With more than 50 films, including features, shorts, documentaries and animation, the Sunscreen Film Festival West opens for the seventh year in Hermosa Beach Friday, Oct. 18.
The festival runs through Sunday, Oct. 20, culminating with an awards ceremony from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Hermosa Beach Community Theatre. The festival also features industry panels beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19.
“Behind the Bullet,” a film about gun violence in America, opens the festival at 3 p.m. on Oct. 18, followed by the documentary, “The World According to Radiohead,” at 4:45 p.m., which follows the career of the popular alternative rock band.
Festival director Robert Enriquez said the festival's documentaries are always a “well-rounded group.”
“The documentaries are always solid,” Enriquez said. “ It's amazing to me... the quality of the documentaries. We have one on Radiohead, then we have one on human trafficking and how it's becoming big business. It's not the most uplifting, but it's very informative.”
Enriquez directs the festival's official opening film, “Adventure Harbor, “ which begins at 7 p.m. on Friday. Enriquez shot the film last summer in the South Bay and follows the adventures of teens who discover a sea creature in the harbor.
Last year's opening night film, “Jazz V. Punk,” a documentary that traced how a small beach town became a hub for jazz and punk music, went on to screen in film festivals in New York and Florida.
“They were really enthralled by this punk stuff that has happened in Hermosa Beach,” said Enriquez of the film festival attendees. “They had great questions, they were very attentive.”
Each year, the Sunscreen festival hopes to explore through documentaries what makes Hermosa Beach unique. The first documentary was “Run Paddle Chug!,” a film about the 40-plus year history of the Ironman in Hermosa Beach, in 2016. The festival's nonprofit Mentor Program, which gives local high school and college students the opportunity to gain experience working with film professionals, was put to use with “Run Paddle Chug!” and “Jazz V. Punk.”
“It's nice to dig into all the local history here,” Enriquez said.
Festival co-director Julie Nunis, who is also the director of the mentor program, said a local documentary will return next year. But she said she hopes more locals come out to see the films at Sunscreen because the tickets are “super cheap,” you can walk to the theater and the filmmakers have taken risks.
“You'll see films for $8 that probably won's get distribution... it's hard to get Netflix to come to small festivals like this. But these are the films that you see the most creativity displayed because if you're working on micro-budget to no budget, then you have all the creative wheels firing.”
The Hermosa Beach Community Theatre is located at 710 Pier Ave.
For more information, including schedule and tickets, visit ssffwest.com.