There’s a new film festival in Calabasas and organizers promise a VIP red carpet and a variety of first-run screenings. Presented by the City of Calabasas and Bob Smith BMW/Mini, the non-profit event, which runs September 12-14, will kick off with the U.S. premiere of the Denzel Washington thriller, The Equalizer, about an ex-CIA agent who protects a young women in jeopardy (Chloe Grace Moretz) from a violent Russian mob. It is based on the cult 80’s TV show.
“We are so excited to get a movie of this caliber and to be the first in the U.S. to show it,” said Kelley Fries, event organizer. The screening will take place Sept. 12 at the Edwards Grand Palace Stadium 6 following a VIP cocktail. “After the screening, there will be a Q&A with the producers, Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal,” she said.
The festival will continue at the Viewpoint School where it will screen two documentaries and a comedy feature. The Saturday night closing film will be Tracks, starring Adam Driver and Mia Wasikowska. Based on the bestselling memoir, the film is set in the harsh but beautiful wilderness of Australia. Student films will screen Sept. 14 at Founders Hall.
The festival was the brainchild of Mayor David Shapiro who approached Calabasas resident and producer Joe Fries (Talk to Me) last year about pulling it all together. “… our citizens have an appreciation of the arts. We also have many residents who themselves are members of the entertainment community,” Shapiro said. “Our city prides itself on providing the community with as many cultural events and activities as possible … Calabasas, with its rich history of film, TV, theater and musical production and local talent, actually has more Hollywood in it than one would think. The idea of a big film festival, which will be based in and celebrates Calabasas for years to come, is exciting and has become a reality.”
Joe’s daughter, Kelley, a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in public relations, took on the monumental task of organizing the event. “We were fortunate to have a relationship with distributers like Sony and the Weinstein Company to move forward,” she said.
This year’s festival is not to be confused with the previous Method Fest, which ran in Calabasas for several years. “This festival is different … in the types of movies shown,” said Shapiro. “The Method Fest focused on the actor or actress as a main component. While it was a unique experience in our city which was successful for a number of years, the community appeared to desire something different.”
This years festival is geared to celebrate local actors, directors, producers and films that were actually made in this region, according to Shapiro. “These types of movies are ones our residents will normally go out to see in the theater but now have the opportunity to see at our very own Film Festival here in Calabasas.”
In addition to major releases, high school students from Calabasas and Agoura Hills will be showcasing their films during all-day screenings. At the end of the day, festival organizers will hold an award ceremony for best film, best actor and best assemble. Food will be provided by Fresh Brothers and Corner Bakery.
For more information and to get tickets, visit www.thecalabasasfilmfestival.com.