×

L.A. Film Fest Sidebars Add to Awards Bounty

There are many ways to be a winner at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival. In addition to the standard fiction and documentary sections, the 21st edition includes three other competitive categories: L.A. Muse (now in its second year, with 10 films), Nightfall (eight tales of the bizarre and horrifying) and Zeitgeist (six stories about young people).

“There were so many strong world premieres by emerging directors, we couldn’t put 50-plus films in one or two competitions,” says associate director of programming and curated content Roya Rastegar.

The new sections were set up not only to accommodate the influx of films, but also as a way to “create a context, so these films can connect with their audiences, and have a bright light on them for press and industry,” Rastegar says.

Director Will Slocombe, in this year’s L.A. Muse competition with “The Escort,” agrees. “I love any time you can have more curation in a film festival,” he says. “Whenever you’re trying to present a film, you’re looking for ways to delineate it. Being in this specific category helps that.”

Last year, the festival experimented with the competitive L.A. Muse sidebar as a way to celebrate the high concentration of independent filmmakers in the City of Angels. “As a festival inspired by and based in L.A., we wanted to showcase original voices that offer distinct perspectives that capture the spirit of the city and the energy of its diverse communities,” Rastegar says.

Popular on Variety

Like Sundance’s Next section, however, L.A. Muse — which featured the David Oyelowo film “Nightingale” last year — and its new sister categories may not be considered as prestigious as the main competitive sections. But filmmakers aren’t complaining.

Last year’s inaugural L.A. Muse winner Damian John Harper, whose film “Los Angeles” is actually set in Oaxaca, Mexico, says he was honored to be in the sidebar because it “felt more concentrated and tailored.” And his prize, he says, helped boost the film’s profile with the Cannes Film Festival, where he was accepted into the Cinéfondation residency program.

“If the film had only won prizes in Europe and Latin America, I don’t think it would have been the same,” he says. “They viewed it as if my very small, neorealisic film had struck a chord at the heart of Hollywood.”

Jamie Zelermyer, producer of Nightfall entry “Ratter,” doesn’t see any downsides to the new competition. “It’s great that more films have a chance of winning an award,” he says, “and receiving the visibility that comes along with that.”

More Film

  • Lamia Chraïbi Teams With Hicham Lasri

    Lamia Chraibi Teams With Hicham Lasri on Pan-Arab Supernatural Series 'Meskoun' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Lamia Chraibi, a leading producer of daring films from the Middle East and North Africa region, is developing “Meskoun,” an ambitious pan-Arab genre-bending series with Moroccan filmmaker Hicham Lasri (“Jahilya”) on board as showrunner. Chraibi (“Mimosas”) will produce the 14-episode series with her Moroccan banner La Prod, along with Mohamed Hefzy’s Egyptian company Film Clinic, [...]

  • Leap! first draft picks

    ATF: Leap! to Discover the Next Generation of Singapore Talent

    Singapore has launched a scheme to help find the next generation of filmmakers from the South East Asia region. Local content producers Blue3Asia and CreativesAtWork, with the support of Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority launched the Leap!, a short film production scheme at the ongoing Asian TV Forum & Market on Thursday. Seven filmmakers from [...]

  • Mikhail Red

    ScreenSingapore: Mikhail Red Announces Philippines Western ‘Arisaka’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Cult Filipino filmmaker, Mikhail Red will direct “Arisaka,” a film named after a World War II Japanese bolt-action rifle. “It’s a Western based on a famous massacre that happened in the Philippines,” Red told Variety. Philippines production house Ten17P, whose credits include Lav Diaz’s “A Lullaby To The Sorrowful Mystery” and Paul Soriano’s “Mananita,” will [...]

  • Stephen Graham Venom 2

    'Irishman' Star Stephen Graham Joins 'Venom 2'

    Stephen Graham is set to join Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams in Sony’s “Venom 2,” with Hardy returning as the titular anti-hero. Andy Serkis is set to direct, and Naomie Harris and Woody Harrelson are also on board. Sony had no comment on the casting. The original film was a huge hit for the studio [...]

  • Sundance Winner Eugene Jarecki Prepares ‘Tuareg

    Sundance Winner Eugene Jarecki Prepares 'Tuareg Project' in Morocco

    Eugene Jarecki – two times winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize – for “Why We Fight” (2005) and “The House I Live In” (2012) – is preparing an untitled “Tuareg Project,” that he will shoot in Morocco. The pic will be produced by Addison O’Dea (“Discovery TRVLR”), and line produced by Moroccan producer Zakaria [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content