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San Diego International Film Festival Announces 2020 Slate

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NOMADLAND will open the 2020 festival!

San Diego International Film Festival Announces 2020 Slate

The re-imagined 2020 San Diego International Film Festival (October 15-18) produced by the San Diego Film Foundation, announced today that the Film Festival will open with the third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, NOMADLAND.

Other spotlight features include HARRY CHAPIN: WHEN IN DOUBT, DO SOMETHING, FAREWELL AMOR, BLITHE SPIRIT, STARDUST, DRUNK BUS, ONE OF THESE DAYS and HONEYMOOD. Film lovers will enjoy features, documentaries and shorts online in the San Diego International Film Festival Virtual Village and on the big screen at the Festival Drive-In Movies at Westfield UTC.

A sweeping panoramic portrait of the American nomadic spirit set on the trail of seasonal migratory labor, Chloé Zhao's (SONGS MY BROTHERS TAUGHT ME, THE RIDER) NOMADLAND is a road movie for our times, now doubly relevant and resonant in this moment of redefinition and change. We see the grandeur of the American west, from the Badlands of South Dakota to the Nevada desert, to the Pacific Northwest, through the eyes of 61-year old Fern. She is played by Frances McDormand (FARGO, THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI) who also brought Zhao on board when she recognized a kindred spirit in the director's previous film, THE RIDER. Together they create a portrait of a woman who has lost a husband and in fact her whole former life, when the company town where she lived is essentially dissolved. But in her process, she gains strength and a new life. Fern finds her community in the nomad gatherings she attends which include Linda May and Swankie (real life nomads who play themselves), closer companionship with Dave (David Strathairn), and along with others she meets on her journey. But most importantly, as Zhao puts it ", nature, as she evolves - in the wilderness, in rocks, trees, stars, a hurricane, this is where she finds her independence."

According to Tonya Mantooth, CEO/Artistic Director of the San Diego International Film Festival, "Like everyone else, we've spent the better part of this year exploring options. We've landed on two platforms that will serve us this year as well as for years to come - online film screenings in our Festival Virtual Village and films on the big screen at our Festival Drive-In Movies. Both are COVID appropriate and the combination allows us to present both independent and studio films."

"Our 2020 slate has been curated from over 3000 film submissions from 68 countries. The foreign films are particularly strong this year and the documentaries highlight important topics of social impact including civil rights, environmental and animal extinction issues, diversity and inclusion, and much more. And the ever-popular shorts tracks are guaranteed to engage, entertain and delight in so many ways," added Mantooth.

Now in its 19th year, the San Diego International Film Festival is the region's premier film festival and one of the leading stops on the film circuit. The Film Festival is proud to screen narrative, documentary and short films, both in and out of competition, vying for top award honors. The lineup below includes 114 films total, 24 Narrative Competition films, 15 Documentary Competition films, and 75 Short films.

To attend, get an All-Access Pass, Virtual Fest pass or a Virtual Day Pass to receive access to the virtual film screenings and panels during the festival week. The All-Access Pass also gets you access to our new Drive-In movie experience for the whole family.

For more information regarding passes/tickets, press accreditation, industry passes, or sponsorship opportunities, please visit

More additions will be added to the program and announced soon.


Narrative Competition (24)

150 Million Magical Sparrows, Dir. Brahmanand S Siingh & Tanvi Jain, India, San Diego Premiere

9,75, Dir. Uluç Bayraktar, Turkey, North American Premiere

Arracht, Dir. Tom Sullivan, Ireland, West Coast Premiere

before/during/after, Dir. Stephen Kunken & Jack Lewars, USA, San Diego Premiere

Blithe Spirit, Dir. Edward Hall, UK, World Premiere

Children of the Storm (Racheltjie de Beer), Dir. Matthys Boshoff, South Africa, West Coast Premiere

Drunk Bus, Dir. Brandon LeGanke & John Carlucci, USA, West Coast Premiere

Eat Wheaties!, Dir. Scott Abramovitch, Canada, West Coast Premiere

Farewell Amor, Dir. Ekwa Msangi, USA, So. California Premiere

Honeymood, Dir. Talya Lavie, Israel, West Coast Premiere

Love Sarah, Dir. Eliza Schroeder, UK, US Premiere

Ms. White Light, Dir. Paul Shoulberg, USA, West Coast Premiere

Nomadland, Dir. Chloé Zhao, USA, San Diego Premiere

One of These Days, Dir. Bastian Günther, Germany, California Premiere

Pig, Dir. Franco Verdoia, Argentina, West Coast Premiere

Presumption of Guilt, Dir. Oleg Asadulin, Russia, So. California Premiere

Stardust, Dir. Gabriel Range, UK, World Premiere

The MisEducation of Bidhu, Dir. Prarthana Mohan, USA, San Diego Premiere

The Other, Dir. Charlotte Dauphin, France, North American Premiere

The Outside Story, Dir. Casmir Nozkowski, USA, San Diego Premiere

Through the Glass Darkly, Dir. Lauren Fash, USA, San Diego Premiere

Twiceborn, Dir. Hiroshi Akabane, Japan, United States Premiere

Victim(s), Dir. Layla Zhuqing Ji, Malaysia, West Coast Premiere

Wine Reflections, Dir. Vitaly Muzychenko, Russia, World Premiere

Documentary Competition (15)

Bastards' Road, Dir. Brian Morrison, USA, San Diego Premiere

Determined, Dir. Keren Perlmutter, USA, West Coast Premiere

Escape from Extinction, Dir. Matthew R. Brady, USA, West Coast Premiere

Into the Storm [En La Tormenta], Dir. Adam Brown, United Kingdom, San Diego Premiere

Let's Work, Dir. Joey Travolta, USA, World Premiere

Making Lemonade: Our COVID-19 Story, Dir. Chris Francis, USA, US Premiere

Public Trust, Dir. David Byars, USA, San Diego Premiere

Roadless, Dir. Steve Jones & Jon Klaczkiewcz, USA, San Diego Premiere

SURVIVING THE SILENCE, Dir. Cindy L. Abel, USA, Southern California Premiere

The Earth is Blue as an Orange, Dir. Iryna Tsilyk, Ukraine, West Coast Premiere

The Last Out, Dir. Sami Khan & Michael Gassert, USA, West Coast Premiere

The Mustangs: An American Story, Steven Latham & Conrad Stanley, USA, West Coast Premiere

The Rememberer, Dir. Ariel Guntern, Argentina, San Diego Premiere

The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte hosts the Tonight Show Dir.Yoruba Richen, USA, California Premiere

You Asked for the Facts: Bobby Kennedy at the University of Mississippi, Dir. Mary Blessey, USA, West Coast Premiere

Shorts Tracks Competition (75)

American Indian Stories:

  • Bad River, Dir. AJ Reid, USA, World Premiere

  • Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible, Dir. Kristen Lappas & Tom Rinaldi, USA, San Diego Premiere

  • Blackwater, Dir. Boise B. Esquerra, USA, San Diego Premiere

  • Invasion: The Unist'ot'en's Fight for Sovereignty, Dir. Michael Toledano & Sam Vinal, Canada, San Diego Premiere

  • Little Chief, Dir. Erica Tremblay, United States, Seneca-Cayuga Nation, San Diego Premiere

Animation Filmmaking:

  • Abandoned Block, Dir. James Bourne, Canada/USA, San Diego Premiere

  • Da Sola, Dir. Morgan Gruer, USA, World Premiere

  • Grab My Hand: Letter to My Dad,

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