The Santa Monica International Film Festival returns to the area Friday through Sunday, September 19th through 21st, at the AMC Loews Broadway 4 and Santa Monica Public Library’s Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium.

A competition film festival that screens shorts, documentaries and feature films from directors from around the world, the festival aims to promote new films and filmmakers to the industry, as well as economic stability, growth and community life within Santa Monica, according to the festival Web site.

Produced by the Malibu Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization that produces film festivals and helps artists in need, festival producer David Katz says the organization saw an opportunity for the rekindling of the Santa Monica Film Festival.

“The Santa Monica Film Festival wasn’t being produced for a few years and our organization recognized that Santa Monica is a beautiful city with amazing venues,” Katz says. “We felt it was an appropriate and fitting location for a festival, so we spent a few years building relationships with other organizations within Santa Monica to make the festival happen.”

The films are chosen by a jury of professionals, and they screen the films based on quality, Katz says.

“We’re looking for quality, cutting-edge films that showcase a new filmmaker or something he hasn’t done before or the audience hasn’t seen before or something that makes them laugh,” he says.

“All of [the films] are unique, funny, dramatic, and [it’s] a very diverse lineup of films,” he says. “It’s a clean festival and there is something for everyone.”

Opening night features a film by debut director Rufus Williams, Butterfly Dreaming, based on a dream by Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi. The film tells the story of a man whose wife dies in a car crash, and the viewer should be unclear as to what was dream and what was reality by the end of the movie, Williams says.

“I’m so happy to be able to play the film, to be able to show it to all of the people I know,” he says.

Nineteen of the 22 filmmakers represented in the festival will be present at the screenings to hold question-and-answer sessions between films, Katz says.

The audience will have the opportunity to fill out a ballot at each of the screenings, which will be tallied to present an audience choice award at the end of the festival, along with other awards, he says.

The festival hopes to expand in the future, in length and scope of films, Katz says, but it is all based on the growth of community support.

It is described as a “boutique film festival that is catering to the Santa Monica residents,” and all screenings will be free to Santa Monica residents with a valid photo I.D.

For lineups, details and tickets,