Santa Monica and Malibu are finding common ground in the yearly Malibu Film Festival, which seeks to showcase independent films in the heart of the film industry.

The festival is scheduled for Friday through Monday, April 7th to 10th, with half the screenings taking place at the Jaguar Theatre in Malibu and the other half at the Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. Tickets to individual screening events are $10.

“We like to look at it like Santa Monica is to Malibu as Park City is to Sundance,” says festival producer David Katz, alluding to the Sundance Film Festival. “Sundance is a small ski resort community without much of a year-round tourism market.

“Malibu is similar in that it’s not a tourism community except on the beach in the summertime.”

After attempting to enter his film in the Sundance Film Festival, Katz felt there was room for a festival closer to Hollywood, he says.

“We’re catering the film to the film industry by having the festival on the Westside — Santa Monica and Malibu are film industry cities,” Katz says. “We want to put new filmmakers in a location that is heavy with industry decision makers.”

Katz organized the event with festival director Tiffany Peckosh and awards night producer Lori Llevano. This year’s festival will include 53 premieres.

Highlights of this year’s Malibu Film Festival include a screening of the documentary Rising Son: The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi, a daredevil Venice Beach vertical skateboard champion who, after his career waned, served prison time for drug trafficking. The film is directed by Cesario “Block” Montano and is narrated by Dennis Hopper.

On Saturday, April 8th, the Billy Kent drama The Oh in Ohio, starring Danny DeVito, Parker Posey and Liza Minnelli, will be screened at the Aero Theatre.

The closing night feature film, The Proposition, directed by John Hillcoat with a script by rocker Nick Cave, will be screened at The Jaguar Theatre in Malibu. The film is set in the harsh and rugged Australian outback of the 1880s and is a tale of loyalty and revenge as a brother must make an impossible choice when he is offered the chance to save one brother from execution by tracking and killing his older brother.

The festival will have an opening night party on Friday, April 7th, at The Victorian, 2640 Main St., Santa Monica. The party will follow the 7 p.m. screening of Rising Son: The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi and will feature a fashion show by Maui & Sons. Tickets to the opening night party are $50.

Screenings will be held all day beginning at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 8th and 9th, at both the Jaguar and Aero Theatres.

Nearly 2,000 films were submitted for the four-day Malibu Film Festival, of which about 70 were chosen for festival screening, according to organizers.

“Malibu Film Festival sets the bar very high just like the film industry sets the bar very high, and I encourage young filmmakers to do the same,” says Katz.

At a Monday night festival awards ceremony, actor Anthony Hopkins is set to present an achievement award to filmmaker Brett Ratner.

Ratner’s latest film, X-Men: The Last Stand, is in post-production, and Ratner was first known for directing hip-hop and pop music videos, including Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger in 1999.

“The scope of work Brett Ratner has done in such a short time has amassed a great deal of fortune for the studios,” says Katz. “He achieved what many independent filmmakers dream of doing. He broke directing music videos only to go on to directing big budget action films.”

Also at the closing reception, winners of this year’s festival will be announced.

The closing night IndieVest Awards Night Reception & Dinner Party will begin with celebrity arrivals at 7 p.m. at Gladstone’s in Malibu. Tickets to the awards night and party are $250-$500. IndieVest, a film studio, distributor and financier that works with independent films, is sponsoring the awards ceremony.

Malibu Film Foundation was started with the purpose of organizing the yearly Malibu Film Festival. The group also lends professional filmmaking equipment to aspiring filmmakers — items such as cameras. lights, grip equipment, editing decks, computers and sound equipment, says Katz.

Katz himself grew up around the film industry, as his father, Marty Katz, was a film producer. Katz has worked in the film industry since he was a teenager, as an actor and location manager and in various other positions in films including the hit Pretty Woman.

Films included in this year’s festival are chock full of celebrity actors, including Cate Blanchett, William H. Macy, Paul Rudd, Mischa Barton, Julia Stiles, Denise Richards, Mena Suvari, Sarah Jessica Parker, Edward Furlong, Liza Minnelli, Guy Pearce, Emily Watson, Louis Gossett Jr., Henry Winkler, Jeffrey Tambor, Seymour Cassel, Kevin Pollack, Hugo Weaving, Sam Neil and Hill Harper.

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