Friday, Nov. 15
The 13th Hungarian Film Festival makes its way back to Laemmle's NoHo 7, with two features and a short on Friday. At 7:15 p.m., watch The Notebook, based on Hungarian writer Agota Kristof's first novel, about teen twins who are forced to live with their evil grandmother (you can also catch it every night throughout the fest, which ends Nov. 21). Also at 7:15 p.m. is The Two of Us, a short from director Barbara Kulcsar (who will be present for a Q&A), about a married couple who go on a weekend trip to try to rekindle their romance. Then at 9:30 p.m. is Costa-Gavras' Music Box, written by Joe Eszterhas, in which a Hungarian immigrant is accused of being a war criminal and defended in court by his daughter. Tickets and more information at hffla.com.
Cinema Italian Style 2013, a celebration of Italian cinema, is at the and Egyptian theaters through Nov. 23. It opened Thursday with Italy's official Oscar submission for Best Foreign-Language Film, The Great Beauty, and continues tonight with a double feature of A Perfect Family and Welcome Mr. President at 7:30 p.m. The former tells the story of a wealthy man who hires actors to be his family so he won't have to spend another Christmas alone. The latter follows a common fisherman who is mistaken for the president. Actresses from both films will be on hand to introduce them. The full schedule is at americancinemathequecalendar.com.
Though it's often overlooked on the repertory circuit, West African film has long been a rich and vital voice in global cinema. Mired in tragedy, the region's colonial history has inspired a volatile mix of African tradition and aesthetics, European cosmopolitanism, and fierce political awareness.
Throughout October, the Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television and Film Independent at LACMA will offer Angelenos a chance to explore this cinema on the big screen. Must-see classics include the short, Borom Sarret (1969), which launched black African cinema and the career of legendary filmmaker Ousmane Sembene; the mystical-realist epic Yeelen (1987), which takes the audience on a journey with a Bambara warrior on a quest to battle his sorcerer father; and the lively Touki Bouki (1973), which follows the misadventures of two young lovers on a motorcycle trip to a dreamed utopian Paris.
Andy Warhol overshot when he predicted everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes. Apparently, all one needs is six seconds. That's the length of a Vine, the video app explored during last Sunday's Everything Is Vine, a segment of Cinefamily's fourth annual Everything Is Film Festival.
Hosted by Cinefamily co-founder Hadrian Belove at Fairfax's Silent Theater, EIV showcased the best work from a panel of notable Viners consisting of Steve Agee, Adam Goldberg, Gillian Jacobs, Marlo Meekins, Ian Padgham and James Urbaniak.
As tends to be the case, several of the best films made in the last year have yet to screen outside of the festival circuit. For some this is because their scheduled release date simply hasn't arrived; others are still waiting to be picked up by a distributor in the first place.
The vagaries of cinematic distribution are many, and there's rarely a 1:1 correlation between the quality of a film premiering at, say, the Sundance Film Festival and its attendant price tag. Many critical darlings are passed over by the Weinsteins and their ilk in favor of more commercially viable options, with most truly adventurous films eventually landing in the hands of the country's more intrepid art-house distributors: Strand Releasing, Cinema Guild, Kino Lorber, IFC Films, Oscilloscope Laboratories, Factory 25. This is all par for the course, but it remains an imperfect system that allows a number of worthwhile efforts to fall through the cracks.
With the Los Angeles Film Festival underway, I found myself thinking in recent weeks of Eliza Hittman's It Felt Like Love, the best film to play Sundance this year not called Before Midnight; Dominga Sotomayor's Thursday Till Sunday, my favorite film from last year's LAFF; Edoardo Gabbriellini's Padroni di Casa, a slow-burning surprise from last year's edition of the Locarno Film Festival about two construction-worker brothers; and Gabriela Pichler's Eat Sleep Die, which I saw at the Busan Film Festival in South Korea last October. Aside from Gabbriellini's, all four are understated character studies by first-time directors focusing on young women on the cusp of major realizations about themselves and the world around them -- not exactly blockbuster material.
Owed largely to its status as the premier showcase for independent cinema in the city (the oft-misused "I" word was even part of its name for a time), LAFF screens a great many films that are never shown here again. I feared this may be the case for Thursday, but it turns out I was wrong: the film was recently acquired by Magic Lantern Films, though it still doesn't have a fixed release date. (Until it does, I invite you to avail yourself of its trailer.)
None of the other films have been picked up, though Hittman's is by far the most likely to: much like Thursday, it's been riding a wave of critical acclaim from its very first screening, with particular attention rightfully being paid to the director's sensitive treatment of her young protagonist. It Felt Like Love and Thursday Till Sunday are further linked by evocative visuals and occasionally heartbreaking takes on two very different aspects of growing up, but what most joins the two debuts together is the apparent similarity of their festival-circuit trajectory.
This week's dance events include the return of Dance Camera West dance film festival and Eifman Ballet's sensual bio-ballet Rodin.
5. A moving and movable Dance Film Fest
L.A.'s internationally recognized festival of dance on film, Dance Camera West, begins with this year's events moving among downtown's Music Center, West L.A.'s Getty Center, Santa Monica's Annenberg Beach House and mid-Wilshire's L.A. County Museum of Art. This year's theme Get Wet is carried out with a live performance involving a water feature at most venues prior to the screening of festival films. Parties on the opening and closing days as well as the screenings offer multiple chances to chat with the filmmakers. For a complete listing of events and venues go to www.dancecamerawest.org. At the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Thurs., May 2, 7 p.m.; $15; Reception at 9 p.m., $20; Also at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), 5905 Wilshire Blvd., mid-Wilshire; Fri., May 3, 3 p.m., 5 p.m.; 7:30 p.m., $15. 323-857-6000, www.lacma.org. Also at The Getty Museum, 1200 Getty Center Drive, W.L.A.; Sat., May 4, 4 p.m., free. 310-440-7330, www.getty.edu/museum/. Also at Annenberg Community Beach House, 415 Pacific Coast, Santa Monica; Sun., May 5, 5 p.m., $20 afternoon, panel discussion free with reservation. 310-458-4904, www.annenbergbeachhouse.com. For a complete listing of events, venues & tickets go to www.dancecamerawest.org.
This particular strip of Los Angeles, always one of my least favorite in the entire city, has long struck me as somewhat of an odd venue for such an ostensibly glamorous event. The celebrities and flash bulbs in front of the TCL Chinese (formerly Grauman's) maintain the facade well enough, but there's little masking the fact that this is one grimy tourist trap. In a sense, I suppose that might actually make it perfect: seeing the illusion coexist with the reality tends to be more interesting than witnessing either one on its own.
Funny Girl opened TCM Fest on Thursday evening; a new restoration of The General closed it last night. I attended neither, opting instead to practice what I preached last week by focusing on lesser-known movies I'd never seen before, often at the expensive of bigger draws: I skipped Airplane! for Try and Get Me and Three Days of the Condor in favor of Safe in Hell, a pre-Code nasty that was such a hit on Thursday night they decided to re-screen it yesterday.
It's been over sixty years since the Holocaust, but time has not faded the memories for those who survived it. And as part of this year's 27th Israel Film Festival, a tribute will be made to the Holocaust survivors and their families with a special screening of the documentary Numbered at the Saban Theater on Sunday, April 28 at noon.
This event will highlight the Second Generation movement, which sheds light on the cross-generational transference of trauma and/or coping skills from Holocaust survivors onto their children -- and even their grandchildren.
Numbered shares the tales of those who survived the worst concentration camp, Auschwitz -- the only camp that tattooed its prisoners with numbers -- showcasing the different ways these survivors have coped with the horrors of their past and others' reactions to them since. But it also shows how the children and grandchildren of survivors are getting tattoos of the same numbers their ancestors got, in the spirit of family solidarity.
Here are our top ten picks from the festival:
Starring David Neher (the bit player Todd in Community) as Ernie and a yellow Post-It, this short follows the growing friendship between this lonely cubicle worker and his reliable pal who can always be counted on to remind him of what he has to do. Things turn for the worse when Ernie starts to set reminders on his iPhone, leading Post-It to go into a jealous rage. But when Ernie is mugged and forced to withdraw money from the ATM, his yellow-squared friend comes to help.
How many Asians in film can you name? Sure, there are some of the obvious ones, like Ang Lee or Jackie Chan. But most people probably can't list more than ten.
To try and help spread the word of Asians in the film industry, Asians on Film had their first film festival this past weekend at J.E.T. Studios, celebrating those who did not follow the approved career paths that many of our traditional Asian parents set out before us. Instead of becoming doctors, businessmen or lawyers, these festival attendees opted for the arts.
The man at the helm of the event? Co-editor of the AsiansOnFilm.com blog, Scott Ericksson, who is noticeably not Asian. But this falls in line with what the night was about: appreciating the works of up and coming filmmakers...who just happen to be Asian.
South L.A. rugby program ICEF Rugby took its first international trip to compete in Hong Kong in 2006, and film and T.V. crews have been scouting its two high school teams ever since. First there was the Academy award-winning documentary filmmaker who shot a movie reel he intended to turn into a feature. Then there was the reality television producer who saw potential for episodic teenage drama. And finally, there was the Hollywood director looking to make a fictional blockbuster based on the charter school's outstanding sports program.
None of these projects panned out -- either the budgets were too high or the directors didn't meet eye to eye with the charter school system -- but one thing became clear to ICEF rugby coach Stuart Krohn: his globe-trotting high school rugby teams were an inspiring inner-city sports story that needed to be told. When he finally found the right film crew -- albeit on the other side of the world, with New Zealand-based Cloud South Films -- he took on the dual role of coach and producer for the new documentary Red, White, Black & Blue, which chronicles the teams' rugby competition in New Zealand and subsequent return to Los Angeles.