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And the Oscar Goes to… San Diego Film Foundation’s Annual Viewing Party Comes into Focus

2017oscars2_pc_hal_tranImagine being blinded by flash bulbs as you sway across the red carpet in your red satin gown; imagine tasting haute cuisine from the best chefs in town; imagine toasting actors as they deliver their acceptance speeches. Sounds like an evening at the Academy Awards? Well it is – almost.

The San Diego Film Foundation, a nonprofit that presents the San Diego International Film Festival (SDiFF) each fall, also hosts the Oscar Awards Viewing Party Annual Gala each spring. This year, the party is on March 4th at the Hacienda Del Corazon in Rancho Santa Fe.

“I think people get a chance to get dressed up and get a feeling for what it would be like to attend the Oscars,” says honorary chair for the party, Dr. Howard Milstein. “They have a red carpet, so when you get there you walk down the red carpet, everybody’s excited and you see a lot of people that you know from San Diego, so it’s pure fun.”

Howard and his wife and honorary co-chair, Barbara Milstein, are passionate about film and theater. They’ve been involved with the La Jolla Playhouse and the Old Globe for a number of years, and Barbara grew up on the MGM Studios lot (now Sony Studios). “As kids, it was always so much fun: ‘lights, camera, action,’” she tells me over the phone. Barbara is related to MGM Studio co-founder, Louis B. Mayer, director Jack Cummings and composer Jerome Kern. “We had lots and lots of fun on the MGM lot: my brother and I and my parents growing up,” she said. She said she also learned about the hard work that went into making movies from watching it firsthand. “The MGM lion would come on right before the movie was about to start, and we would clap our hands silently cause we were so excited and we were taught about the hard work ethic and what went into each film.”

It’s an Honor Just to be Nominated

At the Film Foundation’s party, guests can sip signature cocktails made by Snake Oil, a local beverage catering company, and nibble tasty hors d’oeuvres from A.R. Valentien at the Lodge Torrey Pines, Oceana Coastal Kitchen, La Valencia, PillBox Tavern, The Barrel Room and The Marine Room.

The party starts at 4:30 p.m. when guests arrive and walk the red carpet. At 5 p.m. the Oscars telecast starts and after the show there’s a cocktail reception.

Howard and Barbara went to the party for the first time last year. “It was so much fun seeing old friends and of course meeting new friends,” Barbara said. “The food is extraordinary … delicious cuisine.” Attendees can also cast their vote for their favorite films while enjoying rich desserts and champagne toasts.

Two of the films screened at the 2017 SDiFF, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “Call Me by Your Name,” were both nominated for Oscars this year.

Howard and Barbara say they love all of the films that are up for Best Picture this year. “Every movie is amazing … it’s just one of the best years ever,” Barbara tells me. “‘Coco’ tugged at my heart …So many movies that we actually lived, and now it’s so important for [other] generations to see, like ‘The Post.’”

They told me it would be impossible to predict which movie might win because they’ve all been so spectacular this year. “I’m going to definitely be on the edge of my seat, I can’t wait,” Barbara says. “‘The Shape of Water’ I thought was extraordinary … We watched and we kept saying, ‘gosh, we don’t know what’s going to happen.’ It’s always fun when you see movies where you are totally – it takes you through so many parts of a journey, and I think this year most of the movies really did that.”

Tickets are $175, and the proceeds go toward funding the San Diego Film Foundation’s educational program Focus on Impact, which brings social justice films to San Diego schools.

The 90th Oscars telecast will be on Sunday, March 4 at 5 p.m. on ABC. Α