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Tank Up drives to Newport Beach


The mockumentary “TankUp.US” was featured as The Newport Beach Film Festival opened its fifth annual event.

The Festival’s selection committee reviewed more than 1,500 films. This year's schedule included more than 120 features and documentaries. In addition, more than 200 short films were showcased, making it one of the largest short film programs within a feature film festival in the entire nation. “TankUp.US” was programmed in the 'Global Eco Shorts' screening and filmmaker Meni Tsirbas was on hand at the Q&A afterwards along with the films star Jeff Newman. The well attended screening reacted with loud laughter at the real-world comedy of "TankUp.US". Meni informed the crowd that the film was his response to living in Los Angeles.

The Festival has implemented much growth and depth to its program this year, attracting a large amount of major studio representation. The fest kicked off with the world premiere of “Laws of Attraction” from New Line Cinema on April 15, 2004. Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore star in this romantic comedy directed by Peter Howitt ("Sliding Doors"). The film's ensemble cast also features Parker Posey ("A Mighty Wind"), Michael Sheen ("Underworld"), Frances Fisher ("Titanic") and Nora Dunn ("Bruce Almighty"). The film chronicles high-powered New York divorce attorneys Daniel Rafferty (Brosnan) and Audrey Woods (Moore) in this light and smart comedy. The premier and the after party featured many of the cast members who mingled with the directors of independent and studio films.

Another memorable feature of the festival was a centerpiece screening of this year’s Sundance festival hit “Saved”. The film is reminiscent of John Hughes teen comedies that tackled serious subject matter in the 1980’s. “Saved” is a modern day “Breakfast Club “that takes on conventional Christianity and it’s take on dating, divorce, homosexuality, premarital sex, abortion, unwed mothers and more. But its true genius is how it subtly points out the flaws inherent in the modern church. Mary (Jena Malone) makes a mistake and is left with huge problems, needing urgent help. Yet as a respected young member of her church, she is left with no one to turn to when in need. Why? Because her friends are not loving Christians, but the new judgmental Christians. In the new Christian church, to need help is to admit that you have done wrong and this seems to be considered the most unforgivable error of all. It's a paradox of the new Christian movement and one that, according to this film, will ultimately bring about its extinction. This theme is explored wonderfully and subtly in "Saved", and is one of the things that makes the film worth seeing. The other highlights are the cast; Mandy Moore, McCauley Culkin and Patrick Fugit round out this smart comedy.

Newport looks to grow even further with the special events that support filmmakers and the festival industry. With this type of direction, it’s no surprise they are becoming known as the “Filmmakers Festival”. The innovative “Meet the Programmers Day” has major festivals clamoring for an invitation to participate as well as filmmakers who would like a chance to interact with Festival heads who are seeking submissions for their upcoming Festivals. Newport also offered some top notch panels that were free to the public. Cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs (“Paper Moon”, “Miss Congeniality”), Director Dana Brown (“Step Into The Liquid”), and dozens of industry insiders offered advice and stories to the festival goers. Filmmaker Meni Tsirbas was singled out as one of the top independent filmmakers to watch for at the Animation Workshop by Disney animator Ron Husband (“Lion King”, “Beauty and The Beast”, “Little Mermaid”). Ron recognized Meni from his work in independent film via his successes in the festival circuit and the MeniThings website.

The Newport Beach Film Festival made an effort to truly welcomed filmmakers and the community, making this year’s event a huge success

Article and Photos by Dane Allan Smith


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