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Port Theater in Corona del Mar to star at Newport film festival

April 23, 2012 |  8:56 am

Fourteen years after going dark, the remodeled Port Theater in Corona del Mar will reopen during this year's Newport Beach Film Festival with free screenings and seminars.

Port theaterThe theater will reopen Saturday with a seminar series and a screening of "Kingdom Come," a documentary by first-time director Daniel Gillies.

The buzz surrounding the rebirth of the Pacific Coast Highway venue, which closed in 1998, could have been expected to increase ticket sales, but festival organizers said they decided to offer all the programming for free throughout the festival, which opens Thursday and runs through May 3.

"We thought that this was an important opportunity to give back to the community, and we are hopeful that in the future, patrons and sponsors will underwrite these opportunities," said Gregg Schwenk, the festival's chief executive.

The Orange County Film Society, which founded the festival, is interested in possibly using the theater for other screenings and events year-round, Schwenk said.

Though few details have been made public, the theater reportedly has undergone an interior remodel and has less — but more flexible — seating to accommodate events other than film screenings.

Port Theater owner Fariborz Maseeh, a Newport Beach resident and philanthropist, has declined to talk about the renovation, and calls to his office last week were not returned.

Officials estimated that more than 50,000 people attended the festival last year.


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— Sarah Peters

Photo: Port Theater. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times