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‘Lowriders’ to Open LA Film Festival, Ava DuVernay to Be Honored

The 2016 LA Film Festival has selected Ricardo de Montreuil’s “Lowriders,” starring Eva Longoria and Demian Bichir, as its opening film on June 1.

Produced by Brian Grazer and Jason Blum, the film also stars Melissa Benoist, Theo Rossi, Tony Revolori and Gabriel Chavarria in a story set amidst the car culture and street art scene of East Los Angeles.

The festival also announced that “Creed” director Ryan Coogler is the 2016 guest director and that Ava DuVernay and Array Releasing will receive the festival’s annual Spirit of Independence Award, which honors those who advance the cause of independent film and champion creative freedom. The award has previously gone to Don Cheadle, George Clooney, David O. Russell, Tom Bernard and Michael Barker and Charlize Theron.

The 22nd edition of the LA Film Festival will take place June 1-9 at ArcLight Cinemas. The LA Film Festival announced several months ago that it had opted to abandon downtown Los Angeles after a six-year run.

“We are thrilled to open with ‘Lowriders’ as a culturally vibrant film that explores familial relationships within a second-generation Mexican family in East L.A. Made by filmmakers of color, ‘Lowriders’ embodies our mission of shining the light on unique voices,” said festival director Stephanie Allain. “Spirit Award winner Ryan Coogler honors us as guest director – we had ‘Fruitvale Station’ at the festival in 2013 and are so happy to have him back this year as our guest director.”

“We can’t imagine a more fitting recipient of the Spirit of Independence Award than Ava DuVernay and her distribution company Array Releasing,” said Film Independent president Josh Welsh. “In addition to being a brilliant filmmaker, Ava is a passionate, forward-thinking distributor, helping unique and diverse voices find their audiences.”

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