Hollywood rolls out the red carpet tonight in downtown L.A. for the 18th annual Los Angeles Film Festival. The 10-day event features a wide range of American and international cinema.
As the festival approached, organizers were busy doling out credentials and passes for hundreds of screenings representing more than 30 countries, from features to shorts to music videos.
“We started with about 5,300 submissions to the festival," says Doug Jones, who programs the event.
“And myself and a number of our programming team whittled it down to about 200 films and we were just really looking for the films that inspired us, that said something new and exciting that we really, really wanted to bring to Los Angeles to share with audiences here.”
Woody Allen’s film “To Rome with Love” opens the festival. The romantic comedy stars Allen himself, Alec Baldwin and Penelope Cruz:
“Woody’s gonna be there," Jones says. "But so will people who just bought a ticket and just came into it. We’re having ‘Brave,’ the new Disney Pixar film in the festival."
That means kids can see the animated feature before it officially opens nationwide on June 22. Festival organizers are also promoting some “don’t miss” films that might get less play outside the festival.
There’s “Return to Burma,” about a Chinese laborer’s bleak homecoming:
Or “Teddy Bear’” about a bodybuilding mama’s boy looking for love in Thailand:
Or the psychological drama simply titled “Four” about a lonely dad who shares his daughter’s search for a human connection. That ensemble piece with four characters, includes Wendell Pierce, formerly of HBO’s “The Wire.”
“You know you see that a lot," says Jones. "Established actors who are very happy with their big roles whether it be on film or on TV but they too like to do something a little different.”
Moviegoers can also choose from a slew of documentaries.
There’s “Sun Kissed," which explores how an American-Indian family struggles with a child’s deadly genetic disease:
Or “Call Me Kuchu,” about openly gay African activists fighting against hatred in Uganda:
Or “The Iran Job” about an American athlete who plays pro basketball in the Middle East:
Organizers will close the event on June 24 by announcing winners of the festival’s various competitions.
Programmer Doug Jones says the recognition gives emerging filmmakers exposure and some added perks.
“People get a very nice trophy and a $15,000 check... most filmmakers are very grateful for that, many of them have maxed out their credit cards.”
The nonprofit Film Independent is sponsoring the event. It took place in Hollywood up until three years ago when it moved to L.A. Live.
The group’s devised a mobile app that moviegoers can download to help track everything — from film summaries to screening times to restaurant and parking deals ... and maybe even the 411 on some festival parties.