Sept. 21 2011 06:01 PM

San Diego's film-festival craze continues

The Bully Project will screen at this year's San Diego Film Festival
San Diego is a town of film festivals. Five different festivals will grace our theaters this fall alone. One of them is a newbie, while another is hitting a milestone.

On Oct. 22 and 23, the first German Currents Film Festival will screen at Balboa Park's Museum of Photographic Arts. Festival director Mona Mukherjea-Gehrig says Germany's image in San Diego has become old-fashioned.

“There's more to Germany than having a beer at Oktoberfest,” she says. “There's a lot of art and music that comes from Germany, but not much of it gets to San Diego.”

With that in mind, the new fest will showcase four contemporary German films, including Mahler on the Couch, from Baghdad Café director Percy Adlon. For the fest's opener, Mukherjea-Gehrig is hoping to land Run Lola Run helmer Tom Tykwer's new picture, Three, about a middle-aged married couple who both fall in love with the same man.

“We want to highlight things you can't necessarily see at the box office,” the festival director says. “It's not specific to Germany, for sure.”

Google is the best way to get to the German Currents website, which has a complete listing of films, showtimes and ticket info.

While German Currents commemorates its inaugural event, the San Diego Film Festival celebrates its 10th birthday this year, running Wednesday, Sept. 28, through Sunday, Oct. 2, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.

Festival director Robin Laatz says that although plenty of things have changed, there's still a lot that feels the same.

“We're one of the few events that has lasted 10 years and has grown substantially in numbers of attendees, but I still feel very much like we have an intimate feel at the festival, and we've tried to hold onto that,” she says. “Even though there's 12,000 people over the course of the five days, I still feel like it's a very intimate event.”

Laatz says this year's lineup is made up of films that will get people thinking.

“They're films that you're going to talk about, that you're going to remember,” she says. “Some years, you get films where you think people will enjoy it, but they might not remember it. This is the year where I feel like everything is going to leave you thinking… leave you asking questions— leave you with a smile on your face, a different point of view, a different perspective.”

One of the movies Laatz is most excited about is Lee Hirsch's The Bully Project, which follows five kids and their families for a year, kids whose lives are impacted by bullying every day.

Also, Hirsch is a SDFF alumni—he screened his last film, Amandla, 10 years ago at the first SDFF. And yes, he'll put in appearance—and perhaps blow out some candles.

More film events

Powerful stuff: ArtPower! Film curator Rebecca Webb's selections continue to be complex and challenging. This fall, Hungarian director David Dusa will be on hand to discuss his film Fleurs du Mal (a talk follows the 8 p.m. Oct. 6 screening), while media artist Jason Ponce will present another edition of his TrashTalk Theatre 3000 at 8 p.m. on Oct. 18. Find the rest of the schedule at

So scary: Death. Taxes. Halloween. Hitchcocktober. Throughout October, Reading Cinemas offers up a collection of serious thrills and chills from the master. See them on the big screen.

The master at work: Did you know that a number of shots in Citizen Kane were taken in Balboa Park? Throughout October, the Central Library will present an Orson Welles film series, screening a Welles film every Friday at 2:30 p.m., including the aforementioned masterpiece.

Old and spooky: From noon to midnight on Oct. 8, San Diego's LGBT film festival, FilmOut, will present Thrill-O-Rama, a retro affair at the Birch North Park Theatre. You can catch six different '70s horror films: The Fog, burnt Offerings, Eyes of Laura Mars, Dressed to Kill, Black Christmas and Suspiria. It's $5 for one or $20 for all six.

They came from the east: One of the biggest film fests in town, the San Diego Asian Film Festival, kicks off its 12th year with Almost Perfect, and during the course of this year's event, more than 160 films from more than 20 countries will play UltraStar San Diego. This year's SDAFF also shines a spotlight on LGBT films and will close with the food doc Jiro Dreams of Sushi. SDAFF runs Oct. 20 through 28.

The Italian is growing up: The San Diego Italian Film Festival is turning 5! New films will include La Prima Bella Cosa, and the annual retrospective of groundbreaking films—and the gala—is not to be missed. It runs Oct. 29 though Nov. 12 at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

Coming home: Former San Diegans Eric and Jeffrey Leiser return to town to present Glitch in the Grid, their latest stop-motion trip for the mind and the senses. Essentially a story about a young artist trying to find his way in the world, the movie is a one-of-a-kind experience, screening at 11 p.m. on Oct. 31 at the Ken Cinema.

Imagine that: Local horror-film guru Miguel Rodriguez's latest film festival, Horrible Imaginings, will include a pair of classic flicks, including the 1960 frightener Eyes Without a Face, and a slew of modern shorts. This year's fest runs from 6 to 11:30 p.m. Nov. 4 (with a rooftop after-party) and 5 to 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 at the 10th Avenue Theatre, 930 10th Ave., Downtown.


See all events on Wednesday, Oct 26