You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Los Angeles Film Festival Reaffirms Commitment to Diversity

Culver City gets ready for its closeup as fest moves to new Arclight venue

This year, Ava DuVernay’s distribution company Array and Ryan Coogler were chosen as honorees at the Los Angeles Film Festival. And while that might look to outsiders like a sly riposte to the recent outcry over the lack of diversity at the Hollywood majors, Film Independent [FIND] has “been in the business of diversifying Hollywood for 30 years,” says LAFF director Stephanie Allain.

“We’re not responding to #OscarsSoWhite, we’re doing what we’ve always done,” Allain says.

DuVernay herself demurs at the suggestion the fest honor is a reaction to the recent controversy. “It’s disingenuous to suggest that every outreach at this point to anyone who’s not a white man is a reaction to … the state of affairs,” she says. “This is not a hashtag or a current trend. It is a reality for me.”

Array was born of a collaboration among black film festivals, film societies and film lovers who weren’t seeing themselves represented on screen. DuVernay accepted this year’s honor because it is “an amplification of all the people that have worked here the last five years. The infrastructure that I provided for [Array] it is what I did, but it is not me [alone].”

Along with a few changes in programming this year — like instituting a one-night-only screening for each film to encourage busy Angelenos’ commitment to getting into theater seats — LAFF moved from downtown to Culver City’s new Arclight.

“We had a really great run downtown,” Allain says. In fact, LAFF participated in the renaissance of downtown Los Angeles as one of the longest running art events. “Now, Arclight presents the opportunity to be all over the city.”

There’s no concern of being tainted by “Hollywood” because of proximity to the studio hub. Indeed, LAFF tries to capitalize on such access by inviting managers, agents, buyers and studio execs to screenings and events, as well as their filmmaker retreat. “It’s a town of connections,” says Allain. “One of those connections — made at the retreat — just sold a film to Showtime.”

More Scene

  • Armie Hammer and Felicity Jones'On the

    Why Armie Hammer Cooked for the Cast of 'On the Basis of Sex'

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to her hometown on Sunday for the New York premiere of “On the Basis of Sex,” a biopic starring Felicity Jones tells the Supreme Court justice’s origin story. The 85-year-old Brooklynite received a standing ovation when she entered the Walter Reade Theater — a testament to the Notorious RBG’s rock-star status. Ginsburg [...]

  • Nicole KidmanWarner Bros. Pictures World Premiere

    How James Wan Convinced Nicole Kidman to Star in 'Aquaman'

    While some actors dream of playing a superhero, that wasn’t the case for the cast of “Aquaman.” “I knew nothing about this,” Amber Heard, who plays Mera in the James Wan-directed action film, told Variety at the movie’s Los Angeles premiere. “I knew nothing about comic books in general. I didn’t know anything about this [...]

  • Hugh Jackman'To Kill a Mockingbird' Broadway

    'To Kill a Mockingbird's' Starry Opening: Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and More

    The Shubert Theatre in New York City was filled on Thursday night with Oscar winners, media titans, and, of course, Broadway legends who came out for the opening of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The starry guest list included Oprah Winfrey, Barry Diller, “Les Misérables” co-stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, Magic [...]

  • Clint Eastwood and Alison Eastwood'The Mule'

    Clint Eastwood: Why Alison Eastwood Came Out of Acting Retirement for Her Dad

    Clint Eastwood’s daughter Alison Eastwood was done with acting after appearing in 2014’s “Finding Harmony.” Or so she thought. It was a Friday night and she and her husband were heading to dinner when her father’s producer Sam Moore called. “He [says], ‘You know, your dad wants you to do this film,” Alison recalls. “I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content