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Quendrith Johnson

Quendrith Johnson is Los Angeles Correspondent covering everything happening in film in Hollywood... Well, the most interesting things, anyway.
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LA Film Fest: Moving at the Speed of Media & BERNIE & LEAVE IT ON THE FLOOR

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent


Already the Los Angeles Film Festival, now 17 years old, is acting like a teenager. First, last night they opened BERNIE, the much-anticipated Jack Black-Shirley MacLaine starrer by Richard Linklater so fast that anybody who made it from the parking structure in time felt lucky. PS, There's a dead guy in it. Then, they are calling it a "Festival Village," like some Olympians may wander in confused, drawn in by universally familiar signage language only to be consoled by popcorn. 

Next, today's Jameson Filmmaker Lounge is  so tricked-out it looks like an Oscar after-party. None of this is bad. Just thunder-stealing, upstart behavior... maybe a good thing for a mature film industry under attack by gamers and digital pirates. 


The scale of the venue (LAFF moved recently) is massive as well.  It looks like an Invasion of the Indies: video walls, logos beyond human scale, urgent photos of serious looking provocateurs. But besides a privileged adolescence, this year's LAFF is rocking the independent scene like the hardened studio pros.


Filmmaker Larry Sheldon of LEAVE IT ON THE FLOOR said it best, "can you believe this place?" And "they flew us all up to ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) Ranch... imagine that... being with a bunch of directors."  As in, George Lucas and his ILM digerati-cowboy F/X film gang. "This is my first festival experience;" he added, which, in other words, may never be matched. 


So what's up with the over-stimulation? LAFF is basking in its awesomeness, apparently. And rightly so. 


While the clutch of chic and historic festivals are known for launching careers and films, LAFF 2011 will be remembered for turning heads, massive scale, and sheer spectacle. Movies here run the gamut of HOW TO CHEAT, late (and interesting) career Kelly McGillis's INNKEEPER, UNRAVELED about a lesser Madoff-type "white-collar crime spree," and, of course, BERNIE -- which can only defeat itself now that the majesty of casting and directing have unfurled. 


Tomorrow night, Sheldon's LEAVE IT ON THE FLOOR, a narrative feature about the down-low world of impromptu youth-quake inner city drag balls rocks its afterparty on the roof of LA LIVE, the outsized Chick Hearn Center near the Staples Center. For 10 days, until July 26, we'll give you glimpses of the furious, fabulous, fantastical LAFF.


Stay Tuned.


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About Quendrith Johnson

Johnson Quendrith

LA Correspondent for

United States

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