“Darkest Hour” Will Open Second Annual Coronado Island Film Festival

Darkest Hour
Gary Oldman stars as Winston Churchill in director Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour,” a Focus Features release. Visitors to the Coronado Island Film Festival will get a sneak preview of this powerful motion picture. Credit: Jack English/Focus Features.

The Coronado Island Film Festival today announced that a special screening of “Darkest Hour,” starring Academy Award-nominee Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, will open the second annual Coronado Island Film Festival, which takes place over Veterans’ Day weekend, Nov. 9-12. (The film will open in San Diego theaters in early December.)

Once again the film festival will feature celebrity film critic and historian Leonard Maltin as honorary host and president of the film jury.

Darkest Hour
Academy Award winner Gary Oldman stars as Winston Churchill in the soon-to-be-released film, “Darkest  Hour,” a Focus Features release. The film heads up a phenomenal series of events at this year’s Coronado Island Film Festival. Credit: Jack English/Focus Features.

“Darkest Hour” portrays Churchill, who, as Great Britain’s newly elected Prime Minister, must decide whether to negotiate with Adolph Hitler or stand firm for the ideals and freedom of his nation, knowing this will lead his country into war against Hitler’s Third Reich.

The film was produced by Lisa Bruce, who grew up in Coronado and has been a consistent backer of the Coronado Island Film Festival. In 2015, Bruce made available two free screenings of “The Theory of Everything,” the 2014 film about scientist Stephen Hawking, which she also produced.

Leonard Maltin
Iconic film critic Leonard Maltin will again serve as honorary host and president of the film jury at the Coronado Island Film Festival. Of last year’s inaugural film festival, Maltin described it as, “a complete home run.”

Bruce discussed the making of the film, which was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, in a Q&A session between the screenings and also spoke to students at Coronado School of the Arts. The writer of “Darkest Hour,” Anthony McCarten, also wrote the screenplay, “The Theory of Everything.”

According to Coronado Island Film Festival President and CEO Mary Sikes, the festival’s initial success stems not only from the city’s history with filmmaking that dates back more than a century, but its current Hollywood connections.

“We are fortunate to have so many film industry professionals with Coronado ties,” said Sikes. “Our Jury President Leonard Maltin heads a world-class jury. Our head juror for documentaries, Ira Wohl, who won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1979, owns a home in Coronado. So does our head juror for shorts, Jim Gallagher, who is head of theatrical marketing for Dreamworks Animation. And Lisa Bruce is our head juror for narrative films.”

Mary Sikes
Mary Sikes, president and CEO of the Coronado Island Film Festival, sharing upcoming events with a large gathering of supporters recently. Photo by Joe Ditler.

Complimentary Old Town Trolleys will connect festival events, and several intimate gatherings will allow all festival pass holders to meet and chat with industry professionals. Two such events include a “Meet the Jury” gathering at Loews Coronado Beach Resort and a “Mingle with the Filmmakers” reception at Emerald C Gallery.

More than 120 events, including movies, panel discussions, special presentations and parties are scheduled for this year’s festival. Passes, priced at $195, $395 and $595, are on sale now at coronadoislandfilmfest.com.

Doug St. Denis
Doug St. Denis, founder and executive director of the Coronado Island Film Festival, speaking to donors and sponsors at a recent gathering. Photo by Joe Ditler.

The Coronado Island Film Festival is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation. The festival’s presenting sponsor is Hotel del Coronado. The City of Coronado is also a major sponsor.


Get breaking Coronado news in your inbox >> SUBSCRIBE

Joe Ditler is a professional writer, publicist and Coronado historian. Formerly a writer with the Los Angeles Times, he has been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and Europe. He also owns Part-Time PR (a subsidiary of Schooner or Later Promotions), specializing in helping Coronado businesses reach larger audiences with well-placed public relations throughout the greater San Diego County. He writes obituaries and living-obituaries under the cover "Coronado Storyteller." To find out more, write or call joeditler@gmail.com, or (619) 435-0767.