Film Festivals, Fashion Shows Bring the Best to South County

From left to right: Kelly Palmer, Bud Smith and Walter Von

Heads were spinning while dining with the famous Hollywood
editor Bud Smith this weekend in between Poppy Jasper Film Festival
events. Smith was the keynote speaker at the hugely successful
second annual festival for film buffs.
Heads were spinning while dining with the famous Hollywood editor Bud Smith this weekend in between Poppy Jasper Film Festival events. Smith was the keynote speaker at the hugely successful second annual festival for film buffs.

Le Bistro in Morgan Hill served a yummy butternut squash soup with honey, warming our out-of-town guests to the idea of returning to South County again. Smith and his wife – Luci Coldsnow-Smith, a sound and dialogue professional who has worked on such films as “Mystic River” and “Million Dollar Baby” – were a delight to speak with, as were other guests from the popular Women in Film Panel.

Jennifer Friedes and Laurel Ladevich shared their experiences of writing, making and directing film in a male-dominated industry during the panel talk, but the evening dinner conversation with Smith and Coldsnow-Smith centered on family, travel and how filmmaking has jaded their enjoyment of watching movies.

I finally asked Smith the burning question in my mind: How did you make the actor’s head spin in “The Exorcist?”

“It was a puppet,” explained Smith. “We used a leather wallet, wringing it tight to make the sound of the neck spinning.”

You can try this at home, dear readers. The green up-chuck can be replicated with colored oatmeal (my own attempt at special effects).

So, on to the delicious meal at Le Bistro. The dinner guests also included Brent Bear, Kim Bush, Ramune Ambrozaitis, John Fry and Hollywood producer Alfonso Faustino Jr. of Metropolis Motion Pictures.

For the artist, past projects are fun to reminisce about, but the enthusiasm bubbles forth when asked about current projects. Bud Smith is producing and editing “Driftwood,” a story of youths attending an expensive attitude-adjustment camp where corruption and murder occur. Smith applauded the talents of the young cast of unknowns and said he’s looking forward to seeing the project in completed form. Laurel Ladevich is working on the Darwin Awards with Joe Finnes.

Jennifer Friedes, a Chicago native, is looking forward to the Cubs in another World Series.

“This will be a Cubs year. And you can quote me on that!” she said. Oh, she might write some new material this year, also. Did I mention that Friedes is a screenwriter and the tireless mom of three boys, and that her film “Iron Jawed Angels” made the cut to be shown at Sundance, then was aired on HBO? She’s also funny, intelligent, well-read and a graduate of the University of Michigan (not Michigan State, as I learned so well that confusing the two is an insult). The green hue around my face is from envy, not nausea.

Hanging out at the MHAT studios in Morgan Hill on Sunday, I found more imported talent and some local talent, too. Tom De Mar kept everyone in the studio in stitches with his John Malcovich monologue and his stories of taking ballet classes on a dare.

Local student-filmmaker Jake Viramontez appeared surprised to be included in the distinguished group of artists, but after viewing his film “Behind the Flames,” we should all be feeling lucky to meet the artist as a young man. Viramontez will be speaking as a keynote guest in the near future, no doubt. He understands storyline!

Never one to shy away from party hopping on a Saturday night, an invitation from Karen La Corte to attend the Leadership Gilroy’s first fundraising dinner at the elegant San Juan Oaks Golf Course Club House was heartily accepted, and familiar faces filled the sold-out dinner.

Following dinner was a fully choreographed fashion show. With the poise of an experienced model, La Corte promised the guests a fantastic time without the usual narration of a fashion show. It was all about presentation, from the opening sequence of “The Polar Express” to the doggy-carrying models to “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” golf attire and Mr. Sandman nightwear. I wonder what they promised the guys who modeled the pajamas?

Donny Osmond look-alike Alan Hoshida belted out “Brown-Eyed Girl” like a rising star. He had this brown-eyed girl joining in the chorus (I know those lyrics. “Do, do, do,”…). The hootin’ and hollerin’ really reached a fevered pitch at the sight of a bare-chested David Cox, executive director of St. Joseph’s Family Center. What a charity-minded man won’t do for a good cause.

Not to be outdone by a man, Senator Elaine Alquist took to the center podium and performed a shimmy that made me wonder if she too studied jazz at Lana’s Dance Studio. Wow, Senator Alquist, nice to know you’ve got the moves.

The fundraising committee headed by Debra Vaurs and consisting of members Tina Bundros, Kirsten Carr, Hanie Mardesich, J. Chris Mickartz, Chris Filice, Barb Granter and Steve Kinsella did an outstanding job with their first efforts on their own Leadership Gilroy event. Gloria Pollock, you may pick up your medal of honor from Karen in the morning.

Ciao for now.

Have an event coming up or a hot tip for Mary Anne? E-mail it to [email protected]

Leave your comments