Written By: Jillian Birt – Russell and Tori Carrese
Every year moviegoers and filmmakers are drawn to the Newport Beach Film Festival, a week that’s filled with star-studded red carpets and entertaining premieres. This year’s festival theme was “Go Deeper” which highlighted many exciting and influential pieces brought to life by talented actors and directors. The Beacon was given the opportunity to experience this fantastic event first hand with their very own press passes and they were able to see a number of screenings during the festival’s run, everything from student projects, to shorts, and indie films.
As one of the Friday night spotlights, the refreshingly hilarious teen comedy, Class Rank premiered at the Lido Theater. The film was directed by Eric Stoltz and starred many well known talents such as Olivia Holt, Skyler Gisondo, Bruce Dern, and Kristin Chenoweth. Set in Livingston, New Jersey, the story is centered around two high school misfits named Bernard Flannigan (Gisondo) and Veronica Krauss (Holt) who are determined to be a part of the local Board of Education so they can change some of their school policies. They are guided by their families as they enter this new world of political pressure and even begin to develop feelings for one another throughout their campaign. The screenwriter Benjamin August created a laugh out loud chemistry between Gisondo and Holt’s characters, never shying away from bringing to light all the awkwardness and quirks they had to offer the camera. The comedy was very real and never once broke the natural rhythm of each actor’s performance. During the Q and A portion of the screening, the cast and crew explained that the project was fun to create and that though it was low-budget, they did everything in their power to make it high quality for their audience. Gisondo and many of his co-stars agreed that Stoltz’s directing allowed for them to keep their comedic performances real throughout each scene. Driving home a message about never being afraid to pursue opportunities, the film also makes viewers realize sometimes there is so much to gain when you are able to accept your own flaws and losses.
The Storyteller, directed and co-written by Joe Crump premiered at the Island Cinema and it was a film full of heart and adventure. It tells about the life of a little girl named Abby who carries a mysterious past and communicates with fairies that only she can see. Throughout the movie, her spirit and presence helps to heal a once broken family. The film starred Samantha Colburn, Brooklyn Rae Silzer, Cassidy Mack, and James Snyder as well as others. The cast brought these ideals to life with honest and emotional performances as well as through song. Music played a vital role in uniting each character with one another, allowing them to grow as individuals and enabling their self expression as well as serving as a form of connection. Centered around the true meaning of family and learning how to open up your heart to new love, it is a picture that is sure to make you smile and shed a few tears.
The Beacon had a blast at their first-ever NBFF where they met and interviewed many talented filmmakers, producers, screenwriters, and actors while watching a number of fantastic films. They cannot wait for next year!