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The Global Film Village: DAVID ANSEN, Artistic director of the LA film festival shares his insights today

DAVID ANSEN, Artistic director of the LA film festival

by Marla Lewin

I just got off the phone with David Ansen, who I have known from the festival circuit, as well as I must admit we are neighbors.  Through the years I loved reading his Newsweek reviews, as he is so highly regarded as one of Americas top film critics.  It was an honor to speak with him today in his new position.

Marla: So David, I remember last year you were on the Jury of the LA film festival, and we sat together at the Awards luncheon.  Did you know then you would be offered the job as artistic director of the festival?

David: Actually, it was quite out of the blue. I got a call from Dawn Hudson of Film Independent, and  I mulled it over for some time, and then we all met and it seemed like a good match, we had a similar vision.  I wanted a festival to reflect the diversity of the city.  I always liked mixing high art and popular culture, something for every one.

Marla: So are you pleased with the program?  Can you share some of the highlights?

David: I am very pleased.  We have more premieres, good competition films, many premieres, at least north American premieres, and some great retrospective films.  We are showing the newly restored “The Leopard” by Luchino Visconti which  premiered in Cannes.

Marla: How is it different programming a film festival, after working as a film critic for so many years?  How did it prepare you?

David: I am seeing more movies now.  I also did program on the selection committee of the NY film festival in the 90’s, but there it is very different as there were only 25 films shown.  Here we are showing 90.  I am watching more films with the same eyes, looking to have a balanced program,   Doug Jones, who I work with agrees that we do not care if it is a horror film or from Eastern Europe, as long as it is good.  We have similar taste, which helps.

Marla: What festivals did you attend this year?

David: I did the festivals where it seemed exceedingly cold, Berlin, Sundance. It was unusually cold this year at both.  “Red Chapel,” won at Sundance; “R” is a Danish prison movie,

Marla: So one can see the whole world, without leaving downtown.

David: We are actually doing a Tribute to downtown LA.  We have two Walter Hill films, “Hickey and Boggs,” which Robert Culp directed, a dark film noir shot in downtown LA.

Marla: I met Robert Culp in the last few years when he was honored at another festival in LA.  He also wrote the pilot to Mission Impossible, quite a talent.  And you have conversations scheduled with Ben Affleck, John Lithgow and Stallone.

David: Yes, we are showing the “Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, and I will moderate a talk with John.   We were roommates in college at Harvard.  It should be fun.  There are 4 or 5 free screenings for the community.  Tickets sales are up from last year at this time.  There will be a special section this Sunday in the LA Times with the full schedule.

Marla: I can’t wait.  The films sound wonderful, and Congratulations!  We are all looking forward to another successful year.  Thank you, David.

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About MarlaLewinGFV

Lewin Marla
(Global Film Village)

Marla is a producer, playwright, screenwriter, publicist and now a journalist. She attends 12 to 20 film festivals per year. She has spoken on filmmaking at many festivals including Cannes and SXSW.

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