A crowd-pleasing screening of The Chris Montez Story, followed by an intimate live concert by the Sixties pop icon himself, made for a rousing close to the seventh annual Pacific Palisades Film Festival Saturday night.
The spectacular success of the event where Sunset Boulevard meets the Pacific, coming on the heels of an historic, emotional opening night in which actress Frances Fisher was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, was even more impressive coming after a year of financial and scheduling uncertainties that had founder Bob Sharka considering canceling this year's celebration of young filmmakers and veteran stars.
Saturday's cocktail party and outdoor screening took place at a magnificent private home in the exclusive Huntington Palisades. The program began with the short film A .45 at 50th, a surprisingly funny recounting of actor James Cromwell's experience with the Black Panther Party, followed by a never-seen 45-minute working cut of El Viaje Musical de Ezekiel Montanez: The Chris Montez Story from our pals at Frozen Pictures. To most of the audience, the film served as an introduction to an artist whose influence on and connection to the greatest names in pop music has not been fully recognized, and most on the crowd were singing along with Chris Montez by the time the credits rolled.
Then the crowd moved inside to a spacious living room for an intimate fireside concert by the film;s star and his guitar teacher, acclaimed jazz guitarist Sid Jacobs. The duo loosened up with a sophisticated, swinging solo-filled version of Montez's signature hit Call Me, then swung into hip readings of standards like All of Me and solo instrumentals by the virtuoso Jacobs that included a showstopping version of Over the Rainbow that turned into a tour de force medley from The Wizard of Oz.