12th Annual Celebration of Film
The iconic Catalina Film Festival announced their 12th annual celebration of film and returns to the mainland in Long Beach at the Scottish Rite Cultural Center on Wednesday – Thursday Sept. 21-22. After, the film festival sets sail to its origin at Catalina Island for a destination weekend of film screenings, parties and red carpet premieres at the historic Avalon Casino, Friday – Sunday, Sept. 23-25.
A year marked with so much growth and potential, this year’s film festival comes back stronger than ever hosting master classes, showcasing horror shorts with Wes Anderson’s Wicked Wednesdays, dissecting Thursday Social Films, and a variety of red carpet events. To understand the importance of this years event, we spoke to Ron Truppa, a person of many talents and most importantly the founder of the Catalina Film Festival, who gave us quite an insight of the film festivals 12 year long journey.
What got you started in the Film industry?
“Well, I came from Rhode Island and l was really immersed in the entertainment way of life. Being Italian, I was raised with this Italian heritage and surrounded by the love of Italian culture in films. So movies like Rocky, The Godfather, those were heavily imbued in the way I fell in love with film. In fact, when the movie Rocky III came out, I was only 9 years old at that time, Sylvester Stallone and his crew were looking for a role of Rock’s son. I submitted to play for the role and I took my shirt off in front of a Rocky poster, but of course, he eventually gives it to his real son!
With that memory in mind, I realized that they do so many cool things in movies and I just wanted to be a part of that world. So I started to perform around the New England area and started to do small commercials/t.v. From there it grew into wanting it to be my career and the rest was history.”
Congratulations on the 12th year of the Catalina Film Festival, from your first to now, how do you feel about your journey?
“The journey to start a film festival on an island is a roller coaster in itself. A lot of growing pains, but very rewarding. Going to the 12th year, it is exciting and as we continue to grow, I really started to understand what was needed to be done for this year’s festival. There is a lot be proud of for this 12 years, there is a lot of accomplishment that we have done, we only dreamed a certain caliber of things. But it has become more than what it was.
Catalina Festival is a perfect location and a very magical place, filled with so much Hollywood history. It is interesting that I share such an intimate place with hundreds of people, but that’s what makes this fun to begin with.”
Was it difficult that you and your team are doing two locations for this film festival, Long Beach and Catalina Island?
“It is based on experience as we are smarter and have adapted to the currents standards of today. My team and I were trying to figure out the overall logistics on how we can maximize our attendees experience. Thus, Long Beach gave everyone the flexibility to attend Wednesday and Thursday’s events, making this experience much more fun for all our audience. We understood that we needed to find a way to avoid limited screening with a limited audience and Catalina being the sister city of Long Beach, we needed to be smarter in terms of gathering the largest amount of audiences within a time span.
Our main goal is to curate this films we believe in and show it to the world, so we needed a better way. Long Beach was that answer – its where the boats leave from, the ships leave from, it has a special relation with the islands. So we were shocked that it was not a rough transition that I thought it was going to be.”
What are you excited about this year’s film festival?
“Wes Craven’s Wicked Wednesday is something audience should look for. He is just an absolute legend and we started this award two years before he passed away. Now his family picked it up and doing the judging now. We are also doing a world premiere on Reckoning with The Primal Wound by Rebecca Autumn Sansom that talks about adopted kids and their journey. Another premiere called Sober that talks about drug addiction, a social conscious film. On Friday, On our Way by Sophie Lane Curtis is another socially conscious film. Saturday is showcasing The Mental State, a story about mass shooting that doesn’t talk about the gruesomeness, but the emotional impact that happens during the process.
There is just a lot, a lot of films. Animation is another one to look for because you don’t really know where the direction is taking you. Which I believe the best films showcase an element of an emotional surprise – where you laugh and cry all within the same five minutes of that short film. That’s a powerful storyteller, someone who can capture the elements within a certain time constraint. Overall, it is what my team and I are so proud of.”
Is there a special surprise that audiences can expect?
“Actually there is. This year we are doing something that no other film festival has done before. In fact it is innovative in a sense. On our awards night on Saturday, the best screen play is going to have a world premiere audio production. This company called the Sound of Scripts, which is a company that produces the first 12-pages of the script of all the audio of the script. Think having actors and the feel of the set without the super expensive visuals. Everyone is going to feel what the winner’s vision is all about.
The theatre in Catalina is the first sound theatre in the world. For years, this is where all the legendary actors and actresses showcased their stuff in from of audiences to see. So having this set in Catalina is going to be one epic cinema event, especially seated at the coast of Los Angeles county.”
Last but not least, do you have a favorite moment of the festival?
” I had a real cool time with Jon Favreau! He was like a kid in a candy store like me. When we Brought him to the casino into the projection booth, he was really into all the old cameras. 1932 projections, firing up the old carbon light. This stuff is real. He was telling me that he used to work on projections like the ones the casino had. He believed in toehold ways of enjoying cinema, enjoying popcorns with a soda in hand and watching a great movie. A man who enjoys, breathes, sleeps cinema. It really gave me this perspective of him that I really appreciated.
I’ve been doing the for 12 years and moments like that really made me appreciate the work of everyones involvement with the film festival. Just learning to appreciate the small things in life and the people you meet is all that I need for my understanding of special moments. So for anyone who decides to go, it is all about enjoying the small moments of this festival because it can truly be an experience of a lifetime.”
*Long Beach, California 90813, Long Beach at the Scottish Rite Cultural Center on Wednesday – Thursday Sept. 21-22
*Catalina Island for a destination weekend of film screenings, parties and red carpet premieres at Avalon Casino, Friday – Sunday, Sept. 23-25
Purchase tickets and find additional information at CatalinaFilm.org
Pictures courtesy of Catalina Film Festival and JP Petrini