Party On!

A guide to late-night festivities during the San Diego Film Festival

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For the duration of the week, The San Diego Film Festival has my full reportorial attention. It’s in its eighth year as a downtown event, and will screen more than 85 independent movies September 23-27 at downtown’s Gaslamp Theater. Granted, it’s not as glamorous as Cannes, and it isn’t as hip as Sundance. But like Sheryl Crow sang, “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.”

I plan to soak up at least one movie, industry panel or party every night. And if I get close enough to William Shatner to smell his cologne, well, bonus.

Last year 14,000 people hung out for some form of festival fun. “It’s a rewarding experience,” says SDFF executive director Robin Laatz. “We’ve got the attendance, but it’s still an intimate setting. People who do the whole film festival circuit around the country say they make more friends here than anywhere else.”
The place to make those friendships? The parties. Here’s the scoop for 9 p.m. to midnight each night:

Opening Night GQ Lounge Presented by Patron. Wednesday night’s gala is in the Se Hotel. It’s a school night, so the festivities don’t rage into the wee hours. But you can walk the red carpet and pretend “Entertainment Tonight” is waiting to interview you. Look out! Kanye West is trying to steal the microphone!

Glaceau smartwater Filmmaker Meet & Greet. Lucky D’s will extend the local love for area filmmakers. It’s on Thursday, the night when screenings include a San Diego State University Film Showcase. Thursday is also the tradition beginning of the
weekend for the SDSU student body.

Industry Party Presented By Limelight PR. This is the biggest fete, with more than 1,000 expected to network and schmooze Friday night at the W Hotel. I’m told this is will be my best chance to corner Shatner and pepper him with my burning questions about “Boston Legal.”

944 Actor’s Ball & Awards Ceremony. This night is slightly more formal. For the Saturday awards ceremony at Hotel Solamar, expect significantly fewer sandals paired with dress slacks.
Closing Night Wrap Party. This Sofia Hotel event on Sunday should be fairly laid-back. Oh,but don’t let the party name fool you—dress code does not require that all guests wear wraps.

Ron Donoho is a regular contributor to, editorial director of “Pacific SD” magazine and a contributing editor to His Web site ( is dedicated to news, sports, culture, happy hours and all things downtown.

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