Faye Fest 

The brand-new Orinda Film Festival isn't your ordinary start-up fest. It has a real live movie star.

If you're going to start your own film festival, it's good to have connections. Randy Holleschau has connections. The 44-year-old Orinda-based movie producer, like many another independent filmmaker, has talked to his friends about one day putting up a festival -- full of indies, student films, shorts, documentaries, and other neglected genres -- in his hometown. And now it's happening. The first Orinda Film Festival takes place this weekend, Friday through Sunday, at three venues including the Orinda Theatre, the town library, and the community center. Says Holleschau: "This started as a boutique fest, and sort of grew. I go to a lot of festivals, and the people we talk to asked for films you don't often see at major festivals. We're focusing on student films, documentaries. We're even planning a summer film camp for kids in 2003."

Unlike, say, the average start-up fest that screens student vids in a rented hall, Holleschau's project has Faye Dunaway attached to it. The veteran Hollywood star, who acted in the Holleschau-produced drama/comedy Changing Hearts (2002), makes a personal appearance Sunday morning (9:45 a.m.) at the Orinda Theatre to introduce her debut directorial effort, a seventeen-minute drama called Yellow Bird, in which she appears with Brenda Blethyn and James Coburn. The fest is also playing Changing Hearts, along with another Holleschau film, the 2001 heartwarmer All You Need -- but not all is glamour in downtown Orinda.

The three-day fest has 54 films arranged in nineteen separate programs with headings such as "Triumph of the Human Spirit" (featuring Thoth, the Oscar-winning documentary on SF's notorious street fiddler) and "Quirky but True" (with the comical doc History of the Chicken). The "Insight into Adolescence" program on Saturday bristles with student shorts. The moving documentary Daughter from Danang is showing, as is Where Has Eternity Gone?, a doc portrait of an eccentric South Dakota family. And mighty Pixar is represented by three shorts. Tickets from the Orinda Volunteer Center, 24 Orinda Way, or at 925-254-0800. For more info: www.orindafilmfestival.org

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