The 28th edition of the event will run from April 26 through May 1

Staff Report

The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival has pushed the dates for this event to April 26 to May 1, due to concerns regarding the winter spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The film festival also announced that Mercedes-Benz of San Luis Obispo will be the presenting sponsor for the 28th edition.

SLO Film Fest’s organizers have concluded that the combination of stringent protocols (which includes patrons, staff and filmmakers providing proof of vaccination or negative test prior to entry to screenings and events), as well as taking the film festival deeper into spring, will provide a safer and more enjoyable experience for attendees.

“The surge of the Omicron variant and prevalence of cold and flu season caused us to take this additional step out of utmost concern for our SLO Film Fest filmmakers, staff and film fans,” said festival director Skye McLennan.

“We understand that there has been much enthusiasm for us to return to theaters this year, but we also place the highest priority on the safety of our patrons as we put on an incredible in-person film festival that includes more outdoor events as well as a virtual component,” she added.

McLennan also hailed the addition of Mercedes-Benz of San Luis Obispo as a presenting sponsor for this year’s film festival.

“Having Mercedes-Benz join forces with us this year is a huge stamp of approval regarding the importance of SLO Film Fest as a cultural leader on the Central Coast and a big reminder of what this event means to our area and community,” she said. “We are thrilled to have it be a part of this year’s highly anticipated return to the movie theaters.”

Chris Baughman, CEO of Mercedes-Benz of San Luis Obispo, said his company “is delighted to partner with the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival to bring a cultural institution back in person to the SLO community. We appreciate and share the festival’s enthusiasm for the arts and creating terrific experiences for its patrons.”

With a reputation as a destination film festival, SLO Film Fest has been cited as one of the first film festivals to go online in 2020, following the onset of the pandemic in the U.S. MovieMaker Magazine praised the festival — known for its location, parties mixing filmmakers with fans, and melding of surf culture and wine country — for leading the way for other film festivals to pivot to the virtual space.

Regarding plans for innovations to this year’s presentation and approach to the film festival, McLennan said, “We have been brainstorming on various ways that we could update and enhance what we do, while highlighting the things people have loved about SLO Film Fest for so long now.

“The ideas are exciting and we’re looking forward to bringing the Central Coast film fans and filmmaking community back together again.”