around the world in just nine days.
    Running Aug. 23-31, the festival features 65 films, including shorts, documentaries and features, at the Orinda Theatre, with the exception of Aug. 31. On that day, a selection of LGBT films will be presented at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.
     More than 800 films vied to be part of the festival. A six-member selection committee spent close to a year screening the applicants on a daily basis before selecting the final lineup. 
    “We’re very proud of the films selected,” says Festival Director Derek Zemrak. “They represent a wide range of subjects, from JFK’s last speech to an Iranian psychological drama to a wonderful program of animated shorts for kids, which is very exciting. We’ve also brought back our popular ‘I Am a Filmmaker’ program where filmmakers have 24 hours to put together a film.”
    Special events include a short film showcase of female directors, a Bay Area showcase and a composer’s contest. 
    “We had over 150 submissions for the music contest where composers were shown a short film and they had to re-compose the score. It was amazing watching how the different music changed the film,” says Zemrak. “Contestants were from all over the world, and we’ll fly the winner to the festival.”
    For the first time, the festival has combined with the Lamorinda Short Doc Festival, which will show films on Aug. 25. Also new is a screenplay competition where the 11 finalists selected will do a short reading of their work.
    While Zemrek often has invited a star celebrity to be part of the festival, this year he is focusing on the quality of the films. “Of course, we’ll have some celebrities attending, especially at the opening night reception, but we really wanted to put the focus on the films this year,” he adds. 
    The gala opening begins 6 p.m. Aug. 23 with a welcoming reception followed by a screening of Vinnie Van Patten’s 7 Days in Vegas. When the last frame flickers across the screen, an opening night party will commence next door at Cine 
Cuvée. 
    In past years, the film festival has divided screenings between the Orinda Theatre and the Rheem Theatre. This year, however, the Rheem will be dark from approximately August to November as the new owner and operator, Cinema West, renovates the space.
    To accommodate the festival, as well as popular commercial features, Zemrak will use the 200-seat theater and, at times, the smaller theater for the festival, reserving the large theater primarily for commercial features.  
    The Orinda Theatre is at 4 Orinda Theatre Square. For more information and to reserve tickets, go www.orindamovies.com or call 925-254-9065.

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