Catalina (LB) Film Festival celebrates 13 years

Pictured from left to right: Mireille Enos, Abigail Breslin, and Emily Van Camp.

This is one of those rare cases where 13 is a lucky number.

Catalina Film Festival organizers have announced that the 13th annual celebration of cinema will be held Sept 20-24. The festival showcasing 300+ films will take place in the sister cities at sea of Long Beach and Avalon on Catalina Island. Starting in Long Beach, Catalina Film opens at the Scottish Rite Center on Wednesday, Sept. 20 and continues through Thursday, Sept. 21, before setting sail for Catalina Friday, Sept. 22 – Sunday, Sept. 24.

Long Beach highlights

Catalina Film Festival’s mainland experience opens in Long Beach at the historic Scottish Rite Event Center’s three screening rooms: Ernest Borgnine Theater, President’s Theater and the Entertainment Hall. Day 1 is all about the shorts with blocks featuring Conservation, Docs, International and US Shorts. The Red Carpet Opening Night presentation and US Feature: Not for Nothing, is a film by Frank Joseph Tartaglia and Tim Dowlin, starring Mike Bash, Michael Gambino, Mark Webber, Lauren Lavera & Vic Dibitetto.

The Catalina Film Festival hosts the ONLY Official Wes Craven Award in the world, with winners selected by the Craven family. This year’s featured Wes Craven Horror & Thriller Shorts block: Over Your Dead Body screens Thursday at 3 p.m. Other Thursday films include Heightened, US Feature; Documentary Feature RadioActive: The Women of Three Mile Island; and the Thursday Night Red Carpet and Psychological Thriller: Bibi, written and directed by Christopher Beatty, starring Elizabeth Paige, Judith Ann DiMinni, and Tammy Blanchard.

Catalina Island highlights

Festival-goers set sail Friday morning to reach Hollywood’s famed Island with this year’s official check-in hosted at the Glenmore Plaza Hotel. Friday festivities include the annual Lions Den: A Live Pitch Panel held at Avalon City Hall, as well as shorts blocks and the Red Carpet Spotlight Film: Year of the Fox starring Sarah Jeffrey, Jane Adams, Jake Weber, directed by Megan Griffiths.

Catalina Film Institute’s mission focuses on the Imagination, Education and Destination of filmmakers, Saturday’s schedule features: The Directors Chair: International Directors Panel and A Class Act: A Harborside Panel. Other Saturday highlights include the documentary feature: Texas Music Revolution, as well as the Red Carpet feature: Miranda’s Victim, directed by Michelle Danner, starring Abigail Breslin and Taryn Manning. Sunday’s panels include Money Talks: Producers Panel and That’s a Wrap: Film Distribution Panel.

Tickets, schedule and info:  Watch online with Catalina Film Virtual via eoApp / Fest Sept 29-Oct. 8.

About the festival

Known for its storied history and sweeping views, Catalina Film Festival past celebrity guests and honorees include Nicolas Cage, Jon Favreau, Stan Lee, Kevin Hart, Mira Sorvino, William H. Macy, Andy Garcia, Sharon Stone, Emmy Rossum, Richard Dreyfuss, Kate Bosworth and more. CFF  is a competitive festival with awards in multiple categories, including the Stanley Kramer Social Artist Award, Wes Craven Horror Award, and Conservation Award. Sponsored by Califino Tequila. For more information,

About Miranda’s Victim

Viewers of American-made crime drama know about the “Miranda Rights” – the legal disclaimers that police are required to speak to an alleged criminal being put under arrest.  Indeed, the phrase “the right to remain silent” has become a defining principle of American identity, and our “Miranda” rights often feel as crucial to us as our Constitution.

But remarkably, very few people know the story of “Miranda” – and how despite representing a victory of one person against a negligent police state, the real Miranda case was actually a brutal sexual assault on a teenage girl, a case where “silence” is often forced on victims, their own rights and pursuit of justice unheeded and unheard.

“This is a story about courage and justice,” says Michelle Danner, director of MIRANDA’S VICTIM, the first effort by any filmmaker to tackle this complex and critical corner of American crime history.  “Within the court of law, it was a case of personal justice, but what makes it fascinating is that it ends up becoming iconic justice.”

“Miranda’s Victim,” featuring indelible performances by Abigail Breslin, Andy Garcia, Ryan Phillippe, Luke Wilson, Donald Sutherland, and Mireille Enos, is told largely from the perspective of rape victim Patricia “Trish” Weir (Breslin, in a performance that displays remarkable strength and range). The film painstakingly traces the way in which Cold War Era political and cultural forces collided to make Supreme Court history, all the while failing to account for the impact of these events on Weir, who must balance her persistent need for closure and justice against her public reputation.

“It’s so rare as a filmmaker you come across a situation like this, a real-life story that for whatever reason, has just never been put into cinematic form,” says Danner.  “Most people think Miranda is the victim – but here’s the forgotten woman whose pursuit of justice 60 years ago set the whole thing off.”

For Danner, recreating the case as a compelling on-screen story meant nailing the early 60s setting of the film, including precise detail about domestic spaces, cultural references, and hair and costume that immerse the viewer in the period of the time without rosy-eyed nostalgia or kitschy cynicism.  “Because this story has never been told before, it made sense to tell in a very classic way,” Danner says.  “I didn’t want to take a stance – I wanted to tell the story of a hero, someone who survived.”

Indeed, while audiences may see legal, cultural, and racial obstacles that change the course of the fate of Ernesto Miranda (and the country), they also can see the relevance to Trish’s dilemma, which continues to traumatize countless victims of sexual assault in the present day.  Danner points out that the Miranda case – his initial overturned conviction, as well as his second conviction documented in the second half of the film – is a rarity.  “For every thousand cases of rape, only five lead to a criminal conviction,” she points out.  “It’s still one of the things we don’t talk about – it takes so much for someone to come forward and tell the truth about what happened in a rape.  Why put yourself through that when justice seems to be impossible?  That’s what makes Trish such a compelling character, and I hope that we can inspire people to come forward and speak their truth.”