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By Breeana Greenberg

A film festival proposed by a local nonprofit organization that looks to highlight movies focused on marine life, conservation, preservation and recreation early next year cleared an early hurdle by gaining the City Council’s approval to use two city parks for the event.

The Dana Point Entertainment and Arts Council (DPEAC), a nonprofit that aims to bring more arts-focused events and projects to the city, is looking to debut the planned Dana Point Film Festival with founder Lloyd Bryan Molander after the New Year.

In a unanimous vote during their Aug. 25 special meeting, councilmembers voted to approve the organization’s use of Lantern Bay Park and Sea Terrace Park for community screenings and a closing ceremony concert.

The festival’s use of the park is estimated to cost $12,000—within the city manager’s spending authority—for the city to provide insurance, restrooms, risers, and more for the two evenings according to the city’s staff report. The city also committed to waiving the park fees and working with organizers on permitting.

In addition to approving DPEAC’s use of the two parks, the council voted unanimously to allow local event producer John Reese and CTS Eventim to use Sea Terrace Park this November for a country music event

The two-day music event is still in the early stages of planning, according to Reese.

As for the film festival, its founders’ next challenge will be to secure funding after their request for a $50,000 sponsorship from the city in addition to use of the park failed to receive council approval.

Council asked that DPEAC return with a more flushed out business plan, outlining the festival’s funding sources for councilmembers to feel more comfortable in sponsoring the event.

DPEAC Executive Director Todd Wallin and Molander said they hope that festivalgoers understand how special the community’s relationship is with the ocean, how special Dana Point is, and the steps the community is taking to protect the seas.

Molander grew up in Dana Point, surfing, body surfing, swimming and sailing in the local waters, which developed into his appreciation for the ocean. With his experience in the action sports industry as the co-founder of the Extreme Sports Channel and working a few film festivals as the founder of Tenacity Entertainment, Molander wanted to build one in his hometown.

“There’s several things we’d like to accomplish: one, we’re at a critical point in our environment where we need to take care of this magnificent treasure—our oceans—and those that live in Dana Point know that that’s where we do a lot of our recreation, we do our meditation and really enjoy the ocean,” Molander said.

The festival aims to include a global education portion comprising lectures and a student film contest. Groups of students will have 72 hours to make a film on an ocean-focused topic for the contest.

“We think this is the perfect wave of an event for the city, because everyone can participate, from students to all residents, and it really speaks to the heart of what Dana Point’s really about,” Wallin had previously told Dana Point Times.

“Our council (DPEAC) was very excited to be able to bring the film festival to Dana Point and make it its novel home and looking at building something long-term that can enhance the community,” Wallin added during an interview in July.

The award categories for the film festival will be Best Feature Documentary for films 60-120 minutes, Best Short Film for films 40 minutes and under, and Mini Shorts for films 2-10 minutes, with subcategories in each for Ocean Exploration, Conservation, Preservation, Education, Adventure, Solutions, and Best Animated Film.

Organizers are planning to hold the event at the Laguna Cliffs Marriot Resort and Spa. The festival is scheduled to run from Jan. 14-21, 2023. Those interested in volunteering at the event can find more information at danapointfilmfestival.org.

Breeana Greenberg

Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at bgreenberg@picketfencemedia.com

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