Stars come out at 17th annual Los Angeles Film Festiva (Part 2)
Stars come out at 17th annual Los Angeles Film Festival


(Dominic Cooper gives a magnificent performance in a dual role in "The Devil's Double")

One of the most anticipated thriller in the festival was the Gala Premiere of “The Devils’s Double” Gala Premiere. Director Lee Tamahori and stars from the film Dominic Cooper and Ludivine Sagnier, heads the attendees while I had a little excitement about rapper ‘Lil Jon (Celebrity Apprentice), who hosted the after-party, sat right in front of me. Also seen a few seats away were the new “Conan: The Barbarian” lead, Jason Momoa (with actress Lisa Bonet), celebrity impersonators of Jack Nicholson, Sarah Palin, and Usher, four pairs of twins. Loosely based on the life of army lieutenant, Latif Yahia (Dominc Cooper gave an Oscar-worthy performance playing a dual role), who is forced to be the body-double of one of Saddam Hussein’s evil son.

(Director Chris Weitz invited stars Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart at the Gala Premiere of "A Better Life" - Photo courtesy of Jason Merritt of Getty Images)

Director Chris Weitz, brought in and invited stars Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner (which he directed in “Twilight: New Moon”) at the Gala Premiere of the movie “A Better Life” on Wednesday, June 22. It was a surreal feeling (and funny) how the securities assigned with the two stars reacted in trying to protect them. Both have seated a few yards away from me but seating beside John Lithgow was an added treat for me that evening. Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) members and couple Janet and Ruben Nepales also attended and tagged along Fil-Am Hollywood celebrity designer Allan del Rosario. Also seen and talked briefly outside after the screening, was Garret Hedlund (‘Tron,’ ‘Friday Night Lights,’ ‘Country Song’). The audience was treated by a musical performance from "Ozomatli" before the screening.

“A Better Life” is a story of an illegal immigrant father (played beautifully by Demian Bischir), struggling to keep his 14-year old son (Jose Julian) away from gangs while working as a landscape gardener. The tearjerker is a common issue among undocumented illegal aliens whom despite hardships still tries to make both ends meet, raising a family in the United States.

(EJ Bonilla and Veronica Diaz-Carranza in "Mamitas")

“Mamitas” was one of my favorites at this festival, considering the strong script and believable performances of the cast, starting from EJ Bonilla and Veronica Diaz-Carranza, from first time filmmaker Nicholas Ozeki, the movie is a delightful romantic drama.

"Project Nim" is a hearfelt doc about a chim experiment gone awry.

“Project Nim,” (which was the only documentary film I’ve seen in the festival), is breathtaking and disturbing! From Director James Marsh, the movie is a follow up on his award-winning “Man on Wire.” In 1970, a chimpanzee named “Nim” was taken from his chimp parents and was given to a well-off family in the suburb New York. The idea is for him to be a part of an experiment that would give him an opportunity to be raised and nurtured like a human child. Nim grew up and taught how to be loved and cared in a humane environment. He learned how to communicate through sign language and interacted like a human with four siblings of his adoptive family. He has learned to get deeply attached with his caretakers. The experiment has gone awry when he was forced to live back with the “common” chimps. Deprived of his usual decent lifestyle and away from the people who took cared of him, Nim was confused of the painful reality. This is an extraordinary and heartbreaking biographical story of a chimpanzee experiment you’ll never forget. If you missed this at the festival, the film will have a limited run in selected theatres.

Producer Jonathan Schwartz, Cinematographer John Guleserian, with Canon executive Tim Smith talked about the tricks a Canon digital camera (particularly a 5D) can do to make your movies.

One of the best female cinematographers in Hollywood - award-winning Cinematographer Amy Vincent (Eve's Bayou, Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan, and the upcoming "Footloose") shares her experiences and insights at a panel discussion sponsored by Kodak, moderated by Kodak rep Aaron Saffa.

(A scene from "Mysteries of Lisbon")

After sitting in for two panel discussions, I still had the time and energy to watch Raul Ruiz’s 259 minutes -19th century epic “Mysteries of Lisbon.” A 14-year old Portuguese orphan raised by the Church, suspects that he is the bastard offspring of a beautiful aristocrat. As mysteries tries to unfold, through subplots and riddles within riddles, the story is an enthralling exploration of the fluidity of identity and the nature of storytelling itself.

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