The 18th annual L.A. Film Festival is ten days long, still going on, from June 14 through next Sunday, June 24, 2012. Presented by Film Independent, also the presenter of the Independent Spirit Awards, it has to be big and busy to keep filmgoers coming to downtown L.A. This year’s Festival touts Live in Downtown, a return to the neighborhood from Westwood three years ago, with a slate of about 200 feature films, shorts and music films representing more than 30 countries.
Along with the film programming, there were special event “Community Screenings” on June 16 such as the 30th Anniversary Screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and The Invisible War, Academy Award-nominated documentarian Kirby Dick and producer Amy Zering’s expose of the sexual assaults or what the high courts refer to as an “occupational hazard” of over half million soldiers in our nation’s military forces. Not to be missed when it opens in theaters.
On Sunday, June 17, the Coffee Talk panel highlighted directors and boy, would I like to be a fly on the wall hearing Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Thirteen) talk about her successful films yet unsuccessful in getting hired for the second and third installments of the Twilight series, that did not do as well after the first box office hit. Directors Rian Johnson (Looper, Brothers Bloom) and Lawrence Kasdan (Darling Companion, Body Heat) add to this interesting director mix.
There are “Coffee Talks” scheduled all day with one on actors, another on composers and one on screenwriters followed by a slew of World and North American Premieres. This is one of those festivals that has to be planned well in advance for a taste of the film festival experience in LA.
The programming is a diverse mix with unknown finds, art house films, including special presentations such as Pixar’s animated film Brave and movies that made their debut at Sundance, Robot and Frank and The Queen of Versailles.
Unlike the brouhaha at Cannes this year, the lineup includes 19 feature films directed by women and a special panel discussion celebrates women in the animation business. According to the website, Stephanie Allain, who was named the director of the festival in late January, says she’s proud of this year’s emphasis on the work of women and people of color.
Seems that way. By bringing back a film festival from going out of town back to the downtown area, the L.A. Film Festival is doing what it’s supposed to be, bringing film to the masses who would ordinarily not have an opportunity to see them otherwise. While the media continues to send the message of doom to films in theaters and more film premieres becoming available online in VOD, it’s great to hear about a film festival go about its traditional ways, scheduled in movie theaters and contributing to the economy of a downtown area especially one that has Hollywood in its own backyard. Good to go.