24th Annual Beverly Hills Film Festival Celebrates Indsutry Veterans and Rising Stars

A sampling of the films screening at the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Sarah Meyer
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Held at TCL Chinese 6 Theaters in the heart of Hollywood, the 24th annual Beverly Hills Film Festival took place over 5 days in May (2024). Each day of the festival, stars and filmmakers walked the red carpet before screening their projects before a live audience. Each night ended with an afterparty where movie-watchers could mingle with movie-creators. There were panel discussions and networking events and on the final day of festivities, awards were given out at a beautiful gala at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, celebrating the wonderful films presented throughout the festival.

Desiree Estrada (Murder At Hollow Creek) attends the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Keli Price (Murder At Hollow Creek) attends the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Inbar Lavi (BAU, Artists At War) attends the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Emile Hirsch (BAU, Artist At War) attends the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Nicky Whelan (Murder At Hollow Creek) attends the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Ted Klont (The Kindness Within) and his daughter attend the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival

While film festivals are often a time for new artists to showcase their work, they also bring about new projects from industry icons. Among the 250 films featured in the festival, Beau Bridges shared his new film Camera, about a non-verbal child who befriends a shop owner after being brought together by a damaged camera; Rumer Willis had audiences laughing with her new film about finding strength among friends through divorce, My Divorce Party; and Jane Seymour screened a heart-warming film about a grandmother with Alzheimer’s and her transgender grandson, And You Are?. From shorts to features, as well as documentaries, both new and old storytellers were given a place to showcase their creative pieces of art at the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival.

Zack Barach and Jane Seymour, both starring in And You Are, attend the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Frederico Lapenda, BHFF Jury President, attends the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Chuck Zito (Chuck Zito: An American Story) and Frank Stallone attend the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Alice Mocci (I Built A Ukrainian Inside Myself) attends the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Lacey Claire Rogers (Demolition) attends the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Cast and crew of Demolition attend the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival

There were so many wonderful films screened during the Beverly Hills Film Festival, it would take days to describe them all, so I have picked my favorites to share with you.

The Purple Glasses: A short film about two teen girls, Emily (Carolina Rezende) and Sara (Ariana Gomez), who bond after one turns in the others lost purple glasses. This movie reminds me of a classic 1980’s comedy. The cinematography, the music, the fashion, the set design, the acting – all of it was comforting, like watching a favorite sitcom or John Hughes movie. While a lot can be shared in a quick 15 minute movie, so much more goes into making it. It’s impressive when a whole story can be told, as well as a good life lesson shared, in a small chunk of time. This film reminds us to never judge a book by its cover, and through the closing line acknowledges “it’s funny what you find when you lose something.”

Finding Serenity: This short film, featuring just 3 actors, set in a pool, depicts grief and loss in a very visual way. As Becca (Emily Swallow) searches for her long lost brother by diving into a pool of memories, she goes back in time and finds joy in thoughts of him and sorrow in missing him, all with not a single word uttered. A beautifully shot film with a very artistic point of view.

Mary Pickford: A Blessing and a Curse: Mary Pickford was one of the original movie moguls. Pickford, nee Gladys Smith acted from the time she was a small child and needed to make money for her family during the war. Her name was later changed by a studio executive, first to Gladys Marie Smith, then to Mary Pickford, as Pickford was the name of a family member of Smith’s who loved theater. While she started in NYC, after moving west, she helped make Hollywoodland, as it was known then, what it is to this day. She was everything – an actress, a producer, a writer, an activist, a true business woman and one of the most influential people of the early 20th century. The public dubbed her “America’s Sweetheart” and she was the first person to truly experience the rise of fame that the film industry created. In a way she set the parameters for movie stardom. She and second husband Douglas Fairbanks had a stake in what is now known as Paramount Pictures, they were involved with Grauman’s Chinese Theater and were actually the first two people to place their hands and feet in the cement outside the theater, Mary’s idea she shared with theater owner, Sid Grauman. She said it would be a way for Hollywood to always live on. They were true pioneers of the industry.This documentary, from directors Julia Kuperberg and Clara Kuperberg is an exceptional depiction of Pickford’s rise to fame, and the blessings and curses that came along with it. The audience enjoys almost an hour of incredible footage of the beauty that shone bright on screen in the silent era and into the talkies, plus vocal interviews with the legend as well.

Another Happy Day: From director and writer Nora Fiffer, this feature film starring funny gal Lauren Lapkus as Joanna and Marilyn Dodds Frank as Miriam, is about a new mother and the struggles she faces postpartum. Welcoming a baby is a gift but it’s not always as magical as we are made to believe. Fiffer, through her lead character Joanna, depicts the everyday challenges a new mom faces, from the simpleness of just being home alone all day with a baby, to making it through the night with no sleep. The need to take care of a long lost family member, Frank’s Miriam brings Joanna back to life. At the start of the film we see Joanna in a bathrobe looking haphazard with dark circles under eyes and leaking nipples, but by the end her hair is done, she is in regular clothing and she appears to be glowing. It may be unnoticable to most, but it’s a visual depiction of her coming back into her own after adjusting to her new life. This film is heartwarming, heart-wrenching and funny all at the same time.

Love & Taxe$: Written by Lloyd J. Schwartz, directed by Ken Feinberg and Craig Tollis, and starring Jake Reiner (yes, from that Reiner family) and Alexis Abrams, this feature film takes place over the course of 7 years, in just one setting and with just two main characters. The satirical comedy follows the journey of a woman who visits a CPA once a year to get her taxes done. Through the course of their yearly visits we learn about their infidelities, their partners infidelities, and eventually their hopes and dreams with each other. It’s almost a farce of a rom-com, a far-fetched unique take on a standard love story.

Jake Reiner and Alexis Abrams, stars of Love & Taxe$ attend the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Lloyd J. Schwartz (Love & Taxe$) and Maureen McCormack attend the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Jake Reiner (Love & Taxe$) and his dad, Rob Reiner attend the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Cast and crew from Love & Taxe$ attend the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival

Camera: Beau Bridges, who is just as warm off camera as his personality seems to be on camera stars in this heartwarming film about a non-verbal child, Oscar who befriends a shop owner, Eric after being brought together by a damaged camera. Bridges as Eric plays opposite Miguel Gabriel as Oscar. Miguel is a young talent on the rise, with a huge personality, and seems wise beyond his years. When I asked Gabriel his thoughts on working with a famous family (Zeke Bridges is in the film as well) he simply said “oh this is awesome, they are legends.” Beau hopes that audiences will love this movie as much as he loved making it, and shared that it’s a wonderful, feel-good movie about a family, and the family that is an entire community.

Beau Bridges (Camera), his wife and their son Zeke Bridges (Camera) attend the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Miguel Gabriel (Camera) attends the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Beverly Hills Film Festival Photographer MD Ferreira.

My Divorce Party: In this feature film we see 5 women, who’ve been best friends for a long time, trek into the desert to hold a divorce party. Xan, played by Desiree Staples, is going through a rough time as her marriage dissolves and in order to ensure her soon to be ex-husband doesn’t get a dime of her hard earned money, she enlists her friends to help her spend her fortune over the course of a weekend. Hilarity ensues! The cast, including Rumer Willis, Michelle Meredith, Kimia Behpoornia and Sarah Hollis had fantastic chemistry and the fun they must have had benhind the scenes exudes onscreen too. Writer and director Heidi Weitzer hit it out of the park with this cast and this comedy.

The stars of My Divorce Party, left to right, Kimia Behpoornia, Desiree Staples, Michelle Meredith, Rumer Willis and Sarah Hollis attend the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival
Film Festivals
Cast and crew of My Divorce Party attend the 2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival

Celebrities in attendance at the Beverly Hills Film Festival included Maureen McCormack (actress), Lloyd J. Schwartz (producer), Rob Reiner (actor), Zeke Bridges (actor), Amanza Smith (Selling Sunset), Dyan Cannon (actress), Emile Hirsch (actor), Jessica Lord (actress), Frank Stallone (actor), Chuck Zito (actor) and Beverly Johnson (model), Nicky Whelan (actress), David Lipper (director), among many others.

A full list of festival winners is below. For more information on the Beverly Hills Film Festival and the films and projects included, please visit beverlyhillsfilmfestival.com. Photos in this article are provided by Sarah Meyer.

2024 Beverly Hills Film Festival Award Winners:  

Second Runner-Up Screenplay: Daniel James Presley 

First Runner-Up Screenplay: Stephanie Hutchkinson for Graham 

Golden Palm Screenplay: Mark Schmitz for Heart Divided 

Best Animation: Starship 

Best Cinematography: The Lost Princess 

Best Editor: Pendulum 

Foreign Film: Document 56 

Best Student Film: On the Dying Grass 

Audience Choice Best Short: Bottle Money 

Audience Choice Best Short Doc: Confessions From A War 

Audience Choice Best Doc: We Rise 

Audience Choice Best Feature: My Divorce Party 

Jury Best Doc: The Kindness Within 

Jury Best Short: Scarlett 

Jury Best Feature: Mississippi Scholar

Best Producer: Producers of Chuck Zito: An American Story  

Best Actor: David Kelsey for Wrong Numbers 

Best Actress: Shelby Slager for Chasing June

Best Director: Jay Silverman for Camera 

Golden Palm: The Kindness Within

Author

  • Sarah Meyer

    Sarah Meyer is a public relations professional and journalist, with a passion for pop culture, entertainment and fashion.

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About Sarah Meyer 29 Articles
Sarah Meyer is a public relations professional and journalist, with a passion for pop culture, entertainment and fashion.

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