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Interview: NewFilmmakers Los Angeles’ BritWeek

Interview: NewFilmmakers Los Angeles' BritWeek

A few months ago we told you about a great and young non-profit
in Los Angeles that is constantly working to create spaces for emerging talent
to showcase both short and feature length works for local audiences.
NewFilmmakers Los Angeles hosts a monthly event that aim to help filmmakers launch their careers, connect with crucial support, and exchange ideas with each other and attendees.

READ MORE: Endless Indie Talent: Larry Laboe on NewFilmmakers Los Angeles

This week NewFilmmakers L.A. is taking part in a weeklong
series of diverse events across L.A entitled BritWeek, which celebrate the rich
culture of our neighbors across the pond. First on Monday April 27th
at the AT&T Center in Downtown, NewFilmmakers will host three feature
length programs consisting of both recent British and international shorts

Then on April 30th the organization will screen Thomas
Vinterberg’s latest film “Far From the Madding Crowd” ahead of its theatrical
release in collaboration with Fox Searchlight and Melnitz Movies at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater.

We had the chance to reconnect with Larry Laboe, co-director
of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles and James Defebaugh, who co-programmed the event with NFMLA Artistic Director Susie Kim and the NFMLA Programming team, to talk about
this exciting new program.

Tickets for the event on April 27th can be purchased HERE!

Aguilar: How this particular initiative come about and what are some of the elements that make distinct from other NewFilmmakers programs?

Larry Laboe: Our
programs usually consist of two feature lengths programs that are made up of
shorts and then one feature, but for this one we are doing all shorts the whole
night. It’s 13 shorts for our first event on the 27th. Two of
the programs are all English films and the third program is made up of
international shorts. We have a film from Argentina, a film from Brazil, and
two from the U.S. I’m particularly excited about a film titled “The Girlfriend

As you know a huge goal in our organization is to showcase
international films. We feel that as a festival in Los Angeles is important to
help people in the city experiences films from all over the world. Our
initiatives have always focuses on highlighting films from different parts of
the world. This year we decided we wanted to do a British film program. 

We reached out to Brit Week, and actually one of the
NewFilmmakers board members is also BritWeek and BAFTA committee member as
well. He had a relationship with Brit Week and we pitched them the idea for
this program and they were really excited about it, particularly because they
didn’t have any other film programs as part of BritWeek. As you might know
Brit Week is a celebration of British art and culture in Los Angeles that
includes exhibitions, musical performances, and other events that make it a
very well rounded experience.

This initiative grew into a two-part event. We are doing the
program I just mentioned and the Fox Searchlight movie “Far from the Madding
Crowd.” We wanted to show a film that more people from the community would feel
compelled to come out and see based on the talent that was involved in making
the film, As we were researching what indie labels had new films coming out
that could work with our program. We got in touch with Fox Searchlight and they
were very excited to take part. Obviously this film is an English film, so it
was a really fit.

Aguilar: Tells us more about the diverse British shorts included in the extensive program

James Defebaugh: We are really excited about this
screenings. We feel like this program really represents a huge variety of what
U.K. cinema has to offer in an array of genres.  There is a film called “Anemone,” which is a beautiful
portrait of a forbidden love that has some fantastic performances by its cast.
We have “Madeleine Makes a Man,” which is a whimsical, fairy tale-like retelling
of Frankenstein in which the lead character is trying to create the ideal
romantic partner.

There are also a couple of interesting character driven
dramas, one is titled “I’m in the Corner with the Bluebells” about two siblings
who meet for the first time which find themselves with a this sort of genetic
attraction, which is uncomfortable but very interesting and it’s beautifully
shot. There is also “Stalemate,” a historical character driven work that takes
place on Christmas Day during WWI

We have two science fiction pieces, one of them is “Perfect State,” a
dystopian view of the U.K. in which the government has sold out to major
corporations that run all the public services, and then there is “Roadside,”which is a post-apocalyptic
short that feel very kinetic and has several successful action sequences. We
have a couple of comedies.

One is “The Trouble Downstairs” a comedic mystery about
a guy who is trying to figure out the culprit behind his Chlamydia, and then we
have “Anita’s Birthday Wish” about a teacher whose birthday is coming up and
who is bored and looking for something interesting to do. She decides to smoke
pot but realizes that she has solicited the pot from one of her students, which
is evidently an awkward situation. We have a big range of what U.K. filmmakers
have to offer.

Aguilar: What are some highlights of the non-British program that will be screening alongside the films you already mentioned?

James Defebaugh: For the other program we have some great
international films. We have one from Brazil called “The Passenger,” which is
about a man’s displacement, which takes him on a journey of self-discovery
throughout his homeland after his wife’s death. We have a really great film
from Argentina called “Esperame” based on Dante’s Divine Comedy but sues corporate imagery
in a metaphorical manner to retell that story.

There is also the one Larry
mentioned earlier called “The Girlfriend Game,” which is an erotic thriller
with a twisted game that a couple plays at bars. It’s tone and subject matter
feels like “Gone Girl” in terms of the sexual tension. This film feature Ryan
Eggold who starts in NBC’s “The Blacklist” and Sarah Roemer who was in the film

Larry Laboe: Ryan Eggold actually has a special relationship
with NewFilmmakers. We screened a short that he directed, and we’ve screened a
few shorts that he starred in. It’s really exciting to see him back again at
the festival. Specifically regarding “The Girlfriend Game,” the guy who
produced it, Alejandro de Leon, has produced other great shorts. I’m really
excited about him as a producer. One of the shorts he’s produced is called “The Strange Thing About the Johnsons,” which I was really impressed by. He was also UPM of the short “Narcocorrido,” which won a Student Academy Award in 2012. I particularly expect
to see great things from Alejandro.

Aguilar: Why is it crucial for NewFilmmakers to balance special programs like this with films from diverse regions and backgrounds?

Larry Laboe: We do a lot of special themed programs, from
Latino film programs, to African American film programs, or programs like this
British one, but the reason why during these events you see a program made up
of films from around the world is because we don’t want to put people inside a
box. We do want to honor storytellers from different backgrounds but we don’t to
make it so that storytellers become stereotyped or labeled based on being Latino,
or British, or female. It’s great to honor different types of filmmakers but I
think we have to be careful not to put too much of a label on it. When you see
programs from NewFilmmakers that are special programs we typically like to mix
it up.

James Defebaugh: We want to spotlight films that come from a
specific cultural place but we also want to make sure we support indie
filmmaking as a whole.

Larry Laboe: We want to support diversity all around.

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