The 8th Downtown L.A. Film Festival, September 21-28, which is being held at Regal Cinema’s L.A. Live has announced its feature films and special series. The line-up includes films from all genres and curated programming covering a wide range of topics Income Inequality, Art, Architecture & Design, Actions Sports, and The People and The Police.
More than 100 films will screen over the eight-day event. The festival’s short films, panels and workshops will be announced separately. Opening Night Film, Centerpiece Film, and Closing Night Film were previously announced as Swing State, The Loner and the 40th anniversary edition of The Man Who Fell To Earth, respectively.
This year the festival received more than 800 submissions from 22 countries. Feature films screening at this year’s festival that are having their Los Angeles premieres previously were shown at some of the world’s best known festivals including Sundance, Tribeca, Seattle, Hot Docs, Full Frame, Framelne and Cinequest.
“Our move to L.A. Live has provided the opportunity for us to exponentially expand our programming line-up, and cemented our reputation as the leading film festival in burgeoning DTLA,” said festival director Greg Ptacek.
While proudly a showcase for new and emerging talent in the historic center of the Entertainment Capital of the World, this year’s line-up includes films featuring a host of celebrity talent including David Bowie (The Man Who Fell To Earth), Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), Candy Clark (American Grafitti), Billy Zane (Titanic), Julian Sands (Room With A View), Jason Schwartzman(The Grand Budapest Hotel), Taryn Manning (Orange Is the New Black), Reza Sixo Safai (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night), Shane Black (Iron Man 3), Laura Harring (Mulholland Drive), Connie Stevens (77 Sunset Strip), Buck Henry (The Player), among many others.
The feature film line-up includes Tribeca alum Do Not Resist, which won the festival’s Best Documentary Feature award for its chilling reporting on the militarization of the nation’s police;Children of the Mountain, a poignant story of a young mother in Africa struggling with a child born with birth defects, and whose director Priscilla Anany was awarded Best New Narrative Director; I Voted?, director Jason Grant’s Smith insightful look at the frightening state of the voting system in the U.S., and The Banksy Job, a documentary about the famous bad-boy graffiti artist Banksy.
Do Not Resist is a part of the festival The People & The Police series, which also includes a screening of director Charles Burnett’s 1994 police drama, The Glass Shield and the dark comedy by director Paul Sapiano’s Driving While Black, which nabbed the Audience Favorite Award at the New Orleans Film Festival.
The co-joined worlds of art, architecture, design and fashion are explored in the festival’s Art, Architecture and Design series, anchored by the Los Angeles premiere of Design Disruptors, a documentary that goes behind the scenes at 15 industry-toppling companies that control more than $1 trillion in combined assets and share a secret advantage – the transformative power of design. The series continues with the Los Angeles premiere of the biopic of the world’s most enigmatic and influential fashion designers, in Yohji Yamamoto – Dressmaker.
Los Angeles’ diverse Latin cultures are reflected in three special series: American-Latino Filmmakers, Hola Cuba! New Cinema From Havana And Beyond, both presented by Sigue, and aSpotlight on Spanish Cinema. The American-Latino Filmmakers series focuses on movies by U.S.-born filmmakers of Hispanic-Latino heritage. Launching the series is Joel Gonzales Crave: The Fast Life, a narrative drama exploring the powerful and lifelong impact of a father’s abandonment of his son.
Other films in the series include Chris Cashman’s Club Frontera, a must-see documentary for soccer fans about the professional team in Tijuana and its uplifting impact on the community; Jennica Caromona’s Millie and the Lords, a poignant love story set in New York’s Spanish Harlem; Ruben Rojo’s The Night and The Nightingale, a drama about a woman’s determination to pay tribute to poet Frederico Garcia Lorca, and Jorge Valdes-Iga’s I Was There, the story of a 911 New York City fireman consumed with survivor’s guilt.
The Spanish cinema showcase includes a rare screening of the sci-fi classic Before The Fall by director F. Javier Guttierez, who is currently putting the finishing touches on Rings, the third installment in the popular Ring franchise. The filmmaker is scheduled to make a special appearance at the screening.
The festival’s Cuban film series – the first in Los Angeles since the normalizing of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the island nation – explores the heartbreak of a family split apart by immigration in Julio Rodriguez’s The Pathways of Aissa, and the return of a Cuban-American in search of her roots in Nicole Di Rocco’s Passport Cuba. Dr. Oscar Biscet – a well-known human rights activist whom the Cuban government unsuccessfully tried everything it could to force him to leave their country, including imprisonment – is the subject of Jordan Allot’s biopic Oscar’s Cuba.In Gerardo Chijona’s The Human Thing, a young thief flirts with prison when he steals the masterpiece script of a writer and sends it as his work to a literary contest.
The cinema of Morocco is the focus of another series of five feature-length films: Small Pleasures by director Mohamed Chris Tribak, Aida by director Driss Mrini, Behind Closed Doors by director Mohamed Bensouda, The Identity of a Front by director Hassan El Bouharrouti, and A Mile In My Shoes by director Said Khalif — selected by Morocco as the country’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Academy Awards.
“For decades Morocco has served as a shooting location for Hollywood pictures and a stand-in for any film requiring a Middle East setting from Lawrence of Arabia to Mission Impossible 5. So, it is our great pleasure to present the first-ever showcase in Los Angeles of Moroccan cinema, which is ripe with indigenous filmmaking talent,” said programming director Schroeder.
Also highlighting the festival is a strong slate of music documentaries, including the Los Angeles premiere of Bjork: The Creative Universe of a Music Missionary, co-directed by Tita Von Hardenberg and Hannes Rosacher; Jaco, the biopic of influential bass player Jaco Pastourias, directed by Paul Marchand and produced by Metallica’s Robert Trujillo; Om’Mas Keith: Across The Board, a biopic by Michael Rapaport about the artist-musician-songwriter who produced Frank Ocean’s new album Blonde; Hard Lovin’ Woman, the biopic about the actor-musician Juliette Lewis, and two Blues feature documentaries: Samuel D. Pollard’s Two Trains Runnin’, the search for forgotten blues singers, and Victoria Luther’s How Berlin Got The Blues, a biopic about musician Ebylee Davis, who after his Army stint in Cold War Berlin in the 1950s, introduced the blues to the German people.
“From action sports to political action, architecture to art, and Bowie to Bjork, the diversity of our curated film series reflects Los Angeles’ own incredibly cosmopolitan landscape, “ said programming director Carolyn Schroeder. “There is no other film festival likes ours because there’s no other place like DTLA and it surrounding environs.”