Arts culture movies
The 2022 San Diego International Film Festival opens Wednesday. Photo credit: Screen shot, SDIFF via Vimeo

The 21st San Diego International Film Festival opens Wednesday with a starry slate featuring period dramas and topical works focusing on women’s and gay rights.

The AMC 14 @ Westfield UTC in University City will host screenings through Sunday, while the festival marks the return of multiple in-person events, such as the Opening Night premiere and reception, the Night of the Stars, Culinary Cinema and more.

Opening night, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, features the family drama Armageddon Time, starring Oscar winners Anne Hathaway and Anthony Hopkins, which is set to be released next month.

The closing-night film, Empire of Light, starring Oscar-winners Olivia Colman and Colin Firth, and directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes, focuses on an old English cinema house in the 1980s. It will be released in December.

In total, the festival lineup includes 115 films (among them nine “gala” films), 27 narrative competition films, 11 documentary competition films and 77 shorts.

Other highlights include She Said, starring Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan, which depicts the start of the #metoo phenomenon via a New York Times story on Harvey Weinstein, and The Inspection, about a young, gay Black man, rejected by his mother, who decides to join the Marines.

Honorees include actor Andy Garcia, an Oscar and Emmy nominee, and Regina Hall, star of the current comedy, Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul, at the Night of the Stars tribute Thursday at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center in La Jolla.

Notable events include San Diego and West Coast premieres – among them Taurus, about a troubled musician searching for inspiration – and a Women’ Film Series, in conjunction with the Women’s Museum of California. Featured Q&As include discussions on refugee issues, environmental sustainability, social inequity, human trafficking and LGBTQ rights.

Full passes start at $199, while individual screenings cost $16.

Each year the San Diego International Film Festival receives more than 3,000 submissions from approximately 82 countries. The festival is strategically positioned in October to premiere potential contenders prior to the release of industry nominations for awards shows.

Last year’s premieres included BelfastPower of the Dog, Lost Daughter, also starring Colman, The Worst Person in the World and Flee which received 28 Oscar nominations.