Ryan McDonald

Sunscreen Film Festival comes to Hermosa Beach

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Image courtesy Julie Nunnis

by Ryan McDonald

Aliens, high school, nomadic surfing and the “underbelly of tennis,” are among the subjects that will appear on the big screen in this weekend’s Sunscreen Film Festival West at the Hermosa Beach Community Center.

Now in its fifth year, the Sunscreen Film Festival West is the California component of the Florida-based film gathering. Robert Enriquez, a local filmmaker and head of Red Baron Management, began the festival, and has held it at the Hermosa Community Center since 2014.

Partner Julie Nunis said that part of the ethos of the nonprofit festival is to spotlight local subjects and local filmmakers. Last year, Enriquez helmed “Run Paddle Chug,” a history of the Hermosa Ironman, which opened the festival.

“We really try to do [local films] first,” Nunis said. “The stars don’t always align, but we’re a local festival, and it doubles the fun if we can find local filmmakers.”

The festival also includes free panel discussions about the entertainment industry, designed to draw in the area’s growing population of film industry personnel, Nunis said. Panelists, some of whom also live locally, include David Hudgins, a showrunner for television hits like “Friday Night Lights,” Matt McGuinness a writer for the SciFi show “Haven,” and Christi Soper, head of casting for Dreamworks.

This year’s locally inspired movies include “Gentlemens’ Fury,” a comedy about the travails of a tempestuous tennis player, from South Bay residents Ben Sharples and Marissa Hall. Many of the scenes were filmed locally, Nunis said, and residents should recognize locations in Hermosa and Manhattan Beach. Other programming tries to tap into the area’s love of the ocean, including “Given,” a documentary about a family that travels around the world surfing with their two young children in tow.

Speaking two days after the mass shooting in Las Vegas that left dozens dead, including several South Bay residents, Nunis said that she hoped the festival would serve the role movies always have, of drawing people together in a shared experience.

“Some people go to the movies to forget in troubled times. But we also go to bond together, to remember the things that make us who we are.”

The festival runs Friday through Sunday. To purchase tickets, visit https://ssffwest.com/.

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