The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival has given SLO Review the opportunity to review some of the narrative and documentary feature films on its 2024 program schedule. Follow the links to purchase tickets to see these notable films for yourself.

How To Communicate without Speaking a Word

If you’re wondering what to see at the upcoming SLO International Film Festival, don’t miss director Jay Silverman’s Camera.

It’s the story of an unlikely friendship between a scruffy old repairman, Eric (Beau Bridges) and nine-year-old Oscar (Miguel Gabriel), who is unable to speak. Oscar and his hard-working widowed mother, Evelyn (Jessica Parker Kennedy) have just moved to town, and Oscar is never too far from his father’s old film camera. Only thing is, the camera’s broken. Bullied by the local kids on the street, Oscar is befriended by Eric, who fixes the camera and teaches the boy more than just how to develop the photos.

The backdrop of the movie is a familiar struggle between local fishermen desperately trying to preserve their livelihood and a greedy developer scheming to cash in on new ocean front condos. Lines are drawn and the town is pulled apart. Meanwhile, Oscar is taking photographs of the local color and manages to capture the hidden side of the townsfolk: their empathy and pain, their joy and friendship.

Kudos to the captivating performance by Miguel Gabriel as Oscar. His eyes, especially, speak volumes, proving there are a multitude of ways to communicate—without speaking a word. And to Jessica Parker Kennedy, who deftly handles a complex character. This is no cookie cutter single parent.

But it is the friendship between Eric and Oscar that is the heart of this movie. There is an undeniable chemistry on screen that makes this film a delight to watch. They dance, they hang out in the darkroom, they share tragedy.

Shot on location in Morro Bay and Hollywood, locals will be familiar with scenes of Morro Rock and the harbor, fishing boats, driftwood sculptures on the beach. It’s an added bonus to watching the movie.

Camera is a heartwarming story about love and loss. And how the simple act of friendship can change our lives.

:: Elie Axelroth

The West Coast Premiere of Camera (run time 112 minutes) at the SLO International Film Festival is sponsored by Med Stop Urgent Care Center Madonna Plaza.

Editor’s Note: For a behind-the-scenes look at the film, read “Camera” Focuses on Morro Bay, posted late last year.