Independent films are far safer than blockbusters, which entertain audiences with car chases, explosions, and piranha-juggling movie ushers. Avoid in-aisle fish bites with today's Groupon: for $85, you get one general-admission all-access pass to the Santa Cruz Film Festival (up to a $175 value), occurring all over Santa Cruz from May 5–14. Passes grant access to all festival screenings and events and can be picked up between May 5 and 14 at the Festival Hub. Seating is limited, and guests should arrive 30 minutes before showtime.
Celebrating a decade of showcasing independent filmmaking from around the world, the 2011 Santa Cruz Film Festival presents 167 films from 33 countries, with 67 films hailing from the Greater Santa Cruz/Monterey area. Festivities kick off Thursday, May 5 with a gala opening for the dark love story Prairie Love and continue until Saturday, May 14, when the city-sized velvet curtains close with Ruffo, a somber look at a surf legend's struggles with addiction. Other films include the tattoo-artist documentary Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World, and Under the Boardwalk, an analytical history of the game Monopoly and the countless world wars fought over who gets to be the car.
The Santa Cruz Film Festival's talkies premiere at a variety of venues, with movies gracing local silver screens such as the historic Rio, Delmar, and Nickelodeon theaters. Browse the festival schedule for a full list of celluloidal features, and use the Festival Genius to minimize the scheduling of conflicting festival events and learn little-known trivia about Tom Selleck's mustache.