Coronado Island Film Festival 2020 Pre-Fest Coverage

This year has impacted so many different individuals, industries, and events. Many organizations have had to restructure in-person events and transition them to a virtual format, in an effort to align with current safety standards set to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Though this has posed a variety of challenges, it has also offered up new and creative ways to enjoy artistic output without the limitations of geography.

Though I am eager to return to attending in-person events and traveling once it is safe to do so, I have been enjoying various virtual presentations and festivals. Once such film festival is the Coronado Island Film Festival (CIFF). Founded in 2016, the CIFF is an annual film festival held on Coronado Island, a resort city across the San Diego Bay from San Diego’s downtown. The festival lasts for four days in November, in addition to hosting a monthly Classic Movie Series at various venues on the island, which includes the historic “Hollywood’s Playground,” the Hotel Del Coronado.

This year, the CIFF is virtual and takes place from November 11-15. In honor of the virtual iteration of the festival, I was able to interview Christian Esquevin, Board President of the Coronado Island Film Festival. It is my pleasure to publish the interview here, in anticipation of the festival.


Annette: What makes the Coronado Island Film Festival particularly unique? 

Christian: The first thing is our geography. We are almost an island in the Bay of San Diego. The Second is our History. We are the home to three U.S. Naval bases as well as the historical Hotel del Coronado.

Feature films have been made here since 1912, including Some Like it Hot. Dozens of films have been made at either the Hotel “Del” or at the North Island aviation and aircraft carrier base.

Coronado was a playground for movie stars during the 1920s and 1930s. The Hotel del Coronado has also been a supporter, so we have had parties there. This year, we will again have an outdoor screening of Some Like it Hot where many scenes were shot. 

Annette: How is this festival going to be different from previous iterations of the festival? 

Christian: Due to Covid-19, we have had to make major adjustments, just like the other festivals. And since we are in California and [abiding by] its regulations, as well as being mindful of attendees, volunteers and everybody’s health, we could not expect to hold full theater screenings or events. So, almost everything is digital this year.

We have had film submissions this year, both short films and features. These have been judged for awards. These will be made available to view virtually through various methods including Smart TV, Apple TV, Roku, Youtube, and others. Besides films, panel discussions will be available virtually, as well. A panel on the topic of Ageism is an example. 

Annette: Are there particular themes or panels that this festival will include? 

Christian: Our Festival has used themes such as U.S. Veterans, especially as we hold it over several days around Veteran’s Day. Because of our tourist destination we also have incorporated “Culinary Cinema” as a theme, and the arts in general, especially music. When we had the live events, we would often pair a movie with the musician or composer of the movie’s music in a small concert. For example when Green Book came out, we screened it and had Kris Bowers, the composer, give a piano recital. We don’t have big venues, so both were packed. 

Annette: What are you most excited about regarding this year’s festival? 

Christian: Just having it is exciting. We see-sawed between having a live festival and not having one at all through the last eight months. Also, not being able to sell passes really hurts our finances. Luckily we had some donations and the financial support from the City of Coronado that got us through this far. 

Annette: Do you have any advice for new festival attendees? 

Christian: It’s a good idea to study the Festival Program (printed or on the Web) to see what you want to participate in. Plan ahead. It’s like being a tourist in terms of taking advantage of the local spots too. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid of watching shorts or documentaries. They are almost always enlightening and the shorts are very well made and artistic. Ask what people have liked in case something runs twice. You’ve come to attend so don’t skip out on the variety of offerings. 

Annette: In your opinion, why is it important to support and attend film festivals? 

Christian: Well, you can take it from me that I have really seen a lot of joy on people’s faces. That was when people “attended.” But that’s the significance of films in festivals – people are united with others in the things they love – or can learn to love through discussion and panels and the people in the industry that share their experience. Of course we’re not buying or selling film distribution rights here – just enjoying the product. More information can be found as the Coronado Island Film Festival schedule firms up at: https://coronadofilmfest.com/attendciff/

About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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