San Diego may be in the shadows of our neighboring Hollywood, but we can definitely hold our own – and this was most evident at the San Diego Film Festival’s event honoring famed producer, director, and writer Judd Apatow (held at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla this past Thursday). Apatow’s work can be marked from my personal childhood favorite, “Heavyweights” all the way to hit movies such as “Anchorman,” “Knocked Up,” and “This is 40”.
The night started off with a star-studded red carpet event. Familiar faces such as “Extra”’s Ben Lyons’, “Anchorman” actor David Koechner, “Breaking Bad”’s Saginaw Grant, and David Della Rocca and Troy Duffy of “The Boondock Saints” – hammed it up for every press member and city dweller looking for that perfect celebrity shot. Inside the museum lobby, guests were treated to food and beverages provided by Amaya and Peroni.
Once everyone was settled and warm within their seats, SDFF honored the life and work of film producer, Chris Brinker with the Chris Brinker Award (first directorial debut filmmakers). Brinker, who helped bring “The Boondock Saints” to life, was a San Diego native who was clearly loved by many, especially by writer and director Troy Duffy. Duffy shared with the audience their colorful introduction into the world of Hollywood – at a strip bar where Duffy served as a cook and Brinker was a bartender!
Also honored that night was Justin Nappi, who won the Emerging Producer Award. The humble Nappi had few words to say, but all was forgiven because his talent speaks for him. Nappi, a recent grad of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, created Treehouse Pictures which produced “All is Lost,” “Adult World,” and “Arbitrage”.
The main event, of course was to honor Apatow’s work over the years. Funny-man David Koechner, presented the “Visionary Filmmaker Award” to Apatow with a grandiose and hilarious speech that cannot be summed up in one sentence. Koechner even saved the day when Apatow’s reel decided to glitch mid-presentation. Amused and pleased, Apatow accepted his award and provided the audience with his own funny Hollywood anecdotes. He also responded to audience questions during the Q&A portion of the night lead by film critic and author Jeffrey Lyons.
A night full of laughs and run-ins with technical difficulties, but more than that it was a night to celebrate brilliant work. San Diego is proud to have such amazing talent to not just come through our town, but to also produce amazing talent. Let us hope to see more great events from the San Diego Film Festival in the coming years!