La Costa Film Festival

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Andy Garcia and Daniella Garcia in City Island. Both will appear with their new movie At Middleton.

It’s always a blast going to film festivals. I’ve been to the Sundance Film Festival a few times, and I’m always at the San Diego Film Festival. Once one of the studios gets smart and sends me to Cannes, my life will be complete (hint hint).

I was surprised to see a film festival pop up in La Costa a few weeks ago. I was even more surprised to see the talent they wrangled in.

Most people probably known Peter Riegert from The Sopranos. I remember him as Boon in Animal House.

A few young actors from Super Bad will be there, as well as young actress Daniella Garcia, who was so great in the underrated movie City Island a few years ago. Oh, and her dad was also great in that movie – Andy Garcia. He will be there as well. His new movie At Middleton will be screening, which not only has Daniella and Riegert, but also Vera Farmiga and Tom Skerritt.

To get the guy from The Untouchables, Godfather 3, Ocean’s 12 – that’s huge for a local film festival.


Actor William Mapother in Another Earth. He’ll be one of many stars at the La Costa Film Festival.

I was also thrilled to see William Mapother would be there. This guy has a smile that looks like Tom Cruise. Perhaps that’s because that’s his cousin. Yet I love when that smile is gone and he plays creepy characters, like he did in In the Bedroom. His indie sci-fi movie Another Earth and In the Bedroom were both on my Top 10 the years they came out.

Former Charger kicker John Carney will be there, as well as former Laker and USD basketball coach Brad Holland. It makes sense that he’s going to be there, since he’s involved in the Carlsbad Boys and Girls Club, and the money raised at the La Costa Film Festival benefits that organization. I can’t think of a better way to catch some movies, mingle with stars, and support a good cause.

The husband and wife team of Michael and Ruby Callihan put this thing together and I talked to them a little about how they came up with the idea. Michael said, “About 18 months ago we were in La Costa. They did a $50 million dollar renovation and, I was looking at the old Hollywood pictures on the wall of the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa (where many of the films we be screened). It took me back to a romantic time; Old Hollywood. La Costa has a reputation for stars sneaking down here. We thought we’d bring Hollywood to the beach. At first we wanted a film and music festival, but…we ended up scaling back and just going with the film festival. We took the idea to La Costa, and they liked it. To our surprise, Paul McCormick, the GM at the resort, had a hotel career in Palm Springs at a time when the Palm Springs Film Festival was just beginning. It’s a great location here. The venue is pretty unique for a film festival.”

Ruby Callihan adds, “There is so much talent here locally. Our friend, actress Jennifer Chrysler, inspired us. We had conversations about it and she thought the idea was great. We also wanted to bring more of the arts into the community here.”

Michael interrupts to say, “Everybody we talked to…their response was always, ‘Wow, that’s a great idea. Let’s do it!’ Nobody said we were crazy.”

I told them I was surprised they got Andy Garcia. They said that was the work of Nancy Collet, who was the director of programming for AFI for years. Michael added, “She’s well respected and knows the writer and director of At Middleton. She had been trying to work with getting Garcia here for awhile. It’s hard with everyone having a different schedule. We are showing Field of Dreams. That’s one of the retrospective films. We have the ballpark theme. Vendors will be there on the tennis lawn.”

Ruby adds, “It’s not only one of our favorite movies, but it fits how we sort of started this festival…if we build it, they will come. Little did we know the World Series would be taking place during that time, but…we tried hard to get Kevin Costner here. That didn’t work out. He’s really busy.”

I asked them if they’d been to any film festivals before and Ruby replies, “The Newport Beach Film Festival and the Palm Springs Shorts Festival. None of the really big ones. We were at this meeting with all the film festivals in town. We were definitely the rookies, but all the passion everybody had and the openness…sharing their trials and tribulations. It was inspiring.”

I remember one year helping the San Diego Film Festival screen movies to decide which ones to show during their festival. There were so many. I asked the Callihan’s if it was hard turning some filmmakers down.

Ruby said, “We had a programming team watching movies in Los Angeles, some people in Florida, and a lot here in San Diego. It was a difficult process and a lot of films were turned away that we would’ve liked to bring in. We are a bit limited in theatre space in NorthCounty. We have 11 slots, and we’re screening some at the library and five at Cinepolis, and three outdoor screenings.”

Michael throws in the fact that they had 180 films that everyone looked at, and some of them were easy to turn down, but many got big debates going about what should screen.

I couldn’t end my conversation with them without finding out their favorite movies. Ruby hemmed and hawed, saying there were too many. When I pressed Michael he said, “You almost need separate categories, there are so many. I lean towards the old movies.”

Ruby pipes in, “Don’t say any Al Jolson movies!”

Michael continues, “I like a lot of Jimmy Stewart movies. I loved John Wayne’s The Quiet Man. It’s a Wonderful Life is great, too.”

I end by telling them I’m excited about meeting Andy Garcia. Ruby tells me, “I’m Cuban, and have followed him for many years.”

If any San Diegans wants to come out and meet Garcia or any of the other actors and support the local arts, come by. I’ll be introducing a few of the films and look forward to meeting you as well.

For more information go to:

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  • Mark Stewart

    Im out of own this weekend or I would attend. I trust you'll do a follow up article about the experience. Dont forget to throw in an Andy Garcia mini interview.

    • joshboardfox5

      Mark…I still want you to tell me what movies coming out you want to see. I'll bring you to the screening. Just leave your number at the front desk.

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