San Diego Film Festival

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San Diego International Film Festival
Location San Diego, California, United States
Language English

The San Diego International Film Festival is an independent film festival that takes place annually in San Diego, California and is produced by the non-profit San Diego Film Foundation.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

Held in October across two "villages" in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter and in La Jolla, the festival is a showcase for US and international independent filmmakers, the festival features competitive juried categories including narrative feature films, short films, documentary films and Native American. Categories or "tracks" vary year to year, and have included: social justice, sports, music, family friendly, animation, equestrian, military and more.

The Festival features panel discussions with film critics, leaders in the entertainment industry, parties and awards banquets.

In 2016, the festival added International to its name, having previously been known only as the San Diego Film Festival.[10]

Notability at Festival[edit]

2017 Co-Hosts: Jeffrey Lyons and Scott Mantz.

2016 Host: Jeffrey Lyons Co-host: Ben Lyons.

2015 Host: Jeffrey Lyons Co-host: Ben Lyons.

2014 Host: Jeffrey Lyons.[16] [17] Films included The Imitation Game and Wild[18]

2013 film critic Jeffrey Lyons was added as festival host and honorary jury chairman. His son Ben Lyons, an entertainment reporter, is co-host.

2012 marked the first-ever film festival tribute and retrospective of award-winning director Gus Van Sant's work.[19] Erik Wahl made an art to pay tribute to the director.[20]

Under the Festival's new leadership and capital more talent and a more prominent slate of films were added including the Weinstein Company's Silver Linings Playbook and The Sapphires. Also on the film slate were Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut Quartet, Seven Psychopaths, Grassroots, and The Oranges.[21]

Award-winning world premieres at the 2012 festival included The Story of Luke and Red Line.[22]

Changes in 2012 included a new "Native American Voices" category focused on Native American films and filmmakers, the program launched with the feature film Shouting Secrets and documentary film Thick Dark Fog. A Native American Voices filmmaker panel included actors Saginaw Grant and Ruben Chato.

New festival leadership took over in 2012: Dale Strack, Chairman and CEO; Kevin Leap, President; Tonya Mantooth, Vice President; Patti Judd, Vice President. The Festival was founded in 2001 by Robin Laatz (event planner) and Karl Kozak (indie filmmaker).



Competition and Audience Choice Award Winners
  • Chairman’s Award: Citizen Soldier
  • Best Narrative Feature: So B. It
  • Breakthrough Feature: Po
  • Breakthrough Documentary: In Utero
  • Best Documentary: Political Animals
  • Best International Film: Julieta
  • Best Comedy: The Late Bloomer
  • Best Military Film: Railway Spine
  • Best Narrative Short: "Bon Voyage"
  • Kumeyaay Eagle Award: Te Ata



Competition and Audience Choice Award Winners
  • Best Narrative Feature: Diablo
  • Best Documentary: India's Daughter
  • Best Foreign: Victoria
  • Best Short: "Sub Rosa"
  • Best Animation: Soar
  • Best Family Film: Operation: Neighborhood Watch!
  • Best Military Film: No Greater Love
  • Kumeyaay Award: For Blood
  • Chairman’s Award: Kidnap Capital




Competition and Audience Choice Award Winners
  • Best Narrative Feature: Where the Road Runs Out
  • Best Documentary: Waiting for Mamu director Thomas Morgan
  • Best Foreign Feature: Schimbare
  • Best Narrative Short: "The Bravest and the Boldest"
  • Best Animated Film: Dam Keeper
  • Kumeyaay Award: Sycuan Our People. Our Culture. Our History.
  • U-T San Diego Award: Where the Road Runs Out
  • Chairman’s Award: Hornet’s Nest


  • Best Studio Feature: The Imitation Game
  • Best Feature: Cas & Dylan
  • Best Documentary: Waiting for Mamu
  • Best Short: "Sure Thing"
  • Best Foreign: Noble



  • Best Narrative Feature: Autumn Blood — director Marcus Blunder
  • Best Documentary Feature: Of Kites & Borders — director Yolanda Pividal
  • Best International Feature: The German Doctor — director Lucia Puenzo
  • Best Short Drama: "Solidarity" — director Dustin Brown
  • UT San Diego Award - Best Feature Film: Winter in the Blood — director Alex Smith & Andrew J. Smith
  • Chairman's Award: Chez Upshaw — director Bruce Mason
  • Audience Award - Best Studio Feature: 12 Years a Slave — director Steve McQueen
  • Audience Award - Best Feature: Brahmin Bulls — director Mahesh Pailoor
  • Audience Award - Best Documentary: Lion Ark — director Tim Phillips
  • Audience Award - Best Documentary: Alekesam — director Jason Bergh
  • Visionary Filmmaker Award: Judd Apatow
  • Emerging Producer Award: Justin Nappi
  • Chris Brinker Award: Shaun Kosta, The Republic of Two
  • Humanitarian Award: Mariel Hemingway


  • Best Narrative Feature: The Story of Luke — director Alonso Mayo
  • Best Documentary Feature: A Sister's Call — director Kyle Tekiela & Rebecca Schaper
  • Best Comedy Feature: 3,2,1... Frankie Go Boom — director & writer Jordan Roberts
  • Best Foreign Feature: Best Little Whorehouse in Rochdale — director Ian Vernon
  • Best Short Drama: "Cherry Wave" — director Carey Willams
  • Best Short Comedy: "The Hiccup" — director Matt Smukler
  • Best Screenplay: Below Zero writer Signe Olynyk
  • UT San Diego Award - Best Feature Film: Red Line — director Robert Kirbyson
  • Chairman's Award: Tony Tango — director Manolo Celi
  • Audience Award - Best Studio Feature: Silver Linings Playbook
  • Audience Award - Best Feature: Shouting Secrets
  • Audience Award - Best Documentary: Not Yet Begun To Fight
  • Jury's Award - Best Comedy: "Crackers" short film — writer, director, producer Gregory Principato





  1. ^ Gus Van Sant Tribute and Retrospective at 2012 Festival
  2. ^ Gus Van Sant to be honored
  3. ^ New leadership and direction for Festival
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Gaslamp Quarter location for 2012 Festival
  7. ^ Gus Van Sant to attend Retrospective, Festival expands to La Jolla
  8. ^ "San Diego Film Festival". 
  9. ^ "The Mantooth-Strack Family Works to Produce the San Diego Film Festival". 
  10. ^ Blair, Iain (2016-09-29). "San Diego Film Festival Sets Its Aim for a Global Reach". Variety. Retrieved 2017-08-05. 
  11. ^ Fernandez, Matt (September 11, 2017). "Kumail Nanjiani, Heather Graham to Be Saluted at San Diego Film Festival". Variety. 
  12. ^ Cavassuto, Maria (2016-08-30). "San Diego Film Festival Announces Full 2016 Lineup". Retrieved 2016-09-13. 
  13. ^ Holmes, Mannie (2015-09-15). "San Diego Film Festival to Open with Adrien Brody's 'Septembers of Shiraz'". Retrieved 2016-09-13. 
  14. ^ "Adrien Brody attends opening night of San Diego Film Festival". 2015-10-01. Retrieved 2016-09-13. 
  15. ^ "San Diego Film Fest to honor Hollywood elite at La Jolla tribute event". Retrieved 2016-09-13. 
  16. ^ Johns, Nikara (2014-08-06). "Jeffrey Lyons to Host San Diego Film Festival". Retrieved 2016-09-13. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ McNary, Dave (2014-08-29). "Reese Witherspoon's 'Wild' to Open San Diego Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved 2016-09-13. 
  19. ^ "Gus Van Sant to Attend Retrospective at San Diego Film Fest (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  20. ^ "Gus Van Sant Tribute". CNN. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  21. ^ "San Diego Film Fest expands venues and preems, 'Quartet,' 'Seven Psychopaths' among headliners". Variety. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  22. ^ "THE STORY OF LUKE TAKES TOP PRIZE AT SAN DIEGO FILM FESTIVAL". UT San Diego. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  23. ^ "2012 San Diego Film Festival Announces Awards". KPBS. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  24. ^ "2012 San Diego Film Festival Announces Awards". Retrieved 4 Oct 2012. 

External links[edit]