Catalina Film Festival 2016 Retrospective

What a week, what a week. Catalina Film Festival is easily one of my favorite film festivals to cover. This year’s trip, like the past few years, started on the Catalina Express. I boarded the vessel just 22 miles from Long Beach, CA and headed on my journey.

The Catalina Express offers beverage services, but it was a little too early for a cocktail for my liking, so I took my

Director Zachary Shedd and Kelli Garner, star of ‘Americana’ about to board the Catalina Express to attend the 2016 Catalina Film Festival on September 30, 2016 in Catalina Island, California.

window seat, looking out into the Pacific as 45 minutes just flew by. Thankfully, the waters weren’t choppy as we enjoyed 80 degree Southern California weather. We exited the passenger ship in an effective and efficient manner as I looked in awe wondering how in nearly 35 years these Express ships have brought over 25 million tourists to the island.

I stayed at the Seaport Village Inn where I had a perfect view of the Casino in Avalon and seeing one of the many ships that will take me home in just a few days, depart from sight. I unpacked and headed down to the registration office where I was first greeted by Xiomara Truppa, the wife of co-founder Ron Truppa.  Xiomara wears many hats at this festival, but surprisingly doesn’t like to be one of the faces as she told me it’s pretty much Ron and Delious Kennedy’s (yes, the guy from the ’90s R&B group, All-4-One) job.

Following that greeting, I met up with my PR reps that set up my week long adventure of Catalina coverage. Thanks to them, I not only got to spend time conducting interviews on the red carpet, but I met a student filmmaker majoring in animation at the University of Arts in Philadelphia.

Nick LeDonne had entered an animated short called, Hanging. An autobiographical cartoon about his attempted suicide in 2014. LeDonne’s mother Sandy, had called him just before he went through with it and urged him to come home where he had family and friends that loved him. LeDonne went home and now seems to be one the most well adjusted young people I have met in quiet awhile.

Check out this amazing piece of animation that has been used for a few suicide prevention campaigns:

A film called, Beneficiary, made it’s world premiere, where three adult children hire an ex-con to drive their mother nuts so they could gain access to her fortune. The dark comedy was directed by Anthony DiBlasi and starred Fiona Dourif, Harriet Sansom Harris, Patrick Fischler and Rya Kihlstedt. You could tell who had a really twisted sense of humor when audience members laughed at various times throughout the screening.

What always makes Catalina Film Festival amazing, besides the great staff, volunteers and PR people who run it, are the after parties. The food, the drinks, dressed up or dressed down attendees, all make it an event that you never want to miss. Honestly, as good as some of the movies are, I do look forward to these nightly shindigs to discuss what everyone has scene and which films they felt had stand out performances.

Sadly, the end of the week came too quickly and before I knew it, I had to wait in line to hop back on the good ol’ Catalina Express. Can you believe these guys have 30 departures a day and run year around?  Well, there is nothing like heading home while talking to new friends as we cruise at a speed of 37 knots.

All right, Catalina Film Festival looks like I will be seeing you again next year and I’m sure I will be cruise in style aboard the Catalina Express.

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