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How to Tour Los Angeles Film Festival Like a Pro

Seven hot tips for eating, drinking, and screening

Even native Angelenos may have trouble keeping up with the fast-changing nightlife in Culver City. Here are tips for visitors to the Los Angeles Film Festival, be they from Sao Paolo or Santa Monica.

Special Screenings
LAFF will open with “Lowriders,” a drama surrounding the re-emergence of SoCal low-rider Latino culture. “Opening Night,” a musical with N’Sync’s J.C. Chasez and Topher Grace, is quintessentially L.A., while documentary “Dying Laughing” features big-time comedians talking about what it’s like to bomb on stage. One senior programmer calls “HEIS (Chronicles)” “the French ‘Tiny Furniture,’ ” referring to Lena Dunham’s indie debut.

Fest Goes West
LAFF’s move to Culver City brings an added bonus with the historic Culver Hotel steps outside the main venue. Its nightly 4-7 happy hour gets crowded in the Grand Lobby, so arrive early for $9 cocktails, $6 beer/wine and eats under $10. By 8 p.m., live jazz fills the cavernous ceilings. Parties of 10 or more can reserve tables during the fest.

Salute an Honoree
Maryse Alberti — who lensed honoree Ryan Coogler’s 2015 hit “Creed” — will be honored with the Glory to the Filmmaker Award. Each year, fest sponsor Jaeger-LeCoultre pays tribute to “a filmmaker who has brought great innovation to contemporary cinema.” Alberti won a 2009 Spirit Award for “The Wrestler.”

Popular on Variety

SoCal’s Closeup
Many iconic films pay homage to the City of Angels. Each year, LAFF procures a set of narrative and documentary features that show the city in an array of different worlds. This year, the LA Muse section exposes basketball in Inglewood with “Manchild: The Schea Cotton Story,” seedy Hollywood motels in “No Light and No Land Anywhere,” shabby chic Echo Park in “Girl Flu” and the shiny valets of West Hollywood in “Namour.”

Train’s New Reign
The newly extended Expo Line light rail will begins rides from DTLA all the way to Santa Monica just in time for LAFF. The Culver City stop has been operational since mid-2012 and with $1.75 rides from downtown, or free transfers from Hollywood, it easily gets you practically to the Arclight’s doorstep.

Meals Between Reels
One of four locations in L.A., Public School 310’s Recess is the stuff of gastropub dreams. Chef Lauren Kyles offers up PB&J sliders and other unique American New concoctions M-F. Kyles is a “Chopped” champion, but it’s tough to lure her out of the kitchen to talk about it — she’d rather cook. At East Borough — a French-Vietnemese mash-up — Jonathan Gold anointed the pho baguette “sandwich of the year” in 2014. Wildcraft is another option for shareable, affordable happy hours. Try their sourdough-crusted pizzas; don’t skip mussels in saffron sauce.

Top Tipples
The Wallace on Main Street separates its mixology into “shaken” and “stirred” categories with creative combos like the Early Ace [gin, Earl Grey tea, lemon, egg white, pistachio foam]. City Tavern — by the Rush Street team, a mainstay from the earlier days of Culver’s burgeoning gastronomic scene — boasts draft beer at its booths; patrons can pour their own.

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