For its 24th edition, Film Independent’s newly configured Los Angeles Film Festival has revealed its first fall lineup (September 20 – 28), the second under the leadership of Festival Director Jennifer Cochis. The date moves LAFF into awards season and direct competition with AFI Fest (November 8 – 15), the last of the fall festivals. This year’s LAFF program includes 40 feature films, 41 short films, and 10 short episodic works representing 26 countries. Across the competition categories 42 percent of the films are directed by women and 39 percent are directed by people of color.
The festival remains committed to a diverse lineup of feature films, shorts and episodic series for its U.S. Fiction (“original voices with distinct visions from emerging and established American independent filmmakers”), Documentary (“character-driven non-fiction films from the U.S. and around the world”), World Fiction (“unique fiction films from around the world by emerging and established filmmakers”), LA Muse (“fiction and documentary films that capture the spirit of Los Angeles”), and Nightfall (“films to watch after dark”) sections.
“Our mission of finding fresh new voices from different geographical and cultural axes remains true,” said LA Film Festival Director Jennifer Cochis in an official statement. “These storytellers are united by their ability to transport, impact and inspire audiences with the power of their craft.”
Venues for the 2018 Festival include the ArcLight Cinemas in Culver City, Hollywood, and Santa Monica, as well as the new LMU Playa Vista Campus (opening this fall), the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and the Writers Guild Theater.
So far the selection is in line with past festivals, mostly emerging indie artists from around the world. It remains to be seen if LAFF will attract higher-profile titles for its to-be-announced opening and closing nights, galas and special screenings and programs.
Here’s the official LAFF selection:
U.S. Fiction Competition
“Banana Split,” dir. Benjamin Francis Kasulke, USA, World Premiere
“In Reality,” dir. Ann Lupo, co-dirs. Esteban Pedraza & Aaron Pryka, USA, California Premiere
“Olympia,” dir. Gregory Dixon, USA, World Premiere
“Simple Wedding,” dir. Sara Zandieh, USA, World Premiere
“Softness of Bodies,” dir. Jordan Blady, USA/Germany, World Premiere
“This Teacher,” dir. Mark Jackson, USA, World Premiere
“The Wrong Todd,” dir. Rob Schulbaum, USA, World Premiere
“Behind the Curve”, dir. Daniel J. Clark, USA, US Premiere
“Facing the Dragon,” dir. Sedika Mojadidi, USA/Afghanistan, World Premiere
“False Confessions,” dir. Katrine Philp, Denmark, North American Premiere
“hillbilly,” dirs. Sally Rubin, Ashley York, USA, LA Premiere
“Mamacita,” dir. José Pablo Estrada Torrescano, Mexico/Germany, US Premiere
“Moroni for President,” dir. Saila Huusko, Jasper Rischen, USA, LA Premiere
“Same God,” dir. Linda Midgett, USA, World Premiere
“The Silence of Others,” dirs. Almudena Carracedo, Robert Bahar, Spain, West Coast Premiere
“Stammering Ballad,” dir. Nan Zhang, China, North American Premiere
“Wrestling Ghosts,” dir. Ana Joanes, USA, World Premiere
World Fiction Competition
“Border,” dir. Ali Abbasi, Sweden, California Premiere
“The Cotton Wool War,” dirs. Cláudio Marques, Marilia Hughes, Brazil, US Premiere
“The Day I Lost My Shadow,” dir. Soudade Kaadan, France/Lebanon/Qatar/Syrian Arab Republic, US Premiere
“Heaven Without People,” dir. Lucien Bourjeily, Lebanon, LA Premiere
“Microhabitat,” dir. Jeon Go-Woon, South Korea, West Coast Premiere
“Socrates,” dir. Alex Moratto, Brazil, World Premiere
“Tower. A Bright Day.,”dir. Jagoda Szelc, Poland/Czech Republic, LA Premiere
“The Advocates,” dir. Rémi Kessler, USA, World Premiere
“El Chicano,” dir. Ben Hernandez Bray, USA, World Premiere
“Fire on the Hill,” dir. Brett Fallentine, USA, World Premiere
“Funke,” dir. Gabriel Taraboulsy, USA, World Premiere
“Making Montgomery Clift,” dir. Robert A. Clift, Hillary Demmon, USA, World Premiere
“Saint Judy,” dir. Sean Hanish, USA, World Premiere
“Solace,” dir. Tchaiko Omawale, USA, California Premiere
“Staycation,” dir. Tanuj Chopra, USA, World Premiere
“Stuntman,” dir. Kurt Mattila, USA, World Premiere
“We the Coyotes,” dirs. Hanna Ladoul, Marco La Via, USA, North American Premiere
“The Dead Center,” dir. Billy Senese, USA, World Premiere
“Deep Murder,” dir. Nick Corirossi, USA, World Premiere
“Ghost Light,” dir. John Stimpson, USA, World Premiere
“Head Count,” dir. Elizabeth Callahan, USA, World Premiere
“Spell,” dir. Brendan Walter, USA, World Premiere
“Thriller,” dir. Dallas Jackson, USA, World Premiere
From over 3,100 submissions, 41 short films represent 14 countries. Short films are shown before features and as part of six short film programs. Shorts will compete for juried prizes for fiction and documentary shorts, as well as an Audience Award for Best Short Film.
This showcase of independently crafted web series celebrates rising creators whose work and subjects are innovative and unfiltered.
“Avant-Guardians,” dir. Clarence Williams II, USA
“Flatbush Misdemeanors,” dirs. Dan Perlman, Kevin Iso, USA
“Fresh,” dir. Grant Scicluna, Australia
“Kiki and Kitty,” dir. Catriona Mackenzie, Australia
“Otis,” dir. Alexander Etseyatse, USA
“Petal & Paint,” dir. Bradley Smith, USA
“Psusy,” dirs. Duckworth, Jaya Beach-Robertson, New Zealand
“Revenge Tour,” dir. Andrew Carter, USA
“Robits,” dir. Christopher Parks, USA
“Tracy Buckles,” dir. Robin Nystrom, USA
Already announced are programs including the recently departed AFI Fest director Jacqueline Lyanga as guest director for VR and Immersive Storytelling. This is the festival’s first foray into that emerging arena, which is part of a new partnership with Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television.
Other LAFF projects include partnering with the International Documentary Association’s biannual conference, Getting Real ’18; expanding its inclusion summit We the People at the Writers Guild this September, and is mounting a benefit dinner celebrating 25 years of Project Involve, honoring alumni Effie T. Brown, Jon M. Chu, Cherien Dabis, and Charles D. King.
This year, the Festival will introduce a Documentary Pass and center its documentary programming at ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood to make it easily accessible to attendees of the IDA conference. Festival Doc Pass holders will receive a discount to Getting Real, and vice versa. Also in partnership with the IDA, Film Independent is launching a documentary track for its Fast Track film financing market.
Along with the traditional LAFF opening- and closing-night films available to pass holders, the festival is also programming public screenings on those nights. On September 20, the Festival will feature a night of Project Involve shorts and on September 28, a special Closing Night Documentary will screen. Festival passes go on sale to Film Independent Members on July 24 and to the general public on July 31 at lafilmfestival.com.