Star Power at the 16th annual Newport Beach Film Festival

16th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival

Friday, April 23 marked the opening of the 16th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival. Stars, city council members and other VIPs walked down the red carpet for the opening film “The Water Diviner,” which screened at the Big Newport Theater. “The Water Diviner,” Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, is an epic adventure set four years after the 1915 World War I Battle of Gallipoli in Turkey. Australian farmer Connor (Russell Crowe) travels to Istanbul to find his sons, who are reported missing in action.

Media at the opening of Newport Beach Film Fest

Media at the opening of Newport Beach Film Fest

NBFF Opening Premiere at Big Newport Theater

NBFF Opening Premiere at Big Newport Theater

Prior to the screening, actor Jared Harris of “Mad Men,” actress Anjali Bhimani of “Miss India America,” Newport Beach Mayor Edward Selich and others walked the red carpet. I was able to interview NBFF co-founder and CEO Gregg Schwenk, as well as co-founder and PR Director Todd Quartararo.

CEO Co-Founder Gregg Schwenk and PR Director Co Founder Todd Quartararo

CEO Co-Founder Gregg Schwenk and PR Director Co Founder Todd Quartararo

“Newport Beach Film Festival continues to grow every year,” said Quartararo. “This year we’re featuring 400 films from 50 countries. We have a wide array of different subject matter and different film genres. We’re really excited to kick off the festival this year.”

When asked what makes the NBFF special, Schwenk replied, “We focus on the quality and the filmmakers. We take the time to find the very best in film that is in the festival circuit now. And those films are submitted to the Newport Beach Film Festival. There are 350 films that are by far the strongest films you’re going to see this year, and we play them here in Newport Beach.

“I could think of no more beautiful setting to host a world-class film festival than Newport Beach, California. You’ve got the sun; you’ve got the surf and all the cool things you can do during the day; and your night can be spent watching great movies and going to cool parties,” he added.

An Opening Night Gala at the courtyard of Fashion Island followed the screening. The gala featured culinary tastings from Orange County’s premiere restaurants, and a performance from Zarkana by Cirque de Soleil took center stage. You can see the video below.

NBFF seeks the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from around the globe.

Zarkana by Cirque Du Soleil

Zarkana by Cirque Du Soleil

Doug Kolk KTLA's Entertainment Reporter interviews  Gregg Schwenk

Doug Kolk KTLA’s Entertainment Reporter interviews Gregg Schwenk

Doug Kolk and blogger Ruchel Freibrun
popbuff blogger Ruchel Freibrun at Newport Beach Film Fest

Culinary tasting at Newport Beach Film Fest

Culinary tasting at Newport Beach Film Fest

Ice Sculpture

Ice Sculpture

Gala Night at The Fashion Island Courtyard

Gala Night at The Fashion Island Courtyard

With friend Digital Marketer Kevin Salas

With friend Digital Marketer Kevin Salas

With new friends actor Lani and blogger Noelle

With new friends actor Lani and blogger Noelle

Actor Lani O'Brien and Filmmaker Mark Jaeger

Actor Lani O’Brien and Filmmaker Mark Jaeger

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