Every year, the SLO International Film Festival showcases work from some of the best film professionals from across the country and around the world. Included in those entertainment elites are those who hail from right here in SLO CAL.
Inspired by some SLO CAL staples from wine to the great outdoors to taking on adventure, these local stories detail the highlights of what this destination has to offer to those who come to visit and those who call it home. What really shines through each of the screenplays comes from the heart of the filmmakers, all who fall back to their SLO CAL roots.
Here are just a handful of the films that bring SLO CAL to the big screen and give the destination a little more life:
1. 91 Harvests
It’s no surprise a couple of the films screened during the 2020 SLO International Film Festival are centered about wine and the history of some legendary vineyards. ’91 Harvests’ shares the story of the Dusi family, who picked up their lives in Northern Italy and planted roots in Paso Robles nearly 100 years ago. They set their sights on the American dream by introducing some of the first zinfandels to the Central Coast and making it the starting point of a decades-old brand. Now three generations later, Janell Dusi works day in and day out to allow her family’s imprint on the community to live on beyond anything they could have imagined all of those years ago in director and producer Libbie Agran’s charismatic documentary.
The first screening of ’91 Harvests’ will be partnered with ‘East Meets West’ at the Fremont Theater on Wednesday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m.
2. By Hand
Director, writer and producer Kellen Keene tells the tale of twin brothers reconnecting with nature by taking on what seems to be an almost impossible challenge. Casey and Ryan Higginbotham set off to the sea to travel 2,200 miles via paddleboard with merely two drybags, a camera and no paddling gear except their bare hands. The journey along the coast from Alaska to Mexico teaches them a plethora of lessons, both physical and emotional, and reminds them that the bond of brotherhood is stronger than the force of nature.
‘By Hand’ will screen along with ‘Waterproof’ at the Fremont Theater on Thursday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m.
3. Carrizo Plain: A Sense of Place
Take a step back in time and experience what old California used to be in ‘Carrizo Plain: A Sense of Place.’ The documentary short, directed by Jeff McLoughlin, depicts how the natural monument has remained a hidden gem in the midst of California’s revolution into a modern state. Three artists paint the idea of escaping the hustle and bustle of city life for the panoramic beauty of this SLO CAL secret throughout each stunning scene of the film.
Pacific Wildlife Care is sponsoring the screening of ‘Carrizo Plain: A Sense of Place,’ which is scheduled to play at the Downtown Centre Cinema on Wednesday, March 18, at 10 a.m.
4. 93 – Letters From Marge
Marge Calhoun was known as a pioneer in the surfing world, winning the 1958 Mahaka Invitational Tournament and becoming one of the co-founders of the United States Surfing Association. Director Heather Hudson chronicles Calhoun’s impact on surfing and beyond through the devoted letters she exchanged with her pen pal. After establishing a strong presence for those who hang ten, she spent much of her later years as a resident of Morro Bay and called the SLO CAL community home up until her death at age 93.
’93 – Letters From Marge’ will be one of the few films screened during the SLO Film Festival’s iconic Surf Nite. Surf Nite in SLO is set at the Fremont Theater on Friday, March 20, at 7:30 p.m.
5. Lifesaver: The SLO Noor Foundation Story
The SLO CAL community is one that not only sticks together but also gives back. Director and film festival alum Bob Williams highlights the charitable work of the SLO Noor Foundation and how the organization touches the lives of everyone who asks of its help. The non-profit has made a generous impact on those in need and beyond for more than 10 years by providing free healthcare services to uninsured Central Coast residents. The doctors and volunteers of the SLO Noor Foundation inspire viewers to lend a hand and spread the love, one patient at a time.
‘Lifesaver: The SLO Noor Foundation Story’ will screen at the Fremont Theater on Wednesday, March 18, at 5 p.m.