Reflecting a trend many film festivals are taking to, the Anaheim International Film Festival will kick its inaugural event off with multiple opening night films. Billed the Grand Opening Night Gala, the films slated to screen are Johnathan Lynn’s “Wild Target,” the U.S. premiere of David Bradbury’s “Going Vertical: The Shortboard Revolution,” Alexandra Codina’s “Monica & David, ” Mamoru Hosoda’s “Summer Wars,” a special shorts presentation, and a presentation of John Hughes’ teen classic “Sixteen Candles,” in honor of the late director. A total of 127 features and shorts from 30 different countries make up the rest of the festival that runs from October 13 – 17.
“The screening of multiple films on Opening Night enables us to welcome a larger audience of Orange County movie goers and shine the spotlight on more of our talented filmmakers,” said Sinan Kanatsiz, chairman of the Anaheim International Film Festival. “This is an ideal way to introduce our festival and the impressive variety of films we intend to offer. Our team has worked very hard to deliver a world-class film program that will establish the AIFF as a valuable platform for emerging filmmakers and long-term addition to the festival circuit.”
Closing night will meanwhile feature a gala screening of Batasar Kormakur’s dramatic thriller “Inhale,” starring Dermot Mulroney, Diane Kruger, Rosanna Arquette, Sam Shepard, Vincent Perez and Jordi Molla. Slated to take place a night prior, the AIFF Awards Night Celebration will honor director Jonathan Lynn (“My Cousin Vinny”) and actor Hector Elizondo (“Pretty Woman”) with the first Anaheim Film Honors awards.
“Jonathan Lynn’s films are crowd pleasers – pure and simple,” said AIFF Executive Director Jo Moulton. “Jonathan has melded that unique British comic sensibility with a light directing touch that has inspired some of the funniest onscreen moments from many of our biggest stars. And Hector Elizondo is one of the most beloved character actors of our time. In fact, his collaboration with Garry Marshall on their classic comedies alone would qualify him for the highest recognition. We think Jonathan and Hector are wonderful choices as our very first honorees as they exemplify the connection of artist to film fan that we will strive to celebrate at the Anaheim International Film Festival.”
For AIFF’s full lineup, visit their official website. See below for synopses (courtesy of AIFF) of the opening and closing night films.
Opening Night Gala films:
Directed by Jonathan Lynn and featuring the all-star cast of Emily Blunt, Rupert Everett, Rupert Grint, Bill Nighy, Eileen Atkins, Martin Freeman and Gregor Fisher, “Wild Target” is an action comedy about a middle-aged, solitary assassin who lives to please his formidable mother, despite his own peerless reputation for lethal efficiency. His professional routine is interrupted when he finds himself drawn to one of his intended victims – a beautiful thief. He spares her life, unexpectedly acquiring in the process a young apprentice. Believing the assassin to be a private detective, his two new companions tag along, while he attempts to thwart the murderous attentions of his unhappy client.
“Monica & David”
Directed by first time filmmaker Alexandra Codina, “Monica & David” explores the marriage of two adults with Down syndrome and the family who strives to support their needs. Monica and David are blissfully in love and want what other adults have: an independent life. Full of humor, romance and everyday family drama, the film weaves together intimate footage with personal interviews, revealing the complexity of their story. While Monica and David are capable beyond expectations, their parents, who worry about rejection from the mainstream world, have trouble letting go. Although marriage is very unusual for adults with intellectual disabilities, throughout the film Monica and David become a model for love and challenge what it means to be an adult. The film premieres nationally on HBO October 14.
“Going Vertical: The Shortboard Revolution”
Directed by David Bradbury, the documentary seeks to unravel one of surfing’s great mysteries: Who started the Shortboard Revolution? Filmed in Australia, Hawaii and California and featuring extraordinary archival footage of surf legends of the past four decades as well as the hottest surfers today, “Going Vertical: The Shortboard Revolution” is not your usual surfing film. Set to a pumping soundtrack including tracks by Pearl Jam, Powderfinger, Spoon and Boards of Canada plus iconic artists from the summer of love including Manfred Man, Russell Morris and Thunderclap Newman, the film tells the story of an era, of a revolution and the extraordinary characters that made it happen. The film is narrated by Simon Baker.
Directed by Mamoru Hosoda, the animated adventure focuses on ‘Kenji Koiso,’ an eleventh grade math genius, following his decision to take a summer job at the Nagano hometown of his crush, ‘Natuski.’ When he arrives, he finds that her family has reunited to celebrate the 90th birthday of the family matriarch and he must pretend to be her fiancé. As if that isn’t enough to contend with, his attempt to solve a mathematical equation has caused a parallel world’s collision with earth.
John Hughes’ classic comedy stars Molly Ringwald as a fifteen-year-old girl with a crush on the most popular boy in school. However, standing between her and the boy is the geekiest boy in school with a crush on her, her big sister’s wedding, a visit by inappropriate grandparents, and on top of it all – the indignity of having the rest of her family forget her birthday. Add all this adds up to the makings of a hilarious and unforgettable journey into young womanhood. The film also stars Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling, Justin Henry, John Cusack and Joan Cusack.
Opening Night Short Selections
This exclusive presentation salutes some of today’s best and brightest shorts filmmakers. Representing most of the various styles that will play over the course of the film festival, the films include Joshua and Rebekah Weigel’s “Butterfly Circus”; Max Lang’s and Jakob Schuh’s “The Gruffalo”; Iram Haq’s “Little Miss Eyeflap”; Natalia Mirzoyan’s “My Childhood Mystery Tree”; Lilli Birdsell’s “Once Upon a Crime”; James Redford’s “Quality Time,” starring Jason Patric; Cordell Barker’s “Runaway”; and Peter Meech’s “Winner Best Short Film.”
Closing Night Gala presentation:
Directed by Baltasar Kormakur, the dramatic thriller stars Dermot Mulroney, Diane Kruger, Rosanna Arquette, Sam Shepard, Vincent Perez and Jordi Molla. The story follows the horrific struggle a couple go through upon discovering their daughter has been diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease. Needing a lung transplant, but with many patients ahead of her on the waiting list for donors, they seek out a mysterious doctor who performs transplants in Juarez, Mexico. However, in the course of their pursuit, they uncover an illegal organ harvesting operation where the donors are in fact, the victims and now they may have to choose between saving the life of their daughter or saving the lives of many other children.