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Newport Beach Film Festival casts Costa Mesa

Starlight Triangle Square Cinemas will host many of the screenings while Edwards Island Cinemas gets a remodel.

March 31, 2011|By Sarah Peters, sarah.peters@latimes.com

The April 28 to May 5 Newport Beach Film Festival promises to be the biggest in the event's 12-year history, drawing some 400 films from 47 countries.

And because of construction in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa will for the first time play a leading role.

Due to the remodeling of Edwards Island Cinemas, about 70% to 80% of the festival's screenings will take place at the Starlight Triangle Square Cinemas, Todd Quartararo, the festival co-founder, said Thursday.

"It's still the same great program and the same great offering of 400-plus films," Quartararo said, adding that more of the festival's post-events will be at Fashion Island and Lido Village to keep the focus on Newport Beach.

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Though screenings have taken place at Regency South Coast Village Theatres across Costa Mesa city limits in Santa Ana, this will be the first time Costa Mesa theaters participate in earnest.

In addition to Triangle Square, screenings will also be at Edwards Big Newport Cinemas, the Regency Lido Theatre and Sage Hill School in Newport Coast.

The world premier of "East Fifth Bliss," a comedy starring Michael C. Hall, Lucy Liu, Peter Fonda, Chris Messina, Brie Larson, Brad William Henke and Sarah Shahi, will serve as the opening night premiere at the 1,000-seat Big Newport. In the film, Hall plays an aimless man in his mid-30s with dreams of traveling but not job to make it happen.

The festival's Opening Night Gala will be staged at Fashion Island, as it was last year, in the Bloomingdale's courtyard.

The festival will close, perhaps aptly because of the title, on May 5 with "A Beginner's Guide to Endings," starring Harvey Keitel, Scott Caan and J.K. Simmons, at the Lido. The film about a man who is more interested in gambling than fatherhood premiered in September at the Toronto International Film Festival. The screening will be followed by the closing night gala at Lido Village.

There are plans to transform sections of Lido Village into a retail destination tied to the festival with temporary stores. Organizers hope to provide a boost to a retail area that has struggled.

Tickets go on sale Friday, when the entire lineup will be announced online. Organizers said their event is growing in stature, mixing a desirable location, good hotels and shopping, and proximity to Hollywood.

Many of the films on this year's slate could qualify as premieres at many of the world's film festivals, said Gregg Schwenk, festival executive officer and executive director.

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