LA Film Festival 2014 (June, 11-19)
Opening film, Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Snowpiercer’, eventually arrives in the US after the South Korean auteur’s well publicised dispute with Harvey ‘Scissorhands’ Weinstein over non-director cuts.
Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of Broadway’s Four Season’s musical ‘Jersey Boys’, starring Christopher Walken and John Lloyd Young, receives a North American premiere as the closing film, a day before starting its theatrical run.
There are further festival outings for Justin Simien’s ‘Dear White People’ and Hossein Amini’s ‘The Two Faces of January’ ahead of their limited North American theatrical releases this coming October.
The narrative competition has seven world premieres, including the final part of Mike Ott’s desert trilogy, ‘Lake Los Angeles’.
And the documentary counterpart boasts the first public screening of ‘Stray Dog’, Debra Granik’s keenly awaited follow up to her Oscar nominated ‘Winter’s Bone’.
North American Premiere
Lee Yong-Seung’s debut feature, ’10 Minutes’, receives its North American premiere after enjoying festival success in Asia. Baek Jong-hwan and Lee See-won star in this contemporary drama that explores professional competition in the workplace and family pressures at home. It picked up the FIPRESCI Prize at Pusan and Hong Kong and the Golden Wheel at Vesoul Asian.
Sam Esmail launches his idiosyncratic comedy, ‘Comet’, starring the Golden Globe nominated Emmy Rossum (‘The Phantom of the Opera’) alongside Justin Long. It’s a non-chronological telling of a six-year romance between an unlikely couple and should comfortably fit into the indie romCom sub-genre. Esmail’s only previous directorial experience was with the short, ‘Deep Down in Florida’, which debuted at the AFI Fest ten years ago.
Lake Los Angeles
Mike Ott launches a feature at LAFF for the first time since his debut film, ‘Analog Days’, eight years ago. And the film’s location is at the nearby Lake Los Angeles, a Sixties artificial paradise resort gone wrong and now a waste land for society’s outsiders with nowhere else to go. Otto looks at it from the perspective of two illegal immigrants; one a Cuban exile working at a holding house and the other a 10 year old Mexican girl who has lost contact with her family. Both came to the US searching for a promised land and discovered the ghost of an artificial American Dream instead, a tragic but familiar irony. It seems to have the same spirit as Alma Har’el’s outstanding ‘Bombay Beach’, a fitting conclusion to Ott’s desert trilogy after ‘Littlerock’ and ‘Pearblossom Hwy’. Strictly speaking, Ott gives us a narrative drama and Har’el a documentary, but they are likely to meet at the half way point with a fusion of the two disciplines. There are high expectations for this one.
Man From Reno
Dave Boyle changes direction from his trademark comedy dramas to the thriller genre but continues to explore bilingual Japanese/English story-lines. Ayako Fujitani plays a Japanese novelist in America who becomes involved with a real life mystery case of the kind that would normally find its way into her novels. It will be interesting to see whether Boyle can give a twist of his own to this familiar concept.
Recommended By Enrique
Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia
Loosely based on a true story, Rania Attieh’s and Daniel Garcia’s latest collaboration, ‘Recommended By Enrique’, is set in the border town of Del Rio, Texas. The film features two strangers; a hopeful actress coming to terms with a no-show film director and an ageing cowboy whose associate has had to pack his bags in a hurry. It offers an obvious ready made opportunity for exploring celebrity, social constructs, other filmic myths and an array of different ‘borders’ that extend beyond the geographical. The filmmakers previously made the Lebanese drama, ‘Ok, Enough, Goodbye’.
Kimberly Levin makes her feature debut with ‘Runoff’ (formerly known as ‘Land of Tomorrow’), a tough rural drama in the American indie tradition. It looks at the desperate reality of a rundown economy in America’s backwater and Joanne Kelly stars as a mother who commits a serious crime to keep her family farm solvent when her husband falls ill. Emerging cinematographer, Hermes Marco, shot the film.
Someone You Love
Pernille Fischer Christensen
North American Premiere
Pernille Fischer Christensen’s fourth feature, ‘Someone You Love’ receives its North American premiere after debuting at Berlin earlier this year with a special gala screening. This followed Christensen’s previous successes in Berlin’s main competition with ‘A Soap’ and ‘The Family’, which picked up the Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear and international critics’ FIPRESCI Prize respectively. In the latest, Mikael Persbrandt, best known for starring in Susanne Bier’s Oscar winner, ‘In a Better World’, plays a world renowned singer-songwriter, who discovers new family ties and perspectives after returning from L.A. to Denmark when cutting a new album.
Brooklyn filmmaker, Nathan Silver, is a familiar figure on the festival circuit but yet to reach a wider indie audience. Silver has approached filmmaking as an organic collaboration, encouraging his actors to improvise on set and we can expect more of the same with his fourth feature, ‘Uncertain Terms’. It’s a romantic comedy set in a boarding house for pregnant teens where the owner’s nephew is caught in a complex love triangle.
The Young Kieslowski
Kerem Sanga’s low budget second feature, ‘The Young Kieslowski’, is a rites of passage comedy drama starring Ryan Malgarini and Haley Lu Richardson. It seems to tread some familiar ground – almost inevitably – but a quirky twist on the sub-genre’s usual conventional plotting gives the film a chance of standing out from the crowd. Two awkward youngsters unprepared for adult responsibilities discover that they are having twins.generic cialis tabs cialis online nabp buy cialis ebaygeneric cialis effectiveness buy generic cialis online australia buying cialis online canada cialis daily cost canada
Dave Boyle’s neo-noir thriller, ‘Man From Reno’, starring Ayako Fujitani and Pepe Serna, has picked up best narrative drama at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival. It’s his fifth feature and has a Japanese crime writer becoming involved in a San Francisco murder mystery of the kind that would normally unfold within her novels. Although Boyle continues his interest in Asian-American themes, it also marks a departure away from the filmmaker’s trademark ‘slice of life’ style to a plot based narrative.
The corresponding documentary award went to LAFF’s most keenly anticipated competition title, Debra Granik’s ‘Stray Dog’. It’s the follow up to her Oscar nominated ‘Winter’s Bone’ and features a Vietnam Vet who defies expectations.
Kerem Sanga’s low budget rites of passage comedy drama, ‘The Young Kieslowski’, and Geeta and Ravi Patel’s real life Indian-American romance portrait, ‘Meet the Patels’ won the narrative and documentary audience awards respectively.
The Ensemble Cast prize went to Rania Attieh’s and Daniel García’s idiosyncratic border town drama, ‘Recommended by Enrique’.
And Eliza Kubarska’s Borneo fishermen doc, ‘Walking Under Water’, received an honourable mention.
Narrative Award (for Best Narrative Feature)
Winner: Man From Reno, directed by Dave Boyle
Producer: Ko Mori
Cast: Ayako Fujitani, Pepe Serna, Kazuki Kitamura
Documentary Award (for Best Documentary Feature)
Winner: Stray Dog, directed by Debra Granik
Honorable Mention: Walking Under Water, directed by Eliza Kubarska
LA Muse Award
Winner: Los Ángeles by Damian John Harper
Cast: Mateo Bautísta Matías, Marcos Rodriguez Ruíz, Lidia García, Daniel Bautista, Donaciano Bautista Matías
Performance in the Narrative Competition
Winner: The Ensemble Cast of Recommended by Enrique, directed by Rania Attieh and Daniel García
Cast: Lino Vareia, Sarah Swinwood
Audience Award for Narrative Feature
Winner: The Young Kieslowski, directed by Kerem Sanga
Cast: Ryan Malgarini, Haley Lu Richardson, Joshua Malina, Melora Walters, James Le Gros, Osric Chau, Jessica Lu, John Redlinger
Audience Award for Documentary Feature
Winner: Meet the Patels, directed by Geeta V. Patel and Ravi V. Patel
Audience Award for International Feature
Winner: Someone You Love, directed by Pernille Fischer Christensen
Award for Narrative Short Film
Winner: The Runaway, directed by Jean-Bernard Marlin. France
Award for Documentary Short Film
Winner: The Queen, directed by Manuel Abramovich. Argentina
Award for Animated/Experimental Short Film
Winner: Butter Lamp, directed by Hu Wei. China/France
Audience Award for Short Film
Winner: The Gunfighter, directed by Eric Kissack
Cast: Nick Offerman, Shawn Parsons, Scottt Beehner, Eileen O’Connell, Jordan Black
Audience Award for Music Video
Winner: Turn Down For What: Lil Jon and DJ Snake directed by Daniels
Music: Lil Jon & DJ Snake
10 Minutes, Dir. Lee Yong-Seung, South Korea. North American Premiere.
Comet, Dir. Sam Esmail, USA. World Premiere.
Lake Los Angeles, Dir. Mike Ott, USA. World Premiere.
Man From Reno, Dir. Dave Boyle, USA. World Premiere.
Recommended By Enrique, Dir. Rania Attieh, Daniel Garcia, USA/Argentina/France. World Premiere.
Runoff, Dir. Kimberly Levin, USA. World Premiere.
Someone You Love, Dir. Pernille Fischer Christensen, Denmark. North American Premiere.
Uncertain Terms, Dir. Nathan Silver, USA. World Premiere.
The Young Kieslowski, Dir. Kerem Sanga, USA. World Premiere.
Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound, Dir. William J. Saunders, USA. World Premiere.
The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest, Dir. Gabriel London, USA/Canada. US Premiere.
Meet the Patels, Dirs. Geeta V. Patel, Ravi V. Patel, USA/India. US Premiere.
My Name Is Salt, Dir. Farida Pacha, Switzerland/India. North American Premiere.
Out in the Night, Dir. blair dorosh-walther, USA. World Premiere.
Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story, Dir. N.C. Heikin, USA. World Premiere.
Stray Dog, Dir. Debra Granik, USA. World Premiere.
Walking Under Water, Dir. Eliza Kubarska, Poland/Germany/UK. US Premiere.