Event uses big pics as lures for challenging fare

Settling in for its third year in Westwood Village, the Los Angeles Film Festival can now be seen to have largely succeeded in its experiment to relocate the festival to one of the city’s most concentrated and theater-centric neighborhoods. Now the event has been able to corral major studio pics to anchor a 10-day program dedicated to new American and foreign indie films.

“We’re starting to see the character of the festival coming into focus,” says LAFF director Rich Raddon. “We’ve always seen it as a celebration of all kinds of films, from independent to foreign to studio, but the studios have been skeptical about premiering their movies at festivals, including ours. With big summer movies like ‘Wanted’ (opener) and ‘Hellboy II’ (closer), I think we can draw in more general moviegoers to expose them to other kinds of work they may not have seen before.”

Program director Rachel Rosen points to how, “without planning it, we’re presenting a fascinating overview of older and almost entirely unseen American independent films,” such as UCLA Film Archive’s restored print of John Cassavetes’ “Shadows,” short films by George and Mike Kuchar, Robert Kramer’s 1970 pic “Ice” and a double bill of Kramer’s 1975 counterculture classic “Milestones” (a new restoration direct from Cannes) along with Jerry Schatzberg’s “Reunion,” the latter starring Jason Robards and written by Harold Pinter.

“And let’s not forget a fabulous survey of Hong Kong gems by the Shaw Brothers,” Rosen adds.

LAFF also is launching a new film-financing market dubbed “Fast Track,” designed to link in-works projects with producers and financiers.

TIP SHEET:

When: June 19-29

Where: Westwood Village

Web: www.lafilmfest.com

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