Perry and Johnson Documentaries Confirm La Costa Film Festival's Dominance in Sports Films

September 20, 2015 | Carlsbad, CA – Competing documentaries - one about pop-icon Katy Perry, the other about political-icon Kevin Johnson - tied for the coveted Audience Choice Award at the 2015 La Costa Film Festival held September 10-13 in Carlsbad, California. Movie fans showed love for the behind-the-scenes POV-style about professional football, Katy Perry-Making of the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show, and basketball, Down In The Valley. Among other films, the Audience Choice Award went to the short All-American Family, an emotionally raw film about a deaf family in a deaf community who lived, loved and played football generation after generation.

Mike Tollin, Co-Chairman of Mandalay Sports Media, a Festival collaborator and major sponsor, executive produced the Perry film. The movie's director, John Hirsch, explains why this festival audience was quick to offer praise; “Katy obviously has a tremendous fan base, but here they get to see her in a different light - as a perfectionist. The preparation that goes into a performance of just a few minutes is just as reiveting as the game itself and Katy is involved with every detail.” Perry’s Super Bowl XLIX Half Time performance was seen by a world record-shattering 119 million viewers. The audience in the intimate 215-seat Ruby G. Shulman Auditorium viewing one of the world’s biggest pop stars performing on one of the world’s biggest stages made the Perry Super Bowl movie one of the Festival’s biggest hits.

In only its third year, the La Costa Film Festival is carving out a distinct niche in the film festival world. A draw for A-list celebrities like Andy Garcia, Ed Harris and John C. McGinley, it’s easy to see why the magnificent Omni La Costa Resort and Spa venue, with seemingly endless red carpet receptions managed with “welcome home” graciousness by nearly 200 community volunteers, defines the Festival’s allure. But it is the quality of films - 48 screenings including five world premieres many in the ultra-chic Cinépolis La Costa Luxury Cinemas while others were showcased under the stars on center court where Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Steffi Graf have done battle - that offer proof that the Festival’s focus on attracting the finest sports films in the world is paying off big time.

Former NBA star and Sacramento Mayor, the Honorable Kevin Johnson, was honored with the hallmark Ambassador of Sports Award. His monumental triumph of keeping the Sacramento Kings from leaving his hometown, California’s state capital, and brilliant collaboration with documentarian Jason Hehir as part of ESPN Films’ award-winning “30 for 30” film series is nothing short of awe-inspiring. While in town, Mayor Johnson chatted on local sports-talk radio’s Scott & BR Show showering praise for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s leadership and encouragement to embattled San Diego Charger’s fans. Johnson described Down In The Valley as “one of those great stories where the underdog prevailed, where the good guys, the little guys, can win if you have the right community and the right team in place.” Then he firmly schooled San Diego pro-football fans that the big take away is “never give up, it’s not over.

Entries In the Festival’s signature Sports Film category are judged by a jury of distinguished film and sports professionals. Every Day, a short about the late Joy Johnson's record-breaking New York City Marathon run, and the epic documentary The Great Alone, which authenticates the implausible, near-miraculous comeback of the winningest Iditarod racer in history, Lance Mackey, each stole top honors. The jury's selection of these two remarkably contrasting films gives testimony to the bold diversity of sports films screened. In fact, Festival movie-goers enjoyed films about football, golf, baseball, basketball, hiking, soccer, snowboarding, sled dog racing, marathon running, big-wave surfing – a cinematic smorgasbord of sports, athletes and just plain plucky competitors.

Despite the Festival’s full frontal embrace of everything sports, comedies and drama were also received affectionately. Worthy, a self-described "modern day coming-of-age story for the millennial generation," won the Audience Choice Award followed very closely with an Honorable Mention for the comedy/drama, All In Time, which opened the Festival.. The event highlight was movie and television star John C. McGinley’s gracious acceptance of the 2015 Legacy Award presented not only for his incomparable body of work onscreen but his inspirational advocacy on behalf of Special Olympics, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.

One of the earliest of the season, La Costa's four days overlap one of the industry's most popular festivals, the TIFF. Despite this, #LaCostaFilmFest still caught the fickle eye of the “twittersphere” generating more than three million impressions, up 4,425%, and seeing profile visits soar 1,228%. Not only did the Katy Perry world premier cause tremendous buzz, but the vigorous interaction by ESPN personality and best-selling author Yogi Roth built a spike of followers. Roth drove down the coast from LA for the after-screening Q & A with the audience about his film Life in a Walk. Completely sold out, the entire cast gave up their front-row seats revealing the genuine affection between film makers and fans. Out of five stars, the average score by movie-goers was four. 

"We are delighted at the public's response, both at the event and online,” states Festival Co-Founder Ruby Callihan. “We're astonished how many people are tuning-in. It's a clear endorsement by movie fans around the world that we're creating something very special here - something unique, something that's worth appreciating." Festival organizers may well look back on 2015 and see it as a pivotal year. Given the public's voracious appetite for top-quality sports films, the La Costa Film Festival is becoming the film festival that best feeds the need for athletic action on the big screen. 


Photos Credits:  Chris Brake Photography

La Costa Film Festival

The La Costa Film Festival is an annual arts and cultural experience enriching the quality of life in San Diego County by showcasing local businesses, promoting tourism and supporting the local film industry by introducing students and professionals pursuing careers in the motion picture and television arts to leaders in the industry. La Costa Film Festival is produced by La Costa Dreams, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation.