The Dana Point Film Festival will kick off its inaugural event on May 4, with film screenings, panels and discussions running through May 7. The festival is dedicated to the ocean, with films centered around marine life, ocean health and the human relationship with the sea.
“We’re very excited for the inaugural Dana Point Film Festival,” festival founder Lloyd Bryan Molander said. “Dana Point is the birthplace and epicenter of the action sports, surf industry, and it’s just a perfect place to hold this event, being that it’s a World Heritage Site for whales and dolphins.”
Festivalgoers can expect to view “world-class documentary feature films and short films,” Molander said.
“We have an Academy Award-nominated film called Haulout,” Molander said. “We have another film that’s leading our kickoff called Coextinction, which is just an amazing film about bringing orcas back from the brink of extinction.”
“Into the Ice is a wonderful film about analyzing the glaciers and what’s going on with that,” Molander continued. “In addition to ocean marine biology-type films, we have some great surf films and some tributes to surfing that are really centric to Dana Point.”
A complete list of the feature-length and short documentary films to be screened is available on the festival website.
Films will be screened at the Dana Hills High School Porthole Theater (33333 Golden Lantern Street), the Dana Point Woman’s Club Community House (24646 San Juan Ave.) and the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Doheny Beach (34402 E. Pacific Coast Highway).
“We’re really fortunate to be able to get those locations, which makes it a community film festival,” Molander said.
“One thing that I’ve seen going to many film festivals around the world is you get this really sterile film festival that are in theaters, etc.,” Molander continued. “And this is really embracing the community and really putting the films into the community space where people go and enjoy life. So, we’re really excited about being able to utilize the community for this.”
Molander has an extensive background as a judge, board member and filmmaker at festivals.
Having been on the board of the Tahoe International Film Festival, a judge at the Montclair Film Festival and having his films shown at many festivals, Molander explained that he’s watched what other festivals have done well and what they could improve.
“I wanted to make this really filmmaker-friendly and community-friendly,” Molander said. “I come at it from that aspect as being a filmmaker and wanting them to succeed.”
“I’ve created documentary films on the ocean, on surfing,” Molander said. “It’s just in my DNA. I love the oceans. My mom took me to the beach when I was a kid; she was responsible for me understanding the value of the ocean and how we need to keep our oceans clean because it’s part of our ecosystem.”
All the panels with filmmakers and oceanographers will be free to the public, as well as the 60th-anniversary screening of The Endless Summer. Molander noted that space is limited, so those interested in attending the free screening at Salt Creek Beach Park will need to register for tickets beforehand.
Picket Fence Media Publisher Norb Garrett will host a discussion with panelists Chris Mauro, former pro surfer and Surfer magazine editor, and Bob Mignogna, former publisher of Surfing magazine. The panel will discuss the role that Dana Point and San Clemente have played in shaping the surf media world.
The Dana Point Film Festival will provide awards to filmmakers across several categories during the weekend. Audience members will also have the opportunity to vote for what film they thought was the best.
The film festival is also hosting a student film competition. Student films that were submitted before April 10 will be judged by a jury of professional filmmakers and ocean conservationists. The top three middle school and high school winners will receive a scholarship, and DPFF will screen their films at the Ocean Institute.
“It’s so important to me, the student competition, because I went to high school here, and I became a filmmaker, and I want students to know that if they weren’t even thinking about the oceans or filmmaking, that’s a career path that’s open to them,” Molander said.
“So, I really want to embrace and grow that program over the years,” Molander continued.
Molander added that the film festival could not have happened without the support of the Dana Point community.
“This is a community film festival,” Molander said. “It’s been widely supported by the communit; it’s larger than any one person.”
“The community can make this grow by just providing additional support, coming to the films, providing us ideas of what they’d like to see in the future and volunteering when they have time,” Molander continued. “I’d like to see this as a legacy event that we grow and refine.”
Molander added that the focus will always be on celebrating and conserving the ocean.
More information about the film festival, including how to RSVP and buy tickets for film screenings, can be found at danapointfilmfestival.org.