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18th Anual Topanga Film Festival

18th Anual Topanga Film Festival 

The theme of the 2023 Topanga Film Festival is “Unreel.” It’s a playful invitation to reflect on many aspects of filmmaking illusion, from cutting edge AI to more traditional forms of film magic. The 18th annual Topanga Film Festival takes place this weekend, and it has a stellar line-up of films and filmmakers, from documentaries that have achieved national acclaim, to films made by local filmmakers about local subjects, and a dazzling array of international shorts. Here at TNT we are celebrating this great Canyon tradition by offering a full schedule of festival events. We are also showcasing filmmaker Tony Lee’s celebration of the life of Mountain Lion P-22, on page 8. This short film will be screened on Saturday. It’s not too late to buy tickets for this weekend’s events—drop in for one screening, or go all-out and spend the weekend immersed in film and stay to celebrate at the closing party! There are also still opportunities to volunteer. Check out pages 10-11 to learn more. See you at the festival! Cover design by Urs Baur

“…But you take October, now. School’s been on a month and you’re riding easier in the reins, jogging along. You got time to think of the garbage you’ll dump on old man Prickett’s porch, or the hairy-ape costume you’ll wear to the YMCA the last night of the month. And if it’s around October twentieth, and everything smoky-smelling and the sky orange and ash gray at twilight, it seems Halloween will never come in a fall of broomsticks and a soft flap of bedsheets around corners.”–Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

It’s October 20, and Halloween is right around the corner, promising the sound of Bradbury’s “soft flap of bedsheets” and “fall of broomsticks”. Please be careful out there this Halloween. Slow down on our canyon roads, and watch out for trick-or-treaters and for the canyon’s Halloween wildlife, including migrating tarantulas, nearsighted skunks, and those perennial tricksters the coyotes and gray foxes. With twilight arriving earlier each night, it’s harder to see pedestrians—two-footed, four-footed, and even eight-legged.

There was good news for wildlife of all kinds this month: California Governor Gavin Newsom just signed a new law restricting a particularly deadly form of rat poison: diphacinone.

Assembly Bill 1322, the California Ecosystems Protection Act of 2023, adds pesticides containing diphacinone to an existing list of restricted rodenticides that are known to harm and kill wildlife. 

October is a busy month in the Santa Monica Mountains. On Sunday, October 22, Malibu Search and Rescue is holding a 10K/5K/1K run at Malibu Creek State Park. It’s a fundraiser for the Malibu SAR team and offers the excitement of a marathon for runners and walkers of all ages and levels of fitness.

Every year, the Malibu Search and Rescue Team responds to hundreds of calls throughout the Santa Monica Mountains and surrounding areas. They locate and rescue lost and injured hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers. They have developed special skills to reach and safely extricate motorists who have driven over the side of mountain roads, and they are ready to mobilize on a moment’s notice to look for missing persons. When disaster strikes, members of the Malibu SAR team are often among the first to go help. It is dangerous, exacting, and often grueling work. Malibu SAR operates as a unit of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and many of its members are reserve deputy sheriffs, but they aren’t paid for their service and they don’t charge for rescues. This is an all-volunteer organization that depends on donations to pay for essential equipment. The upcoming run is a great way to help support their work. Learn more or register at

The Topanga Film Festival takes place this week, concluding on Sunday. It’s not too late to buy tickets for screenings on Saturday and Sunday or to volunteer. Visit to learn more.  

TNT historian and Books & Such columnist Jimmy P. Morgan was in town for a special live TNT salon series event on October 15, where he launched his new podcast series Framed! The event may be history, but the podcast is live, and features a fast-paced, entertaining and lively discussion of the Constitution, with Morgan and guest MC Brian Chapman. It’s available at, or wherever podcasts are available, and it’s already one of our most popular podcasts. Many of TNT’s most popular features are also now available as podcasts, and new episodes are released every Friday.

October 9 was Indigenous People’s Day, an appropriate time for the research team behind a project entitled Mapping Los Angeles Landscape History to publish their final report. This extensive project endeavors to reveal and recover the pre-colonial Indigenous landscape of the Los Angeles region and it yields some interesting surprises, especially regarding the Chumash cultural history of the Santa Monica Mountains. Learn more in our Discover section.

We were saddened to learn of the passing of Walt Keller this week. He became the city of Malibu’s first mayor, elected in 1991, when our neighboring community voted overwhelmingly to incorporate as a city. Walt was a passionate advocate for conservation, the environment, and especially for the Santa Monica Mountains that he loved. He was 93 and leaves an inspiring legacy for the next generation of local activists.

Stay safe, be well. Happy Halloween! 

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