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A conversation between Richard Raddon, Director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, and Stephanie Ronnet

Stephanie Ronnet: When was the Los Angeles Film Festival created ? Can you describe that festival?

Richard Raddon: The Los Angeles Film Festival began as the Los Angeles International Film Festival [LAIFF] in 1995. The LAIFF took place over the course of five days in one location at the DGA in Hollywood, California. The LAIFF ran for 7 years, until it was absorbed by Film Independent (formerly IFP/Los Angeles) in 2001. At it's height the LAIFF attracted 19,000 attendees. Today the Los Angeles Film Festival attracts over 80,000 visitors.

S.R: What's so unique about it considering the many festivals that constantly pop up throughout the city??

R.R: We feel that we represent the true diversity of entertainment. Many film festivals in LA concentrate on a specific country or genre. At the LA Film Festival, we screen the entire spectrum of independent, foreign, documentary, and studio fare. We also concentrate on making sure that the general public feel welcome at the Festival. "The Audience is King" was our marketing tag this year, and it speaks to our dedication to the audience that watches movies.

S.R: What does it  take to run a festival? What's your background?

R.R: I think it takes a lot of dedication especially when you are engaged in building and establishing a film festival. Most film festivals in the world are attempting to be in the same league as Sundance, Toronto, Cannes, Berlin and Venice...but it's a very difficult league

S.R: What kind of audience do you have? How many people do attend the festival?

R.R: At it's height the LAIFF attracted 19,000 attendees. Today the Los Angeles Film Festival attracts over 80,000 visitors.

S.R: Most film festivals are "economically challenged", do you generate a substantial profit?

R.R: We have continued to grow the budget, but Film Independent subsidizes a portion of the Festival's budget. We hope to have a break-even event within two years. But most film festivals in the world struggle to break-even. Film Festivals are not money makers contrary to popular opinion.

S.R: How do you select the films shown at the Los Angeles Film Festival? How many submissions do you get?

R.R: Approximately 100 features, 100 shorts, and 50 music videos representing more than 40 countries make up the main body of the Festival. Films submitted to the Festival are reviewed by Film Independent's programming department, which evaluates each film, looking for the best in new American and international cinema.

S.R: How many films do you get to see for the festival?

R.R: I typically get to see about 70% of the Features that we screen at the Festival. Of course the Director of Programming, Rachel Rosen, and the other senior programmers at the Festival, see everything and discuss all the films in detail before decisions are made to program them at the LA Film Festival.

S.R: Are all the films selected scheduled to open in the USA?

R.R : No, many of the films will only be seen at our Festival or other Festivals. The distribution system in the US is limited and only can accomodate a certain number of features and documentaries every year.

S.R: What is the average budget of the films that are selected?

R.R : That is difficult to answer because we have films that have been made for $10.000 and we screen films that have been made for $100.000.000

S.R: What is the moment since you started running the L.A.F.F you're the most proud of?

R.R: I am probably most proud of the moment when we opened the Festival with DEVIL WEARS OF PRADA. For years, we approached studios with the idea that our film festival was not just for the artistic elite but could also be open to the mainstream. We firmly believe that since LA is the movie capital of the world, the LA Film Festival can embrace and celebrate that breadth of cinema.

Stephanie Ronnet

Los Angeles Film Festival June 19- 2008

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