L.A. Film Festival kicks off with sci-fi thriller 'Snowpiercer'

L.A. Film Festival kicks off with sci-fi thriller 'Snowpiercer'
Los Angeles Film Festival artistic director David Ansen, far left, at the opening night premiere of "Snowpiercer" with, from left, an unidentified guest and Song Kang-ho, Ko Ah-sung, Ed Harris, Tilda Swinton, Alison Pill, Marcanthonee Reis, director Joon-ho Bong, writer Kelly Masterson, and RADiUS-TWC Co-Presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego outside at L.A. Live. (Angela Weiss / Getty Images)

L.A. Kings fans may have crowded downtown bars for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night, but hundreds flocked to nearby L.A. Live to kick off the 20th Los Angeles Film Festival with their own icy spectacle: the sci-fi thriller "Snowpiercer."

Based on the 1983 French graphic novel "Le Transperceneige," the film takes place on a train that is maneuvering a post-apocalyptic frozen world via a perpetual-motion engine. The action-packed film follows the oppressed passengers in the rear section of the train as they attempt to revolt against the elites upfront.


"It's an allegory," said cast member Tilda Swinton on the festival red carpet.

Added director Bong Joon-ho: "The train is society. I had to express many different small worlds. Each section of the train is different."

Alison Pill, who plays a teacher in the film, was drawn to the project because of the director and the script.

"The action is incredible, the special effects are out of this world ... but the story about this closed caste system on this train and the fight to create more equality is fascinating," she said at the premiere.

The story resonates because it is universal, script co-writer Kelly Masterson said.

"Every good story is about who we are and our struggle to define ourselves," Masterson said. "This story is a story that we set in the future that we equally could have set in the past. It is the story of how we define and project ourselves."

Swinton and costar Ed Harris said they were eager to work with Bong.

"I am hugely impressed by his films," Harris said. "'Snowpiercer' is a very original, unique film.... I was proud to be part of it."

Though star Chris Evans couldn't make it to the premiere, the actor addressed the audience in a brief video message before the screening.

Bong, Swinton, Harris and fellow cast members Song Kang-ho and Go Ah-sung introduced the film to the audience, following a live five-minute performance of music from the score, by composer Marco Beltrami.

"On a night where most of L.A. is currently consumed by a hockey game, how appropriate that something else is happening on ice," said Jason Janego, co-president of RADiUS-TWC, which is opening the film in the U.S.

The film, which will go head-to-head with "Transformers: Age of Extinction" on June 27, will open across 10 markets theatrically, said RADiUS-TWC Co-President Tom Quinn.

Quinn said LAFF was a good launching pad for the film in the American market.

"It's one of the premier American film festivals," he said. "And it is certainly the film festival of Los Angeles, which is the Hollywood movie capital of the world. I can't think of a better place to have this movie."


Following the screenings, attendees headed to the after-party at L.A. Live. The festival runs through June 19.

Times staff writer Haley Goldberg contributed to this article.

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