The greatest thing about last Thursday's Newport Beach Film Festival issue was that I freely said with pride that I was on the cover, the idea being people assumed that was a reference to the rock-hard abbed fellow holding the giant film reels, not the "By Matt Coker" type on the lower right.
Those who assumed I meant I was the himbo are going to be plenty disappointed when they see the rock-soft abbed me moderating an NBFF panel on John Ford's classic The Searchers, which is this year's John Wayne Retrospective film. I can already hear the choruses of, "Man, you really let yourself go–and fast!"
The festival opens tonight with red carpet arrivals at Big Newport in Newport Center, the Left Coast debut of the documentary Broadway Idiot, on Green Day's American Idiot journey to musical theaterdom, and the post-screening blowout with food, drink and Taylor Hicks singing in the Fashion Island courtyard.
My panelists at noon Saturday will be The Duke's son, Ethan Wayne, and Glenn Frankel, whose new book The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend just came out.
Here's a fun fact about Ethan Wayne: he was born John Ethan Wayne in 1962, six years after The Searchers came out, but his stage name is Ethan Wayne, his middle name coming from dad's character in The Searchers, Ethan Edwards.
These days Ethan (Wayne, not Edwards) runs the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, whose cool products you see at–where else?–John Wayne Airport gift shops. The foundation also co-sponsors the NBFF retrospective every year.
Here's a fun fact about Frankel's book: I was in my … ahem … home library the other day reading Paul Teetor's LA Weekly preview of the author's Book Soup signing of The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend. I did not know of Frankel or the book before then. About 20 minutes later, I received an email from the film festival's Adam Gentry inviting me to moderate the panel. Weird, eh?
By the way, we'll yak it up before The Searchers rolls, so you aren't going anywhere …
The cover story that accompanied my rock-hard abs mentioned there are fewer short-film programs this year, as the festival scales back for a variety of reasons detailed in the article ("NBFF: Smaller, Shorter & Uncut"). The piece also noted there is a music video program this year (which I'll preview in a later post).
That prompted a question from a Weekly copy editor: Did the music video program replace one of the short film programs? The answer is not in my story, because my stiff lateral oblique got in the way, but I did eventually put the question to Bojana Sandic, who programmed the festival's music video program.
Sandic replies NBFF did not swap music videos for short films, if anything the videos occupy schedule space normally reserved for a feature film. That's because music videos are part of the NBFF music series of full-length features and documentaries.
Also worth noting, according to Sandic: many more short films than usual are not part of shorts programs but are instead being paired with similar-themed full-length films.
And also worth noting, according to me, is many of the music videos actually play like short films, something I'll delve into more when I post that preview. (Christ, I'll get to it, back off from me and my tight abs, people!)
While we're on the subject of short film pairings, Renée George read my cover story and had a question of
his her own: Where's my film?
George is the producer and director of Le Petit Nuage (The Little Cloud), a short film that's paired with Pascal Chaumeil's Un Plan Parfait (Fly Me to the Moon), Tuesday night's French Spotlight film at Big Newport.
Alas, mentions of the short films are among what got chopped in the final draft to make my word count (have sympathy, film editors everywhere). But I am more than happy to tell you in this unlimited virtual space that Le Petit Nuage is the first in George's feature-length anthology of 7 Short Films About Love. The plot has two people meeting in a cafe and falling in love at first sight. "One glance and a flicker of attraction transforms into wistful love as we are delighted by their journey through the City of Light," reads the NBFF page for Le Petit Nuage, which you should visit to score tickets.
By the way, George did not have to hop an ocean to get to Newport Beach.
His Her address is in Redondo Beach.
A film I haven't forgotten from NBFF 2012 is Mosquita y Mari, which I caught based solely on Associate Programming Director Max Naylor's recommendation.
It's writer-director Aurora Guerrero's semi-biographical look at friendship and first love–among two Latina high school students in Highland Park. One is a goodie two shoes, the other a tough chica and it would be unbelievable were it not for the touching, nuanced performances of the young actresses, Fenessa Pineda and Venecia Troncoso.
An official selection at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, it won nominations at the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards and GLAAD Media Awards and took home the Audience Award for Outstanding First U.S. Dramatic Feature and the Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film (Pineda) at the 2012 Outfest: The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Guerrero received the Best Director honor from the 2012 Long Beach QFilm Festival and the Global Can Award at the 2012 William & Mary Global Film Festival.
Anyway, that Mosquita y Mari is coming out (heh-heh) across all digital platforms beginning May 7 and lands on DVD June 4 from Wolfe Video for $24.95. Bonus materials include the featurette "Behind the Scenes of Mosquita y Mari." Lean more by following the film (@MosquitaYMari) or Wolfe Video (@WolfeVideo) on Twitter.
Here's some really great news: the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control issued a license to the Port Theater, an NBFF venue, allowing the theater to serve alcohol. The theater owner had applied for the ABC license last summer.
I don't know if that means the Port will be pouring during Saturday's 11 a.m. Film Music Seminar or that night's action-sports picture HeartChild at 7 or Sunday's 11 a.m. Screenwriting Seminar, 3 p.m. Film Editing Seminar and 6 p.m. screening of the documentary Love, Marilyn.
But a soft-abbed boy can dream, can't he?