The Catalina Film Festival kicked off on Sept. 21 at the Scottish Rite Cultural Center in downtown Long Beach. The setting was eerie, with busts of colonial era women and portraits of prominent Freemasons lining the halls. The Presidential Room where many screenings took place was full of pictures of every U.S. president who was a Freemason, from George Washington to Woodrow Wilson.
Featured guests on the red carpet were Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son Joseph Baena, who was there to promote his new movie “Bully High” along with his castmates. The story revolves around a teenager from Pakistan who is bullied for wearing a hijab.
“She overcomes her enemies with the power of love,” actress Aneesha Madhok said. “This film is really close to my heart. I’m wearing a dress with an inscription in Farsi to honor the message of my film.”
Next on the night’s agenda was “A Malibu Horror Story.” It delivered jump scares, beautiful scenery shots, and the “frat bro” horror movie of your dreams. An adventure into the Malibu Hills ends in disaster as Native spirits reveal themselves to one the boys. A camera crew retracing the missing boy’s steps also gets an intervention from the spirit world. It’s definitely not a movie for the faint of heart.
Filmmaker Tom Goodall was at the festival to support the release of his film “Over Power.”
“This isn’t the film to watch if you have a fear of flying. In fact it may make you never want to fly in a plane again,” he joked. “The entire movie was shot inside the cockpit of a very small plane.”
He also shared, “We filmmakers attend a lot of festivals and the truth is they can be very hit and miss. Catalina was a definite hit. The standard of films, the quality of panels, and the attention towards creating a meaningful event was beyond my expectations.”
Jason Perryman’s documentary entry into the festival featured not Hollywood actors but great white sharks. His film followed some brave conservation activists who free-dive with sharks and even touch their noses and coax great whites into opening their mouths and showing off their teeth.
“I have been obsessed with great white sharks since I was a little kid, and always wanted to capture them on film. I finally delivered on that promise and I’m excited for people to see my work,” Perryman said.
An emotional heart-wrenching favorite of the festival was a documentary style film called “Reckoning With the Primal Wound.” It was about the producer Rebecca Autumn Sansom’s experience as an adopted child as well as the experiences of other adoptees and their birth and adopted parents. “I want this film to resonate with everybody, not only adoptees,” she said.
The festival continued on Catalina Island after two days of fun and panels in Long Beach. Awards are given out on the final night and will be announced on the festival’s website.