Preparing for the newly configured Los Angeles Film Festival September 20-28, the LAFF scooped up 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.
This will be the 24th installment of the LAFF. This fall, its second under the leadership of Festival Director Jennifer Cochis and the first in its new time slot. The date moves LAFF into direct competition with AFI Fest (November 8-15), the last of the fall festivals.
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.
“These are the people who are bringing the change,” said Film Independent president Josh Welsh, “and we’re so happy to honor them at the Festival this year, and to help raise funds to support the program into the future.”
The LAFF is “connecting creators in brand new ways,” stated Cochis, who described Lyanga’s free two-day LMU Playa Vista campus showcase (September 22-23) as “exemplary, daring new work in a variety of new media platforms including VR, AI and AR. … The pieces and experiences she will curate are not just of the moment; these are the storytellers of the future.”
We the People panelists include Tre’vell Anderson (LAFF media sponsor The Los Angeles Times), Russell Boast (president, CSA), Kate Hagan and Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Teresa Huang (SEAL Team), Our Lady J (“Pose”), Nic Novicki (Founder Easterseals Disability Film Challenge), Natasha Rottweil (“Insecure”), Krista Suh (co-founder, Pussyhat movement), Steven James Tingus (board member, RespectAbility), Gail Williamson (talent agent, KMR & Assoc.), and more.
Cochis hopes that We the People will promote “broader industry dialogue as we continue to work towards solutions for parity across Hollywood.”
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.
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.
The Competition lineup will be announced July 31.