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Newport Beach Film Festival Opening Night Recap

April 25, 2014

More than 1,000 people came together Thursday, April 24, to celebrate the opening night of the 15th annual Newport Beach Film Festival, running through May 1 and featuring 400 films from 50 countries at numerous Newport Beach venues from the Lido Regency Theater to Fashion Island’s Island Cinema.

Opening night festivities kicked off with a pre-screening media reception at hot new restaurant in town Fig & Olive at Fashion Island, where guests noshed on passed hors d’oeuvres from truffle mushroom croquettes (cremini mushrooms with parmesan and truffle olive oil aioli) to fig gorgonzola tartlets (with prosciutto, figs, walnuts, arugula, scallions and tomatoes on a thin puff pastry) and imbibed in two tasty signature cocktails —a muddled organic cucumber martini and the Rosselini martini with vodka, blood orange and passion fruit.

After the reception, everyone headed to the nearby Edwards Big Newport theater to join festival goers for a red carpet screening (and the world premiere) of the new movie “Lovesick.” Some of the film’s cast members arrived outside on the red carpet beforehand (along with members of the band Green Day), while inside, Newport Beach Film Festival Co-Founder, Gregg Schwenk, was on hand to welcome the large crowd of movie-goers and to introduce one of the movie’s producers, Tustin Hills native Josh Goldstein, who offered attendees some insight into the film they would be seeing. Other notables on hand included Newport Beach Mayor Rush Hill, City Council members and former cast members of the “Real Housewives of Orange County.”

Starring Matt LeBlanc (you might know him as Joey on the long-running TV series “Friends”) as grade-school principal Charlie Darby, Ali Larter (I remember her best from the sci-fi TV show “Heroes”) and famed comedian Chevy Chase, the comedic love story took us through the trials and tribulations of Matt (LeBlanc), who has fallen in love repeatedly only to sabotage his relationships by loving too strong and too quickly and displaying a streak of obsessive jealousy (in other words, he goes clinically insane every time he becomes enamored with someone). Depressed and alone — and somewhat jaded from his experiences — he meets a beautiful woman, Molly (Larter), starts dating her, falls in love and soon the same pattern begins to emerge (could she really be dating Dr. Mehmet Oz?).

**SPOILER ALERT**
Everything unravels when he follows her overseas, where she has gone to visit her grandmother (Or so she says, Charlie surmises). Of course, after he barges into her grandmother’s room to unearth clues to his girlfriend’s dreamt-up infidelity, he is discovered by Molly and told in no uncertain terms to go home. They break up, and in an attempt to win her back and overcome his destructive patterns, Charlie invites her to his house to meet with a roundtable of his former girlfriends, all of whom share their own crazy stories of their times with him. In the end, he gets the girl and everyone ends up living happily ever after … leaving a smile on almost everyone’s face in the theater.

Afterward, everyone billowed out of premiere and headed back to Fashion Island, to the Neiman Marcus Courtyard, to partake in the Opening Night Private After-Party Gala. Held under the stars, and hosted by Fashion Island and “Esquire Magazine,” the evening lasted until 1 a.m. and featured a hosted bar by Stella Artois, Tito’s Vodka, tastings from 25 of O.C.’s top restaurants and live and novelty entertainment by acrobatic performers and two-time Grammy award winning, the Mariachi Divas.

This definitely was a great kickoff to what will be an entire week featuring the chance to view a diverse collection of studio and independent films from around the globe, including North American and U.S. premieres, films boasting O.C. connections and a family-friendly film series. Attendees also can expect nightly special events, red carpet galas, compelling conversations with filmmakers, international spotlight events and seminars, as well as opportunities to mingle with celebrities, filmmakers from around the globe and film industry professionals — all held against the backdrop of a beautiful seaside setting.
For more information about the Newport Beach Film Festival, along with a complete schedule of films and events, visit www.newportbeachfilmfest.com

Written by Wendy Bowman

Wendy Bowman is a San Clemente, Calif.-based freelance journalist. She spent 15-plus years as a writer and editor for Atlanta Business Chronicle, covering nonprofit business, homes and lifestyle, the Atlanta visitors market and more. She currently writes for Modern Luxury magazines including The Atlantan, Men's Book Atlanta, Interiors California, Interiors Atlanta and Brides California, as well as websites such as DIGS.net.

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