America’s Finest City celebrates the power of film at the 22nd annual San Diego International Film Festival

BY Wesley Dwaine

October 27, 2023

America’s finest city “Celebrated the power of film” at the 22nd annual San Diego International Film Festival on October 18th – 22nd spanning from the opening night film premiere and party at The Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park to the AMC14 at UTC Westfield, La Jolla, CA.  The San Diego international film festival experience extended from the AMC14 cinema to electric car company Vinfast showroom floor and Capital One Cafe during the Culinary Cinema screenings.

Tonya Mantooth, CEO/Artistic Director of the San Diego International Film Festival, “This year, our slate has been curated from over 3200 film submissions from 85 countries with compelling Social Impact Films and Q&As including Fighting Political Oppression, Environmental Sustainability, LGBTQAI+ Rights, Opioid Crisis and other topics affecting our world and our communities.”  Full festival lineup included 91 Films in Gala, Spotlight, Narrative, Documentary, and Short Selections; Screenings followed with open dialog at the festival lounge where Cinephiles & film makers alike shared conversation over light bites and beverages.

A highlight of conversation over a Watertown Coconut Whiskey was the documentary film by Jake Rademacher, supported by the Gary Sinise Foundation, “Brothers After War.”  In Brothers After War, Jake Rademacher reconnects with his brothers and soldiers he embedded with in Iraq. He creates a unique “then and now” journey into the toll of war and a never before seen look at war fighters and the veterans they become.


My personal festival experience started with this gem: “A Kind of Kidnapping” written and directed by Dan Clark.  A young, broke couple kidnap a sleazy politician who decides he can spin the story to his advantage.

I attended the short film screenings and boy was I blown away by the talent pool of filmmakers.   Each film was well done and enabled the human emotions to thrive on the cinematic screening.  I was laughing, in shock, and you’re crying because I am not crying….Huge shoutout & Kuddos to the San Diego International Film Festival team on the shorts curation!!!  Here are some of my favorites:

“A Wedding Day” Written & Directed by Brendan Beachman


“Pushover” Written & Directed by Brian Lederman

“Halmoni’s Pot” (Grandma’s Pot) Written & Directed by A. L. Lee


Feng Shui – Written by Nick Chang & Kamran Rathod,  Directed by Kamran Rathod


“Room Tone” Directed by Michael Gabriele

Nothing could stop me from watching “A Three Story Comedy” written & Directed by Sandra Mitrovic after attending the Unstoppable Women panel.

“A Three Story Comedy”


Thank you to all the Volunteers, Sponsors, & staff.   I look forward to the 2024 San Diego International Film Festival.


Give back to your community by supporting our Film Foundation in support of the student FOCUS on Impact Program.




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