With dozens of films screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival over the next two weeks, making choices will be difficult business. To help separate the cinematic wheat from the cinematic chaff, I took a few minutes on the red carpet on Thursday (June 22) to ask some entirely impartial observers -- the filmmakers and stars of the competition films -- why they would recommend seeing their entries above others.
A few of their answers:
Mike Ott (writer/director of the narrative "Analog Days"): I would say if you like John Hughes movies, it's kind of like that. I don't know. Hopefully a lot of people won't like it. I'm hoping people either really like or really hate it.
Jeff Werner (co-director of the documentary "Mario's Story"): Our film is a film that took seven years to film and it's about the loss of youth and the loss of justice for the character who still remains in jail and who's an amazing character, actually.
Katie Flynn (Jane Seymour's daughter and co-star, line producer on "The Beach Party on the Threshold of Hell"): It's a Monty Python for the MTV generation, is how we like to say it. It's a post-apocalyptic dark comedy, political. It's really funny. It's really new.
Mike Akel (co-writer/director of the narrative "Chalk"): If you like to laugh -- and I'm just gonna throw it out there -- we've got the funniest film, I'm serious. It sounds little cocky. I'm not cocky, but we've screened our film a lot. It's really funny. If you like the office, you'll love our film.
Connie Britton (star of the narrative "The Lather Effect"): The movie is basically a 'Big Chill' for the thirtysomething generation and it got just a ton of heart. And for me, it's my favorite kind of movie. It's the old-fashioned kind we used to make where it's people talking to each other and relating to each other and it's got comedy and it makes you cry and what can be better than that?
That ought to make things a lot easier.
Thursday, June 22
The Devil and Anne Hathaway Both Wear Prada
"The Devil Wears Prada" is a studio film based on a best-selling novel featuring a slate of big stars, which makes it an odd choice to open a festival sponsored by Film Independent.
"Some people need a little convincing to come out and I think a big movie like this will do just the trick," notes co-star Adrian Grenier, who showed up on Thursday night as "Prada" opened the Los Angeles Film Festival.
Film Independent executive director Dawn Hudson agrees, "We love starting the festival with this film that everyone -- man, woman, old, young -- wants to see. The festival embraces the whole spectrum of independent films, from avant garde to studio films to noir, horror, classics, it's really about the love of film."
It certainly helps bring out the shutterbugs and the celebrities, including "Prada" leading lady Anne Hathaway, looking lovely in a yellow dress. She seems almost embarrassed to admit who she's wearing.
"Prada," she says, pausing. "I know. Fitting, isn't it? I just picked it out. I was actually going to wear something else and then at the last minute I found out someone else would have worn it, so it was pandemonium in my hotel room. I just picked this out because it didn't need altering."
One person not wearing Prada is "Desperate Housewives" co-star Shawn Pyfrom, who admits he was mostly there because his girlfriend wanted to see the movie. She's dressed to impress, but Pyfrom is in a t-shirt and jeans.
"Trust me, I've gotten sh** all up and down the carpet," he sighs. "She tried to get me to dress up and I was like, 'I don't need to dress up. It's a premiere. It's fine. Babe, I'm going in a shirt and jeans. Who cares?' And I get here and everybody's dressed in frigging suits and dresses and whatever. I look like the douchebag who showed up in jeans and a t-shirt. Oh well. Because, at the end of the day, they're not going to be like, 'Oh, that Shawn Pyfrom kid was all undressed and whatever' so who cares? And I am going to be comfortable when I watch this damn movie."
Having a film the size of "Prada" open the Festival produces the odd clash of cultures where directors of serious competition documentaries and their hard-working publicists beg reporters from glossy weeklies for a couple minutes of attention on the red carpet, at the same time that those same scribes would much prefer pleading with the skeletal Nicole Richie -- who whizzed by with nary a glance -- for even seconds of her time.
Of course, taking the time to talk to those directors meant that I missed my couple seconds with Los Angeles mayor and "George Lopez" guest star Antonio Villaraigosa. Maybe next time.
News and Notes from the L.A. Film Festival
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