Surprise! The Malibu Film Festival, an annual celebration and showcase of independent films, is holding all of its screenings this year and its opening night and premiere parties not in Malibu, but in Santa Monica.

But don’t expect festival organizers to be changing the name of the festival anytime soon.

“We expect to be back in Malibu next year,” says Tiffany Peckosh, director of the Malibu Film Festival.

“Things just weren’t able to work out at a Malibu location this year,” says Peckosh.

Last year, screenings were divided between Santa Monica, Hollywood and Malibu locations. The six-year-old film festival originally was held at locations in Malibu.

This year, the only festival event taking place in Malibu is a closing party with special guest Pierce Brosnan, who will be honored with an achievement award.

Peckosh says the Malibu Film Festival hopes to negotiate the use of the New Malibu Theater next year, and move the film festival back to its namesake.

But in the meantime, Santa Monicans have a visiting film festival in their backyards.

Screenings will start at 11 a.m. and take place throughout the day until a finale screening at 9:15 p.m. Friday through Sunday, April 15th to 17th, at the Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. General admission tickets are $8 per screening or $5 for students. A screening pass good all three days of the festival is $99.

“We chose the Aero because its a beautiful renovated theater with a new projection system and new seating, and because it’s close to Malibu,” says Peckosh.

An opening night party and fashion show (with hair and makeup by festival sponsor Paul Mitchell) are scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday, April 14th, at the Viceroy, 1819 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica. Tickets are $25. KCRW’s Cathy Tamkin will DJ the party.

A premiere party will be held at 9 p.m. Friday, April 15th, at The Victorian, 2640 Main St., Santa Monica. Tickets are $25.

The Malibu Film Festival will screen about 35 films in categories including short live action films, animated short films, short subject documentary films, documentary films and narrative feature films.

Opening night will feature a West Coast premiere of Mad Hot Ballroom, written by Amy Sewall and directed by Marilyn Agrelo.

Closing night will feature the Los Angeles premiere of AprËs Vous, directed by French filmmaker Pierre Salvadori.

The festival will feature five world premieres, nine West Coast premieres, three Los Angeles premieres and four Academy Award-nominated short films.

Showtimes for the three days of the festival are 11 a.m., 1, 3, 5, 7:30 and 9 p.m.

Reservations, (866) 468-3399.