Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 12:36 p.m.
Tickets for the 10th annual Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF), which runs April 23-30, are now on sale here. Those will cost you $12 for general admission (or $8 if you are a student or senior buying before 5 p.m.); $30 for all Spotlight films and parties; $55 for the Opening Night film and party; and $125 for the Opening Night film and gala, which is like a party only you have to dress like you belong there.
The April 23 opener at Edwards Big Newport is a solid one this year: Derick Martini's Lymelife, which won a critic's award at the Toronto Film Festival and was well received by Sundance audiences. It was also well received by Martin Scorsese and Alec Baldwin, who respectively executive produced and produced/starred in the picture.
Written by the director and his brother Steven Martini, Lymelife follows two families coming apart in Lyme Disease-infested Long Island of the late 1970s, mostly through the eyes of a sensitive, picked-on and horny 15-year-old (Rory Culkin). Screening the film for a small audience in Santa Ana Friday night, Derick Martini revealed the film, at times funny and others very dark, is very personal to the brothers. Kieran Culkin, Jill Hennessy, Timothy Hutton, Cynthia Nixon and Emma Roberts, whose performance will be talked about, also star.
The closer April 30 at the Regency Lido will be the West Coast premiere of (500) Days of Summer, Marc Webb's directorial debut dissecting the relationship between a young man named Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who believes in cosmically destined love, and a girl named Summer (Zooey Deschanel), who does not. This transforms Tom into not only pursuing her harder, but he becomes obsessed with the very idea of Summer.
In between Lymelife and (500) Days of Summer, the festival shows more than 400 films from 30 countries and hosts nightly special events, red carpet arrivals, conversations with filmmakers, industry seminars and retrospectives.
The NBFF arose in 1999 amid the ashes of the scandal-plagued Newport Beach International Festival and hit its high mark in 2006, when the opening night picture was the little known Crash, which Paul Haggis came down to personally present at what would mark the U.S. premiere of his feature directorial debut. (Like Lymelife, Crash had screened at Toronto). Crash, which Haggis also wrote, went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture—and has split movie critics ever since.
The West Coast premieres of Waitress, Spellbound, Riding Giants, Layer Cake, The Illusionist, Mad Hot Ballroom, Son of Rambow and Dogtown and Z-Boys were also presented at the NBFF.