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Film festival comes to Paso Robles

Posted: Monday, Aug 4th, 2008

This November, film fans from throughout the Central Coast will have a new place to celebrate the medium during the first Paso Robles Digital Film Festival.

The PRDFF will begin on Thursday, Nov. 20 and run through Tuesday, Nov. 25. It will feature a number of musical acts and screenings at various locations throughout town — including the Hotel Cheval, the Paso Robles Inn, Matt’s Music Stage and School, the Firefly Gallery, Franklin Hot Springs and Level 4 — before moving to a large tent gathering for the presentation of awards.

The inaugural film festival will feature the presentation of the first Ignacy Paderewski Lifetime Achievement Award, which is named in honor of the piano virtuoso who called Paso Robles home. The first award will be presented to longtime film editor Joel Cox, a frequent collaborator with director Clint Eastwood.

Cox has worked on more than 30 films and has been nominated for an Academy Award twice, winning an Oscar in 1992 for his work on “Unforgiven.” He also served as editor on “Million Dollar Baby,” “Bronco Billy,” “Mystic River” and Eastwood’s upcoming film, “The Changeling,” which is due to be released in October.

The film festival is being organized by producer and promoter Benford Standley, who said he thought the city was the ideal location for an event of this type.

“It’s like this creative explosion waiting to happen,” he said. “I’ve been covering film festivals for 10 years, so a lot of my life has been in the film festival world. Honestly, because of the setting, I thought a festival like this could be very successful here.”

Standley has been covering festivals on his own Web site, www.studioclub.com, for the last 10 years. He said he thinks Paso Robles’ location on the Central Coast and burgeoning wine industry make it the ideal location for visitors.

“Our target audience is from Hollywood to the Silicon Valley,” he said in a release. “That fits in with the tank-of-gas vacation. This is a small-town, Norman Rockwell setting, but it’s a very rich environment. On the local level, this festival can serve as a catalyst to help the tourist-industry, and bring the movie business into town. It’s kind of an infusion, and the second Paso Robles Digital Film Festival is already on the drawing board.”

The theme of the festival will be music and film. Standley said he chose the theme because it fits well with his background and experience, having spent 40 years in the music industry.

In addition to festival entries by up and coming filmmakers, there will be a number of special screenings of films by established filmmakers. Films to be screened include “The Last Waltz,” “Neil Young: Heart of Gold” and “Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends,” which was edited by Cox. There will be a screening of the Bob Dylan documentary “Don’t Look Back” by D.A. Pennebacker and a screening of “Piano Blues,” directed by Eastwood collaborator Bruce Ricker and edited by Cox, both of whom will be in attendance.

On Saturday, Nov. 22, there will be a special “Make My Saturday” event featuring a pair of Eastwood films, “Bronco Billy” and “Honkeytonk Man.”

In addition to special screenings, there will be a number of musical events. Performers who will appear during the festival include Eastwood’s son, Kyle, and his band, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and the Bacon Brothers, featuring Kevin Bacon and his brother, Michael.

A percentage of the proceeds from the festival will benefit youth programs in Paso Robles, and Standley said he’s already starting to work with Kevin Bacon’s charity organization, www.sixdegrees.com.

For more information on the festival, films to be screened or information on how to submit a film, visit its official Web site at www.prdff.com.

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