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BSFF: Jan. 12 – 16, 2023

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Last updated 1/10/2023 at 11:24am



The Tenth Annual Borrego Springs Film Festival will take place on January 12 – 16, 2023, in Borrego Springs, California – a small town located in the northern end of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, in San Diego County.

The five-day festival presents screenings of selected short films, features, documentaries, animated shorts, and Hispanic/Latin films, shown in Blocks at the Borrego Springs Performing Arts Center. Festival passes and tickets for individual screening Blocks can be purchased at borregospringsfilmfestival.org, and a full schedule of the Screening Blocks can be found there.

For the last nine years, the BSFF Committee of volunteers has presented one of the most fiercely independent film festivals in the country, producing live screening events even during the recent years of the pandemic!

“To say we’re thrilled to be announcing our tenth annual festival, is an understatement,” said Fred Jee, chairman of the BSFF Committee. “We’re excited to be marking our first decade with an amazing slate of films submissions, as well as an increase in our community presence during the year!”

Over the years, the five-day Borrego Springs Film Festival has gained a strong reputation among filmmakers.

“We’re proud to be on Film Freeway’s list of Top 100 Best Reviewed Festivals,” Jee continued. “Filmmakers love us for the same reasons the audiences do.”

Those reasons include the single-venue screenings, the great parties and networking events, the panel discussions, workshops, and of course, the grand awards ceremonies. In addition to the screenings, the Tenth BSFF is featuring an exciting line-up of Community and Filmmaker Panels, all of which are free and open to the public.

Beginning the night before the Film Festival officially commences, on Wednesday, January 11 at 5:30 p.m., Jee will host Community Panel: “Borrego Film History”: an exploration of filmmaking history in the local Anza-Borrego desert, concluding with a screening of The Desert Rats, a 1953 black-and-white war film starring Richard Burton and James Mason. The movie features desert battle sequences that were shot near Borrego Springs, with the local terrain “standing-in” for North Africa.

On Friday, January 13, Noon – 2 p.m., Community Panel: “The Storytellers and The Psychologist,” BSFF filmmakers, Reuben Aaronson and Steve Lerner, will screen the original 16mm prints of their very first films made 50 years ago, which address themes of authenticity, belonging, and self-respect. A discussion will follow the films, joined by guest panelist, Harriet Lerner, a psychologist and author who has been praised as one of our nation’s most respected voices in the psychology of women.

Later that same day from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Community Panel: “Defending the Dark.” This panel brings together a prominent astronomer and 2023 BSFF filmmakers to discuss various “dark sky” issues like the Borrego Springs designation as an International Dark Sky Community, how light pollution affects our world in general, and how the far-reaching impact of astronomy on our culture has been reflected in the medium of film. Astronomer, Douglas Arion, PhD will offer a short multi-media presentation, which will be followed by a free screening of panelist Tara Zabriskie’s documentary, “Defending the Dark.” This panel will also feature screenwriter, Matthew Carlson, who’s historical drama “The Wild Abyss,” concerning true events at the Mt. Wilson Observatory, will screen at the Film Festival in BLOCK C.

Filmmaker Panels are scheduled for Saturday, the 14th, featuring a panel discussion on film distribution with docu-series producer, Kelly Sallaway; and a round table discussion on key takeaways from filmmakers in today’s environment. On Sunday, the 15th, a workshop on music for film with composer, Stephen Bennett, showcasing the technical steps to producing a film score, followed by a free screening of the award-winning BSFF film, “A Gift for All Ages”, which prominently features Bennett’s lush film score.

Along with the Film Fest in January, the BSFF is working with the Borrego Springs Library to present special event screenings throughout the year. They kicked it off in October with a free outdoor screening of The Wizard of Oz, and now Film Festival Matinees are being presented monthly, on Saturday afternoons inside the library.

Programming is eclectic, including previous Festival award winners, and other films of artistic or historic significance, curated by the BSFF Committee, from November 2022 through March 2023.

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