Celebrities at Film Festivals; how important are they?

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Yes, I had tickets to see the Peter J Owens tribute of Jeremy Irons last night at the SFIFF. Yes, I hear he was charming and a great storyteller. No, I didn’t go.
Why? Because I was having such a fun time meeting new friends that I couldn’t break away!
How important to Film Festivals are celebrity guests? I’ve attended five film festivals in the last eight months. None of them featured many “celebrities”; even the 10th Boulder International FF! There was a tribute to Shirley MacLaine and some great filmmakers but no guests for the Opening or Closing Night Films.
What I love about the San Francisco International Film Festival, beyond the great programming, fabulous staff and the joy of working with my friends…is that the celebrities are the filmmakers!  There are “big names” (particularly for the Gala!) but the festival is packed with filmmakers, film festival folks and emerging stars! It’s incredible to see Tracy Chapman waiting in the Rush Line. There’s Barry Jenkins sitting in the front row for a screening.   Hey, there goes Parker Posey…
So if a local film writer is concerned with the lack of STARS, perhaps she needs to rethink her definition of that term.

2 thoughts on “Celebrities at Film Festivals; how important are they?

  1. If you have no use for those tickets and any other materials from this year’s film festival which have to do with Jeremy Irons, I’d love to have them for the archive. Also, I believe you attended Jeremy’s screening of ‘Trashed’ on Thursday and were there to hear his introduction. Would you be willing to tell more of what he said during that introduction and how the film was received by the audience?

    • Jeremy Irons was gracious and funny. He approached the director of “Trashed” because he really believes in making a positive change. He committed himself to the project; interviewing people, narrating the film and executive producing it. At the screening, Jeremy spoke about going to stores and being so dismayed at the amount of packaging around items that he recommends everyone cut the item free from the packaging and leaving the packaging with the store, saying “You deal with this. I just want the item, not the packaging. It’s your problem now.”
      Both screenings of “Thrashed” were very well-received by the audiences. There is an excellent education program run by Joanne Parsont and Keith Zwolfer and there were clode to 300 grade school children at the screening I attended. Many of the kids had great questions, like what to do about Dorito bags (not recyclable since there are so many blended components–metal, plastic, toxic chemicals in the dye) and if Agent Orange was responsible for kids in Vietnam dying of cancer. It was impressive and the kids were clearly moved and inspired. They really only knew Jeremy Irons as the voice of Scar from the “Lion King”.

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