San Diego International Film Festival

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San Diego International Film Festival
Critics Panel - San Diego International Film Festival 2016.jpg
Festival co-hosts Jeffrey Lyons, Ben Lyons and Scott Mantz at a Critics Panel in 2016.
Location San Diego and La Jolla
Founded 2001
Awards Gregory Peck Award, Chris Brinker Award

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]. Held in September and/or October across two "villages" in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter and in La Jolla.

The festival showcases contemporary narrative feature, shorts and documentary films in competitive juried categories. These categories, or "tracks", vary year to year. Categories have included foreign language, animated, Native American, military, social justice, equestrian and more.

The Festival also hosts awards banquets, panel discussions, retrospectives and parties during the festival. Year round advanced screenings of new films are held for VIP members year round, educational programs are brought into San Diego high schools and an annual Oscar watch party.[8][9]


Since 2016, opening night films have screened at the historic Balboa Theatre.

The Festival and non-profit film foundation was founded in 2001 by event planner Robin Laatz and her filmmaker husband Karl Kozak, during the first decade (2001 to 2011) the festival played host to thousands of film premieres, filmmakers, actors and film enthusiasts. The couple introduced several specialty film series, including Native American, Student Short Film sections, Women in Film and a year-round film screening series at MOMA. [10]

New festival leadership took over in 2012. Husband and wife producers Dale Strack and Tonya Mantooth (sister of actor Randolph Mantooth), along with Kevin Leap and Patti Judd, make up the executive board.

In 2012, the festival established a "Native American Advisory Board." In 2017, its name was changed to "American Indian Advisory Board."[1]

In 2013, film critic Jeffrey Lyons was added as festival host and made honorary jury chairman in 2013, he has acted as host or co-host, with son Ben Lyons or Access Hollywood film critic Scott Mantz, ever since.

In 2016, the festival added International to its name, having previously been known only as the San Diego Film Festival.[11]


Main article: List of San Diego International Film Festival award winners

Gregory Peck Award[edit]

The festival's highest award was created in 2014 in memory of San Diego native Gregory Peck and with the support of his family. Recipients have included Patrick Stewart[12], Annete Bening and Alan Arkin.[13]

Chris Brinker Award[edit]

Created by the family of Chris Brinker, a San Diego area producer best known for The Boondock Saints and its sequel who died tragically in 2013 at the age of 42.[2] The award is given every year to the best first time directors.

Tribute to the Stars[edit]

The festival offers other awards whose names, like the Vanguard, Visionary and Rising Star award, vary every year. Other festival honorees have included:

Golden Eagle[edit]

Since 2014, honored celebrities and winning filmmakers have been presented with a "Golden Eagle" themed statuette, sculpted by Apache sculptor Ruben Chato.[18]


  1. ^ New leadership and direction for Festival
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Gaslamp Quarter location for 2012 Festival
  5. ^ Gus Van Sant to attend Retrospective, Festival expands to La Jolla
  6. ^ "San Diego Film Festival". 
  7. ^ "The Mantooth-Strack Family Works to Produce the San Diego Film Festival". 
  8. ^ Gus Van Sant Tribute and Retrospective at 2012 Festival
  9. ^ Gus Van Sant to be honored
  10. ^ Union-Tribune, San Diego. "At San Diego Film Festival, no hitch is their niche". Retrieved 2018-04-16. 
  11. ^ Blair, Iain (2016-09-29). "San Diego Film Festival Sets Its Aim for a Global Reach". Variety. Retrieved 2017-08-05. 
  12. ^ a b Fernandez, Matt (September 11, 2017). "Kumail Nanjiani, Heather Graham to Be Saluted at San Diego Film Festival". Variety. 
  13. ^ "SDiFF Announces Annette Bening as the Gregory Peck Award Recipient". San Diego International Film Festival SDiFF. Retrieved 2018-04-07. 
  14. ^ Varga, George. "Annette Bening back home for San Diego Film Festival award". Retrieved 2018-04-07. 
  15. ^ McNary, Dave (2015-09-18). "'Star Wars' Star John Boyega Tapped for San Diego Festival Honor". Variety. Retrieved 2018-04-07. 
  16. ^ Release, Press (2014-09-29). "Equatorial Guinea-Set 'Where The Road Runs Out' Dominates San Diego Film Festival Awards". IndieWire. Retrieved 2018-04-07. 
  17. ^ Accomando, Beth. "Preview: San Diego Film Festival". KPBS Public Media. Retrieved 2018-04-07. 
  18. ^ "New 2017 Golden Eagle Award Unveiled". Retrieved 2018-04-08. 

External links[edit]