LA FILM FESTIVAL 2016 RECAP
The LA Film Fest took place June 1-9, 2016 at their new venues the Arclight Cinema in Hollywood and Culver City, Culver Studios and adjacent locales. The fest showcased compelling new independent films, TV, emerging online content and filmmaker-driven studio titles.
The Festival fosters valuable alliances and working relationships between independent artists and the film industry. Signature programs include the Filmmaker Retreat, Coffee Talks, Master Classes, the Spirit of Independence Award, Fast Track (a film financing market) and Diversity Speaks (a day-long forum for content creators of color). #LAFilmFestival
The diversity this year was fantastic – films from the US, Canada, England, Trinidad, Grenada and more. Here is a compilation of my favorite LAFF films and events #LAaLALand approved:
AN EVENING WITH NATE PARKER: LABOR OF LOVE, “THE BIRTH OF A NATION” PREVIEW & DISCUSSION
I can’t wait to see “The Birth of a Nation”. The clips look amazing!
(L-R) Los Angeles Film Festival Director Stephanie Allain, actress Gabrielle Union, director Nate Parker and actress Aja Naomi King attend the Master Class with Nate Parker during the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival at Arclight Cinemas Culver City on June 2, 2016 in Culver City, California.
PARTIES, PARTIES & MORE PARTIES!
One of the many fantastic #LAFF parties. The Culver Studios was a lovely new venue. Nice to have a film festival on an active, working lot. I absolutely love Downtown Culver City. The Culver Hotel is regal, and there are so many great restaurants, bars and markets nearby too. The neighborhood is pedestrian friendly and the parking is easy too. The New York Times was right – Culver City is one of LA’s best areas!
“THE HOUSE ON COCO ROAD” DOCUMENTARY – U.S.A. & GRENADA
In the midst of the racial violence sparked by President Reagan’s war on drugs, leading a normal life had become unfeasible for many citizens of Oakland, California. In a moment of inspiration, activist and teacher Fannie Haughton decided to show her children a different way of life. She and her children moved to the island nation of Grenada to participate in an Afro-centric revolution with the goal of realizing a utopic, socialist society. But in Grenada, a U.S. military invasion threatened their safety and dreams.
THE HOUSE ON COCO ROAD is the personal and intimate account of filmmaker Damani Baker’s mother – Fannie Haughton – and her role and participation in American history. Over the years she has been active as a student, teacher, writer, scholar, and activist/organizer. In this family portrait of nationalism and freedom, Baker draws on poignant archival footage and insights from well-respected activists, including Angela Davis offering historical and emotional truths through the journey of one family striving for a better society. Prolific singer, composer and bassist Me’shell Ndegeocello composed the moving score for the film, and Danny Glover served as one of the film’s producers.
“A HUNDRED STREETS” – U.K.
This film features are stellar cast including Idris Elba and Tom Cullen. It’s about an area of London encompassing a hundred streets, 3 stories unfold. An ex- rugby star’s marriage is in pieces after his repeated infidelities. A gifted young man struggles to escape the criminal world that boys from his background accept as their destiny. A cabbie and his wife’s dream of becoming parents is shattered by a terrible accident. Everyone is trying to find their way, and this is where their paths meet, crash, merge and diverge.
“DON’T THINK TWICE” – U.S.A.
For eleven years, an improv group called The Commune has reigned as the big fish in the small pond of their New York improv theater. Commune members Miles, Samantha, Jack, Allison, Bill and Lindsay invent comedy without a script and without a net. They’re ingenious, they’re fast, and they build on each others’ ideas like best friends – which they also are. Night after night they kill onstage and wait for their big break. Day after day day they work menial jobs to support themselves. Then they get news that their theater is shutting down, and scouts from a hit TV show come to a performance, looking for talent. Only two cast members get the nod, upsetting the dynamic of the group and leaving its future in doubt. Relationships begin to crack as six best friends face the truth that not all of them will make it, and for some, it may be time to give up on the dream and move on.
Funny, insightful and honest, DON’T THINK TWICE looks at a common experience that’s an uncommon subject for a film: failure. As he did in his acclaimed debut about a stand-up comedian, SLEEPWALK WITH ME, writer/director/actor Mike Birbiglia captures universal human experiences that happen in the lives of professionally funny people. With a top-flight ensemble of comic actors including Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, Tami Sagher and Birbiglia, DON’T THINK TWICE tells a nuanced story of friendship, aspiration and the pain and promise of change.
“A MOVING IMAGE” – U.K.
After a long absence, Nina returns home to Brixton, a rapidly gentrifying community in South London. She sets out to create the ultimate piece of art to explore her complex relationship with her community. In doing so she poses a tricky question – is she part of the problem or can she use her work to be part of the solution?
“PLAY THE DEVIL” – TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
This is a riveting film about Gregory a gifted eighteen year old from the rural farming village of Paramin in Trinidad develops an unlikely friendship with a powerful businessman that leads to seduction obsession and a fateful confrontation during the carnal dance of the devil on Carnival Monday night.
“DESTINED” – U.S.A.
Destined explores the power of the individual, the idea of destiny, and unforeseen consequences of everyday choices. One Man, (Cory Hardrict) exists in alternate realities. “Sheed” has earned his stripes on the streets and runs a drug empire. “Rasheed”, a college graduate, works at an architectural firm. As they navigate their respective worlds, they face similar dilemmas: Will they build up their neighborhood, family, community, or destroy them?
“LONDON TOWN” – U.K.
Derrick Borte’s London Town was inspired by amazing political band The Clash. This is a punk-era account of a teenage boy who ventures into central London to find his estranged mother. Inspired by the music she left behind, he becomes entranced by the burgeoning punk music scene at the dawn of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative revolution in England.
“DYING LAUGHING” – USA
A stand-up comedian is the writer, the director and the star performer. Unlike any other art form there is no rehearsal, no safety net; it only works in front of a live, often hostile audience. For most, baring your soul and being heckled would be a life-changing trauma, for stand-ups it’s a nightly challenge. DYING LAUGHING is a funny, touching and fascinating look into the lives of this loved, but underappreciated group of artists. This documentary features the who’s who of comedy.
Find out more about the LA Film Festival at www.LAFilmFest.com