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Meet 13 LA Film Festival Filmmakers In Their Own Words

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire June 17, 2011 at 6:39AM

This year's LA Film Festival kicked off last night with the world premiere of Richard Linklater's black comedy "Bernie." Over the past two weeks, indieWIRE has profiled filmmakers in the Narrative Feature and Documentary Competition. In total, 13 directors from this year's event, agreed to take part. Get to know the filmmakers by checking out the roundup of interviews below.
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This year's LA Film Festival kicked off last night with the world premiere of Richard Linklater's black comedy "Bernie." Over the past two weeks, indieWIRE has profiled filmmakers in the Narrative Feature and Documentary Competition. In total, 13 directors from this year's event, agreed to take part. Get to know the filmmakers by checking out the roundup of interviews below.

The LA Film Festival runs through June 26.

Meet the Filmmakers:

“Salaam Dunk” Director David Fine
"Through traditional interviews and private confessional video diaries, “Salaam Dunk” follows the ethnically diverse AUIS women’s basketball team as they discover what it means to be athletes. From the joy of their first win to the pain of losing the coach who started their team, the film gives a glimpse into an Iraq we don’t see on the news."

“Somewhere Between” Director Linda Goldstein Knowlton
I’m from Chicago - Go Cubs! - and have lived in Los Angeles for 23 years. I had planned on being an English major in college, because I loved literature and storytelling. My father said an English major would get me nowhere, professionally. My oldest brother strongly suggested I take at least one science course, and I unexpectedly ended up majoring in Neuroscience. He’s a Neuroscientist, but I swear that had no influence. It is a long story, but I ended up not going to medical school and instead, by true happenstance, being an assistant at the American Film Institute in DC. There I found my way back to story and storytelling through film. So, whether it is scripted films or documentary - I work in both - it is all about the storytelling and the combination that filmmaking encompasses: A collaborative art-form, a visual medium, and the opportunity to tell good stories to people - well, that’s why I make movies.

“Cheonggyecheon Medley: A Dream of Iron” Director Kelvin Kyung Kun Park
I was born in Seoul, Korea, son of a Korean diplomat, and studied in the U.S. (in Los Angeles). I was a graphic designer but got tired of it and went into film. Movies are great because you can make a movie about anything. But also you can get caught up in the “about,” the content, making them disposable. Recently I became aware that I just wanted to create something and not be bounded by a particular medium, so I make installations, posters, drawings and etc. along with movies. I consider my work as a prayer to deal with and involve myself into this strange world that I live in. I tried other ways, like getting a job, but it didn’t work because I am too impatient.

“Once I Was a Champion” Director Gerard Roxburgh
If I was born hundreds of years ago, I’d be the guy sitting around the fire sharing fables. Whenever my dad would tell my kid brother and I a bedtime story he would turn off the lights and assume we’d be going to sleep. I would usually keep my brother up another half hour or so trying to outdo the tale I had just been told. When I was doing my GE at college I took a Cinema 100 class as an “art” requirement. I never got into movies to make art, I just wanted a bigger campfire.

“The Bad Intentions” Director Rosario Garcia-Montero
I make movies because I don’t know what else to do. I studied film in Peru, then went to study more in New York and stayed there for 10 years. I wanted to make a story about a beautiful but painful childhood. In Peru, there are lot of films that portray stories about terrorism; my film takes place in that period but it’s really in the background - in the “off space” - and I think it works in a silent way. You feel that the terrorists are always around the corner, but you dont see them.

“The Fatherless” Director Marie Kreutzer
I began to write stories when I was a kid and got my first typewriter as a present for my 8th birthday. From then, I’ve never stopped writing. I wanted to write novels, but creative writing is nothing you can study in Austria. I happened to find out about a screenplay class at the Vienna Film Academy when I was twenty, passed the qualifying examination, and suddenly I was a film student. Writing screenplays was something completely new and very demanding for me in the beginning. It’s actually still the most demanding part for me. When I saw “The Ice Storm” by Ang Lee, I suddenly realized that I also wanted to direct. It was really the key moment. It’s still one of my favorite films and has been an inspiration for years.

“Wish Me Away” Co-Director Bobbie Birleffi
I am a natural born storyteller and world class communicator. Making movies has allowed me to reach people in a deep and meaningful way. Beverly is a writer and ardent believer in the power of pop culture to penetrate the zeitgeist and make a difference. Together, we are a potent team.

Alysa Nahmias’ and Benjamin Murray’s “Unfinished Spaces”
The story of “Unfinished Spaces” is that of the Cuban National Art Schools, as well as the story of their personal experiences as artists in Cuba who believed in the possibility of utopia, began to construct it, but never completed it. Now, forty-five years later, they have a chance to complete that work. Unfinished Spaces features intimate footage of Fidel Castro, showing his devotion to creating a worldwide showcase for art, and it also documents the struggle and passion of three revolutionary artists.

“Unraveled” Director Marc H. Simon
Unlike my first two films that I had to chase to make “Unraveled” to a great extent, chose me. When news broke of Marc Dreier’s arrest, I did not plan to make a film about my disgraced mentor. However, Daniel Laikind and Steve Cantor of Stick Figure Productions (which became my production partner) approached me about making a documentary about Dreier. Initially, I declined because I was preoccupied settling in at my new law firm Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams, & Sheppard and also launching the theatrical release of “Nursery University.” However, as good producers do, Daniel and Steven pursued me and about two months after our initial meeting, I knew that I would always regret not attempting to tell this story (which, based on my professional relationship with Dreier, I was uniquely situated to tell).

“Sawdust City” Director David Nordstrom
We tried to craft a sturdy narrative about something we can all relate to—family. I feel that the best way to be universal is to be as specific as possible. So, even though there is much in the film that’s specific to the region, I hope people from all over can relate to it in an intense way.

“Paraiso For Sale” Director Anayansi Prado
I’m originally from Panama. I moved to the US when I was a teenager and studied film at Boston University. This is my third documentary. I make films to take people on a journey through someone else’s life, situation or to a place they’ve never been to before. To be exposed to something new and realize through the process that as humans, we are more alike and connected than we realize. In my films, I like to draw out human emotions as a tool for the audience to connect with a place or character. The language of human emotions is a universal language that can often break barriers of judgment or pre-conceived notions that rationalization can’t. Regardless of whether the main topics of my films are political or controversial, my ultimate goal is to connect the audience with my characters’ stories and struggles on a human level.

“You Hurt My Feelings” Director Steve Collins
My background is pretty unremarkable; I’m the son of a doctor in the suburbs, and I am and have always been a real ninny, so my small trials felt like epic battles. I have always loved movies from the first particle of movie light on my eyeball. I remember watching Star Wars and forgetting I was in the theater. I did not have to think; I could just be inside this world.

“How to Cheat” Director Amber Sealey
Like a lot of actor-turned-directors, I partly wanted to make movies because it was an opportunity to act, which is what I trained in and what I love most. Improvising scenes is extremely fulfilling for me, but after making my first film, “A Plus D,” I realized how much I love the whole process of making a film, all the various stages of production, and how collaborative it is. I work to make my films as “alive” and as much like theater as I can, since that is my background. The best part of making movies is the process of watching them change as you make them, each person you ask to be involved adds their part and it changes because of that person directly, and in that way it feels alive to me.

Check out these prior participants in the Los Angles Film Festival, courtesy of SnagFilms [Disclaimer: SnagFilms is indiewire's parent company]
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This article is related to: Features, Interviews, Los Angeles Film Festival





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