From Team CIFF….The Movies That Move Us

Brought to you from a safe social distance by Coronado Island Film Festival, this marks the second in a series of suggested “viewing opportunities” available to us as we continue to shelter in place in front of our TV sets.

This week, we put the question to our CIFF board of directors and staff, asking what they’re watching in the midst of all this. The responses were all over the map, my friends. Trust me, there’s something here for everyone!

Starting with Executive Director and Wes Anderson fan Merridee Book who, with husband Jon, discovered Anderson back in their “pre-kids” days, with “Bottle Rocket” (1996). “With each film, Anderson creates an almost inclusive universe with a sense of nostalgia that you can’t quite place,” say Book. Gathering “an ensemble of Wes Anderson regulars,” well-known stars he casts again and again in various roles, his films enjoy an almost cult-like fan base. Standouts for the Book family (now four) include “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009), “The Royal Tennenbaums” (2001). “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014), and “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012). Amazon Prime.

The new Netflix four-part series, “Unorthodox” starring Israeli actress Shira Haas, comes highly recommended by board member Gail Bardin. Loosely based on a bestselling memoir, it provides an intimate look inside an ultra-orthodox Brooklyn community and the heart of 19-year-old Etsy. Multi-layered and told with care and empathy.

CIFF Board President Sandy McLeod Hoppe and husband Mike discovered the British series, “Peaky Binders” on Netflix. Set in England just after World War I, the 2013 series has enough episodes available to get you through many a binge-watching day and night.

Box Office Manager Tara Noonan and her husband Mike also enjoy “Peaky Binders,” as do Board member Dave Evans and Academy-Award-nominated producer (and Coronado’s own) Lisa Bruce. While Lisa searches for her old favorite, Oscar-winning director Stephen Soderbergh’s “King of The Hill” (2003), she and Dave are enjoying the hilarious HBO comedy series, “Barry,” starring Bill Nader and Henry Winkler, and Amazon’s award-winning, “Fleabag,” starring the amazing Phoebe Waller-Bridge. (Mike Woiwode, Merridee Book and yours truly are also hooked on “Fleabag.”) Racy, but nothing short of brilliant.

The Woiwodes can also be found watching “ABC Murders” on Prime, with John Malkovitch; Woody Allen’s wonderful “Midnight in Paris” on Crackle; and two seasons of the BBC series “Killing Eve.”

CIFF Artistic Director Andy Friedenberg, on hiatus from his CIFF 2020 festival programming duties and Cinema Society of San Diego screenings (the entire industry is now on “pause,” folks) reports, “My wife Beth and I are taking this time to catch up on some great streaming TV miniseries.” They’re now on Season 5 of “The Americans” (Amazon Prime), about a Soviet family “planted” in the U.S. to carry out missions on behalf of the KGB. “Very exciting indeed,” adds Andy. CIFF Board Vice President Christian Esquevin and wife Sydney Stanley also enjoy “The Americans” during breaks from writing his CIFF film review series, “Rambling Reporter.”

Board member and avid sports fan Lysa Meurer and family found their favorite baseball movie, “Moneyball” (2011) on Starz. Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman, the film is based on Michael Lewis’ 2003 nonfiction book of the same name, often listed as one of the best sports stories ever written. The Meurers also recommend the true-crime tale “McMillions” (2020), a six-part docu-series found on HBO, and the darkly addictive “Ozark” (2017-2020), starring Jason Bateman on Netflix.

Jennifer Franks, CIFF Board member, author, and co-founder of the Coronado Music Festival, is loving the oldies with her family: “Moonstruck,” “Lady Hawke,” “1984,” “A Fish Called Wanda,” “The Three Amigos,” and “The Thomas Crown Affair.” And on Netflix, (not family-appropriate, she says!) is the “indescribably insane” “Tiger King.”

CIFF Director of Donor Relations Nick Curtin and wife Peggy recommend “Self Made” (2020), a four-part Netflix series starring Octavia Spencer, the true story of a poor washer-woman who becomes America’s first female self-made millionaire; “Rocketman” (2019) on Showtime, in case you missed this great Elton John biopic last year; and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” (2020), a cross-generational show on NBC. “If you’re a Boomer, you can reminisce to the tunes of the Rolling Stones, James Brown, and Cindy Lauper. And a Millennial can explain to you how TikTok, Lime scooters and Instagram party invitations work,” says Nick.

And this should keep you occupied and well-entertained until this time next week!

Doug St. Denis is the founder and chairman of Coronado Island Film Festival and can be reached at

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