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Oceanside International Film Festival kicks off Tuesday

Universal Pictures
Oceanside International Film Festival opens Feb. 23 with a 20th anniversary tribute to "Blue Crush" starring Kate Bosworth.

The Oceanside International Film Festival returns to the Brooks Theatre on Feb. 22 for in person screenings. The festival has been virtual for the last two years because of the pandemic.

COVID-19 forced festival organizers to celebrate its 10-year anniversary in a virtual setting rather than in-person last year.

"It was disappointing to have such an important milestone go without being in person," said the festival's executive director Lou Niles.


But this year, the festival is finally back to an in-person event. Niles is excited that opening night will pay tribute to the surf film "Blue Crush," which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The film focuses on women surfers with Kate Bosworth and Michelle Rodriguez in the leads.

"Carly Starr Brullo-Niles, my wife, and also the co-programmer and artistic director of the film festival, worked on that film back in early 2000s," Niles said. "I went and visited her for ten days in Hawaii and experienced the wildness that was shooting on set at Pipeline. John Stockwell, the director of the film, he's in 'Top Gun,' he plays 'Cougar' so there's kind of a weird tie in to Oceanside there, too. So Carly called up a bunch of her friends and we decided to see if, 'hey, can we pull together a 20th anniversary.' Nobody else is doing it except us. So the director, John Stockwell, is really excited. Sanoe Lake, who is one of the actresses and surfers in the film, and of course, Kate Bosworth is coming too, and she's really excited."

The film is a fitting opening-night selection since Oceanside is a beach community and the festival always has a surf block as part of its programming.

The festival also tries to always have films that focus on social or environmental issues. So you can find outstanding documentaries such as, "Keep It A Secret," "Failure to Protect" and "The Whale from Lorino."

"Keep It A Secret" takes us back to the dawn of Irish surfing and to meet the sport’s pioneers who found peace riding waves during the violent years of The Troubles conflict. There are great archival materials and wonderful interviews in the present day with the surfers.


Social issues here in the U.S. are addressed in "Failure to Protect." The film highlights five parents whose children have been taken away from them and who are fighting to get them back. The film criticizes child welfare as a system that unfairly tears apart low-income and marginalized families.

"Whale From Lorino" is a standout documentary about the descendants of the oldest of Siberian tribes on the far off land of Chukotka. They hunt endangered whales not for sport but rather to maintain a sense of tradition and as a necessity for survival in a harsh environment. The film suggests we are looking at two dying worlds, of the Chukchis civilization and of whales. The film explores the complex issues that arise when environmental concerns come up against a community's needs.

"I think it's wonderful when we can show these amazing films that kind of tells some of the truths and that it might be easy from a desk in Southern California somewhere to say, 'Oh, well, we need to do this. We need to recycle, and we need to not be farming those types of animals or fish, or these types of whales.' [But] what if it's something that maybe for hundreds of years certain people have done, it's their way of life. So it's really fascinating to me. And that's why I think the wonderful thing about filmmaking is some of these stories that just come in and blow us away over the years, and I feel like 'The Whale of Lorino' is another one that just really takes you deep into a place you never even would have thought existed or that you would never experience in your normal life."

The festival will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, and masks must be worn inside. The Festival runs Tuesday Feb. 22 through Sunday Feb. 27.