June 21, 2018

Celebrating the Topanga Film Festival, July 17-20—Ten Years and Counting




Celebrating the Topanga Film Festival, July 17-20—Ten Years and Counting

TFF 14 Team: Heather Bryant, Sara Baur-Harding, Bruce Royer, Cari Ann Shim Sham, Urs Baur, D.Miller and Liz Granite, Front Row: Heidi Volpe, Miranda Robin and William Bowling.

The Topanga Messenger is proud to join the many generous sponsors, friends and fans of this year’s Topanga Film Festival (TFF). Considering where the Topanga Film Festival (TFF) started 11 years ago (it lost a year somewhere), it’s exhilarating to see what it has become.­­­

In remembering its roots, Cari Ann Shim Sham, programmer of the Dance Film Showcase (Friday, 8-10 p.m.),TFF producer and member of the TFF Family, succinctly documents TFF’s evolution:

“Remember the very first TFF in the Baurs’ back yard? Or sitting on hay bales behind Abuelita’s watching Easy Rider on an inflatable screen? The crew cooking hot dogs on the Community Club ball field? Trust Ranch, The Mountain Mermaid, or when we turned Topanga Elementary’s auditorium into a spectacularly dreamy blue-curtained theater? The tent in the parking lot at Pine Tree Circle? Our coyote silkscreen station?”

­­­Everyone who has favorite memories, pics or clips from the past 10 years is invited to post them on Facebook (facebook.com/topangafilmfestival

); Tweet (twitter.com/topangafilmfest); or tag Instagram shots with #TFF14 (instagram.com/topangafilminstitute


This year, TFF will showcase 61 films to celebrate its tenth anniversary along with special guests and live entertainment. The lineup of celebrity guests includes Kelly Carlin, Wendie Malick and Alexander Payne at what will be TFF’s highest attended festival yet with visiting and homegrown talent gathering for four special days in beautiful Topanga Canyon, July 17-20.

­­­If this all sounds like heaven to you, consider becoming a Fan ($125 donation) or Friend ($250 donation) of the Fest, which gets you a single or double pass to the festival. To become a fan or friend: Friends@TopangaFilmFestival.com or (310) 455-7120­­­.


The Opening Gala will be emceed by Kelly Carlin at the Theatricum Botanicum on Thursday, July 17, with a pre-show featuring live contemporary pole dancing by Jagged from Matthew Celia’s hot dance doc, ­­­Off The Floor­­­ (screening Friday at 6 p.m).

The gala evening, hosted by the Topanga Chamber of Commerce, will present a delicious array of food and beverages provided by Whole Foods, and roaming musicians (buskers), among them, Sarah Bansak on accordion, vocalist Grace Lewis with her guitar, and opera punk Poeina.

Sparky Firepants invites guests to bring an article of clothing that they will silk screen TFF’s signature coyote on to go home with as a wearable memento of Topanga Film Festival 2014.

The Pre-party starts at 6:30 p.m., the stage show at 8 p.m. and Short Films in Competition will screen at 8:30 p.m. Bring warm clothes, a blanket and pillow to sit on in the Theatricum’s main stage amphitheater.

Friday through Sunday, the festival settles in at Froggy’s with two screening rooms, one inside the building and a tent outside. No more driving from venue to venue to enjoy Happy Hour, hosted on Friday by Froggy’s from 6-7:30 p.m.


Friday, 8-10 p.m. in Froggy’s Tent, the tried and true Dance Film Showcase, in its fifth year at the festival, will show 14 killer short films that will inspire you to get your groove on with a post-screening live performance by the contemporary pole dancers of Jagged from­­­ Off the Floor­­­ and a dance party to follow.

In addition to Off the Floor, (6-8 p.m.), ­­­Swim Little Fish Swim­­­, a love story, screens from 8-10 p.m.

Films and panel programming take place from noon -10 p.m. Food will be available and the bar open all day.


On Saturday, from 2-4 p.m. composer/conducter Kim Kluge and songwriter Wendy Smith will moderate dynamic panelists from varying cinematic disciplines to discuss how film and film music can change the world.

From 4-6 p.m., don’t miss the “Special Guest Fireside Chat” with Canyon local Alexander Payne who will discuss directing his favorite scenes with our darling Wendie Malick.

Also from 4-6 p.m., TFF’s feature foodie documentary, ­­­GMO OMG­­­, tells the story of a father’s discovery of GMOs in relationship to his three young children and the world around him.

Saturday’s Happy Hour from 6-7:30 p.m. is hosted and catered by Topanga Merchant. ­­­Blood Brother­­­ will screen Saturday from 8-10 p.m.


On Sunday, 12-4 p.m., TFF has offerings for kids, among them, Melinda Robin’s Charlie Chaplin Showcase that returns with ­­­The Rink­­­ (1916), a Chaplin film montage, a documentary short, ­­­For the First Time ­­(1967), and a Chaplin raffle. Also check out the Youth Salon featuring short films by young filmmakers, and the Animation Spotlight of seven high-caliber animated film shorts.

Beginning at noon until 5:30 p.m., an intriguing array of seven documentaries complete this year’s exceptional program of 61 films, featuring the Los Angeles premiere of ­­­Poverty Inc.­­­, a special preview of ­­­Glen Campbell I’ll Be Me­­­; SIMA’s (Social Impact Media Awards) award-winning ­­­Blood Brother­­­; and featured local docs: ­­­Following the Ninth­­­ by Kerry Candael and Kate Logan’s ­­­Kidnapped for Christ­­­.

The third panel, “Breaking In & the Art of Collaboration,” 4-5:30 p.m., features a local filmmaker panel of award-winning moviemakers and department heads who discuss the how-tos of making it in the ever-competitive film market.

At the same time (4-5:30 p.m.) in Froggy’s tent, a special screening of the Animated Comedy Shorts, ­­­Lovesick Fool­­­ and ­­­Monstro­­­, will be followed by a talkback with the directors.


The Awards Party, 7-10 p.m., features local musical talents, Forty Feet Tall and the inimitable Preston Smith, plus a screening of a film not to be missed, ­­­Magical Universe­­­, by Topanga local Jeremy Workman, and, of course, the festival wraps up with the presentation of the Coveted Coyote Award.

As the TFF Family says: “It seems like things just keep getting better at TFF. With the founding of our Topanga Film Institute and a new vision for the festival supported by a rocking, longstanding, committed, locally grown, fresh, organic and seasonal team that we refer to as “the TFF Family,” we are here to stay. So come join us and become a part of the magic that is the Topanga Film Festival!”