The Los Angeles Film Festival at a Glance

Increasing in popularity every year, the Los Angeles Film Festival, now in its seventeenth edition, has become a prominent hub for filmmakers and film lovers. The two week event begins today, Thursday, June 16 and ends Sunday, June 26, and will represent over 200 features, shorts, and music videos, from more than 30 countries. Here are a few screenings and events you won’t want to miss.

Galas:
The festival will hold a series of gala events beginning with the much anticipated comic book film Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. Fans of Carey Mulligan and Ryan Gosling are also in for a treat as the two pair up in the action drama Drive shot in downtown L.A. The Devil’s Double, starring Dominic Cooper and based on a true story, follows an Iraqi army lieutenant ordered to become the body double for Uday Hussein the “Black Prince." Last but not least, A Better Life is the suspenseful tale of an illegal immigrant in Los Angeles struggling to build a better life for his beloved son.

Conversations and Panels:
James Franco, the talented – and ever-achieving - Oscar nominee, will present The Broken Tower, his directorial debut on the life of early 20th century American Poet Hart Crane. Shot in black and white, the biopic follows the poet through New York, Cuba and Paris.

The festival will also be celebrating the life of Sidney Lumet, considered one of the greatest film directors for his compelling, complex narratives. Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan will moderate a discussion with guest panelists Andy Garcia, Quincy Jones, Naomi Foner and Frank Pierson (both writers that worked with Lumet on some of his most impressive films).

Community Screenings:
Nothing like enjoying some oldies but goodies. The LAFF will be screening a handful of classic films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Stand by Me (1986) and Boyz n the Hood (1991).

Summer Showcase:
With almost two dozen titles to choose, this group of films include Academy Award nominee Vera Farmiga directorial project Higher Ground, a moving story about human relationships, faith and God. Another Earth, explores the notion of what would happen if a second earth existed. Page One: Inside the New York Times chronicles the transformation of print journalism during its greatest time of turmoil. John C. Reilly stars in Terri, a dark comedy centered on a high school outsider struggling to find himself. And perhaps the only family-friendly film to be showcased, Winnie The Pooh, lovingly animated by hand, will take filmgoers back to Hundred Acre Woods.

Cinecultura:
Dedicated to multiculturalism the festival has a distinct line-up of Cuban and Latino films. Operation Peter Pan: Flying Back to Cuba is a heart-wrenching documentary by Estela Bravo who follows Cuban children, now adults, who were separated from their parents during the Cuban Revolution as they attempt to return to their homeland for the first time. Paraiso for Sale is another poignant documentary about modern day colonialism in Panama. Natalia Almada debuts The Night Watchman (El Velador), a dark story focusing on the most ornate cemeteries in northern Mexico where drug lords and corrupt cops are laid to rest. Acclaimed Cuban director Fernando Pérez’s Suite Habana begins at the break of dawn and in just 24 hours takes viewers through the daily rituals of ten Cubans.

Closing Night:
Guillermo Del Toro, writer and producer of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, will close the festival with a star-studded red carpet premiere.

For a full list of events, visit www.lafilmfest.com

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