The 18th Newport Beach Film Festival took place in late April. This year’s festival showcased over 350 films from more than 50 countries and included features, shorts, documentaries, student films and even music videos. While wide-reaching in genre and subject matter in the movies shown, this premier festival, set in and around Newport Beach, always looks to provide a West Coast coastal flair. The opening night film was Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, a feature documentary about the iconic big wave surfer. Laird and his wife Gabrielle Reece walked the red carpet along with a host of other cast and filmmakers whose films would be showcased throughout the festival’s eight day run.

Two well-crafted culinary-related documentary films also screened during the fest. Renowned Chicago chef Jake Bickelhaupt is the primary focus in Courses. After working with some of the world’s best chefs in some of the best restaurants and giving it all up, the film chronicles the resurgence in chef Bickelhaupt’s love for cooking, beginning with his teaming with wife Alexa Welsh in opening a pop-up restaurant in their apartment. This ultimately progressed to their opening and success of 42 Grams. Beautifully filmed and edited, the viewer’s interest is captivated by the likeable character of Chef Jake and the story that unfolds @CoursesMovie.

A bit less food-centric, Charged: The Eduardo Garcia Story @ChargedFilm begins just after the 2,400 volt electrocution of chef Eduardo while he was hiking in Montana. The film journals his recovery, his journey and transition with the people in his life, and his progression to a new life with focus, direction and meaning. During his recovery period, Garcia, along with close family and friends, formed Montana Mex, a line of sauces, oils, and seasoning sourced with natural and healthy ingredients.

Next year’s festival run will take place from April 26th through May 3rd.