On November 15, 2000, nearly two years of intensive effort by more than a hundred volunteers culminated in the opening of the first Ojai Film Festival to an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from filmmakers and film-goers alike. The Ojai Film Festival launched with two goals in mind:
- To provide audiences with opportunities to see groundbreaking work that would be otherwise inaccessible.
- To provide filmmakers with an enthusiastic audience including film industry professionals.
In early 2002, the festival established itself as an independent nonprofit foundation, dedicated to continuing and expanding the traditions created during the first two years of operation.
Now in its 18th year, the festival continues its commitment to enriching the human spirit by seeking out important films that in some way uplift people, help audiences feel good about being members of the human race or encourage them to live meaningful lives inspired by the examples of others.
Over the past few years, the Ojai Film Festival has expanded its creative platform with Focus Earth, a mini-festival of films and panels that focus on environmental issues presented by local filmmakers and community experts.
The Ojai Film Festival showcases the special character and spirit of Ojai, with its rich history from the Chumash Indians to famous gurus. Spiritual teachers and Hollywood celebrities have been drawn to the beauty of Ojai, making the Ojai Film Festival a perfect setting for bringing filmmakers together to celebrate their talents and inspire creativity.
The Festival provides audiences a diverse lineup of titles from around the world. Past entries have represented over 43 countries. The Ojai Film Festival gives filmmakers access to a highly appreciative audience of savvy and informed film fans. Ojai’s growing importance on the festival circuit is reflected in the fact that legendary Hollywood producer Peter Guber told the audience at a recent Toronto International Film Festival that “Ojai is the next Telluride.”
The allure of Ojai as a beautiful high mountain valley, a short drive from Los Angles, draws high profile visitors who enjoy its quiet seclusion and artistic environment.