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Lights, Camera, Action! The Poppy Jasper International Film Festival Returns to Gilroy

The 17th Annual Poppy Jasper International Film Festival (PJIFF) brings filmmakers and film-lovers from around the world to Gilroy and our neighboring cities for eight days of films, fun, and celebration. From April 12-19, 2023, the Festival will showcase 260 films from 30 countries.

a logo for the Poppy Jasper International Film Festival

And all that is happening right here, in downtown Gilroy, Morgan Hill, and other local communities. “We try to keep the Festival in all the downtowns so that people go to the shops and restaurants. We try and boost the economic vitality within the downtowns,” said Mattie Scariot, Director of PJIFF.

Gilroy’s historical downtown will host movie showings at The District Theater as well as the “Poppy Bash” and a Mimosa Brunch at a local winery. In between Festival events, visitors can have a drink at a local brewery, bar, or taproom, sit down to a delicious Gilroy garlic meal or authentic Mexican food, and enjoy the historic charm of dining in a historical building.


Movies with a Mission: Diversity and Inclusion

Since its humble beginning in 2004, the Festival has come a long way. PJIFF’s mission has expanded from its focus on independent film makers to also address, as Mattie put it, “the lack of diversity and inclusiveness in the film industry and the gap between the deficit of women and minorities in the film industry.”

a group of women smiling in front of a film background

The PJIFF mission is now to “promote inclusion, champion diversity, and empower all people, including people of color, women, and all of those who have been historically marginalized, to tell their stories through film and the digital arts.” According to Mattie, over half of the films submitted are directed by women.


What’s Going on in Gilroy?

For PJIFF 2023, Gilroy will be hosting some fantastic films and activities, including kicking off the Festival opening ceremony on Wednesday with a performance by the talented Gilroy High School Chamber Choir singing a medley of songs from films.

You can purchase tickets for movie blocks or events or passes for a variety of options. You can also read a description of the films and find some with trailers to preview in the film guide.

2023 Poppy Jasper International Film Festival Events in Gilroy (at The District Theater on Monterey Road, unless otherwise noted)

  • Wednesday, April 12: Opening Ceremony & Student Filmmaker Showcase
  • Thursday, April 13: Southern California Local Filmmaker Showcase
  • Friday, April 14: Poppy Bash at Capos Event Center (see more info below)
  • Saturday, April 15: Mimosa Brunch at Besson Family Vineyard (sponsors, VIP and All-Access pass holders may attend)
  • Saturday, April 15: Films from around the world
  • Tuesday, April 18: LGBTQ Day
  • Wednesday, April 19: Iran Filmmaker Showcase


More than Just Movies—Other Fun Festival Events

The Film Festival also includes special speaker panels, private screenings, online workshops, collaborations with other local organizations, and filmmaker and Icon awards. PJIFF Icon Awards go to people from the region who have demonstrated a special impact on the community through art, acting, and writing.

a group of men, women, and a child holding awards in front of a movie background

Past filmmaker award winners

Poppy Bash

Join the party! Celebrate all things film and fun with filmmakers and industry professionals from across the globe at the PJIFF Poppy Bash on Friday, April 14, at Capos Event Center in downtown Gilroy. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and sample Barley POP, a unique beer brewed by local breweries. You can also try the special Barley POP brew throughout the Festival at a taproom in each participating city. In Gilroy, Pour Me Tap Room will serve the beer.

women and men around a table drinking beer holding signs of the film festival

Brewers from local cities working together to create the unique Barely POP brew for this year’s PJIFF!


Listen and dance to live music by award-winning bassist Polo Jones, guitarist and composer Kat Dyson, and Randy Spendlove, a Grammy Award winner, President of Paramount Music, and a Gilroy native. During the Poppy Bash, a PJIFF Icon Award will be presented to Kat Dyson.

an audience of people inside an event center with a film sign on the stage background

The Poppy Bash at Capos Event Center in downtown Gilroy


Speaker Panels

Throughout the Festival, there will be a few speaker panels that include time for audience members to ask questions.

  • Women’s Panel: This discussion will focus on how things were, how things are now, and how we can make things better in the future for women in film. Mattie Scariot says, “I want women to walk out of there feeling good about themselves and feeling empowered.”
  • Industry Panel: This panel will showcase individuals from different parts of the industry. Panelists include documentary makers, Randy Spendlove, the president of Paramount Music, a puppeteer, and more. Mattie said, “I like to have people with quirky jobs in the industry that you didn’t know get paid to do that.”


a woman and three men sitting on chairs on a stage with one holding a microphone and speaking


You Can Play a Part in the Poppy Jasper International Film Festival

If you’re looking for a fun way to help out and be a part of the Festival, there are many volunteer opportunities available. How about hosting a filmmaker from out of town? Want to be someone’s “chauffeur” and pick them up from the airport? What about working in the box office or doing merchandise sales?

Check out all the fun ways you can play a role in helping the Poppy Jasper Film Festival this year. It takes a combined average of about 8,000 volunteer hours to put on this Festival—perhaps you can contribute a few and have a great time while you’re doing it! To volunteer, contact: info@pjiff.org.


Year-Round Educational Programs

PJIFF currently has seven educational programs, offered at different times throughout the year. They include fun projects organized by age group, such as Young Filmmakers Workshop, Millennials Music Video, Filmmaking for 40 & Up, 70 & Up, and more. These programs are free of charge and offer the chance to make a film to those who never had the opportunity before. Mattie tells people, “Everyone can be a filmmaker.”

The goal of the educational programs is to encourage, engage, and educate participants in filmmaking and to help find their voice through film. These programs can offer a chance to make a film to those who never had the opportunity before. Mattie tries to cover the costs with grants, fundraising, and donations, but PJIFF could use more contributions to keep these programs going. All of the films made by these groups are showed in the Film Festival.


Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits

  • The PJIFF had over 600 films submitted this year! Director Mattie Scariot said, “This year I tried to say yes to as many films as I could. I can’t help myself because it’s hard to say no to a film, especially when it’s really good.” And, yes, the film-watching panel watches all of them (it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!)
  • PJIFF has had quite a few filmmakers whose films have made it onto popular streaming platforms. Some of them return to the Festival to submit new films or just to attend the event.
  • Well-known actor, writer, and director Ian Puleston-Davies, who has had roles in hundreds of TV shows and movies, submitted his own film Bolan’s Shoes (which will show in nearby Hollister). He will also deliver the keynote speech at the Poppy Bash.


Stay in Gilroy for the Full Poppy Jasper Experience

There is more than enough to keep you busy with just the film showcases and other events in Gilroy. Book a budget-friendly hotel room in Gilroy so you can also attend film events in the other cities and explore even more of what our area has to offer.

While you’re in town, be sure to check out all the other wonderful things to do in Gilroy. Go wine tasting at our wonderful, award-winning wineries with gorgeous views and live music on weekends. Take a hike or horseback ride in one of our beautiful parks while enjoying the colorful spring flowers. Take a ride in a garlic bulb and enjoy the giant, colorful Fantastical Flowers at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park. Eat a delicious meal with some of Gilroy’s delicious garlic or an authentic Mexican meal on the Gilroy Taco Trail. And find great deals at the Gilroy Premium Outlets, where you can also stop in at our California Welcome Center for souvenirs and guides to other great things to do in Gilroy and nearby!

Another benefit of staying in Gilroy: you may very well get to meet some of the filmmakers in person. They’ll be staying in town, speaking at the panels, and going to the showcases. One of PJIFF’s filmmakers even stayed with the mayor during the 2022 Festival—and is returning this year to scout Gilroy for future filming locations. Mattie said many of the filmmakers return to visit because “our communities are really special. Our filmmakers feel like they’re seen here and treated with respect. They love that. Our hospitality is good, but our community makes it special.”

Book your affordable hotel now and join fellow film-lovers for a great Gilroy getaway!