Stars Line Up Straight Outta of LA, Head to Catalina Film Festival

Catalina Film Fest 2015 Honorees

Diane Warren, Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund, Mena Suvari, and Lucas Till at the Catalina Film Festival 2015

Catalina Island was a bright beacon this weekend with a sparkling roster of stars making the 26 mile trek from Los Angeles across the Pacific, to celebrate the Catalina Film Festival’s 5th Anniversary this weekend.

I made my way to this premier festival last year, and it was then that Catalina’s enchanting beauty, coupled with a perfectly executed film festival captured my movie-loving heart.

Adding to the festival’s uniqueness was Robert Englund, who terrified generations as Freddy Krueger in Wes Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” Englund presented a special tribute to the late Wes Craven (1939-2015) at the event.

Wes Craven was a longtime supporter of the Catalina Film Festival, and founded the fest’s Craven Award for excellence in horror. He personally selected the winning films in this category, and did so in time to select this year’s recipient only days before his passing.

“Wes Craven was one of our biggest supporters and a personal friend,” said Festival co-founder Delious ‘Tim’ Kennedy, honored the legacy and vision of this iconic director, writer, producer, and actor.

The tribute took place Saturday, September 26, and included the Craven family, Englund, Amanda Wyss (“A Nightmare on Elm Street, “ “Better Off Dead”), among others.

Besides Englund’s addition to the lineup of presenters at the island film festival, another surprise celebrity was in attendance.

“Straight Outta Compton’s” F. Gary Gray received the Stanley Kramer Social Artist Award. This recognition honors a film professional whose work “embodies social consciousness within their artistry while taking risks to create and influence a social transformation.”

William H. Macy was last year’s recipient.

The list of honorees this year included the multiple Oscar nominated songwriter Diane Warren who received the inaugural Soundtrack of Our Lives Award. Warren has worked with Lady Gaga and many other talented performers. Festival founder Ron Truppa is proud of her selection because Warren “has shaped how we experience film,” he said.

Mena Suvari, the “American Beauty” herself, was honored with the Avalon Award. Suvari can be seen in WeTV’s “South of Hell,” and she recently starred in “Chicago Fire” and “American Horror Story.” She was also part of the “American Pie” franchise.

There is no denying Suvari is an All-American actress!

Also, 25-year-old Lucas Till (“X-Men: Apocolypse,” “Bravetown” “Battle Los Angeles”) was honored with the Crest Award during Saturday’s tribute for his work in front and behind the camera. He has produced three feature films of which “All Superheroes Must Die” was bought and distributed by Image Entertainment.

Billy Zane (“Titanic,” “The Phantom,” “Twin Peaks”) was recognized Friday with the Maverick Award.

On Sunday, Kristin Davis (“Sex and The City,” “Gardeners of Eden,” “Couples Retreat”) was handed the ISLA Award by the Catalina Island Conservatory for her work as a Patron to the David Sheldreick Wildlife Trust, as a Global Ambassador to Oxfam International, and for her effort with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Davis’ film, the documentary “Gardeners of Eden” about the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, was screened at the festival. This film creates awareness to stop illegal poaching of ivory.

The Catalina Island Film Festival’s principal beneficiary is the Catalina Island Conservatory.

A few films debuting at the Catalina Film Festival included: “The Benefactor” (starring Theo James, Richard Gere, and Dakota Fanning); “Car Dogs” (with Patrick J. Adams, George Lopez, Octavia Spencer); “Project Greenlight Short Film – Day One,” and the North American premiere of “Battalion.”

Only a short distance off the southern California coast, this idyllic island continues to draw a steady stream of actors, directors, writers, songwriters, and like-minded film fans (like me!) straight to Avalon’s premier film festival to enjoy the welcoming and inspiring atmosphere of the Catalina Film Festival.









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