This morning the Los Angeles Film Festival announced that they're moving the show downtown. LAFF had been based in Westwood for the past four festivals, but the event's growing size and the concurrent reduction in potential screening venues in the area (the seats were torn out of the Festival theater just after the last LAFF screening there last year, and until last week it looked as though two of Westwood's grandest theaters might soon be out of commission, too) made continued operation in the former center of Westside movie-going untenable. The new LAFF will be headquarted at the Regal Cinemas multiplex at LA Live, but screenings and events will also take place all over Downtown area, at venues including REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater), the Downtown Independent, Orpheum Theatre, and a number of hotels and other spaces.
There's a cynical way to look at this, and a not-so-cynical way to look at it.
The cynical way to look at this is that LAFF is moving out of a neighborhood into a corporate facsimile thereof. The not-so-cynical way to look at it is that LAFF's injection of crowds (they claim to draw 85,000 visitors) and cash into downtown venues like REDCAT and Downtown Indie may help raise the profile and increase the fanbase of such spaces, which are dedicated to alternative programming year-round.
This announcement was widely anticipated, at least since Film Independent, the org responsible for LAFF, moved their pre-Oscar night Independent Spirit Awards to LA Live (actually, to a tent on top of one of its parking structures) from its traditional home on the beach in Santa Monica. Reaction to that migration was mixed at best.