×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

L.A. takes top billing at LAFF

Fest features a variety of locally shot pics

Perhaps the biggest star at the 17th Los Angeles Film Festival, opening today downtown Los Angeles, is Los Angeles itself.

Fest, which runs to June 26, features a number of locally shot pics such as Kat Coiro’s comedy “Life Happens,” Chris Weitz’s family drama “A Better Life,” Sheldon Larry’s voguing feature “Leave It on the Floor,” Nicholas Ozeki’s Echo Park-set “Mamitas” and Azazel Jacobs’ teen pic “Terri.”

“We shot ‘A Better Life’ in 69 different locations in L.A., so we never really though about shooting anywhere else,” Weitz told Variety. “To have my film open in the heart of Los Angeles just feels right. As someone who’s lived here for 20 years, this is a nice way to break through.”

The festival drew 92,000 attendees last year after moving downtown from Westwood. The event, produced by Film Independent, received more than 5,025 submissions from filmmakers compared to more than 4,700 in 2010.

Last year’s event was similarly strong on pics set in L.A., including “The Kids Are All Right” and “Cyrus,” while the 2009 edition screened “(500) Days of Summer.”

Though the Los Angeles fest doesn’t have the acquisitions scene of events like Cannes, Toronto or Sundance, filmmakers say there’s a real zing to being able to screen a film where shooting took place.

“The festival is like having a little Sundance in our own backyard,” Coiro said. “So having everyone who worked on the film — which was shot in Silver Lake and Eagle Rock — is going to be a lot of fun and very unique. I think it would lose a lot if it weren’t shot in L.A. because it deals with these L.A. girls raising a baby so it feels believable to have shot it here. When you think of L.A. in film, you normally think of Sunset Boulevard and Malibu.”

Silver Lake resident Coiro just finished the titles for “Life Happens,” which screens Saturday. “I had to do two 24-hour editing sessions,” she added.

Both “Terri” and “A Better Life” qualified for tax credits under California’s incentive program.

“Getting my film into the Los Angeles festival is a huge deal for me,” Jacobs said. “I wasn’t able to figure out how to make in New York so I came out here to start studying at AFI. So I’ve been able to make it work out here.”

Jacobs shot “Terri” in Altadena last summer in search of an “Anytown, USA” kind of look. “I’m so pleased that the cast and crew are going to be there at the screening,” he added.

Jacobs is a repeat L.A. fest filmmaker whose first film “Momma’s Man” screened several years ago — enabling him to meet producer Alison Dickey and actor John C. Reilly, which led to their participation in “Terri.”

Lee Tamahori said he was overjoyed that his mystery “Devil’s Double” — shot in Malta — was added to the screening schedule after being shown in Sundance and Berlin. It’s his first festival pic since his debut with “We Were Warriors” 16 years ago in Montreal.

“I’m impressed that the L.A. Festival keeps upping the ante,” he added. “This takes me back to my beginnings with ‘Warriors.’ ”

The festival also announced its juries Wednesday, with the narrative jury consisting of director Lynn Shelton, Giant Robot founder Eric Nakamura and screenwriter Daniel Waters. The docu jury comprises helmer Jeff Malmberg, Intl. Documentary Assn. exec director Michael Lumpkin and Laurie Ochoa, co-editor of Slake magazine.

Casting director Margery Simkin, film critic Alonso Duralde and actress Lisa Gay Hamilton are on the shorts jury. Cash awards include $15,000 for best narrative and docu features.

The winners will be announced June 26 at the awards brunch, hosted by Allison Janney and Reilly.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • PORNOMELANCHOLIA

    Berlin Winner Manuel Abramovich’s “Pornomelancholia” Taps French Funding (EXCLUSIVE)

    MEXICO CITY — Argentina’s Manuel Abramovich, a 2019 Berlinale Silver Bear winner for “Blue Boy,” has tapped French funding for its follow-up, “Pornomelancholia,” one of the highest-profile projects at Mexico’s Los Cabos Film Festival, which kicks off today with a gala screening of “The Irishman,” Financing from the Region Nouvelle-Aquitaine, a building film-TV hub in [...]

  • CDMX-Film-Pitchbox

    Filmarket Hub Announces Projects for First CDMX Film Pitchbox (EXCLUSIVE)

    When Variety unveiled the CDMX Film Pitchbox, a new movie project pitching forum that will take place in Mexico City on Nov. 29, organizer Filmarket Hub announced that executives from Alazraki Entertainment, Cinema 226, Cinépolis, Lemon Studios, Perro Azul and VCS Capital had already confirmed they would attend. Since then, Dynamo, Endemol Shine Boomdog, Exile Content Studio, [...]

  • Flora y Fauna

    Los Cabos Pix-in-Post Draw Picture of a Troubled Mexican Nation

    MEXICO CITY —  A portrait of age-old custom (“Gods of Mexico”), a troubled mother-son relationship (“Summer White”) and three film which came in at Mexico’s heart of darkness – its violence – from different angles, shape a Work in Progress section at this year’s Los Cabos which could hardly be more concerned about the current [...]

  • The Sweeties

    China's Phoenix Buys Italian Body-Positivity Comedy 'Sweeties'

    Chinese distributor Phoenix Entertainment Group has bought all China rights to the Italian comedic drama “The Sweeties” from Germany-based Media Luna New Films. The movie is the second feature from director Francesco Ghiaccio and stars Valeria Solarino, Vinicio Marchioni and four young newcomers in their acting debut. It deals with issues of bullying and body-shaming [...]

  • The Upside TIFF

    'The Upside' Poised for China Theatrical Release

    “The Upside,” a 2017 American remake of the 2011 hit French drama “The Intouchables,” will get a China release on Nov. 22. The film was directed by Neil Burger and stars Nicole Kidman, Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston. It tells the story of an unlikely friendship that forms between a rich quadriplegic and the struggling [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Virginia Leith, Female Lead in Stanley Kubrick's First Film, Dies at 94

    Actress and model Virginia Leith, who starred in Stanley Kubrick’s first film “Fear and Desire,” which he later disavowed, has died. She was 94. According to family spokesperson Jane Chalmers, Leith died after a brief illness at her home in Palm Springs, Calif. on Nov. 4. Born on Oct. 15, 1925, Leith met Kubrick in [...]

  • Sarah Bolger's 'A Good Woman Is

    Film News Roundup: Sarah Bolger's 'A Good Woman Is Hard to Find' Bought by Film Movement

    In today’s film news roundup, “A Good Woman Is Hard to Find” and “After Parkland” find homes, Jack Johnson is honored, AGC closes deals on Neill Blomkamp’s latest and Paramount is in talks for a “Power to the People” project. ACQUISITIONS Film Movement has bought North American rights to the thriller “A Good Woman Is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content