Go East Young Fest: L.A. Indie Fest Announces Slate For
by Mark Rabinowitz
The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival (LAIFF) has announced
its first annual LAIFF Tokyo event, set to take place August 26-31
at Tokyo's Aoyama Spiral Hall. In a partnership with international
financing, production, and distribution company Fab Films, the LAIFF will
bring four films from the 1998 LAIFF, plus a selection of shorts, to
Sponsored by Fab Films, Aoyama Spiral Hall and Tokyo FM radio station,
J-Wave, the mini-fest will feature both the opening night film from
April's LAIFF, Susanna Styron's pastoral "Shadrach," starring Harvey
Keitel and Andie MacDowell, and the closer, Noah Baumbach's "Mr.
Jealously". The latter, Baumbach's follow-up to 1997's indie offering
"Kicking and Screaming," features several actors from "Kicking"
including indie mainstay Eric Stoltz, Chris Eigman, and Carlos Jacott.
The other two features are Rocky Collins' "Pants On Fire" (best writer,
1998 LAIFF) and Rory Kelly's "Some Girls" (best director, 1998 LAIFF).
"Some Girls" stars Juliette Lewis, Michael Rappaport, and Marisa and
indieWIRE spoke with LAIFF Director Robert Faust, who told us about some
of the origins of the LAIFF Tokyo idea. "Our partnering company, Fab
Films, was interested in building more of a presence for independent
films in Asia and was looking for an appropriate organization and event
to partner with." They approached Robert about the LAIFF, with some of
the groundwork already in place. "They'd already set alliances and
partnerships to make it happen from a promotional situation, with J-Wave
and (Aoyama) Spiral Hall," said Faust.
"We definitely want to do more than four films," said Faust. "The goal
was to get it up and going. Given the (state of the) economy in Japan
right now, we wanted to make sure that (LAIFF Japan) was something that
was manageable, not only from a production end, but also from a consumer
end." The organizers decided not to shoot for too much with the first
edition. "We thought that doing four features and a shorts program and
some seminars and some parties was really a good place to start with."
When the idea of the Tokyo fest was first presented, Faust jumped on the
chance, seeing the possibility to make good on a long-standing plan of
the LAIFF. "One of the things that we've always talked about was taking
the LAIFF on the road," he said. Adding that they would like to expand
the Tokyo section, and eventually travel to other locations in the world
with the LAIFF. However, putting together the L.A. event is no easy feat
to produce. "It's difficult enough to make this an annual (event) on the
limited funds that we have," Faust said, adding that " it takes a lot
more sponsorship to make this a traveling festival."
The festival was programmed, in large part, by Fab Films American
partner and co-founder, Matt Jacobs, and the rest of the folks at Fab.
The LAIFF staff made recommendations, but generally relied on Fab Films'
knowledge of the Japanese market, and what kind of films would play to
that audience. In a prepared statement, Jacobs remarked that the
Japanese audience for indies "is a young, sophisticated, cosmopolitan
crowd who are aware of independent film...by way of TV and magazines,
but haven't been exposed to them in theaters...yet."