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CONTACT:  Stephanie Mardesich - Festival Director/Co-Founder  (310) 519-0756

LA Harbor International Film FestivalTM Sets Sail!

"The Little Mermaid" and "Neptune's Daughter" Stem the Tide
for Hollywood Nostalgia Tribute Saturday, May 1

"The Perfect Storm"  Headlines Opening Night, Friday, April 30
&  "Read the Book, See the Movie" Education/Outreach Program

April 7, 2004 San Pedro, CA. - The Port of Los Angeles (POLA) - All aboard!  
After months of preparation, the LA Harbor International Film FestivalTM (LAHIFF) is ready to embark on its maiden voyage Friday, April 30 through Sunday, May 2. Centerpiece for the fest is the art deco Warner Grand Theatre (WG), with ancillary screenings at the nearby  Los Angeles Maritime Museum (LAMM), in historic downtown San Pedro,  announced today by festival director and co-founder Stephanie Mardesich. 

Highlights of the LAHIFF include screenings of the hit Warner Brothers (WB) feature The Perfect Storm; a salute to old Hollywood with a program centered around the classic MGM film Neptune's Daughter, starring Esther Williams; and a matinee screening of the Disney animated blockbuster The Little Mermaid, a children's favorite.
 Friday afternoon, April 30, LAHIFF kicks off at 2 p.m with the education/outreach program "Read the Book, See the Movie" (RBSM), a special free screening of The Perfect Storm sponsored by L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe.  Directed by Oscarâ winner Wolfgang Petersen, film is based on Sebastian Junger's best selling novel of the same title, and includes George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg among the stellar cast.    
Harper Collins Publishing provided 500 paperback copies of the book for students from Mary Star of the Sea, San Pedro, Palos Verdes, Narbonne and Banning High Schools, and the 
San Pedro Adult Learning Center,  as well as members  of the community  and local fisherman.

Numerous members of the cast, creative team and crew have been invited to  attend and participate in the Q & A and discussion after the screening. A highlight of the afternoon will be remarks by Steve Denapoli of American Diving in Lomita, CA.  who worked as a diver on the production and will share stories and insights. "Considering we only began organizing the festival last August, with no funds or backers, this has been very 'fast track' building momentum and support from civic and business leaders, and garnering significant financial sponsorship in a short time," states Mardesich. "The  'Read the Book, See the Movie' education/outreach program is thriving much due to the tremendous enthusiasm of  Rita Dever, principal of Mary Star of the Sea High School, who has been our champion from day one supportive of 'anything that gets kids to read!' People in town are enthused as well and the outreach program alone already makes this first time event a success to my mind."

The Perfect Storm is also the festival's opening "date night" night feature at 8 p.m., preceded by a Happy Hour party serving wine and beer and "no-host" bar at the nearby San Pedro Brewing Company from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

 Saturday, May 1, gets off to a swimming start at 12 noon with Disney's The Little Mermaid following the award-winning short The Ice Cream Man.  Program is sponsored by Cold Stone Creamery, serving complimentary ice cream (while supply lasts). Children (aged 4-10) dressed in mermaid or nautical attire will receive prize while supplies last.

The international flavor of the fest begins with Respiro, the Italian hit at Cannes and Venice Films Festivals in 2003, screening at 2:15 p.m., sponsored by Biscotti #4 and local coffee house Sacred Grounds serving complimentary biscotti and coffee.
Next on the film odyssey viewers can travel from the Mediterranean to the Aegean in 
A Sea Apart, that takes the audience from a remote Greek Island to urban L.A. World renowned  Papadakis Taverna  is sponsoring  this program.

Saturday evening is the pinnacle of the festival and the "Hollywood Nostalgia Tribute" at 7:45 p.m., showcasing Neptune's Daughter and paying homage to star Esther Williams and co-stars Betty Garrett and Ricardo Montalban. A Gala Reception , from 5:30-7:30 p.m. precedes at the elegant Arcade Building directly across from the WG. Guests will arrive on the Red Carpet  and be escorted by ushers to  the Vox Vodka Martini Bar (the latest cool "hot" vodka from the Netherlands) for light buffet supper;  $95 per person  including  preferred seating for program.         

After welcoming remarks film program begins at 8 p.m. with Unsyncables at Any Age, directed by student Academy Awardâ nominee Victoria Foster, USC School of Cinema-Television. Film. The short documentary follows a group of women from the aged 30-84 from the  City of Industry, CA.,  members of a synchronized swimming team,  who transcend their differences and find personal freedom in the water by fulfilling their own competitive spirit and desire to perform.       
At 8:30 p.m. Tom Hatten, KNX Radio entertainment reporter and veteran of screen and stage, will emcee the live portion of the program presenting commemorative certificates from the Mayor, City Council, and County Board of Supervisors to the films stars. Ms. Garrett is scheduled to attend and be honored on stage; Williams and Montalban will be represented in absentia.  A highlight of the evening is the Narbonne High School Quartet crooning the Oscarâ winning song from the 1949 feature "Baby It's Cold Outside."

"DocSunday" kicks off the fest's final day May 2, with documentaries sponsored by the International Documentary Association (IDA) and the Catalina Island Conservancy.  "Fun Films For Families" begins at 11:00 a.m. with the short Flip Flotsam (U.K.) Shot on location in Kenya, this delightful documentary reveals that there is so much more to the mundane rubber sandals known as "flip-flops" than one could ever imagine as it follows the path of the popular footwear from shore to sea and back.  Following at 11:45 a.m. is Gotham Fish Tales, an inspiring story of dogged fishermen who ply New York City's waters from Hell's Gate to the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.  Sponsor Bagels Galore will provide morning treats, with coffee and juice courtesy of Harry's Grill, Sunset Beach.

The afternoon programming includes more serious fare beginning at 1:15 p.m. with the short America's Deadliest Storm: Galveston Island, 1900. The spellbinding film recalls the day that Galveston Island, once known as the "Jewel of the Texas Coast," was laid waste by the most lethal hurricane in U.S. history. Next up is the the award winning Inheritance: A Fisherman's Story (Australia/Hungary; on last year's "short list" for the Academy Awardâ nod), the remarkable true story of a Hungarian fisherman who embarks on a journey to save his community after its livelihood is devastated by an environmental disaster.
The festival's concluding program is the L.A. premiere of the Croatian film How the War Started on My Island at 3:45 p.m., sponsored by the Croatian Cultural Center (CCC) and 
CAMEO. Award-winning director Vinko Bresan is invited to attend and conduct a Q&A session with the audience afterwards.  LAHIFF's closing reception will be held at the nearby Croatian Cultural Center immediately after the program sponsored by CCC and CAMEO.

The Whale & Ale British Pub will provide a "no-host" bar serving wine and beer at the WG for Friday and Saturday evening programs.

Concurrent documentary programming is scheduled at LAMM on Saturday and Sunday, May 1 and 2, only.  Sponsored by IDA and the Catalina Island Conservancy, the line-up includes: Saturday at noon Inheritance: A Fisherman's Story; 2 p.m. The Pioneers-History of the Greeks of Southern California 1900-1942, reception immediately following; at 3:45 p.m. America's Deadliest Storm: Galveston Island 1900.  Sunday at 1 p.m. takes the viewer to the most dangerous diving site in the world in Raptures of the Deep (Israel) and back to NY with Gotham Fish Tales at 2:30 p.m.  

Tickets are available in advance online at and at the WG box office on the day of the event (first come, first served basis) for WG and LAMM programs. Tickets for programming at LAMM only are available at that venue. Seating at all programs on first come first seated basis.   

Tickets priced as follows:
General Admission: $8 IDA/GVF/LAMM members, seniors and students:  $6
Festival pass: $45        IDA/GVF/LAMM members, seniors and students: $35
"Hollywood Nostalgia Tribute" General Admission $8  ~  Preferred Seating: $25 
(no discounts)
All LAMM programs $5; free for LAMM members

LAHIFF is a non-competitive, non-juried festival created to reflect the harbor and all that it embraces--shipping and commerce, fishing, sailing, water sports, sea life and the area's rich ethnic and cultural influences, presented under the auspices of the Grand Vision Foundation (GVF) a non-profit organization created to support the restoration and preservation of the WG.  The LAHIFF   was co-founded Jack Baric.  Festival advisor is Betsy A. McLane, Ph.D., film scholar, author and Director Emeritus of IDA.

Key art for the festival poster was created by esteemed San Pedro artist Tom Phillips, from his original painting commissioned by  Mardesich. "Tom was our first choice because of his inimitable style, and his inherent ties to the area. He truly grasped the festival theme and made 'The Cinematic Bridge' come to life in the brilliant, and collectible, poster that was printed by our in-kind sponsor NPA." 

The painting, valued at $5000, has been on display in several restaurants for silent auction bidding and is currently on view at Think Café in downtown San Pedro. The winner will be announced at the conclusion of the festival. 
Commemorative  posters signed by Phillips will be available for $25 at the festival with a discount voucher for faming at Distinctive Edge Framing and Gallery, 29050 S. Western Ave., San Pedro.  Festival t-shirts at $15 are on sale exclusively at Boca Activewear, 360 W. 6th St., downtown San Pedro.

The LAHIFF is funded through sponsorship and contributions from businesses, civic leaders and individuals including Supervisor Don Knabe, Maersk Sealand APM Terminals, Harper Collins Publishing, The Port of Los Angeles, Cultural Affairs Department City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Maritime Museum, Councilwoman 15th District Janice Hahn, Star Fisheries, CMA-CGM (The French Line), Star Fisheries, Contessa Food Products, Sheraton L.A. Harbor, IDA, Catalina Island Conservancy, NPA, Whale & Ale British Pub, Think Café, Penguin Books, Caffe D'Amore, and Southern Wine and Spirits. Online ticketing set up courtesy of Cinema Grand. Media sponsors are San Pedro Magazine and Comcast.  Website creator and sponsor is LiveOffice, of Torrance, CA.

As Mardesich observes, "We've programmed an eclectic array of films that are provocative, fun and classic - there's something for everyone, and a festive atmosphere that's becoming  contagious. What we need now are people from all over the region to respond to our mailings, check the website, pick a program, book tickets, and cross over the 'cinematic bridge' to San Pedro and see for themselves."

Sponsorship opportunities are still available at various levels.  Volunteers are also needed for a variety of functions.  

See website at for ticket purchase and other details.
For media relations and other queries Contact Stephanie Mardesich at (310) 519-0756.

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