SLO Film Fest includes Paso screening of ‘Wine Life’ as part of Vintage Paso: Zinfandel weekend

PASO ROBLES — Last week, for five nights in a row, the 23rd annual San Luis Obispo International Film Festival took over the streets of San Luis Obispo County. While the headquarters were located in downtown SLO, screenings were also held at a new SLO venue— the Octagon Barn, as well as at movie theatres throughout both Morro Bay and Paso Robles.

Although the festival strays away from specific themes, this year’s festival featured several individual special events and presentation films that highlighted the importance of cultural differences prominent amongst today’s society via either music or politics, Film Festival Director Wendy Eidson said.

Opening night, Tuesday March 14, kicked off with a classic Mardi Gras-theme and cocktail party. While there were plenty of local restaurants, wineries and breweries to indulge in, the opening film, “Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table,” stole the show.

Wednesday featured seven different screenings throughout the county, including a Tribute to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher and several others.

Films — both foreign and domestic — began early on Thursday. To top the night off, various Central Coast craft breweries joined together for a beer tasting and the showing of “CRAFT: A California Beer Documentary.”

Friday night was another hit. Crowds swarmed from all over the county for the 12th annual Surf Nite in SLO event at the historic Fremont Theatre and the Park Cinemas in downtown Paso Robles for screening of the “Wine Life”, filmed by Colin West, which was also apart of the annual Vintage Paso: Zinfandel Weekend event.

Saturday featured the world premiere of “Down the Fence” at the Fremont Theatre, the showing of “The Girls Just want to Have Fun” at Mission Plaza, the distribution of King Vidor and Filmmaker awards and an exciting awards night after party.

The Festival closed on Sunday with the collaborative movie and concert “Hearing Is Believing,” the closing night awards and “Movie Score: A Film Music Documentary” and a final closing night party to end the week long event.

The SLO Film Festival, which was started in 1993 by a handful of locals, has grown exponentially since then. In fact, more than 1,000 films were submitted for this year’s event. With so many entrees the level of competition itself is high, but the high level of camaraderie is also apparent.

A big of part of why this event is so exciting stands in the connections people make. Whether a filmmaker or guest, the festival is a great opportunity to not only reunite with old friends, but meet new faces, too.

“Standing in line at a film festival is actually very much a part of the experience,” Eidson said. “(It’s) where you talk (with) and meet people from all over and find out what movies they love. It really is part of the fun (so) we encourage people to come early and stand in line.”

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