LA film fest focuses on minorities

2017-06-19 05:39:48 GMT2017-06-19 13:39:48(Beijing Time) Agencies

AT this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, which kicked off June 14 with the debut of Colin Trevorrow’s “The Book of Henry” and continues through June 22, 42 percent of the films have been directed by women and 40 percent have been directed by people of color.

“The festival is part of Film Independent, so it is specific in what it does in terms of amplifying underrepresented voices,” says Jennifer Cochis, who has been with the festival for three years, having served as creative director before being promoted last October to festival director. “Our having that many women and people of color is deliberate. It’s not some sidebar. They’re actually the films that are up for prizes and awards.”

Cochis is succeeding Stephanie Allain, who had refocused the festival to promote diversity and also better reflect the range of audiences within Los Angeles. Cochis is continuing to develop the fest in that direction, as the 23-year-old festival’s footprint now spreads across the city.

To better reflect the city, Cochis has expanded the L.A. Muse sidebar to 12 films — six narrative films and six documentaries — including such titles as the world premiere of Timothy McNeil’s “Anything” (in which Matt Bomer plays a transgender woman); Jennifer Arnold’s documentary “Fat Camp” (which BET has picked up for airing); Mark Hayes’ “Skid Row Marathon” (about Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell, who started a running club for Skid Row residents) and actress Leah Thompson’s feature directorial debut “The Year of Spectacular Men.”

Having conducted an extensive out-reach program to encourage new filmmakers to submit their work, the festival ultimately put together a line-up in which 65 percent of the films are by first-time directors. But since that means many of the films come from previously unknown talent, it also made an effort this year to pull in more recognizable titles.

The fest will close with Matt Spicers drama about a social media stalker, “Ingrid Goes West,” starring Aubrey Plaza. Plaza also shows up alongside Dave Franco in the raunchy “The Little Hours.” Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays a gangster in Roman Waugh’s “Shot Caller.” And “Bill Nye, The Science Guy” is the subject of a documentary by David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg.

In addition, the fest will spotlight highlights from other festivals like Sofia Coppola’s Cannes entry, “The Beguiled,” which will play on a double bill with the director’s “Lost in Translation” as well as Sundance standouts like Michael Showalter’s “The Big Sick,” starring Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan, and Dave McCary’s “Brigsby Bear,” starring Kyle Mooney.

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