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Cinema Paradiso in the 925

Want to see indie films and rub elbows with Oscar winners? Make sure to check out the 12th annual California Independent Film Festival, which moves to its new home at the historic Orinda Theatre this month. Here’s a cheat sheet to the fest’s best events.


Peter Crooks

Opening Night

Family-friendly drama Expecting Mary, about a city girl trapped in a small town, opens the fest and stars Elliott Gould, Cybill Shepherd, and Fred Willard. Costar Olesya Rulin, from Disney’s smash High School Musical, is scheduled to attend.

Fresh Popcorn

Good news, popcorn lovers: The new management at the Orinda Theatre is popping onsite again—rather than bringing over previously popped corn from a venue west of the Caldecott.

Serious Stuff

Lafayette’s Vicki Abeles shows Race to Nowhere, her documentary about today’s overscheduled students. Oscar-winner John Korty’s Miracle in a Box, A Piano Reborn tracks the restoration of a 1927 Steinway. World cinema fans shouldn’t miss the foreign language entry, the acclaimed Bulgarian film The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner.

Close Encounter with Richard Dreyfuss

The Academy Award–winning actor will be honored with the festival’s Lifetime Achievement award and will participate in a Q&A after a screening of his new film, The Lightkeepers.

Homegrown Talent 

Courtesy of California Independent Film Festival

Orinda filmmaker Julie Rubio screens her thriller Six Sex Scenes and a Murder, Oakland director Mateen Kemet shows his short Oakland Be Mine, and Clayton Valley High alum Daniel Zacapa stars in the suburban drama The Things We Carry.

DIY Spielberg

Ever wanted to shoot your own movie? On Saturday, April 17, fledgling directors can participate in the Iron Filmmaker contest. Participants have 24 hours to write, shoot, and edit a short film. On April 24, the entries will be screened at the Orinda Theatre, and viewers can vote to pick the best effort.

Star-Studded Bash

Saturday night’s Gala Night Slate Awards at the Blackhawk Museum will honor Dreyfuss and legendary producer Saul Zaentz. Orinda pianist Chloe Pang (pictured at left) will play selections from Dreyfuss’ 1980 classical music drama, The Competition.

the 411

The California Independent Film Festival runs April 22–25 at the Orinda Theatre. For tickets, go to caiff.org, and catch star interviews in the Pete’s Popcorn Picks blog at diablomag.com

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