Tag Archives: Newport Beach Film Festival

Newport Beach Film Festival – German Spotlight Event

IMG_1312NBFF 2016 – German Spotlight Event

Warning: We’re being watched!  With over 350 independent and international films, as well as nightly gala events and industry seminars, this year’s Newport Beach Film Festival offered a rich variety of events in which art, entertainment, and cultural fans could partake in.

I personally had the honor to attend this year’s German Spotlight, which took place on Tuesday, April 26.  This spotlight is especially dear to my heart since I was an event coordinator for it last year when the German film got finally re-introduced to the Newport Beach Film Festival after seven years of absence.  This year, I was curious to see how it feels like to “only” attend as a guest.  I was very much looking forward to sitting back, relaxing, and witnessing some great German filmmaking.  The evening did not disappoint.

This year’s spotlight movie One Breath literally took my breath away.  The film plot is concerned with two women of complete opposite backgrounds whose lives cross paths.  One is wealthy Tessa, who seems to have it all: a great career, a good-looking husband, and one-and-a-half-year old daughter Lotte.  Elena, on the other hand, escapes from Greek, where she had no perspective, leaving her boyfriend behind to move to Frankfurt for a better life, where she finds out that she is pregnant.  She starts working for Tessa as a nanny, but quickly realizes that the seemingly perfect life and the nice apartment Tessa and her family live in is really only pretense.  Tessa appears to be very controlling, and Elena also gets to witness that Tessa’s marriage and life is far from perfect. One fateful afternoon, both Elena’s and Tessa’s lives change dramatically when Lotte disappears while Elena was taking care of her.  Overwhelmed with the situation, Elena flees back to Greece.  Tessa, who is convinced that Elena took the child, travels to Athens, trying to find her and hopefully Lotte.  Unfortunately in this movie, there is only a happy ending for one of the women!  

One Breath definitely deserved to be selected as the German Spotlight film.  It delivers very strong performances by its actors, especially Jördis Triebel as Tessa and Chara Mata Giannatou as Elena convince in their roles.  The movie really pulled viewers deep into its tragic story, and once the final movie credits were being displayed on the big screen, I had a hard time transitioning to party mode for the after-gala.  I was still sucked into the movie plot, trying to understand why one character deserved a better ending than the other.  

IMG_1314Once I arrived at the German Spotlight after-gala, which was held at SoCo and hosted by Design Within Reach, my mood finally changed.  Loud music was popping out of the design store which got perfectly transformed into an amazing party venue with a DJ, live performances, amazing food from Orange County’s premier restaurants and drinks provided by festival sponsors.  I was most amazed by this year’s ice sculpture which was displayed right at the front and had all four spotlight countries engraved.  Of course, I had to take a couple of fun pictures with it.  The food was really amazing as well; I indulged in beef tacos, tomato soup, and mini cake bites.  

All in all, I was more than impressed about what this year’s Newport Beach Film Festival had put together for the European Showcase Spotlight night.  It is great to know that the German movie has made it back to the event for the second year in a row, and I am personally looking forward to more great European filmmaking being celebrated in Orange County.

Images & video footage: ©Anne-Kathrin Schulte

Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She lives in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.




Ticket Give Away for German Spotlight Film & Gala at Newport Beach Film Festival


One Free ticket for 2 lucky winners

The Newport Beach Film Festival has started and for one week will dazzle us with over 350 independent and international films, nightly gala events and free educational seminars with directors and actors.

The German Spotlight will present the US Premier of  “One Breath” on Tuesday, April 26th, and invites to the European Showcase Party right after the screening.

Get your tickets for this exciting film and Gala event here OR you be one of the two lucky winners getting a Free Ticket to the movie as well as to the Gala by participating at our Ticket Give-Away, HERE!! 

Click the Red “ENTER” below to Participate


The Newport Beach Film Fest is screening two German Movies this year.

The German NBFF Spotlight Movie One Breath  plays April 26th, at the Triangle Theatre, Costa Mesa at 8:15pm. It is followed by the European Spotlight Gala at SOCO

The German movie A Heavy Heart plays April 25th at the Triangle Theatre, Costa Mesa at 8:00pm.

CaliforniaGermans readers enjoy a $5 ticket discount with the promo code : GERMAN2016


Image: NBFF – Newport Beach Film Festival
Give Away Rules


German Films At The Newport Beach Film Festival – April 21-28, 2016

2016-NBFF Pic

NBFF 2016 – “the West Coast’s Fastest-Growing Film Festival”

(Interview with CEO & Co-Founder Gregg Schwenk)

As the red carpet is getting rolled out for the 17th Newport Beach Film Festival we had a chance to speak with Gregg Schwenk, CEO and Co-Founder of the Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF). He gave us some insight into the festival’s history, spoke about German film as part of the NBFF and shared some memories of the first German Spotlight Film event they hosted at the Newport Beach Film Festival years ago.

Q: The Newport Beach Film Festival is now in its 17th year. What influenced your decision to start the NBFF here in Newport Beach?

Gregg Schwenk: I grew up here in Newport Beach, and I have very deep roots here in Orange County.  I had the great opportunity to travel and attend a number of other film festivals around the world and I was talking to some of the city leaders, saying, “If Palm Springs or the Hamptons or Toronto can have a major festival, I really feel that Newport Beach should have one too. It is the perfect backdrop for an international global film festival.”  Luckily, they agreed, and myself and Todd Quartararo co-founded the festival in 1998, and then had our first film festival in March 1999.   It was a smaller event. We had a handful of screens and a handful of movies. I think we screened about a hundred films at that time.  We got a very positive feedback and very positive results financially, and from there on it just grew and we have been doing one every year since. We have grown into the largest entertainment event in Orange County and are one of the largest festivals south of Los Angeles!  We’ll screen over 350 films from 50 different countries.  Our overall audience last year was 55,000 people.

Q: Did you study film or were you involved in the film industry before founding the NBFF?

GS: I went to UC Berkeley, and my degree is in Political Economy. When I was at UC Berkeley, I did some extensive research work for an organization on a project about the regional impact of film production. When I came back to Southern California and ended up working on investment banking, mergers and acquisitions my work included a number of deals that were film-related because of my experience in the entertainment industry. Then I got very active here locally for the City of Newport Beach with the economic development committee and in 1998 we founded the festival.

Q: Who is choosing the movies for the NBFF?

GS: There are two processes for a film to be at the festival. One is through our submission process, and that is very extensive. The process starts in August and ends in early February. Those are films that are sent in by filmmakers from all around the world. Our staff reviews and rates them and then the programming team debates before making the decision if the films are going to be at the festival or not. Then there is the recruitment process. That is where we see films at another festival. We take a look at those films and, from a curatorial process, put them in.

Q: Are you personally involved in the decision process?

2016 - Gregg-Schwenkn-NBFF-200x300GS: I used to watch quite a few more films then I do now.  But I definitely watch the Spotlight films. I really leave it up to the programming team to find the best films that are available for our audience.

Q: How many international festivals do you go to?

GS: Not all of them, but to a lot of them. We do Toronto, Berlin, Sundance, Dublin, Norway, Ireland, Cannes…

Q: Have you been to Berlin this year?

GS: I couldn’t go, but Cade Russell, the Associate Director of Programming at NBFF, has been to Berlin many times.

Q: Any connection to Germany?

GS: I have traveled to Germany quite a bit.  I wanted to go to the Munich Film Festival, which is a little smaller. We are debating about it for this year; there are just so many things going on at once.

Q: How does the NBFF audience receive foreign films with subtitles?

GS: I think the unique aspect of the audience for Orange County is that they are focused on quality.  It doesn’t matter if it is an English language film or a German film.  If it’s a good film, they are going to want to sit back and watch that film and are open to reading the subtitles as long as it is a quality film.

Q: Do you only have one international film per country?

GS: No, for Germany I think we got two films. We have One Breath, which is the Spotlight, and then we have A Heavy Heart.

Q: Do you remember your first German Spotlight?

GS: The first German Spotlight movie was called As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me, many years ago.  I remember that because it was the story of a German soldier who was a prisoner of war in a Soviet Gulag and he escapes and has to walk across Siberia to get home. So the theatre at that time was packed. It was a full house, three/four hundred people. It was a very anticipated film, and the air conditioning went out! So you have these scenes of the Siberian winter, and everyone was taking off their jackets…! They were sweating, it was very hot, but everyone stayed.  No one left! It was a really great film and a wonderful experience. It was a very positive, a very quintessential film festival experience.

Q: There were a few years without a German Spotlight. Why?

GS: The only reason we didn’t continue with the German Spotlight is that there was a period of time where Germany wasn’t putting out both the quality and, most importantly, the number of films. From the film festival’s standpoint, it is not just, “well, this is a really great film from Germany.”  We need to have four, five films to take a look at.  Nor is it only us, the filmmakers are also making decisions. That can be something like “We love the Newport Beach Film Festival, but we are holding out for the Sundance Film Festival.”  Or there is a big blockbuster in Germany, and it is picked up by the Weinstein Company, and they are going to be releasing it in February. So it comes out before our festival. As you see, there is also a timing component to it.

Yes, there were a couple of years where there were a number of forces that worked against us having a stronger German Spotlight. Then we talked about it last year and said it was time to bring it back. We had a very successful German Spotlight screening last year, and we hopefully have a very successful one this year.

Q: How about celebrities for German movies?

GS: We’d love to get more! Something that has been successful with our other International Spotlights is getting the respective entertainment and film community, that is here in Southern California, engaged.  Even if an actor or actress isn’t in the film, having them come down and support German film in Southern California becomes an important point. We have done that with our Australian Spotlight, our UK Spotlight, our Irish Spotlight, and Latino and Asian showcases.  We would love to get the German expatriate film making community here in Southern California come to the German Spotlight to support German film!

Q: What is the one movie at this year’s NBFF that we absolutely shouldn’t miss?

GS: With 350 plus films, there is something for everybody. One of the areas I really enjoy is not a film, it is our Seminar Series.  When you go to other festivals, the seminars would cost you anywhere between maybe $15-$25 per session, where at Newport it is free.  These are free seminars! And they cover areas such as acting, directing, cinematography, music, composing music for film. We also have a Women in Film panel this year.

That is probably the one thing I am very proud of since our first year, we always had free seminars! Today some of the leading-edge people in the industry come out to the NBFF and talk about what they do in front of or behind the camera. So that is my favorite part.

Q: Where are the seminars taking place?

GS: They are at the Newport Beach Civic Center this year. That’s right across from Fashion Island.

Q: Finally, what is new at this year’s Newport Beach Film Festival?

GS: This year we will host a Filmmaker’s EXPO for the fist time! We will have it for one day only, on April 24th. The expo will offer filmmakers to engage with professional industry representatives and vendors displaying and demonstrating top of the line filmmaking equipment, resources and more. The EXPO will be at the Newport Beach Civic Center.

Thank you for your time! We look forward to an exciting NBFF 2016!


CaliforniaGermans readers enjoy a $5 ticket discount with the promo code : GERMAN2016

The German NBFF Spotlight Movie One Breath  plays April 26th, at the Triangle Theatre, Costa Mesa at 8:15pm. It is followed by the European Spotlight Gala at SOCO

The German movie A Heavy Heart plays April 25th at the Triangle Theatre, Costa Mesa at 8:00pm.

The 17th NBFF will show over 350 independent and international films, have nightly gala events and offer free educational seminars with directors and actors. The NBFF is not only an industry event but the community is much invited. Families will appreciate the extensive Family Film Series.

Interview: Cornelia Fuertes 
Assistance: Anne-Kathrin Schulte
Image: © Newport Beach Filmfestival and Filmschool Radio.com



German Spotlight Movie at Newport Beach Film Festival – April 28, 2015


Who Am I – No System Is Safe

Who Am I – Kein System ist sicher is a 2014 German thriller directed by Baran bo Odar and will be shown in the German Spotlight at the Newport Beach Film Festival next Tuesday, April 28, 2015!

The movie revolves around a computer hacker group in Berlin that seeks global fame. On the way to becoming iconic on the internet the group suddenly attracts the attention of the German Secret Service. The search for getting some fame turns into a race to escape the law enforcement.

Who Am I – No System is Safe was screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was shot in Berlin and Rostock. (wikipedia)

German Spotlight at Film Festival in Newport Beach

It’s been some time that there was a special German Spotlight at the Newport Beach Film Festival; so if you live in Orange County and surrounding areas, get out there and support our German filmmakers!

Tickets are regularly $45 and include the European Showcase Party (Food, DJ, Open Bar) after the movie  at SOCO in Costa Mesa. Get a $5 Movie Discount with the Code NBFFEURO !

WHAT :    Movie “Who Am I – Kein System Ist Sicher/No System is Safe”

WHEN:     April 28, 2015 at 7:30pm plus after-party at SOCO

WHERE:  Newport Film Festival – Movie Theatre at Triangle Square,                        .                    Costa Mesa

TICKETS: here – or at www.NewportBeachFilmFest.com

DISCOUNT CODE:  NBFFEURO ($5 off movie ticket)



Source: wikipedia, Newport Film Festival


Newport Beach Filmfest – Eco Spotlight “This Is Your Ocean : Sharks”

On Thursday , May 28, the Newport Beach Film Festival started; the festival that brings a bit of Hollywood glamour to Orange County. Aside of the eye-catching  movies, the Filmfest offers several spotlights. 

Last Friday before the the movie “Lucky” the Eco Spotlight featured the documentary  “This is Your Ocean: Sharks”. Since we were on a family outing we decided on the Eco Spotlight, that we expected should also be attractive to our 7-year old. 

George C. Schellenger, Jim Abernethy, Shawn Heinrichs

In the perfect setting , at the Lido Theater, with ocean frescos on the walls, the world premier was introduced to a very welcoming audience. A bit skeptical about the movie when reading that director George C.  Schellenger would take us “into the world of sharks through the eyes of Wyland, Guy Harvey and Jim Abernethy“, we witnessed some beautiful images, but I must say that our first skepticism proofed to be right. The movie oftentimes appeared to be more a promotional piece for the artists, especially Wyland, than a movie that would give the audience a deeper understanding of the world of sharks and on how they lived.

The movie did draw attention to the overfishing and therefore destruction of shark communities that are so important for the ocean’s eco system and many of us are not aware of. Unfortunately that seemed to have been the only deeper topic aside of the very touching subject of Jim Abernethy’s relationship to one very particular shark “Emma”. These pictures indeed were quite unusual and impressive, since we usually picture sharks as not very affectionate animals. Shark Emma though “knows” Abernethy and feels when he is in the water and comes by to see him! 

My family, especially my little shark expert, was expecting to see and learn of some groundbreaking new facts on sharks’ lives. But there were barely any scientific details in the movie. I guess, we expected some kind of Planet Earth experience and were somewhat disturbed to be taken out of the beautiful crystal clear waters of the Bahamas only to watch Wyland paint his majestic underwater worlds on big walls. I wouldn’t have minded to see more of  shark expert Jim Abernethy’s beautiful underwater photography work, which complemented the movie much better.

All together the movie is a great attempt to draw attention solely on to sharks and their need for protection. Besides one can experience some fascinating images of underwater scenery, and … should you want to learn more about Wyland’s and Guy Harvey’s painting style and drive for painting underwater worlds, then this is definitely  a must see.

If you would like to get involved in saving our oceans, a good start is joining the movement  “One World, One Ocean“.