Newport Beach Film Festival

The Newport Beach Film Festival kicked off with a star-studded premiere night last Thursday, April 22.   With a red carpet entrance attended by Orange County. royalty such as the stars of “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” it’s hard to believe this was taking place only ten minutes away from UCI.  Actors, industry players and other celebrities walked the short red carpet at the Edwards Big Newport theater for the premiere of the 11th annual NBFF.

The opening night film, “Five Star Day,” stars Cam Gigandet (“Twilight”) as Jake Gibson, a young Berkeley student whose horoscope forecasts a perfect ‘Five Star Day’ the morning of his birthday. Little does he realize that what is foretold to be a flawless ‘Five Star Day,’ unfolds to be less than stellar as Jake’s world is turned upside down.  All that could go wrong, does. Jake is fired from his job,  walks in on his girlfriend sleeping with another man, and as if that’s not bad enough,  gets carjacked that night.

Determined that astrology has no legitimacy, Jake embarks on a journey to test the theory of astrology by finding three people born at the same time and place as himself. Jake’s pursuit in finding and interviewing his three astrological matches not only tests his convictions, but validates how life’s unexpected twists of fate can deliver much more than anticipated.

Jake meets Sarah, (played brilliantly by Jena Malone) a young single mother struggling with the stress of her deadbeat ex-boyfriend, raising a daughter and keeping a job.  Next, he meets Yvonne (Brooklyn Soldano), a nurse in a rehab clinic dealing with the guilt of a car accident she feels responsible for.  Finally, he meets Wes (Max Hartman), a lounge singer in Atlantic City who takes him for a wild ride of a night. What Jake learns along the way is an important lesson about life, love, fate and destiny that will unexpectedly change his life forever.

The film’s premiere was a grand success, with all the seats of the Edwards Big Newport theater sold out to ticketholders.

“All of us who worked on ‘Five Star Day’ are deeply honored to be selected by the Newport Beach Film Festival and are still in shock to be opening the Festival,” said Mike Robertson, executive producer and producer of “Five Star Day.” “Having our World Premiere in our backyard was something we couldn’t have even dreamed of.”

Gigandet does surprisingly well in his role as the protagonist, although his good looks almost distract from his acting.  The standouts in “Five Star Day” would have to be Jena Malone as Sarah and Max Hartman as Wes.  Malone is so believable in her admittedly cliché role as a single mother trying to make ends meet to provide for her daughter. Hartman’s Wes, the Frank Sinatra-esque singer, makes for the most entertaining sequences in the film, as his character has more personality than all the others combined.  Hartman’s wise, nonchalant portrayal is reminiscent of a less pompous, more drunken Orson Welles.

The film marks the feature directorial debut for Orange County native Danny Buday, who is also the film’s producer and screenwriter. Buday’s lack of experience is apparent throughout the film, which is littered with moments of awkward dialogue and choppy editing.  The film falls awkwardly between the genres of drama, comedy and chick flick, lacking enough elements of any of the three to be neatly labeled.  “Five Star Day” is a film that would have even greater potential in the hands of a more experienced, nuanced director.

The 2010 Newport Beach Film Festival will showcase over 350 films from 47 countries and host nightly special events, red carpet galas, compelling conversations with filmmakers, international spotlight events and seminars. The Festival offers filmgoers unique opportunities to mingle with celebrities, filmmakers from around the globe and film industry professionals in a beautiful seaside locale.

Celebrated as one of the leading lifestyle and film festivals in the United States, the Newport Beach Film Festival seeks to bring to Orange County the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from around the world. Committed to enlightening the public with a first-class international film program, a forum for cultural understanding and enriching educational opportunities, the NBFF focuses on showcasing a diverse collection of studio and independent films from around the globe. The 11th annual Newport Beach Film Festival runs April 22-30, 2010 and will spotlight over 400 films from around the world. For more information, check out www.newportbeachfilmfest.com