Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

The fourth annual ITSA Film Festival, featuring three days of celebrity guests, workshops and films from around the world, will take place Friday though Sunday at the Sonora Opera Hall.

The opening night gala on Friday is themed "Dia de los Muertos." It will feature appetizers and a no-host bar at 5:30 p.m., entertainment by the Bay Area Ghostbusters, a celebrity panel, film screening and dance music by Sound Extreme from 8 to 11 p.m.

Two of the previously announced guests have had to cancel, organizers said. One of them is actress, dancer and choreographer Rachele Brooke Smith, who has been featured in series such as "Entourage," "Glee" and "How I Met Your Mother," movies including "Iron Man 2," "Bring It On: Fight to the Finish," "Burlesque" and "17 Again," as well as music videos for John Legend and Andre 3000. She also was a cover model for Maxim magazine.

Rob Benedict, known for his role as Chuck Shurley-Carver Edlund in the CW series "Supernatural" and "Felicity," also had to cancel. Most recently, he wrote and starred in the independent short film "The Sidekick," which will still be screened during Friday's gala.

Leading the guest list this year is actor Noel Gugliemi, widely known as Noel G, who will be present Saturday and Sunday.

Gugliemi has been featured in over 110 films and television series. Big screen credits include "The Fast and the Furious," "Old School," "Training Day," "Malibu's Most Wanted," "Bruce Almighty," "The Bucket List" and "The Dark Knight Rises."

Television appearances include "The Walking Dead," "24," "CSI Miami," "NYPD Blue" and "Monk."

His feature film, "Kidnapped Souls," will be shown as part of the "Reel Scary" segment taking place from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

He and his director, Juan Frausto, will be part of Saturday's speaking panel, along with Collin and Erin Neal, directors of "The Anniversary," which also will be featured Saturday night.

Friday's celebrity panel will include Alex Creasia, a Marine Corps veteran with a bachelor's degree in motion pictures and television from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. After college he interned at NBC, Universal Pictures and Sleeping Giant Management, then became an assistant at Creative Artists Agency.He next became an executive assistant at Ryan Murphy Productions, where we was a part of the "Glee" franchise, "American Horor Story" and the new NBC show "The New Normal."

Friday's panel also will include Emmy Award-winning director Chris Brown, a fourth-generation California native who grew up in the Bay Area and spent his summers in Tuolumne County.

Brown's latest narrative feature, "Fanny, Annie and Danny" (2010), won 16 awards internationally. Hailed as "An indie masterpiece" by the Huffington Post, the film also was named a "Critics' Pick" by the New York Times.

"A River Changes Course," a feature-length documentary that Brown edited and helped produce for Oscar-winner Kalyanee Mam, won the Grand Jury Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Best Documentary at the 2013 San Francisco International Film Festival, and eight other awards since it premiered in January.

Joining them on Friday will be Carollyn DeVore, a Hollywood talent agent who traveled with Bob Hope during the Vietnam War and has more than 220 television and film credits, and director-producer Karl Dambacher, a Tuolumne County native.

Saturday workshops will be led by Carollyn DeVore, who will address head shots and casting calls; Patrick Olguin, who will discuss sound for film and television; and Bryan Starchman, who will discuss screenwriting.

Festival judges will be actor David Novak, a veteran of over 20 years in the entertainment business; director Chris Brown; and Karl Dambacher, whose family has been in Tuolumne County since 1849 and built the historic Sonora Opera Hall, where they put on vaudeville shows.

Festival tickets are $40 for the gala alone, $25 for a two-day Saturday and Sunday pass, $15 for a one-day pass and $7 for the "Reel Scary" segment.An All-Access Pass also is available for $60.

Tickets, as well as a full festival schedule, can be found at

The ITSA Film Festival is presented by Art Quotient, a nonprofit organization promoting youth in the arts.