San Pedro and the Port of Los Angeles are already frequent filming locations for TV shows such as “NCIS” and “Dexter”; now, the harbor area is trying to become a bigger fixture on the film festival circuit.
For almost a decade, San Pedro has played host to the LA Harbor International Film Festival at the Warner Theater each May. Later this month, it will get a another one, called the San Pedro International Film Festival, or Spiff.
The festival’s founder, Ziggy Mrkich, said she expects the majority of attendees to come from the surrounding area and believes the area has more than enough interest from residents and film industry types to support both festivals.
“The film industry is aware of San Pedro as a shooting location and people down there like festivals and like films. There’s room for one more,” she said.
Mrkich has held various jobs in Hollywood over the years and has also served as the program director for the Santa Catalina Film Festival. She had the idea for Spiff about a year ago after identifying the harbor area as her ideal location, given its growing artistic community and historic venues.
She brought in about 10 volunteers to help, and has been financing the event with sponsorships from the likes of beverage brand Monster Energy and organizations such as the San Pedro Visitors & Convention Bureau. She has sourced the funding through the San Pedro non-profit Croatian Cultural Center of Greater Los Angeles.
The festival is preselling three-day tickets for $39, while individual screenings will cost $10 and some events will be free.
The idea is to showcase films that have garnered solid buzz at the bigger festivals that are simply inaccessible for many people. For example, the closing-night film is “Silver Linings Playbook,” a comedy-drama starring Bradley Cooper that premiered last month at the Toronto International Film Festival. Other events will include Q&A’s with filmmakers and panel discussions.
While some filmmakers have provided their movies with no charge, the festival has had to pay to show some others. As a first-year event, Mrkich’s festival has to work to convince filmmakers, distributors and sales agents that Spiff will be a worthwhile place to screen their material.
Still, Mrkich said she has garnered support from sponsors and filmmakers alike.
The festival will run Oct. 12-14 at the Warner Theater, the auditorium of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and other locations.
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