The San Diego Film Festival (SDFF) kicks off in two weeks downtown, with many of the shows screened at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15. I went a few years ago to see how the festival would be different from just any old movie theater experience, and thought it was so cool to have an actor/director/producer there to introduce the film and discuss it afterward. My advice is to get there EARLY, because many of the shows sell out – I ended up taking a single seat really close to the screen because there was no other option. Since I was there on opening night, they had a pre-party in the lobby with drinks, apps, and photo opps.
One of the things I love most about San Diego is its diversity. Case in point, we have film festivals for niche audiences – San Diego Asian Film Festival, San Diego Jewish Film Festival, San Diego Latino Film Festival, etc. And if that’s not your thing, you can always check out the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival.
It’s best to review the films online ahead of time and decide what you want to see. Most festivals try to diversify the films enough so that there’s something for everyone, but if nothing catches your eye, you can usually count on the opening night and closing night shows to be good—and appeal to a general audience.
If you’re planning to make a night of it at the SDFF, walk over to Florent Restaurant & Lounge for dinner beforehand, or for drinks after the screening if you want more of a party scene. Florent recently got a new chef, Brad Hightow, who hails from Maryland, and puts exactly the right amount (lots) of lump blue crab in the Maryland Crab Cake. My other favorites are the stout-braised short ribs, strawberry & stone fruit salad, and Brussels sprouts. They’re also known for their burger, if you want to keep things simple (it’s on a brioche bun, so how could it be bad?).