Thursday, September 27, 2007

MCOF kicks off Friday

Panel discussions include national film critic Leonard Maltin and Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan.

It's been scaled down in length and number of screenings, but the Malibu Celebration of Film is still promising a unique display of entertainment and education as it returns for the sophomore edition of the "Best of the Best" film festival.

The celebration takes place Friday through Sunday with screenings at Pepperdine University's Elkins Auditorium, Smothers Theatre, Raitt Recital Hall and Alumni Park, as well as outdoor screenings at Bluffs Park and Calamigos Ranch. The movies featured have all won awards from previous festivals this past year. Additionally, on Saturday there will be a silent film accompanied by the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra and Orson Welles' final film, "F is for Fake" will be shown.

The program begins at 10 a.m. on Friday at Smothers Theatre with the FILMS'COOL' contest. Six short films made by high school and college students will be shown, and a winner in each category will be selected by a panel of judges, which include FILMS'COOL' co-Chair Amy Magidan, actor Daniel Stern, Malibu Youth Services Librarian Lora Cokalat and Miss Malibu Pageant founder Kristen Bradford. The winners of the competition will receive internships at a production company or studio and $1,000.

The celebration continues at Calamigos Ranch on Friday with the opening night film and party. The evening kicks off at 6 p.m. with cocktails and a silent auction benefiting FILMS'COOL.' Following dinner, "an intimate conversation" will take place with three members of the Motion Picture & Television Fund: actress Valerie Allen, cinematographer Ralph Woolsey and director Charles Jarrot. The fund assists people in the entertainment industry who have fallen on hard times. This will be followed by the screening of "Man in the Chair," the tale of a rebellious young filmmaker who enters a student competition in hopes of winning a scholarship to a prestigious Hollywood film school. He receives help from a person living at a Motion Picture & Television Fund home.

Director Michael Schroeder and producer Randy Turrow will attend the screening with cast members Michael Angarano and Robert Wagner. They are expected to participate in a question and answer session following the movie.

The festivities continue on Saturday with screenings at various locations beginning at 12 p.m. Among the highlights are "Hearts of the Hills," a silent film made in 1919 that will be shown at Smothers Theatre with the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra doing a live performance of the score.

A screenwriter panel discussion will take place at Raitt Recital Hall at 2 p.m. Moderated by movie producer Trevor Albert, the panel will include Peter Dunne, who has written for television and authored a book on screenwriting. Catherine Ann Jones, who has written for film and also penned a book on screenwriting, and John Logan, a playwright and screenwriter, will also be on the panel

"This event will try to generate discussion amongst the panelists to show a breadth of knowledge and a breadth of experience," said John Evans, co-owner of Diesel, A Bookstore, which organized the discussion. "It's sort of a workshop that can go in any direction."

Diesel is hosting another panel discussion on Sunday at 2 p.m., also at Raitt Recital Hall. National film critic Leonard Maltin will converse with Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan. A similar discussion took place last year with Turan and critic David Thompson, with a moderator. But Evans said it was evident a moderator was not needed this year.

"They were so good at talking, and film critics in particular don't really need a moderator," Evans said. "It's really up to them what way to go, and people in the audience will be there to quiz them."

More screening will take place on Sunday, and the event will conclude at Bluffs Park at 7 p.m. with the documentary, "Sharkwater." Writer/director Rob Stewart will be in attendance to discuss the movie, which deals with the threat to the shark population in the marine reserves of Cocos Island, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands. His talk will be followed by a festival-closing party at Malibu Inn.

Last year, Robert Altman was given the Courage Award on the final day of the celebration. This year, the festival will not be recognizing anyone.

"We couldn't find an appropriate person to honor that could follow in the footsteps [of Robert Altman]," said Kim Jackson, the festival's executive director. "So we decided just to have a quiet year, and we'll bring it back next year."

Tickets can be purchased for individual events at the festival's Web site, The cost is $10 for most events, with the opening festivities costing $100 and the closing night party costing $75. Three-day program passes are also available for $100 to $750. A schedule for the screenings and other events can also be found on the Web site.

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