Lamorindans who love movies may end the week glassy-eyed and starstruck as the 14th Annual California Independent Film Festival kicks off Friday.
Festival organizer and ceaseless movie promoter Beau Behan promises a stellar lineup of films, some of them screening in Moraga just days after their debut at the vaunted -- and much chillier -- Sundance film festival which ended recently in Utah.
Behan said festival organizers received more than 400 submission for this year's event, with judges whittling down that number to 11 feature films, seven documentaries and 23 short films -- all wound up and ready for screening at the area's two theatres between star-studded events designed to showcase new movies and the people who make them.
Three Oscar-nominated films will be shown, beginning with Friday night's opening feature, Monsieur Lazhar, which is generating Oscar buzz at Sundance and pumping up local film fanciers eager to see a film while it's still "warm in the can."
Opening weekend events and the festival's closing night will be held at the Rheem Theatre in Moraga. This year, honors and recognition will go to several film veterans on hand to discuss their work and, perhaps, sign an autograph or two.
Look for Burt Young ("Paulie" in the Rocky films), Margaret O'Brien (aka "Tootie," Judy Garland's younger sister in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis), and John Gries ("Uncle Rico" in Napoleon Dynamite) to be cruising Lamorinda after CAIFF honors them for their work.
Also back this year is the popular "Iron Filmmaker" competition, where Lamorinda's budding moviemakers are given a subject and limited amount of time to produce a short film. All movies will be shown on the big screen at the Rheem Theatre on Sunday, February 12 starting at 11 a.m., and the winners will be announced at the end of the screening.