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San Diego International Film Festival Is Local, Too

Hal Linden and Ryan Ochoa, who star in "The Samuel Project," a film set in San Diego and featured in the 2018 San Diego International Film Festival, are pictured in this undated photo.
Courtesy of the 2018 San Diego International Film Festival
Hal Linden and Ryan Ochoa, who star in "The Samuel Project," a film set in San Diego and featured in the 2018 San Diego International Film Festival, are pictured in this undated photo.
San Diego International Film Festival Is Local, Too
San Diego International Film Festival Goes LocalGUEST:Tonya Mantooth, CEO, San Diego International Film Festival

The red carpet is rolling out downtown for the start of the San Diego International Film Festival. Organizers say the five day festival will be filled with glitz glamour and celebrities. But as always the films are the most important ingredient. And this year the festival offers over 100 movies including the premieres of the hate you give boy erased and Melissa McCarthy's new film. Can you ever forgive me as well as the new documentary Seow. Joining me is Tonia Mantooth. She is CEO of the San Diego International Film Festival. Tanya welcome. Thank you so much for having me. Now there are quite a number of film festivals in San Diego every year. What do you think makes the San Diego International Film Festival unique. Well what we try to do is we really try to be abroad and offer a real range of films for filmmakers. So you get to see foreign films from all over the world as well as documentaries so we really try to appeal to a broad audience. Is there any kind of theme running through the films showing this year. Well we always have a number of initiatives that are really reflected in the films. One military. We have a number of military films as well as social impact films films on environment and also track of local filmmakers. How do you go about picking these films in terms of how many films are about San Diego or from San Diego. What gives San Diego International Film Festival its local presence. Well we worked closely with a lot of the local filmmakers and that's one of the things that we're passionate about is also promoting production here in San Diego. So when when we built out a local's track and we've also added two wards to our film maker awards night and looking at how do we honor the filmmakers here locally that are doing incredible work. And how do we support them. So you know it's important for us to to cure rate for the local filmmakers as well as bringing films from around the world. Speaking of the films that have deep inner resonance for San Diego. There's the new documentary say how we have a clip from the trailer and in this clip you'll hear Jr say how sportscaster Ted Leitner and members of junior Saito's family. A human being wasn't made for speed smash each other in the head. But that's the game. That's that's part of the game. I don't think people knew what Junior was going through. He had. I. Said to him. Some days I don't know where you are. You said. I don't know who I. Want to be this way. This is not me. My dad was going through all these things and I had no idea. Police have responded to a shooting at the home of Junior say Al. That's from the documentary sale which will be screening at the San Diego International Film Festival this week. What is the message of that documentary Tanya. You know that film really moved me because one it explored all aspects of his life. It took him way back into high school his his family life the relationships with his family all the way through his death and it was so moving and so revealing and so raw and the family was involved with it. It was so impactful and I'm so thrilled that we get a chance to share this film. When is it showing at the festival that is showing on Saturday at ArcLight now. There's another film in the festival that was shot in San Diego. It's a different kind of a film. Let's hear a clip from the Samuell project. You have to find something historic that treat. Effects story of a home. Frankly. I do remember I. Don't remember. It. Like that. Different. Or anything but the that main actor there was how Lyndon you remember him from Barney Miller back in the day. What's the story about. Well you know you've got a grandfather and a grandson who really separated and what comes together as he begins to explore his grandfather's experience in the war and in and around what he went through in Germany and in this beautiful film. It's a touching film it's a reminder that we need our generations to talk to each other and then there's so much to be learned. What are some of the other films that you're excited about this year. Well I am excited about the opening night film with Melissa McCarthy. Can you ever forgive me. I mean it's a it's a great story but it's such a breakout role for her and I think the audience is going to be really compelled by her and there's a lot of discussion about some potential Oscar nominations for. Also the hate you give but based on the bestselling novel. Powerful film I think something that's very timely very topical. I'm wondering how long does it take you all to put a festival like this together. I mean do you start the minute that the festival is over this year to prepare for next year. Pretty much. It's it is a full time effort and you know we start we start screening films in January. Now I don't want to let you leave before you talk to us about the the parties. San Diego Film Festival is known for its parties what's in store this year. Well obviously we've got our opening night party right after our film that we've got our tribute. We're honoring a number of actors and actresses and that's going to be at the Pendry hotel downtown. So that'll be a lot of fun. We've had a big Friday night party as were a lot of our filmmakers are out they get a chance to kind of mingle with the film attendees and the we have our film maker awards on Saturday and a what big names do you expect to be coming to town to take a look at this festival we're honoring Keith Carradine. He's receiving the Gregory Peck Award. Alex Wolfe who stars an hereditary Christian Novarro who stars in Kenya for forgive me Kathryn Hahn which is and she's everywhere. She's in bad moms and life you know private lives so she's so they'll all be here it will be it will be a great evening. The San Diego International Film Festival takes place Wednesday through Sunday with film screening at the Arclight Cinema in La Jolla and Regal Cinema U.A. Horton Plaza the opening night premiere of can you ever forgive me will be at the Balboa Theater and I've been speaking with Tanya Mantooth CEO of the San Diego International Film Festival. Tanya thank you. Thank you.

It's not easy to find one theme among the more than 100 films screening at the San Diego International Film Festival.

The festival, which begins Wednesday, has many themes among its premiere feature films, shorts, documentaries and animated films.

One film is likely to be of particular interest to San Diegans, and that's "Seau," ESPN's new documentary on the last days of beloved football Hall of Famer Junior Seau.

The sad story of Seau's disintegration from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is told by his family, friends and teammates and is a last-minute addition to the festival.

WATCH: The Trailer For ESPN's "Seau"

Another San Diego-centric gem hidden among the major feature films is "The Samuel Project."

Directed and written by Mark Fusco, "The Samuel Project" stars Hal Linden as a Holocaust survivor and crotchety dry cleaner living in San Diego who doesn't want his grandson, Ryan Ochoa, telling his story.

WATCH: The Trailer For "The Samuel Project"

San Diego Film Festival CEO Tonya Mantooth talks about the festival on Midday Edition