The Newport-Mesa will become a movie industry magnet this week as more than 400 films from 50 nations land here for the 13th annual Newport Beach Film Festival.
Eighteen of those films will be having their world premiere.
Festival organizers hope this year's showcase of short and feature-length films reflecting many genres will break last year's attendance record of 52,000. The festival's main sponsors include the Daily Pilot and Los Angeles Times.
Starting with Thursday night's premiere of "Jewtopia," and concluding on the evening of May 3 with the premiere of "Shanghai Calling," starring "Big Love's" Bill Paxton, the weeklong festival promises to bring processions of stars and filmmakers in tow from Hollywood and beyond, related seminars, meet-the-artist conversations, hovering paparazzi and an abundance of glitzy after-parties.
Opening night likely will see the "Jewtopia" cast — including Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Rita Wilson (a.k.a. Mrs. Tom Hanks), Tom Arnold (a.k.a. the ex-Mr. Roseanne Barr) and Jon Lovitz — walk the red carpet to the Edwards Big Newport cinema. Fashion Island and Esquire magazine will then put on a post-screening gala at the shopping center.
This year's festival will expand to six venues, including the newly refurbished Island Cinema at Fashion Island and the Port Theater in Corona del Mar, which will open to the public for the first time in 14 years.
Among the 18 films premiering at Newport, five alone fall under the festival's Action Sports category: "Decade of Dominance," "Hicks on Sticks," "Man and Machine," "Crusty 16 - Outback Attack" and "H2indO."
The festival will feature work from places including Australia, France and South America.
Films that are firmly rooted to Orange County will make up a chunk of the festival's program, such as "Behind the Orange Curtain," a documentary by Brent Hill about prescription drug abuse in O.C.
The festival will also screen 45 films from students at area colleges and universities, along with 26 youth films by filmmakers ages 18 and younger.
Other categories will consist of films in Music, Art, Architecture + Design as well as an Environmental Film series.
If You Go
What: 13th annual Newport Beach Film Festival
When: April 26 to May 3
Films Making Their World Premiere