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LA Film Festival Adds Inclusion Initiatives

The LA Film Festival, under the leadership of festival director Jennifer Cochis, is adding new diversity initiatives to its programming slate in its new fall slot from September 20-28.

The festival will launch an immersive storytelling program curated by Jacqueline Lyanga, guest director, VR and immersive storytelling, in partnership with Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television. The section is set to showcase daring new work in a variety of new media platforms including VR, AI, and AR. The two-day experience will be free to the public and take place September 22-23 at the new LMU Playa Vista Campus.

Of Jacqueline Lyanga, Cochis said: “She is a talented and distinguished tastemaker in our global festival community. The pieces and experiences she will curate are not just of the moment; these are the storytellers of the future.”

The fest is also debuting “We the People,” a two-day summit committed to advancing inclusion within the entertainment industry. Held at the Writers Guild Theater September 22-23, panel discussions and keynote conversations will address issues of representation and inclusion in the industry. Panelists include Tre’vell Anderson (The Los Angeles Times), Russell Boast (president, CSA), Kate Hagen (The Black List), Teresea Huang (“SEAL Team”), Our Lady J (“Pose”), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Nic Novicki (founder, Easterseals Disability Film Challenge), Natasha Rothwell (“Insecure”), Krista Suh (co-founder, Pussyhat movement), Steven James Tingus (board member, RespectAbility), Gail Williamson (talent agent, KMR & Associates), and more to be announced.

On the evening of Saturday, September 22, a benefit dinner will be thrown to celebrate 25 years of Project Involve, the organization’s mentorship initiative for underrepresented voices in the industry. The dinner will honor Project Involve Fellows Effie T. Brown (“Real Women Have Curves,” “Dear White People”), Jon M. Chu (“GI Joe: Retaliation,” “Crazy Rich Asians”), Cherien Dabis (“Amreeka,” “Empire”) and Macro’s founder and CEO Charles D. King (“Mudbound,” “Fences”) at the home of Catharine and Jeffrey Soros.

Josh Welsh, president of Film Independent, said that the honorees “are the people who are bringing the change, and we’re so happy to honor them at the festival this year, and to help raise funds to support the program into the future.”

The LA Film Festival is also adding a partnership with the International Documentary Association (IDA) to expand Film Independent and the festival’s support of the documentary community. With the introduction of Documentary Pass, the fest is centering its documentary programming at ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood to make it easily accessible to attendees of IDA’s conference, Getting Real. Festival Doc Pass holders will receive a discount to Getting Real and vice versa. Film Independent is also launching a documentary track of its Fast Track film financing market, also in partnership with IDA.

Aside from the traditional opening and closing night films available to pass holders, the LA Film Festival will be programming public screenings on those nights.

The competition lineup for the LA Film Festival will be announced on July 31. Venues for the 2018 festival include the ArcLight Cinemas in Culver City, Hollywood and Santa Monica, as well as the new LMU Playa Vista Campus, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and the Writers Guild Theater.

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