The La Costa Film Festival

The La Costa Film Festival Wraps a Successful Second Year at the Luxurious Omni La Costa Resort and Spa

Written By: Jake Palumbo

By the time I pulled into the scenic Omni La Costa Resort, the day had blossomed into that classical kind of Southern California sunshine and blue skies that saturates the colors of all things under the sun to their richest and most shimmering hues. The healthy, manicured gardens that lined the long, winding driveway to the resort glistened vibrantly under their showers of flittering sprinklers. Sullen gardeners milled about with their wheelbarrows and lawn trimmers and golf carts buzzed here and there along paved pathways between tennis courts and brilliant stucco buildings.

I walked past groups of newly well-rested patrons waiting beside their luggage at the valet stand to the check in booth for the film festival. The sun reflected off of the white-washed walls of the Spanish Missionary style architecture so blindingly that I needed to put my sunglasses back on as I approached the booth, where I was greeted warmly by Ruby Callihan, who was responsible for creating the festival with her husband Michael. As I checked in, Ruby was nice enough to speak with me for a few minutes about the festival. She told me that the idea for the event came to her husband as he was looking at the black and white portraits of old Hollywood stars that line the interior corridors of the resort. During Hollywood’s Golden years, the resort provided one of the first luxury spa destination escapes for Tinsel Town’s illustrious stars of stage and screen. Inspired by the thought of bringing the glamorous mystique of Hollywood back to the resort, Michael conceived of the idea to create a film festival that would return the allure of the Cinematic Arts to his beloved North County community.

The couple worked tirelessly to turn their dream into a reality and now Ruby and Michael were manning the helm of a sophomore effort that fully delivered on its promise to build upon the success of their first year. The festival ran Wednesday through Saturday and screened 43 films from 13 different countries across three unique venues: the Center Court at Omni La Costa, Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas, and The Ruby G. Schulman Theater. The films were grouped into four categories: a Sports Competition, Shorts Program, Narrative Showcase, and Documentary Showcase. In addition to the films, the festival offered three engaging panels free of charge, where impressive teams of experts gathered to discuss extreme sports in film, America’s obsession with youth sports, and the journey of the super hero. The festival was also replete with an extensive list of alluring events, capping each night with a gala and poolside after party at the resort.

The Opening Night Gala on Thursday kicked off the festival with a ‘Taste of North County’ event, which featured select restaurants, award-winning San Diego craft beers, regional boutique winery selections and mouth-watering deserts. Friday had a special tribute to Ed Harris who was present for a meet and greet before a retro screening of Radio. Producer and Director of the film Mike Tollin was also in attendance to honor Ed Harris and to provide insight into his work with Harris on the film. Saturday night featured a Sports Awards Ceremony and tribute to Ron Shelton, director of sports classics such as Bull Durham and White Men Can’t Jump, who was selected as this year’s ‘Ambassador of Sport.’ Screenwriters Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz also presented the $1000 cash prize to the young winners of the best high school short film, Jason Phillips and Brandon Chase.

Friday afternoon I went on to enjoy a variety of films of varying genres and lengths across the gamut of comfortably accommodating venues that would surely satiate the cultural appetites of all ages and temperaments. The La Costa Omni Resort provided a beautifully scenic setting for the festival that will be sure to allure attendees back to the festival year after year. So be sure to keep an eye out mark your calendars for the 2015 La Costa Film Festival! Check out www.lacostafilmfestival.org for updates and the list of 2014 contest winners.