January 23, 2019

Fifth Annual Topanga Film Festival Returns August 6-9


“Topanga doesn’t have a movie theater, but we do have all these fantastic locations where you can screen outdoors under the stars,” said Urs Baur, founder of the Topanga Film Festival. “It’s just amazing,” he said. Baur and his wife Sara are filmmakers who have entered short films in many festivals around the world. “The best inspired us. We always talked about how this would be a great place for a film festival,” he said. They agreed that “someone should do it,” he laughed. When a friend built a full-size screen in their back yard, Topanga Film Festival was born. “It was so popular, people just loved it and so we kept it going,” said Baur.

In fact, in its fifth year, the Topanga Film Festival has received over 300 submissions. “It’s been great, but [narrowing down the field] has been very difficult,” said Baur. This year promises to deliver the best showcase of short films so far, since technology has pushed the short film from an entrance card to the feature film world into a high-demand category all its own, Baur said. “The demand [for short films] has skyrocketed.”


Fifth Annual Topanga Film Festival Returns August 6-9

One of the multiple screening locations of the Topanga Film Festival is on the lawn of the Topanga Community Club. The multi-day/multi-event festival will also present films at Abuelita’s, Froggy’s, Trust Ranch and Yoga Desa.

This open-air boutique festival receives entries from around the world and showcases a broad range of short films from documentaries, animation, drama, comedy and experimental. The program reflects the international and eclectic taste of the Baurs who go to great lengths to create an inspiring atmosphere for filmmakers to present their work. In addition to four days of film screenings, there are several workshops and panels scheduled.

“When a town does a film festival right, it’s great,” said Baur. “It benefits everyone. Topanga is a great event destination. We have all the right ingredients.” Screening locations include Abuelita’s, Froggy’s, the Community House, Trust Ranch and Yoga Desa. “What we are trying to do is integrate the community,” said Baur. “That is why we do it in multiple locations in multiple events over multiple days.”

Highlights for this year’s Festival include the International Shorts Competition on the giant outdoor screen and a special screening of LX Forty, a short film by Marc Forster. The audience spreads out on blankets and beach chairs to watch the sunset and enjoy music, food/beverage vendors, as filmmakers compete for the Coyote Award, handcrafted by local artist Zoe Hay, and other prizes. DJ Glenn Red of Afro Funke will spin from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. to warm up the audience.

A special screening will include the full-length feature What About Me? from the creators of the Grammy-nominated film and album 1Giant Leap which will take place at a hilltop private property under the stars and full moon. “Best of Topanga” features a night of local talent at Froggy’s. Since Topanga is celebrated by outdoor enthusiasts, this year’s festival will recognize film achievement in the Action Sports category. The “Action Sports Showcase,” presented by Abuelita’s Mexican Restaurant, will open the festivities on Thursday night with a creekside screening. For exact times and locations, visit the website at www.topangafilmfestival.com.

This year’s judges include producer and current member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Board of Directors, Hawk Koch, award winning director Patricia Cardoso (HBO’s Real Women Have Curves), and Brendan O’Brien, winner of the last Coyote award for his short film American Storage. Rounding out the judging panel are two “outstanding, noted local people” yet to be announced. Past juror and Topanga resident Wendy Malick from Just Shoot Me says: “The Topanga Film Festival is a true original, a chance to see great films under the stars in one of the most magical spots on the continent. A little jewel of a festival.”

“We have created a program you just wouldn’t see anywhere else,” said Baur.

A full schedule of events can be found at www.topangafilmfestival.com. Ticket prices range from $10 for a single event to $35 for a festival pass.

The Topanga Film Festival is a project of the International Humanities Center, a 501[c]3 non-profit organization.