The 2016 LA Film Festival will open with Ricardo de Montreuil's "Lowriders." Produced by Brian Grazer and Jason Blum, the film stars Eva Longoria, Demián Bichir, Melissa Benoist, Theo Rossi, Tony Revolori and Gabriel Chavarria in a story set against the car culture and street art scene of East L.A.
The 22nd edition of the festival will take place June 1 to June 9 at ArcLight Cinemas.
FOR THE RECORD
11:47 a.m.: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Demián Bichir as Demián Bechir.
"We are thrilled to open with 'Lowriders,' a culturally vibrant film that explores familial relationships within a second-generation Mexican family in East L.A. Made by filmmakers of color, 'Lowriders' embodies our mission of shining the light on unique voices," said festival director Stephanie Allain in a statement.
Even before issues of representation and diversity in Hollywood were brought to the forefront by the recent controversy over this year's Academy Awards, the LA Film Festival had been addressing those concerns. Last year nearly 30% of the festival's program was directed by people of color and nearly 40% of the films in the festival were directed by women.
The festival also announced that "Creed" filmmaker Ryan Coogler would be the 2016 guest director. His debut feature, "Fruitvale Station," played at the festival in 2013.
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay and her distribution company Array Releasing will receive the festival's Spirit of Independence award. Last year the prize was given to Lily Tomlin and previous recipients include Don Cheadle, George Clooney and Charlize Theron.
"We can't imagine a more fitting recipient of the Spirit of Independence award than Ava DuVernay and her distribution company Array Releasing," said Film Independent President Josh Welsh. "In addition to being a brilliant filmmaker, Ava is a passionate, forward-thinking distributor, helping unique and diverse voices find their audiences."
Over the last few years the festival has featured posters created by L.A. artists. This year's poster is being done by native Angeleno Carolyn Castaño. Her work has been exhibited in Venice, Italy, and Mexico City and her site-specific installation at the Los Angeles International Airport will be unveiled in June 2016.
Festival passes are on sale to Film Independent members starting Tuesday, April 5. Passes for the general public go on sale April 12. The festival's full program will be announced on April 26.