Thirty-year independent producer/writer/director Suzanne DeLaurentiis has worked in just about every aspect of the film industry imaginable, both in front of and behind the camera. Throughout her career she has produced projects with Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, James Marsden, Giovanni Ribisi, Rod Steiger, Leslie Ann Warren, and Tommy Lee. In all her years in the industry she has seen first hand the ways that film can impact people. In 2006 she decided to use her skills to take that impact one step further by co-founding the Cinema City International Film Festival. Through the festival Suzanne has been able to connect with filmmakers around the world, not only to celebrate independent filmmaking but also to raise funds for some of our country’s most deserving veterans.
The Cinema City International Film Festival (www.CCIFF.com) grants numerous awards including Best Screenplay, Best Feature Film, and Best Documentary. However, the primary objective of this festival is its fund raising efforts; all festival proceeds are donated to veterans’ charities. “It was important for me to use my skills and passions in such a way that it would not only motivate others, but to bring attention and honor to our heroic veterans,” Ms. DeLaurentiis says.
Suzanne’s own godson is a member of the Armed Forces who was recently shipped out to an Iraqi hot-zone. Shortly after, she was told the heartbreaking story of a group of women who enlisted in the Marine Medical Corp to aid our troops after their husbands enlisted in our armed forces. Sadly, while stationed in Afghanistan these women fell victim to one of the many abandoned mine fields still active in the area. As a result many lost life and limb while trying to serve our country. “It was the relentless stream of heart wrenching stories that drove me to action in the first place,” says DeLaurentiis. “While I know our festival provides services to these soldiers after tragedy has taken place, I feel it is very important to do everything we can to continue to support those who have given so much for our country. Through my contacts in film and media, I am able to bring awareness to these devastations.”
Festival proceeds are donated to The Oregon National Guard Emergency Relief Fund and Re-integration Team as well as the Marine Corps Veterans Association. Both charities generously provide support in the way of money and services to brave veterans throughout the United States as they return home from Afghanistan and Iraq. At the festival many of these veterans themselves are honored at the Black Tie Gala and Awards Ceremony. In the past, Ed McMahon served as a goodwill ambassador to our veterans. His presence will be greatly missed.
The Cinema City International Film Festival’s efforts have garnered large-scale national attention as well. In its inaugural year the festival hosted over 16,000 attendees. MovieMaker Magazine recently named CCIFF one of the top twenty-five film festivals in the country. The festival has also gained major sponsorship packages from FOX, WELLS FARGO, SPIKE TV, and AMERICAN AIRLINES. This year AGREENDAY.ORG has joined the festival as the 2009 Title Sponsor.
One of CCIFF’s most unique and impressive undertakings is its Mentorship Program. Unlike other festivals which often choose projects to support, The Cinema City International Film Festival’s Mentorship Program picks actors and filmmakers with the potential to succeed in the industry and outfits them with the tools, training, and publicity they need to become viable assets in any film production. Thanks to the festival’s growth the Board of Directors has recently approved a large scale increase in the size of the program, which matches and multiplies the amount of funds many struggling artists are able to allot to their own careers.
This year promises to bring new and exciting films, events, and stars to the Cinema City International Film Festival. CCIFF’s opening night feature movie Like Dandelion Dust stars Oscar Winning Actress Mira Sorvino, Cole Hauser, and Barry Pepper in what many are calling a career defining performance.
Festivities start on September 10th at 10:30 am with short screenings. The events of the three days culminate on September 12th in a grand gala event and celebrity auction.
The screenings are free to the public. Last year, several filmmakers made significant contacts for their material. The cost for the gala evening is $250. Again, all proceeds go to help our troops.
Screenwriters wishing to submit material to the contest, your deadline is September 1st, 2009. Any type of script – short or feature – is welcome. Go the website for instructions.
For more information please visit www.CCIFF.com or call 818 754 1953