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May 24, 2005 2:00 AM
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L.A. Film Fest Boasts 263 Films for 2005; Event to Open with "Down In the Valley"

L.A. Film Fest Boasts 263 Films for 2005; Event to Open with "Down In the Valley"

by Eugene Hernandez









Maggie Gyllenhaal in a scene from "Happy Endings," which will close the Los Angeles Film Festival.

The 2005 Los Angeles Film Festival, set for June 16-26 in Southern California, will open with David Jacobson's "Down in The Valley," close with Don Roos' "Happy Endings," and feature a centerpiece screening of Rodrigo Garcia's "Nine Lives," organizers have announced. 263 films will screen in 11 sections at this year's event, selected from some 3,700 submissions received (a jump of 900 submitted films over last year). Jacobson's film, fresh from its debut at the Cannes Film Festival this month, stars Edward Norton, Evan Rachel Wood, David Morse, Rory Culkin, and Bruce Dern and will have its North American premiere. The event is presented by the recently re-named Film Independent (FIND).

Eight films will compete in this year's Narrative Competition, vying for the Target Filmmaker Award, including a $50,000 unrestricted cash prize, while 11 films have been selected for the Documentary Competition which is represented by the equally lucrative $50,000 unrestricted cash award. [The complete lineups for the competitions are included below.]

"The program this year offers a full spectrum of independent filmmaking from around the world," said Rachel Rosen, Director of Programming for Film Independent and the Los Angeles Film Festival. "Los Angeles audiences will be able to choose from new films by established directors or discover fresh talent from innovative newcomers, many of whom will be attending the festival to present their films to Festival audiences."

Eleven new films will screen in the L.A. Film Festival's "Summer Previews" section, highlighting new films coming to theaters soon. Among the films on tap include Wong Kar Wai's "2046" and four other titles from Sony Pictures Classics, Jacques Audiard's "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" from Wellspring, Margaret Brown's "Be Here To Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt" from Palm Pictures, Lodge Kerrigan's "Keane" from Magnolia, Miranda July's "Me and You and Everyone We Know" from IFC Films, and Gus van Sant's "Last Days" from Picturehouse.

Eleven films will screen in the International Showcase, highlighting a cross-section of films from around the world. [The complete list of films in this section is included below.]

Actors Don Cheadle, Lisa Kudrow, and Elijah Wood have been named honorary festival chairs for this year's event, while filmmaker Sydney Pollack will serve as the guest director for this year's festival. He will lead the two-day filmmaker retreat held just before the festival begins and program a sidebar of titles. George Clooney will receive the inaugural Spirit of Independence Award at the event, including a conversation with this year's guest director, Elvis Mitchell. Musician The RZA is this year's Artist in Residence at the Los Angeles Film Festival and will select three films and headline "ToonTime with The RZA," including a screening of cartoons with a live soundtrack created live by The RZA.

The L.A. Film Festival will return to its home base at 8000 Sunset, including screening at the Laemmle Sunset 5 Theaters and the nearby Directors guild of America, among numerous other venues. An outdoor screening will be held this year on the Santa Monica Pier and the event will grow this year to include programs throughout the city. Free showings, a music video sidebar, special screenings and short films are on the schedule. Panels, Poolside Chats, morning discussions and other special events are also on tap.

[ For more information, please visit: http://www.lafilmfest.com". ]




Lineup information provided by The Los Angeles Film Festival:

NARRATIVE COMPETITION

"Beauty Remains" (Mei Ren Yi Jiu) - North American
Premiere

USA/China. In Mandarin with English subtitles. 89 min.

DIRECTOR Ann Hu

WRITERS Beth Schacter, Michael Eldridge, Wang Bin

PRODUCERS Ira Deutchman, Ann Hu

CAST Lisa Lu, Zhiwen Wang, Vivian Wu, Xun
Zhou


Ann Hu's gorgeous, moody period melodrama delights as Fei, an illegitimate
daughter of a wealthy businessman, attempts to reclaim her rightful share of
spoiled, seductive, and wholly legitimate half-sister Lady Ying's glamour
and romance.

"Cavite"

USA. In English and Tagalog with English subtitles. 80 min.

DIRECTORS Neill Dela Llana, Ian Gamazon

WRITERS Neill Dela Llana, Ian Gamazon

PRODUCERS Neill Dela Llana, Ian Gamazon, Quynn Ton

CAST Ian Gamazon, Dominique Gonzalez

A young man arrives in the Philippines and, to save his kidnapped family,
becomes a pawn in activities beyond his control in this tightly wound
thriller that seamlessly combines the personal and political.









Romain Duris in a scene from Jacques Audiard's "The Beat My Heart Skipped," which Wellspring will release in theaters this summer. Image courtesy of Wellspring.

"Jellysmoke" - World Premiere

USA. 90 min.

DIRECTOR Mark Banning

WRITER Mark Banning

PRODUCERS Mark Banning, Cliff Charles, Mad Matthewz

CAST Michael Ealy, Andre Royo, Opal Aladdin, Angela
Nirvana


In his feature debut, Mark Banning beautifully paints the portrait of a
young African American man searching for love and a way to maintain his
sanity.

"Nearing Grace" - World Premiere

USA. 100 min.

DIRECTOR Rick Rosenthal

WRITER Jacob Aaron Estes

PRODUCERS Rick Rosenthal, Susan Johnson, Tracy Underwood

CAST Gregory Smith, Jordana Brewster, Ashley Johnson,
David Morse

"Nearing Grace" probes the libido and heart of a teenage boy with wit,
intelligence, and a bit of poetry.

"Our Very Own" - World Premiere

USA. 105 min.

DIRECTOR Cameron Watson

WRITER Cameron Watson

PRODUCERS Steve Cubine, Shannon McMahon Lichte, Maggie
Biggar
, Robert W. McLean

CAST Allison Janney, Keith Carradine, Cheryl Hines,
Jason Ritter, Autumn Reeser, Hilarie Burton, Derek
Carter
, Michael McKee

It's the summer of 1978, and very little is happening in Shelbyville,
Tennessee. When the rumor spreads that hometown-girl-made-good Sondra Locke
may be coming home for a visit, five teens decide that she holds the key to
their escape from small town life.

"Road" - World Premiere

USA. 95 min.

DIRECTOR Leslie McCleave

WRITER Leslie McCleave

PRODUCERS Zachary Mortensen, Leslie McCleave

CAST Catherine Kellner, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, James
Urbaniak


A variation on the sturdy lovers-take-a-drive tale, "Road" follows a man and
a woman as they go on an increasingly surreal journey on the backroads
running between old relationships, toxic waste sites, and the middle of
nowhere.

"Southbounders" - World Premiere

USA. 84 min.

DIRECTOR Ben Wagner

WRITER Ben Wagner

PRODUCERS Ben Wagner, Charlotte Pai

CAST Amy Peterson, Scott Speiser, Christopher
McCutchen


A pre-med student drops out of college to hike the Appalachian Trail from
Maine to Georgia in this loving tribute to the crossroads of youth.

"Trona"

USA. 63 min.

DIRECTOR David Fenster

WRITER David Fenster

PRODUCER David Fenster

CAST David Nordstrom, Lee Lynch, Libby Hux

A disillusioned businessman unexpectedly finds himself in the middle of the
desert and seizes the opportunity to reinvent himself.




DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

"The Century Plaza" - World Premiere

USA. 79 min.

DIRECTOR Eric Lahey

PRODUCER Joey Brenner

First-time feature filmmaker Eric Lahey's stirring portrait of life inside a
Portland single room occupancy hotel is as visually mesmerizing as it is
emotionally riveting.

"Ears, Open. Eyeballs, Click."

USA. 115 min.

DIRECTOR Canaan Brumley

WRITER Canaan Brumley

PRODUCER Canaan Brumley

FEATURING Michael Nichols, Marcos Martinez, Jalen
Maranan
, Alex Liebfried, Adam Sandercock

An insider's portrait of Marine recruits enduring six weeks of boot camp,
this verité documentary is so real it becomes surreal.

"Everyone Their Grain of Sand" (Cada uno su granito de
arena
) - US Premiere

Mexico/USA. In Spanish with English subtitles. 87 min.

DIRECTOR Beth Bird

PRODUCER Beth Bird

This intimate and heartbreaking film chronicles Mexican community Maclovio
Rojas's 18-year-long battle with their government to obtain education,
electricity, and water, while town leaders fight to be freed from unjust
imprisonment.









John Hawkes and Miranda July in a scene from July's "Me and You and Everyone We Know."

"The Grace Lee Project"

USA. 68 min.

DIRECTOR Grace Lee

WRITERS Grace Lee, Amy Ferraris

PRODUCER Grace Lee, Amy Ferraris

FEATURING Grace Lee, Grace Lee, Grace Lee

Do you know a Grace Lee? Director Grace Lee's "The Grace Lee Project" is a
wry and moving examination of the many faces of Asian femininity connected
by one ultra-popular name.

"How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It)"

USA. In English and French with English subtitles. 85 min.

DIRECTOR Joe Angio

WRITER Joe Angio

PRODUCER Michael Solomon

FEATURING Melvin Van Peebles, Spike Lee, Gordon Parks,
St. Clair Bourne, Emanuel Azenberg, Gebé,
Georges Wolinski

Joe Angio's revealing documentary about maverick director Melvin Van Peebles
features rare archival footage and interviews with friends and family,
including Spike Lee, Elvis Mitchell, and the man himself, unabashed and
unapologetic.

"In a Nutshell: A Portrait of Elizabeth Tashjian"

USA. 80 min.

DIRECTOR Don Bernier

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER Tina Erickson

FEATURING Elizabeth Tashjian, Christopher Steiner,
Christine Woodside

In the hamlet of Old Lyme, Connecticut, self-proclaimed "nut culturist"
Elizabeth Tashjian walks the fine line between eccentric artist and unstable
incompetent.

"Romántico"

USA. In English and Spanish with English subtitles. 80 min.

DIRECTOR Mark Becker

PRODUCER Mark Becker

FEATURING Carmelo Muñiz Sánchez, Arturo Arias
García


Carmelo peddles ballads for Mission District drinkers in this engrossing
documentary, which binds audiences to a culture of Mexican men whose
struggle for respect leaves them scapegoated, exploited, or ignored.

"La Sierra"

Colombia/USA. In Spanish with English subtitles. 84 min.

DIRECTORS Scott Dalton, Margarita Martinez

PRODUCERS Scott Dalton, Margarita Martinez

Courageous and visceral, La Sierra covers a year in the life of a
Medellín, Colombia barrio, where gun-toting youths fight territorial
wars in a desperate struggle for survival.

"Sir! No Sir!" - World Premiere

USA. 90 min.

DIRECTOR David Zeiger

WRITER David Zeiger

PRODUCERS David Zeiger, Evangeline Griego, Aaron Zarrow

This smartly-crafted, provoking documentary about the Vietnam era anti-war
movement within the military introduces men and women who sought justice but
found themselves judged guilty of treason.

"Stolen"

USA. 85 min.

DIRECTOR Rebecca Dreyfus

PRODUCER Susannah Ludwig

FEATURING Blythe Danner, Campbell Scott, Harold J.
Smith


Sporting a bizarre cast of characters, Stolen explores the conspiracies and
rumors surrounding the unsolved mystery of what is considered to be the
greatest art heist in modern times.

"To the Other Side" (Al Otro Lado)

Mexico/USA. In Spanish with English subtitles. 66 min.

DIRECTOR Natalia Almada

PRODUCERS Kent Rogowski, Tommaso Fiacchino

The tradition of corridos -- ballads sung to commemorate people, places, and
events -- in Mexico melds with the truth of today's economy through songs
about drug trafficking and illegal border crossing.




INTERNATIONAL SHOWCASE

"4," directed by Ilya Khrzhanovsky - Russia

"Avanim," directed by Raphael Nadjari - France/Israel

"Before the Flood," directed by Yan Yu and Li Yifan - China - North American Premiere

"Bitter Dream," directed by Mohsen Amiryoussefi - Iran

"Fatima, the Algerian Woman of Dakar," directed by Med Hondo - Mauritania/France/Tunisia/Senegal - US Premiere

"The Forest for the Trees," directed by Maren Ade - Germany

"Le Grand Voyage," directed by Ismaël Ferroukhi - France/Morocco

"Kamikaze Girls," directed by Tetsuya Nakashima - Japan - US Premiere (Viz Media)

"One Out of Two," directed by Alejo Taube - Argentina

"Pilgrimage," directed by Bahman Kiarostami - Iran

"Sentenced to Marriage," Anat Zuria - Israel - US Premiere

"Spying Cam," directed by Whang Cheol Mean - South Korea - US Premiere

"Swenkas," directed by Jeppe Rønde - Denmark/South Africa (Seventh Art Releasing)

"The Syrian Bride," directed by Eran Riklis - France/Germany/Israel (Koch Lorber)

"Tony Takitani," directed by Jun Ichikawa - Japan (Strand Releasing)

"Unknown White Male," directed by Rupert Murray - England (Wellspring)

"Vento di Terra," directed by Vincenzo Marra - Italy

"Waiting for the Clouds," directed by Yesim Ustaoglu - France/Germany/Greece/Turkey

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