First-timers feted

New L.A. fest aims to aid fledgling helmers

The old Hollywood scenario of a bunch of talented kids pooling resources to put on a show seems to have infected the festival scene.

According to Carlos de Abreu, founder of the forthcoming Hollywood Film Festival (Oct. 14-19), the idea of launching a new L.A.-based film event came out of a dinner conversation with several industry friends. De Abreu, a former senior exec with Cartier, sold company stock and signed up for UCLA Film School a decade ago. Since then he’s segued to such ventures as online script services and publishing activities that included his own New York Times bestseller, “Husband, Lover, Spy.”

A little over a year ago he was looking for ways to enhance several existing programs through new outlets or services. “Someone suggested putting on a film festival,” said de Abreu. “The initial response was rather chilly, but then Ted Kotcheff proposed holding an event that showcased only first-time filmmakers with orphan films — movies from around the world without distribution.”

Access to filmmakers

That basic idea remains the bedrock for the freshman outing. As with many of de Abreu’s film activities, the HFF has the lofty aim of providing access to filmmakers whose network doesn’t include relatives or friends in high places at the studios or solid connections among significant specialized players.

While many people discouraged him, de Abreu ruthlessly assailed friends and acquaintances and convinced, in addition to Kotcheff and his wife Laifun Chung, industry heavyweights Gene Hackman, Mike Medavoy, Rob Reiner and Mark Rydell to accept chairs in the fledgling event. More than 200 films have been submitted since June and organizers expect a major deluge as the Labor Day submission deadline draws ever closer.

The centerpiece of the maiden enterprise will be a selection of the best features, documentaries and shorts submitted for competition. There will be 20 programs, with daytime screenings taking place at the Hollywood Galaxy and nightly shows at Universal Studios and another pending location. A jury comprising industry professionals will determine cash prize winners in the following categories: Film Discovery, Digital, CyberAwards, MovieMaker Breakthrough and Hollywood Young Filmmakers.

There will also be career tributes and a daily program dedicated to Orson Welles hosted by his frequent collaborator Gary Graver.

Simultaneous with the film program, the event will run an exhaustive conference schedule titled “Opening the Doors to Hollywood,” held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Attached to the latter is a film market and nightly events for conference attendees and finalists in the competition sections.

Inquiries, submissions and conference reservations can be obtained by contacting the HFF at (310) 288-1882 or awards@hollywoodawards.com.

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