The full lineup announced today for the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival includes Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s coming-of-age comedic drama The Way Way Back. The spendy Fox Searchlight pic has been tapped to close the fest, which runs June 13-23 downtown. The Film Independent-sponsored event includes gala presentations for Nicolas Winding Refn’s Ryan Gosling-starrer Only God Forgives and Ryan Googler’s Fruitvale Station, the Weinstein Company’s Sundance pickup that will play the month before in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. Pedro Almodovar’s comedy I’m So Excited! was already tapped to open the fest. Here’s the full lineup of more than 200 films, and 22 in the narrative and documentary competition categories, all of which boast world, North American or U.S. premieres:
David O Russell will also receive the Spirit of Independence Award at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, which is set for June 13-23 and opens with Pedro Almodovar’s comedy I’m So Excited!” …
Filmmaker and David Lynch collaborator Mary Sweeney replaces Bill Condon atop the board of the indie film organization, which among other events puts on the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Independent Spirit Awards (this year set for February 23 on the beach in Santa Monica and hosted by Andy Samberg). Film Independent‘s board members are Sweeney, Condon, Randy Barbato, Adriene Bowles, Effie T. Brown, Laura Dern, DeVon Franklin, Sid Ganis, Rodrigo García, Vondie Curtis Hall, Michael Helfant, Marcus Hu, Laura Kim, Sue Kroll, Kasi Lemmons, David Linde, Allan Mayer, Ted Mundorff, Gail Mutrux, Tom Ortenberg, Alan Poul, Cathy Schulman, Nancy Utley and Forest Whitaker. From today’s release:
Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk broke from the traditional gloom and doom many Los Angeles Film Festival keynoters have expressed regarding the future of showbiz. Noting that one previous speaker said, “and I quote: “The sky really is falling”, McGurk pointed out that “the only thing Hollywood has done better than building an industry is predicting its imminent demise.” Once again “doomsayers seem to be proclaiming the Seven Signs of the coming Indie Apocalypse” but McGurk said he sees “the Seven Signs of its Renaissance” — thanks to lower production and distribution costs because of the “digital revolution.” Despite having what he described a reputation as being “a suit” he said “I think I’ve actually become somewhat of a softie in regard to at least one aspect of the film business. Somewhere along my corporate ride in Hollywood, I fell in love with independent film.” McGurk sees enormous targeted opportunities for filmmakers, distributors, marketers and exhibitors. And variety that can satisfy broadly different kinds of people who love movies.
After opening the 2011 Cannes Film Festival winning raves (and an eventual Oscar for Original Screenplay) for Midnight In Paris, Woody Allen and Sony Pictures Classics dialed it down a bit for the North American …
The Steven Soderberg male-stripper pic Magic Mike will have its world premiere as the closing-night film at the Los Angeles Film Festival, which today released its official selections for the June 14-24 event. Warner Bros’ comedic drama stars Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer and Matthew McConaughery and details Tatum’s real-life experience as a stripper. It opens domestically June 29. Also among the titles announced is the world premiere of DreamWorks’ People Like Us, written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and directed by Kurtzman. Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass and Michelle Pfeiffer star in the film set in the Summer Showcase sidebar. The festival’s slate of almost 200 feature films, short films, and music videos represent more than 30 countries. It already had announced that Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love would kick off the 2012 event as the opening-night film. Here’s the full lineup, with panels and surrounding events to be announced at a later date:
LOS ANGELES (February 14, 2012) – The Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) announced today that the 2012 Locations Show will be held June 15 – 16 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The AFCI Locations Show is essential for industry professionals seeking access to the funds, locations and services essential to film and television production. It is the only event to bring hundreds of film commissioners from all over the world, representing billions of dollars in support and financial incentives.
Taking advantage of the new venue, the AFCI Locations Show 2012 will feature conference sessions, panel discussions, mentoring roundtables, networking opportunities, social events and workshops designed to provide industry professionals with important tools and insights necessary to compete in today’s competitive marketplace.
This year, for the first time, the Locations Show will also run concurrently with the opening weekend of the Los Angeles Film Festival. The Festival, running from June 14-24, is centered around L.A. LIVE and produced by the non-profit arts organization Film Independent. It has attracted upwards of 90,000 visitors, and in 2011, screened over 200 features, shorts and music videos from more than 30 countries. Additionally, the Festival features conversations with guest artists and access to some of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers, film industry professionals and emerging talent from around the world.
The closing-night film of the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, was designed to scare the crap out of the audience. But who knew the real nightmares would come from the actual screening itself.
Just an hour into the world premiere of the movie Sunday night the Regal L.A. Live theater, the emergency warning system started flashing lights accompanied by a siren-like noise and an announcement that audience members should vacate the premises immediately due to an “emergency in the building.” Everyone got up and marched outside before the all-clear was quickly declared (a false alarm), the auditorium filled again and the film restarted at the crucial point it left off. And you wonder why producers get ulcers.
But THAT was nothing compared to the nightmare end of the movie that surrounded audience members from that screening (and the overflow house upstairs) who simultaneously had to retrieve their cellphones and BlackBerrys that had been seized for fear of piracy when they entered the theater. The crush as final credits rolled was mammoth as theater personnel slowly took claim tickets and acted like they were on a scavenger hunt. The guy searching for my phone finally came back and rather pathetically asked me, ‘Uh, what color is it?’ to which I replied ‘Black,’ like every single other friggin’ one there.
FilmDistrict (which is releasing the film Aug. 26) distribution honcho Bob Berney came over during the forced intermission of the showing to say that co-writer/producer Guillermo del Toro thought the unplanned interruption was the dirty work of Bob Weinstein or the MPAA (which gave his film an unwanted ‘R’ rating for “violence and terror,” particularly since it involved a minor, according to Berney).
The 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival gave two juried awards: the Narrative Award recognizes the finest narrative film in competition at the festival and went to Stéphane Lafleur for the North American premiere of Familiar Ground, while the Documentary Award recognizes the finest documentary film in competition and went to Beverly Kopf and Bobbie Birleffi for the world premiere of Wish Me Away. Each carries an unrestricted $15,000 cash prize funded by Film Independent for the winning film’s director to pursue their artistic ambitions. The award for Best Performance in the Narrative Competition went to Amber Sealey, Kent Osborne, Amanda Street and Gabriel Diamond for their performances in Amber Sealey’s How to Cheat.
UPDATE: Graham Taylor, one of the top dealmakers in packaging and brokering distribution deals for independent films, gave a lively keynote speech at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Taylor gave Martin Scorsese a run for his money in terms of the music cues he employed in his speech to make his points about the improving indie film marketplace:
Money Talks And Art Matters, Graham Taylor, LAFF 2011 Keynote
[Music cue: We Will Rock You by Queen]
Never in the history of the movie business has there been a better time for the Independents to be entrepreneurial. The balance of power between Studios, Indies and Consumers is changing. Whether you are a filmmaker, producer, financier, distributer, or executive, now is the time to embrace the change. We are after all in the middle of a revolution, and nobody puts baby in the corner.
I asked my friend Bill Pullman to say a few words on the state of the independent film business over the past few years.
[roll clip of Bill Pullmans infamous speech in “Independence Day”]
[Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft [filmmakers] from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial (festival) battle in this history of mankind [the movies]. Mankind [The movies] — that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps its fate that today is the 4th of July [LAFF], and you will once again be fighting for our freedom, not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution [Harvey] — but from annihilation. We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist. And should we win the day, the 4th of July [LAFF] will no longer be known as an American holiday [film festival], but as the day when the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!” Today, we celebrate our Independence Day [Film]!]
Good Morning. Thanks to Rebecca Yeldham and LAFF for asking me to speak today and kickoff a series of discussions over the weekend. When I asked Rebecca had she in fact meant to ask Graham King to speak instead, her response (buried with a disarming Aussie accent) was “well love, he is smarter and more successful, but he wasn’t available.” LAFF titled this morning’s discussion “Money Talks and Art Matters.” The convergence of film, art and commerce. This is a subject I am pretty well versed on. After all, my dad was a PhD economist and my mother an artist. Both Berkeley grads and present during the era of the sit-down protest, our home in Portland, Oregon was littered with Econ theory books, paintings in progress, and Birkenstocks.
From a young age I was forced to read my dad’s anti-trust testimony on the Utility Industry (you know, the sexy stuff), and at the same time was winning the Oregon State Fair’s mother/son weaving competition. Yes, I had a mean cross-over stitch. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: like an even blend of both parents, as a former producer and now as an agent, I am still right in the middle of the relationship between the artist and the money. A couples therapist, if you will. I build companies, enable artists and activate content. For me it’s simple: I love movies and I and love the movie business.
Like all of us, I have unwittingly found myself front and center in the time of a revolution, when the only way to act is entrepreneurially. In order to operate effectively I have had to relearn lessons from the past. After all, in the movie business history has a funny way of repeating itself. Over the last 100 years, our business has had a few constants. Hollywood has produced and distributed content globally with more than 90% of it controlled by a handful of studios. In the 20th century, the greatest American export has been entertainment. The studios have operated sophisticated machinery that ships content globally, reaching anyone, anywhere.
At odds over economic realities, the relationship between the indies and the studios has always been a precarious one. This strained relationship has resembled an ad for the Olive Garden. The studio says “Hey, we treat you like family,” but instead they have consumed artists and money like the unlimited bread bowls put forth. In the same way that no self-respecting Italian from the old country would dine there, we as Independents have been forced to seek other options to carbo-load.
In 1919, when Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks created United Artists, it was an entrepreneurial reaction to the studio system. Artists and money banding together to create something different, introducing the idea of the “Independent.” At the time Metro Pictures head Richard Rowland said “the inmates are taking over the asylum,” in reference to the four actors starting UA and going up against the studios. People thought they were bonkers, but their passion and entrepreneurial spirit to create content and get it directly to consumers was an inspired mission. Sadly those principles at UA eventually disbanded 20 years later and the Golden Age of Hollywood settled in, effectively creating a caste system. Minus a few anomalies, it would again take the artists to rise up in the late 60s and early 70s, when a crop of groundbreaking films and entrepreneurs would take shape and give rise to Independents. A number of independent companies would fly high and fan out throughout the 70s and 80s and for the first time, the studios truly sourced outside financing, often from other countries.
In 1990, some pre-pubescent Mutant Turtles well versed in martial arts would kick the box office’s ass to 100 million. This showed the world the economic power of the independent film and institutionalized our peeps. The studios in turn responded, opening “indie divisions” and giving Independents a real seat at the table for the first time.
Although the Cannes Film Festival just ended three weeks ago, there’s always another film fest around the corner trying to steal its thunder and become part of the cinematic conversation. On Thursday night, the Los Angeles Film Festival, now in its 17th year, opened with the world premiere of the Richard Linklater (School of Rock, Dazed and Confused) comedy Bernie, with stars Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey joining its writer-director in introducing the film at downtown L.A.’s LA Live Regal Cinemas, where the fest moved last year. Not that it’s easy navigating the Los Angeles freeways at rush hour to get downtown, an off-the-beaten track place to premiere your movie, but the unapologetic black comedy and true-life tale of a small-town undertaker who caters to the much-hated Texas town’s matron until he reaches for a gun was worth the herculean effort navigating the annoying traffic jams and $25 parking fee (I didn’t read the signs carefully) just to see this splendid trio of actors deliver terrific performances backed by a great supporting group of locals who won big laughs throughout.
Bernie is an acquistion title and likely will be snapped up immediately by some enterprising distributor even though it’s not an obvious commercial hit. It is Black’s best work in some time. It could develop a following on the indie circuit though, and it certainly had the crowd (which included well-wishers like Linklater friend Steven Soderbergh and wife Jules Asner) buzzing at the crowded after-party on the L.A. Live parking garage rooftop.
Film Independent (which runs the fest as well as the Spirit Awards) board members I spoke to at the premiere are hopeful Bernie could become the fest’s first big breakout acquisition title, and reps from many indie distribs were in attendance. In fact, the fest delayed announcement of its opening film until after the Cannes festival was over because producers did not want to be inundated with calls about acquiring the film during that market and wanted to wait until it could premiere cold in L.A., a big tribute to the growing clout of LAFF.