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Lights, Camera, Action: Poppy Jasper International Film Festival Returns April 10-17

Gilroy is rolling out the red carpet on April 10, welcoming hundreds of independent filmmakers from around the world to showcase their films at the 18th Annual Poppy Jasper International Film Festival.


The award-winning eight-day film festival will showcase 270 films from 30 countries. “There’s something for everyone,” said Mattie Scariot, festival director of the Poppy Jasper International Film Festival, which spans five cities from San Juan Bautista and Hollister to Gilroy, San Martin, and Morgan Hill.

Film enthusiasts can anticipate a banner year at the festival, which experienced a historic number of about 1,000 film submissions—nearly 400 more than last year. As a result, the festival’s quality of films is off the charts.

Scariot said it was a particularly difficult year selecting the films that would be showcased. “These are incredibly talented filmmakers. As a filmmaker myself, I’m always blown away by how they think outside of the box,” Scariot said.

Film Festival Events

The festival kicks off with a youth and student film festival on April 10 at Gavilan College Theater in Gilroy. Films from California filmmakers will be spotlighted on April 11 at the District Theater in Gilroy and the Morgan Hill Community Playhouse. Other festival highlights include films by women filmmakers on April 12, Saturday morning cartoons for all ages on April 13, LGBTQ Day on April 16, and films by Iranian filmmakers on April 17.

For a truly memorable experience, Scariot encourages festival goers to snap up a VIP pass, which offers access to 63 films as well as additional events including panel discussions, award ceremonies, hikes, and parties. Film enthusiasts may also purchase a Screening Pass, which grants access to 63 films through April 17 as well as panel discussions, or a Mexico Day pass, granting access to four films as well as a special awards ceremony, panel discussion, and after party.

Festivities are peppered throughout the eight days, including the Poppy Bash, a red-carpet event at Capos Event Center in Gilroy, as well as brunches at local restaurants and vineyards.


More to See & Do

When not screening movies, festival goers will have the opportunity to experience the charming historic downtowns of Gilroy and surrounding cities, where many of the film venues are set. Known for eclectic restaurants and vibrant arts scenes, our downtowns are the perfect place to gallery hop, shop, and dine before enjoying films from around the globe. You might even bump into one of the filmmakers whose work is being showcased at the festival!

You don’t want to miss the special festival beer, a hazy IPA, developed by Settle Down Beer in Gilroy in collaboration with four other local breweries — Promised Land Brewery in Gilroy, Kelly’s Brewing Company in Morgan Hill, Mad Pursuit Brewing in Hollister, and Brewery Twenty-Five in San Juan Bautista.

“They always sell out of the beer. It’s so fun. There will be flights, so you can taste the beers from all the other breweries,” Scariot said.

Make a complete weekend out of the festival by booking a stay at one of our budget-friendly hotels. While you’re in town, branch out and take a hike or horseback ride through one of our beautiful parks, visit one of our award-winning wineries on the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail, or enjoy the day at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, a horticultural-themed amusement park home to the world-famous Circus Trees.


Supporting Arts in the Community

Now a global cinematic arts event, the Poppy Jasper International Film Festival launched in 2004 as a small-scale festival in Morgan Hill. A member of the Film Festival Alliance (a collaborative for mission-driven film festivals), the festival promotes inclusion, diversity, and female empowerment.

During the run-up to the festival, PJIFF offers four different outreach programs geared to youths aged 4-14, millennials, people 40 and up, and senior citizens. Through the guided workshops, participants collaborate on short films, which will also be featured at the festival.

Fueled by more than 100 volunteers across the five cities, Scariot said the annual film festival is a gift to the community from volunteers who truly care about the arts and economic vitality.

“That’s what the festival does. It brings economic vitality to the communities. We keep screenings downtown, so people can watch a movie and then get lunch or dinner and shop,” Scariot said.

Interested in being a part of the festival? Plenty of volunteer opportunities are still available, including helping out at the box offices or hosting filmmakers who are visiting during the festival. Last year, 26 filmmakers were hosted by local families, all of whom are looking forward to hosting again this year, Scariot said.

With 270 films from 30 countries, this is a must-see series of events. Come out to enjoy amazing films and support the arts at the Poppy Jasper International Film Festival!

To buy tickets and see a complete schedule of the Poppy Jasper International Film Festival, visit pjiff.org.

Kelly Barbazette is a freelance writer who has lived in Gilroy for more than 20 years.