LAIFF Bursts At The Seams
by Mark Rabinowitz
The past weekend's Los Angeles Independent Film Festival proved what many
indie pundits had claimed for the past year, that the fine third year fest
had outgrown its pleasant but overly cozy home at Hollywood's Raleigh
Studios. Although the studio's screening rooms are comfortable and the
soundstages perfect venues for the new media expo, seminars, and parties,
there is only one theater for screening films. Even with this year's addition
of a Paramount Studios theater, each film was only screened once during the 4
1/2 day event.
The crowd drawn by this year's event was younger than those seen at Sundance
and other industry-heavy fests, and that came through in the energy displayed
at various gathering places, including the packed Indie Music Jam held last
Friday at Hollywood's Martini Lounge. Many of the films arrived still wet
from the labs with such premiere offerings as Will Geiger's "Ocean Tribe,"
Scott D. Goldstein's "Levitation," and Scott Saunders' "Headhunter's Sister,"
among others, drawing significant buzz. Distributor activity was high, with
many of the films holding extra screenings for buyers this week.
Attendance was so high that it is inconceivable that the festival will choose
to remain at Raleigh for next year's event. One much talked about possible
new venue for the festival is the Laemmele's Sunset Plaza theaters at the
Eastern end of the Sunset Strip. The area houses five theaters known for
showing independent fare, as well as the Virgin Megastore, a coffee stand and
Wolfgang Puck's Cafe, among other establishments. This location is also
located a block and a half from the Directors Guild of America building, site of the LAIFF's opening and closing night galas as well two days of seminars.
Among the industry notables that attended this year's festival were director
Bryan Singer ("The Usual Suspects"), Strand's Marcus Hu, the AIVF's Ruby Lerner, The Sundance Channel's Sarah Eaton, IFP Market Director Sharan Sklar, Filmmaker Miguel Arteta ("Star Maps"), and Sundance Film Festival programmer John Cooper and the Saturday night Details/Intel sponsored soundstage party attracted the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, Rose McGowan and Andy Dick, among