Selina Thomas | Showing Why We’re ‘Hollywood North’


“Hollywood North” is coming to life with the Santa Clarita International Film Festival 

Another impactful event is coming to Santa Clarita and the timing couldn’t be better. The recent holiday tree lighting in downtown Newhall has created the perfect backdrop for the Santa Clarita International Film Festival, which is set to begin on Dec. 8 and end on Dec. 11. Film and culture enthusiasts will view more than 270 films and interact with filmmakers, celebrities and community members alike. The multiple venues, which include wine, food and the arts, will ignite downtown Newhall just in time for the holidays. 

After the in-person pandemic-related cancellation of the music and comedy program in 2021, the festival organizers, which includes filmmakers, executives and community leaders, revisited best ways to provide the Santa Clarita community with a great event while showcasing world-class films, art and culture — all to elevate Santa Clarita and allow our city to shine on an international level. 

“I believe we have accomplished that with the level and caliber of films entered,” says SCIFF Executive Director Lisa deSouza. “SCIFF is about giving independent filmmakers and nonprofits a platform to have their voices heard. We want to enable them to tell THEIR STORIES to a broader audience.”

Ivan Volschenk, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, added, “The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce is excited to be a collaborative partner for the Santa Clarita International Film Festival, which will simultaneously support our community and commerce. As a partner, we are also pleased to offer exclusive benefits for our members.” 

Already being compared to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah and South By Southwest in Texas, SCIFF will shine a spotlight on Newhall’s downtown hotels, restaurants, stores and wine venues. With local musical acts such as fan favorite Kelly Zirbes of Kelly’s Lot, it’s going to be a spark to the season. “Lending my voice and song to this event is so exciting. I’ve witnessed this community bounce back, and being on the middle of a comeback is like watching a great movie… so I am ready.” Comedic acts and artist showcases will also be a feature to occupy visitors and participants. 

The constant themes in the entries this year are community, social awareness and the spirit of people. Jeffrey Thompson, Walt Disney veteran and executive producer of “Scrum,” has joined SCIFF’s advisory committee this year after premiering his documentary film at the Laemmle Theatre to great success in 2021. 

“Being a part of this film festival, which brings together a wide variety of talented creatives and storytellers, is a great way to leverage Santa Clarita’s prime location and heritage as a city that’s attractive to the media and entertainment industry and a welcoming place to work and live. I couldn’t be prouder to give back and help others along their journey. I’ve always said, Santa Clarita is ‘Hollywood North,’ and it is absolutely being showcased right here in Santa Clarita.”

Community leaders and influencers are also a huge part of the event and will lend insight, information and education after some of the film screenings. Important public issues will be highlighted. After a special screening of “Stop the Void,” a documentary on the fentanyl crisis, SCIFF will round out the festival on Dec. 11 with a panel discussion focusing on resources and solutions. The panel will be moderated by KTLA’s Chris Schauble, a longtime Santa Clarita resident, with expert panelists from Santa Clarita’s law enforcement community and Carey Quashen, a leading addiction counselor and specialist.

As an interactive and engaging festival, SCIFF encourages participation from the audience, and panels are an essential feature that allows the films to extend well beyond their time on the screen. 

The Santa Clarita International Film Festival is a gift of recovery to the community and showcases how Santa Clarita continues to innovate and move forward.

For more information on obtaining tickets and discount rates as a Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce Member, please visit

Selina Thomas is a Santa Clarita resident.

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