SDFF ’14 A Suceess. Hosts Jeffrey, Ben Lyons To Return in 2015

The 2014 San Diego Film Festival has visibly settled into its own spot under the Hollywood sun.

“It’s fun watching this festival grow and become a real player on the scene,” said “Extra” correspondent Ben Lyons  when I asked him what attracted him to host the San Diego Film Festival two years in a row.

Indeed, this festival has been humming along over the last 13 years, which is one of the reasons film critic, Jeffery Lyons,  also accepted the invitation to host the festival in 2013 and 2014.

“The location, the people, the professional way it’s organized,” are some of the reasons Lyons Senior told me keeps him coming back.  And “they invited me,” he added.

The San Diego Film Festival also attracted top talent to this year’s event. Click here for a slide show of the celebrities on the red carpet.

SDFF14 Alan Arkin

Alan Arkin at the San Diego Film Festival

The 2014 Night of the Stars Tribute included 80-year-old award winner Alan Arkin (“Argo”), recipient of the inaugural Gregory Peck Award. Michele Monaghan (“The Best of Me”) earned the Excellence in Acting Award. Alison Pill (“The Newsroom”) received the Virtuoso Award. Saginaw Grant accepted the American Legacy Award. Eli Roth (“Inglorious Bastards”) was recognized with the Visionary Filmmaker Award.  John Hill with the Chris Brinker Award rounded out the evening’s presentations.

Before accepting the Cinema Vanguard Award, Beau Bridges walked the red carpet at the stunning La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art and stopped to chat with me. He eagerly spoke about pulling double duty working on two television shows this year: CBS’ “The Millers” and Showtime’s “Masters of Sex.”

“There’s not a lot of conflict with filming since the shows are on during different seasons,” said a calm Bridges about an apparently hectic work schedule.

Eli Roth traveled to San Diego to accept the Visionary Filmmaker Award, and also talked about his upcoming movie “Knock, Knock,” starring Keanu Reeves. Roth, a New York University alum, said that part of his filmmaking success can be attributed to his multi-faceted work.

“I’m a director, producer, writer, and actor,” he said. Roth added that he figured out early on in his career that being able to execute all aspects of a movie was the best way to carry out his film visions. In Roth’s case,  those visions tend to have a particular penchant for blood and horror.

There were eight winners in the 2014 film competition and they  included,  “Where the Road Runs Out” for Best Narrative Feature, and “The Hornet’s Nest” which took the Chairman’s Award. A few of the Audience Award winners were, “The Imitation Game” for Best Gala Film, and “Waiting for Mamu” for Best Documentary.

As a special treat for film enthusiasts, I asked Jeffery Lyons to share the top five films on his must-watch list this season, and they are: “The Homesman,” “The Imitation Game,” “The Theory of Everything,” “Before I Disappear,” and “Rosewater. ”

Ben Lyons also gave me his top five films to watch. He suggested: “Red Army,” “Birdman,” “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon,  “Interstellar” calling it an ‘event movie,’ and “Nightcrawler,” featuring Jake Gyllenhaal .  (Note that the father-and-son film aficionados did not coincide when naming their movie selections.)

The 14th annual San Diego Film Festival will be rolling out the red carpet again next year.  When I asked the Lyons double act if they’d be back as hosts, they answered in typical father-son contrast; while Jeffery senior  acknowledged he’ll be returning in 2015 to host the So Cal fest, Ben remains hopeful and quipped, “If I’m invited of course.”

With film festivals sprouting up all over the country, Ben Lyons pointed out the common attraction that makes these movie events unique.

“There’s something very special about celebrating movies and film culture with like-minded people.”

I wholeheartedly agree.

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