The announcement that UltraStar Cinemas at GardenWalk in Anaheim will be the official theater venue for the inaugural Anaheim International Film Festival (AIFF) packs all the wallop of heavily favored Jeff Bridges getting the last best actor Oscar.
Seeing as how the festival office and its May preview party were held mere steps from that theater, and one of the co-founders is an UltraStar vice president, the selection was a no-brainer.
Until last month, the theater had been known as CinemaFusion and with its leather seats and alcohol on sale, the venue catered to adults. Unfortunately, not enough could find it because it's tucked in a back corner of GardenWalk and there was no signage for it on heavily traversed Katella Avenue across from Disneyland. GardenWalk as a whole has struggled to bring in visitors as well.
At that festival preview party, AIFF co-founder and UltraStar vice president Wally Schlotter told me his San Diego-based company will push to get better signage for the theater it took over on Aug. 20.
Schlotter also promised big new features are coming to the cinema space, two of which can be found in the festival's latest announcement: Pure Digital Cinema technology, "the most advanced motion picture projection technology available," and D-BOX motion seats that use motion codes specifically programmed for each film to synchronize seat movement with onscreen action, "creating an immersive movie going experience."
Discount days where movies cost $6 all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Parent Movie Morning, Baby's Night Out, Kidtoon films and more will be presented there, according to UltraStar, which operates 131 screens at 14 sites throughout Southern California and Arizona.
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But its coming out party may just be the AIFF, which is set to open Oct. 13 with a red carpet premiere and post-screening party. Tickets are $50 for both or $10 just to see the film. And what is that flick? Organizers aren't yet revealing that, saying an announcement on specific titles will be made later this month.
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They are saying about 1,000 submissions have poured in, and judges culled largely from film academia and Hollywood expect to select 100 features, documentaries and shorts. To help promote an action/extreme sports film series, a ramp for bike and skateboard demonstrations will be erected at GardenWalk. There will also be a viral video pavilion there.
Panels, workshops and the Orange County Department of Education co-sponsored "One-Minute Film Challenge," where local student filmmakers present works created on the spot, round out the festivities. The festival closes with an Oct. 16 black-tie awards night hosted by the Disneyland Resort (which is also a co-sponsor) and an Oct. 17 closing-night screening.
While you may not know yet what you'll be watching, you can go ahead and buy tickets now. They are $10 for individual screenings (or $5 for seniors, students and military), $30 for an all-day pass ($15 for seniors, students and military) and $350 for an all-access pass. Call (714) 991-9110 or visit anaheimfilm.org for more details.