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Wisper directed by Russ Emanuel
Wisper directed by Russ Emanuel

The 10th Anniversary edition of the San Pedro International Film Festival (SPIFF) taking place November 4-14 in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California, will once again celebrate the work of emerging filmmakers from around the world, both in-person and virtually.

Kicking off with a Gala presentation of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (1931) on Friday, November 5 at the Historic Warner Grand Theatre (478 W 6th St.), SPIFF will present 9 features (4 narrative, 5 documentary), and 25 short films and music videos over the course of a jam-packed weekend of films in theaters with more than 30 filmmakers expected to attend the film festival and participate in Q&As following the screening of their films. Following an opening weekend of in-person and in-theater screenings and events, the San Pedro International Film Festival continues virtually through November 14.

On Thursday, November 4, SPIFF will participate in the monthly San Pedro First Thursday Art Walk with an art exhibition. This has become a tradition with the film festival, as it joins forces with the community to celebrate the work of local artists, and sets the stage for the weekend of film. This year the Art Walk will take place at Backdoor Studios (374 W. 7th St), with the collection of artists live/work art lofts including Cherry Wood, Jeff Allu, Peter Scherre, and Jules Wolfe.

The Special Screening of Chaplin’s silent classic City Lights on Friday, November 5, will be a co-presentation with Grand Vision Foundation, the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, and SPIFF all coming together for what should be an exceptional movie moment at the historic Warner Grand Theatre launching the 10th Anniversary of the San Pedro International Film Festival as well as celebrating Grand Vision Foundation’s 25th Anniversary and the Warner Grand Theatre’s 90th Birthday.

SPIFF Festival Director Ziggy Mrkich, said, “This event will bring together the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce’s business and arts community, classic film and film festival fans and art deco enthusiasts to kick off our weekend of film in true style. I can’t imagine a better theatre than the Warner Grand to host a screening of this wonderful film. We could not be more proud and happy to have called it our home for the last 10 years.”

Among the highlights on Saturday, will be Russ Emanuel’s Wisper. The true-crime story delves into the murder of a Black family in New Jersey utilizing personal videotapes and diaries owned by the family’s father. Ryan Matthew Polomski and Dean Prator’s documentary Raymond Lewis: LA Legend looks at the life and the career that might have been of the basketball legend from Watts, California who many say was blackballed from the NBA in the early 70’s following an ugly contract dispute. Filmmakers from both films will be attending SPIFF to participate in post-screening Q&As.

On Sunday, November 7, highlights will include Marlin Darrah’s thriller Amazon Queen about a dream vacation turned into a nightmare and a struggle for survival in the Brazilian rainforest following a hijacking and pursuit of a lost fortune in the jungle. Darrah will be on hand to participate in a post-screening Q&A. Sunday will also include a tech panel discussion, “From VR/AR to Crypto: the State of the Art of Digital Entertainment 2021”. Innovators will review the mass movement towards digitization, the latest technologies, and explore a wide range of trending digital applications. Crypto is finding its way into the entertainment and media space, and the digital asset called non-fungible tokens (NFT) also saw a massive spike in popularity in the past few months. With the pandemic millions of people have been working, communicating, educating and entertaining at home. So,…is Crypto the next step in distribution for filmmakers and artists?

Participants include; Panel Chair: Mary T Duda Futurist VR/AR Pioneer, Crypto Ecology Expert, Los Angeles; Dana-Marie Faneker Founder Captain VR, Netherlands; Cathy Hackl Futurist- Emerging Tech Business Leader, Washington DC; and Damien “E-Love” Mathius: CO FOUNDER OF VR INNOVATOR, Los Angeles.

2021 San Pedro International Film Festival official selections

NARRATIVE FEATURES

Amazon Queen
Directed by Marlin Darrah
Country: USA; Running Time: 1:28:00 min
A dream vacation of a lifetime quickly turns into a hijacking, endangering passengers and crew, on a boat journey down the Amazon River and into the Brazilian rainforest. Desperate criminals storm aboard, pursuing a lost fortune in the jungle. Now under threat, and with food and fuel running low, the once idealistic tourists – now hostages – must use all their ingenuity as their Amazon cruise becomes a descent into a desperate struggle for survival.

Wisper
Directed by Russ Emanuel
Country: USA; Running Time: 1:30:18 min
A unique experimental found footage take on an anti-hero protagonist. Wisper is the true story of the murder of a middle-class African American family in Northern New Jersey. In the summer of 2016, three children and their mother were found shot to death in their large suburban home. Loosely based on the personal videotapes and diaries owned by the father of the victims.

Box Of Freedom
Directed by Adelina Suvagau
Country: Canada; Running Time: 1:26:27 min
In the still-harsh world of post-Communist Romania, ‘comedic companion’, Dora is a defiant, mirthful beacon for freedom. In the turbulence after the fall of the Berlin Wall, many Eastern Bloc countries are filled with hopes for a brighter future. Dora (32), a Romanian comedienne is trying to live in this new world, but she is gaining notoriety for the wrong reasons.

Sarogeto
Directed by Nino Santucci
Country: USA; Running Time: 1:32:39 min
Nico Santucci’s feature film Sarogeto is a story revealing the complicated and emotional struggle that Japanese American Grace/Minami Stanton faces and the controversial decision she makes on this unorthodox journey of a woman’s search to find peace for her family and spiritual enlightenment. It’s a film filled with relevant and thought-provoking subjects including spirituality, mental illness, and depression.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

The Game Is Up: Disillusioned Trump Supporters Tell Their Story
Directed by Melissa Jo Peltier
Country: USA; Running Time: 1:52:59 min
A GOP congressman-turned right wing shock jock; a rising star in the Young Republicans; a party-loyal Ohio farmer; a US Army Veteran & hardcore ‘MAGA’; and three evangelicals all recount their evolutions from Trump supporters in 2016 to adamant adversaries in 2020. The film takes a deep dive into their motives for voting, their doubts, and the epiphanies that changed their minds.

Raymond Lewis: LA Legend
Directed by Ryan Matthew Polomski and Dean Prator
Country: USA; Running Time: 1:23:00 min
Raymond Lewis: L.A. Legend tells the true story of the mythical basketball legend from Watts, California who many say was blackballed from the NBA in the early 70’s following an ugly contract dispute with the Philadelphia 76ers as a rookie. The film features exclusively uncovered archival footage dating back over 50 years, along with a deep array of over 45 raw and candid interviews that tell the incredibly strange and heartbreaking tale of a once-in-a-generation talent who was shunned by a game he was destined to dominate. Part historical recovery, part deep personal excavation, the film takes the viewer on an emotional ride through one of the sport’s least known, but perhaps most incredible personal journeys of all time.

One Pint at a Time
Directed by Aaron Hosé
Country: USA; Running Time: 1:28:57 min
Craft beer generates tens of billions of dollars annually for the US economy. Despite beer’s Egyptian and African heritage, these traditions have been mostly forgotten and are rarely found in American brewing culture. Today, Black-owned breweries make up less than 1% of the nearly 9,000 breweries in operation. Eager to shift the historical perception of who makes and drinks beer, Black brewers, brand owners and influencers across the country are reshaping the craft beer industry and the future of America’s favorite adult beverage.

Rez Metal
Directed by Ashkan Soltani
Country: USA; Running Time: 1:15:00 min
When Kyle Felter, the lead singer of I Don’t Konform sent out a demo album to Flemming Rasmussen, the Grammy Award-winner producer of Metallica, they never imagined themselves a few months later rehearsing with Rasmussen inside a hot hogan on a Navajo reservation before recording their debut album at the iconic Sweet Silence Studio in Denmark. While following I Don’t Konform’s fairy tale journey, the documentary Rez Metal, tells the larger compelling story of the heavy metal scene on Navajo reservations where many youths have grown disaffected as a result of endemic poverty and high rate of suicides.

Willards Legends and Idols
Directed by Mark Knudson
Country: USA; Running Time: 1:29:12 min
Armed with just his talent, some paint and an iphone, follow Willard Snow as he paints giant guitar sculptures, real drums, guitars, and large portraits of Rock Star Legends, while attempting to open his own art gallery.

SHORTS AND MUSIC VIDEOS

3rd Times a Charm
Directed by Alice L. Walker
Country: USA; Running Time: 17:50 min
A man treks up a mountain looking for an end to his pain but meets a stranger on his path who shows him something different.

A Blue Shroud
Directed by Jason Snellman
After surviving an attempt on his life, a disgraced police officer enlists the help of his partner to seek revenge, bringing into focus their differing sense of morality and responsibility to the community they serve.

Apparitions – Ghosts on Pacific Avenue
Directed by Nina Tahash; Music and Lyrics by James Preston Allen
Country: USA; Running Time: 8:23 min
Song takes us on a stroll down Pacific Ave in San Pedro.

Bandwidth
Directed by Pat Battistini and Robert Francke
Country: USA; Running Time: 5:00 min
Frank’s important job interview on Zoom goes south due to his “stay at home” Covid precautious family using up his bandwidth.

Believer
Directed by Hong Shanjia
Country: China; Running Time: 19:46 min
This documentary is based on the traditional Tibetan pilgrimage culture, and tell a real story about how a 16-year-old boy to realizes his dream of becoming a Tibetan opera actor. Pure, unadorned, yet marvelous, this is the story about faith and spirituality that soar above the Tibetan Plateau; unfolded when the traditional and modern cultural tides clash, and what’s more, about the passion of life. He ready to die for his beliefs.

The Binding of Danny
Directed by Rupert Craib
Country: USA, 2021, 14:55 min
A pitch-black comedy about a delusional, narcissistic mother trying to ingratiate her sex-offending son into their judgmental church community.

Chorus Girl
Directed by Thomas Rio
Country: France; Running Time: 11:49 min
Romantic songs say that impossible love is love at its best. What if a hair dryer fell in love with the Chorus Girl who owns it? How far would it go for her? At last, all the truth about the assassination of the famous French Singer Claude François.

Deliverance
Directed by Michaël Rué
Country: Switzerland; Running Time: 12:11 min
A beautiful Sunday morning Simon wakes up with Stephanie, he feels intense pain never met beforehand.

Diversity Hires
Directed by Tevin Everett
Country: USA; Running Time: 38:36 min
Follow the lives of 4 roommates who believe they have secured the opportunity of a lifetime as the Diversity Hires for the Claiborne Foundation, but they soon find out being the diversity hire isn’t as glamorous as they thought it would be.

Divertimento
Directed by Keyvan Sheikhalishahi
Country: France; Running Time: 30:00 min
Jonas Olsen (Kellan Lutz), a chess player haunted by a tragic past, is given an opportunity to participate in a mysterious game, Divertimento.

Ep
Directed by Pat Campo
Country: USA; Running Time: 10:00 min
A young girl comes to a mysterious village, she lives a quiet life as a priestess. Until a special ceremony, she is gradually pushed into the abyss.

Genius
Directed by Brahadeeshwar Chandilya
Country: India; Running Time: 12:46 min
A female writer grows more anxious as a deadline nears. She’s not sure what’s more scary- writer’s block or the seemingly haunted bungalow she’s recently moved into. Are we sometimes our own worst fears?

Hanging In There
Directed by Nathan Israileff
Country: USA; Running Time: 13:47 min
Matt is interrupted during a suicide attempt, by his friend Andy, and what commences is a conversation about depression, suicide and understanding.

La Cita
Directed by Alex Kannan
Country: USA; Running Time: 16:57 min
Grecia, a transgender woman, writes a letter to her friend Jeanine. From remembering her childhood to her daily struggles, Grecia gives us a glimpse into the life of a transgender woman navigating the cruel streets of Tijuana, Mexico.

Last Light
Directed by Gregory M. Schroeder
Country: USA; Running Time: 15:09 min
After a meteor impact nearby, a farmer staggers home, his arms severely burned. He has a sudden and miraculous recovery, but he develops a supernatural power in the process that puts his family at risk.

Let’s Talk About Farts
Directed by Greg Runnels
Country: USA; Running Time: 1:55 min
A team of experts discuss flatulence.

Los Patines
Directed by Loren Escandon
Country: USA; Running Time: 7:43 min
Forced to be a servant to a white woman, an Afro-Colombian orphaned girl dreams of freedom, a normal childhood, and a pair of roller-skates. Los Patines is a personal and poetic account of domestic slavery from a young girl’s point of view. This emotional and ultimately freeing journey sheds light on the sheer will and determination needed to rebuild a life weighed by scars of isolation, abandonment, and abuse.

Mountain
Directed by Yuwei Du
Country: USA; Running Time: 19:57 min
A young girl comes to a mysterious village, she lives a quiet life as a priestess. Until a special ceremony, she is gradually pushed into the abyss.

Offseason
Directed by Matthew Genecov
Country: USA; Running Time: 6:46 min
Bookie and apartment building handyman Ricky gets a dose of karma when COVID-19 pandemic postpones professional sports, and his lovable weirdo neighbor won’t stop demanding help with menial tasks.

Petty Cash
Directed by Matt Simon
Country: USA; Running Time: 12:25 min
Jackie, a cash-strapped bartender working at an Upstate New York casino, navigates a difficult work environment while saving for school. When her estranged brother asks for a favor, she must make a decision that will change both of their lives forever.

Project Gemini
Directed by Isaiah Andrés Galarza
Country: USA; Running Time: 21:29 min
This is the story of a female assassin who gets contracted to kill a fellow assassin. But no one knows what he looks like, no one has ever survived an encounter. So, in an effort to get close enough to him, she anonymously hires him to kill herself… then just waits for his arrival to complete her mission. Once he shows up, she finds that nothing was as it seems.

Routine
Directed by Russ Emmanuel
Country: USA; Running Time: 4:33 min
During a mysterious pandemic, Cassie’s quarantine life has turned into a routine, day in and day out. Nothing new seems to happen, until she realizes she’s out of coffee. And she’s determined to get her cup of joe, even if she must face the horrors of the outside world. Because “she’d kill for a cup of coffee.” In this part-animated live action short, anything goes.

Sex, In Cars
Directed by Matthew Solomon
Country: USA; Running Time: 6:53 min
Stacy and Paul are single parents on a very successful first date. With nowhere to go for some “alone” time, they take his car to a park where everything is going great…until a cop shows up.

Who’s That Hemingway
Directed by Alex Bologna
Country: USA, 2021, 18:46 min
An advice column writer goes in search of a man that looks like Ernest Hemingway to find the answers to her failed relationships.

Zap!
Directed by Philip C. Sedgwick
Country: USA; Running Time: 5:47 min
An astronomer sharing online backyard observations of the center of our galaxy has a run-in with mosquitoes and a not so trusty bug zapper.

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