Stay & Play: San Diego International Film Festival

The 6-day SDIFF brings Hollywood happenings to San Diego

The red carpet at the San Diego International Film Festival.
Theatre Box San Diego.

Star-studded movies, bubbly after parties and filmmaker Q&As come to town October 15-20, for the 18th annual San Diego International Film Festival.

Recall that the festival used to be based downtown in the always-in-need-of repair Gaslamp 15. Now, that Fifth Avenue movie theater has been replaced by the glitzy Theatre Box San Diego. And the SDIFF makes use of Theatre Box’s comfy reclining seats—as well as a bar, restaurant and brand- new roof-top deck.    

The 1,339-seat Balboa Theater is also in play for the SDIFF’s downtown opening night showing of Jojo Rabbit, starring Sam Rockwell and Scarlett Johansson.

The Pendry San Diego.

Many of the festival’s after parties and panel discussions will take place at downtown’s posh Pendry San Diego hotel. (Speaking of hotels—coming into town to stay the night for the festival? Check out this link to properties offering Stay & Play discounts on rooms.)

The SDIFF’s other location is La Jolla. On October 17, ArcLights Cinemas will host a red-carpet showing of The Irishmen. That’s Martin Scorsese’s new mafia movie that stars old-school organized crime veterans Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino. 

Ticket information and pricing for a variety of single or multi-day passes can be found at

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San Diego International Film Festival Main Events

“Jojo Rabbit.”

October 15 (Tues.) Opening Night


The festival kicks off with a red-carpet showing of the film Jojo Rabbit at the historic Balboa Theatre. The movie stars Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson and Alfie Allen. It’s a World War II satire offering a darkly comedic look at a German boy whose imaginary friend is a bumbling Adolf Hitler. The boy’s world is upended when he discovers his mom is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic.  

After party: Parq Nightclub.

October 16 (Wed.) Screenings

Downtown, Theatre Box

More than 100 films will be screened throughout the festival. Ticket package options include 6-day, 3-day and daily passes.

“The Irishman.”

October 17 (Thurs.) Kick-Off Film Premiere & Reception

Westfield UTC, ArcLight Cinemas

The location focus switches from downtown to La Jolla for a screening of director Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. This mafioso tale examines the great unsolved mystery of the disappearance of union boss Jimmy Hoffa.

After party: Red O – Taste of Mexico

October 18 (Fri.) Night of the Stars Tribute

Downtown, Pendry San Diego

Night of the Stars is a glamorous event that serves to hand out honorary awards to creative luminaries. This year’s honorees include: Laurence Fishburne (Gregory Peck Award for Cinematic Excellence); Pitbull (Music Icon Award); Lindsay Wagner (Humanitarian Award); Jared Harris (Cinema Vanguard Award); Jillian Bell (Fairbanks Award); and Camila Morrone (Rising Star Award).

After party: Oxford Social Club at the Pendry.

October 19 (Sat.) Filmmakers Awards Show & Party

Downtown, Pendry San Diego

Jury awards are handed out to the festival’s competition films. All festival 6-day passholders can vote for their favorite films.

After party: Oxford Social Club at the Pendry.

October 20 (Sun.) Culinary Cinema

Westfield UTC, ArcLight Cinema

Local chefs and restaurants will take guests on a cinematic adventure that pairs food and movies. Two experiences will be served up at ArcLight Cinemas, starting at 11 a.m. and at noon.  J&J

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