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Los Angeles Film Festival wrapped

The 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival wrapped here this weekend as festival really has come into its own at it’s new digs in Westwood. Now in it’s second year in the Westwood Village this years fest shrugged off some of the first year jitters it experienced last summer to firmly establish itself as L.A’s premiere festival. The Westwood village is one of those rare places in this city that are not dominated by car culture but instead are pedestrian friendly. The number of quality theatrical venues and outdoor patio’s really created a sense of community lacking in most of this cities film festivals.

The addition of the “Works In Progress” sidebar introduced audiences to two of the industries most anticipated independent productions ; Aristomenis Tsirbas’ “ TERRA” and Nicolás López “SANTOS” .
Industry Passholders got a glimpse of the two films at the new Landmark Cinema’s in West Los Angeles.
Chilean director Nicolás López captured Hollywood's eye with his first feature, Promedio Rojo. Now only 24 years old, López is in post-production on his new romantic comedy about the end of the world, titled Santos. The $6.4 million film is one of the most ambitious films to come out of Latin America this year. The festival also presented the first public screening of footage from Aristomenis Tsirbas’ upcoming CGI feature : TERRA. Aristomenis Tsirbas is taking on the alien invasion genre in Terra. Showcasing an incredible voice cast, including Evan Rachel Wood, Brian Cox, Dennis Quaid, Amanda Peet, Chris Evans, Luke Wilson, Danny Glover, and Ron Perlman, the film is poised to be one of the most talked-about animated films of 2008.

Other films included Rodger Grossmans ‘14 years in the making’ punk rock biopic “What We Do Is Secret” . The film retells the tale of doomed punk rock legend Darby Cash and his seminal LA band ; THE GERMS. The world premiere was held at the Mann theater and was attended by cast members including Shane West and Bijou Phillips as well as original GERMS Don Bolles and Lorna Doom. The film is sure to do decent business with die hard fans but suffers from a wobbly narrative and struggles to reveal anything engaging about the cast of characters that helped set the stage for the early LA punk scene.

Later in the week the John Ford Amphitheater screened Julien Temple’s study of CLASH front man Joe Strummer “ Joe Strummer - The Future is Unwritten” . The event was hosted by ex- SEX PISTOL Steve Jones and featured live performances by LA’s THE BRIGS and Long Beachs THE AGGROLITES. Born John Mellor in Ankara, Turkey, in 1952, Strummer traveled with his diplomat father, survived an English boarding school, and faced a terrible family tragedy. Then, in the early ’70s, he picked up a guitar for the first time. Though his humanist message remained constant, Strummer was a creature of endless musical reinvention, continuing to work and perform long after the implosion of the Clash. Director Temple weaves together cultural ephemera, live concert footage, home movies, hand drawn animation and audio testimony to illuminate the life of the enigmatic frontman.

The festivals awards ceremony featured a lavish closing night party where celeb’s, filmmakers and fans celebrated the winners. The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature went to Stephane Gauger’s Owl and the Sparrow. The Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature went to Greg Whiteley for Resolved. Stephen Walker’s Young @ Heart won the Audience Award for Best International Feature. The award for Outstanding Performance in the Narrative Competition went to the ensemble cast of Chris Eska’s August Evening, which includes principal cast members Pedro Castaneda, Veronica Loren, Abel Becerra, Walter Perez, Sandra Rios, and Cesar Flores. Given to an actor or actors from an official selection in the Narrative Competition, this is the fourth year the award has been given out at the Festival.

The award for Best Narrative Short Film went to Radu Jude’s The Tube with a Hat. The award for Best Documentary Short Film went to David Fenster’s Wood. Fredrik Emilson’s Love and
War won the award for Best Animated/Experimental Short Film. The Audience Award for Best Short Film went to Dee Rees’ Pariah. Joseph Kahn’s Knights
of Cydonia won the Audience Award for Best Music Video for the band, Muse. As previously announced at the Festival’s Spirit of Independence event on Thursday, June 28, the Target Filmmaker Award (for Best Narrative Feature) went to Chris Eska for August Evening. The winner of the Target Documentary Award (for Best Documentary Feature) went to Jennifer Venditti for Billy the Kid. Each award carries an unrestricted cash prize of $50,000 funded by Target. The Narrative Feature Competition jury was comprised of Karyn Kusama, Rob Nelson, and Tom Quinn. The Documentary Competition jury was comprised of Patrick Creadon, Rob Epstein, and Lisa Schwarzbaum.

|dane allan smith
|producer

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