San Diego International Film Festival — Day One

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The buzz on the opening night of the San Diego International Film Festival, among my movie friends and critics, was about the early Oscar buzz Melissa McCarthy is getting. Even critic Scott Mantz of Access Hollywood, the master of ceremonies for many of the movies (and now a board member of the Festival), said before “Can You Ever Forgive Me” that he guarantees McCarthy would get an Oscar nomination. I’ll get back to the movie later, but all this buzz, and perusing through the program…I spotted the word “buzz.” It was the list of sponsors, and I saw that Buzz Box was one. Since I couldn’t get enough of their delicious alcohol drinks last year, I was on the search for more. I found wine and beer to drink, with some incredible food, but no Buzz Box. While eating and drinking, waiting for the movie to start, I met some interesting people. There was an attractive young actress named Meredith McMullen. She’s also a make-up artist that’s already worked on a number of movies and videos. She’s from Omaha, and is going to L.A. to try and make it in the film business. I asked her what brought her to the Film Festival, and she said she thought it would be fun and a good way to network. I asked if her parents tried to talk her out of pursuing this as a career. She laughed and said, “Yeah. My family thought I should be a lawyer, doctor, something like that. I went to college for three years, but when my grandfather died…something about that made me just decide to pursue my dreams.”

We ended up talking about her favorite movies — Purple Rain and Big Fish. Another woman at a nearby table commented on Big Fish, which saved me, because it’s a movie I never saw.

My wife, who is better than I am at starting conversations with people we don’t know, said to a guy at our table with a filmmaker badge, “What movie did you do?”

The guy she asked was Ido Samuel (who didn’t do the movie “The Samuel Project,” a movie with Hal Linden that’s playing at the Festival, with Linden in attendance). His movie is a short called Baghead.

He then asked her, “What movie did you make?”

She wasn’t sure how to answer that, so I prodded with, “Yeah honey, what movie did you make?”

I’ve always had a blast watching the shorts. I’m always surprised that most of them are so good, and at the Festival, it’s fun to watch the Q&A’s with the filmmakers afterwards. It’s not often you can watch a movie, and then ask a question about it to the people that made it.

My wife went over to grab us some Cravory Cookies. She said, “I know you have your heart set on a Buzz Box, but shouldn’t a cookie suffice?”

I had to remind her that Ogden Nash once said, “Candy is dandy, but Liquor is quicker.”

She responded, “Are you sure it wasn’t Bill Cosby that said that?”

Once we filed into the historic Balboa Theatre, I had a few more interesting conversations. One of the ushers recognized me from doing reviews on Fox 5, so we had an interesting conversation about film. Someone walking to their seat overheard, and he said “Oh, Fox 5! I just did a commercial with them for the Gulls.” That lead to a conversation about hockey. I know as much about hockey as I knew about Big Fish.

The near sold-out crowd for Can You Ever Forgive Me loved it. There was lots of laughter, and a few sniffles during a sad scene (a full review on it will be forthcoming).

I had forgotten all about the after party at the Omnia. At that, there was a great rockabilly band called The Stilettos. They were playing some Eddie Cochran as we walked in, and it was good song after good song from this dynamic trio.

There were three floors to this place, and my wife and I decided to check out the rooftop. Mostly because I wanted to sneak in a cigar. Thankfully, they had a DJ that wasn’t playing so loud that we couldn’t talk. There were casino games going, and we played blackjack for 30 minutes. There was more incredible food. I was eating steak skewers and chicken. My wife was enjoying  the shrimp.

I ran into a couple of local filmmakers I know and we talked about what they were up to.

As we walked back to the car, I noticed my wife had smuggled out a few Cravory Cookies. As we drove home eating them, I thought about how this must’ve been the most fun anyone in San Diego was having on a Wednesday night. And as I thought my wife would give me a hard time for getting crumbs in her car, she merely said, “You wouldn’t be able to be enjoying one of your Buzz Boxes on the drive home.”

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