Island Cinema: Catalina Film Festival

Dozens of movies, lots of star sightings, and a treasure hunt await.

A PARTY SURROUNDED BY THE PACIFIC: Plenty of major film festivals have happenings that are unique to their history or setting. Some might do all-night bashes or ski competitions or special brunches or a 5K, outside of the usual bustling slate of Hollywood-big and indie-plucky fare. There is, however, one film festival that offers attendees the chance to join a treasure hunt, which should tip you off, immediately, as to the location. Yes, it is Catalina Island, where an early fall film festival has brought out actors and directors and writers and film fans and, indeed, the occasional treasure hunter, too. That treasure hunter might be a distributor sniffing out the next major hit upon its first-look debut or it could be the people who sign up for the actual Treasure Hunt, which is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26. It's a fine way to see some of the island, if you pause during your fervent hunting, to look around. "Over $5,000 in prizes!" are on the docket, plus the chance to get to know other film fans like yourself. Not too many film parties happen on a fairly petite island, so once you're there, you're there to say hello to people, get involved in happenings, and enjoy one of the dozens of flicks. Flicks in 2015 include...

JIMMY COSTA'S "APPLETON"... and the WWI film "Battalion" and horror films "R U Awake?" and "Hush" and a host of documentaries and shorts and animated treats and more. There are entertainment options beyond what's up on the screens, too, which makes sense and is a tribute to organizers. After all, when people have ventured across a good amount of open ocean to be at your festival, you want them to live it up during their stay, and that includes the time when they're in the theater seat and when they're out and about during the Sept. 24 through 27 festival.

THAT OPEN OCEAN... means booking your stay and your passage across a chunk o' the Pacific is essential, as essential as lining up those passes and what you want to see. And, of course, booking your spot in the Treasure Hunt, too. Other film festivals have plenty of panache, but rarely does a fest's location so smoothly dovetail with a delightful to-do.

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