LA is big. Big time, big celebrities, and one of the world's biggest, most influential cinematic events, the Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF). LAFF, running June 17-27, enters its 17th year with over 200 features, shorts, and music videos from more than 30 countries with special appearances by Ben Affleck, John Lithgow, and Sylvester Stallone. Since its beginning it has grown from a one-theater event with 5,700 attendees to its current incarnation which includes a sprawling list of event venues that should attract close to 90,000 attendees.
"A Conversation with Ben Affleck" takes place Monday, June 21. Affleck, writer of Good Will Hunting, star of Armageddon, and director of Gone Baby Gone, will focus on the challenges and rewards of creating his forthcoming Boston crime drama The Town. For The Town, he did triple duty as co-writer, star, and director. Affleck and Jeremy Renner, his co-star in The Town, will discuss lessons learned about trying to wear three hats on one set.
On Wednesday, June 23, LAFF attendees will be able to spend "An Evening with Sylvester Stallone." The multi-talented actor, director, screenwriter, and visual artist will reminisce on pivotal moments of his prolific artistic career and provide a sneak peek of his anticipated film The Expendables. This sure to be "Rocky" presentation will be moderated by film critic Elvis Mitchell of KCRW’s "The Treatment."
Zany and wild are on the menu for Tuesday, June 22, as LAFF presents "Over the Top: An Evening with John Lithgow." Attendees will be able to view 35mm screenings of both The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai and “Terror at 20,000 Feet” from 1983's Twilight Zone: The Movie. John Lithgow's performance as the mad Italian scientist Dr. Emilio Lizardo in W.D. Richter's 1984 sci-fi send-up The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai puts the lie to the old truism that in screen acting, less is more. More is definitely more here. And in George Miller's unforgettable episode “Terror at 20,000 Feet” Lithgow lets out all the stops playing a terrified flier convinced there's a monster on the wing of the airplane. After the screening of each movie, the star will be on the hand to explain the art of "acting big."
The 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival will screen over 200 feature films, shorts, and music videos, representing more than 40 countries. This year, the Festival received more than 4,700 submissions from around the world. The final selections represent 28 world, North American, and U.S. premieres, which more than doubled from 2009. The number of films competing in the narrative and documentary competition categories also increased this year from 13 to 18, of which half are world premieres. Other unique programs include poolside chats for producers, writers, actors, and composers and screenings of short films created by high school students.
LAFF organizes its overwhelming selection of films into special features and themes to help attendees focus on their interests. Besides the world premieres of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Despicable Me, this year's themes include:
- The Narrative Competition, comprised of films made by talented emerging filmmakers that compete for the Filmmaker Award.
- The Documentary Competition presents films that compete for the Documentary Award.
- The International Showcase highlights innovative independent narrative and documentary features from outside of the United States.
- The Summer Screenings section offers an advance look at this summer’s independent film releases from the festival circuit.
- The International Spotlight pays tribute to a forgotten giant of South American cinema, Argentina’s Leopoldo Torre Nilsson.
- Selections from the Ambulante Film Festival gives a peek into this traveling documentary film festival.
- Community Screenings, free to the public are also eligible for Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature or Best Documentary Feature.
- The Beyond offers films that dare to be different, pushing the boundaries of nightmares and gore.
- Special Screenings include the The Life of Richard Wagner (1913) and the Netflix FIND Your Voice Winner The Wheeler Boys.
- Other special features include the "UCLA Film & T.V. Archive: The Films That Got Away", "Downtown Confidential," and "The Film Foundation Screening Program."
Short attention span? You'll like the 33 short films and 60 music videos competing for awards. Shorts are shown before features and as part of five short film programs. Music videos will be shown in three parts, "Eclectic Mix 1 and 2" and "Big in Japan."
This year the festival moves from Westwood (home to UCLA's great film school) to downtown Los Angeles, which is in the midst of a cultural and architectural renaissance. Film Festival Director Rebecca Yeldham feels that LAFF has received tremendous support from the community for its move to downtown. "We can’t wait to present this rich, diverse program,” she said. “We’ve created a series of highly entertaining, memorable experiences for our filmmakers and audiences.”