From San Francisco’s Outside Lands to New Orleans’ Jazz Fest, a weekend chock-full of artistry, live music, and crowds must be well-executed by its organizers and well-planned by visitors. And even though Coronado hosted the 8th annual Coronado Island Film Festival (CIFF) within four square blocks, it was no exception. With over 60 independent and studio film screenings, culinary events, photo panels, and Q&As, this year’s CIFF was a reminder of how grateful we should be for the arts: especially during the holiday season. The arts have an ability to temporarily transcend reality yet shape it; stimulate new ways of thinking and doing — like documentaries Common Ground (directors: Rebecca Harrell Tickell and Josh Tickell) and Humanity Stoked (director: Michael Ian Cohen); and bring together audiences through emotional connections, revelations, and — in the case of Coronado Yacht Club’s Chef Meghan McKee — small bites. And for that, I feel, we should be eternally grateful.
Each meaningfully-curated section of CIFF’s five-day run brought with it a slew of community members looking to engage in thoughtful discussions with pro-skaters and filmmakers alike; sit in laughter and tears during silent films such as Robot Dreams (director: Pablo Berger); and, in the case of the Leonard Maltin Industry Awards Gala, celebrate those who have honed their craft. This year’s honorees included news photographer Carol Guzy, makeup artist Heba Thorisdottir, character actor and Oscar nominee Paul Raci, Disney legend and Mushka animator Andreas Deja, and the exceptional Diane Ladd, whose speech around the preservation of humanity and the precious impacts of your loved ones, brought hundreds to their feet.
As I attended many of the weekend’s events solo, I became immersed in the films themselves, the conversations I had with documentarians and industry leaders, and the reactions of the crowds around me. To be still and “silent” during a weekend full of thought-provoking stimulus, really allowed the work of CIFF CEO Merridee Book and her many community counterparts and volunteers to sink in for me. With big Centerpiece films and smaller ShortsFest shorts, Book managed to highlight creatives whose voices and artistry have made waves and created change for the better. While each experience of the weekend was memorable, some notable standouts included The Big Dump, a documentary which “sheds light on the urgent Pacific Ocean crisis stemming from the Mexican border into San Diegan waters”; A Kind of Kidnapping, a crude British comedy on the ways we out-cross each other; Emerald Award-winning documentary Out There: A National Parks Story; documentaries Dancing in A-Yard and Humanity Stoked; and the must-see Closing Night film Common Ground, which takes an in-depth, uplifting look at regenerative farming.
Reflecting on my experience at CIFF and the Leonard Maltin Gala as a whole — two weeks following the festival and a week following the announcement of CIFF’s 2023 winners — I am reminded of how poignant direct and subliminal messages can last for us, and how often we should allow ourselves to revel in the arts, finding mirrors to ourselves and windows to alternate possibilities too. To continue supporting the arts throughout this holiday season, snag your tickets for, or plan to head over to, the following events now:
- The Year-Round Classic Film Series, with showings on Wednesday, November 29, and Wednesday, December 20;
- Coronado’s Holiday Parade & Tree Lighting on Friday, December 1;
- The 53rd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights on Sunday, December 10, and Sunday, December 17;
- Hotel del Coronado’s free “All That Jazz” Lightshow Spectacular from 5pm to 9pm nightly through Sunday, January 7;
- Coronado Philharmonia Orchestra’s annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 16; and
- “Respectfully Christmas” at Lamb’s Players Theatre, showing now through Christmas Eve.
- Coronadans may also purchase an Emerald Badge for the 2024 CIFF, at the 2023 price, now through December 24th here.