Some of the films to watch at upcoming LA Filmfest 2017 (June 14 - 22)
by Oliver Carnay
LOS ANGELES (June 9, 2017)— The 2017 LA Film Festival will screen a diverse slate of feature films, shorts and episodic series, along with programs such as Coffee Talks and Future Filmmakers Showcase. The LA Film Festival takes place June 14 – June 22, 2017 headquartered at ArcLight Cinemas Culver City, with additional screenings at ArcLight Hollywood, ArcLight Santa Monica and more.
The festival includes 37 World Premieres, 2 International Premieres, 9 North American Premieres chosen for U.S. Fiction, Documentary, World Fiction, LA Muse & Nightfall Competitions .. Festival passes are on sale now at www.lafilmfestival.com.
Here are some of the notable films to look forward to. Make sure to log on at www.lafilmfest.com for complete details, schedule, and how to purchase tickets ..
Documentary filmmaker Sara Lamm discovered as an adult that she was conceived via sperm donor. She’s spent years looking for her biological father—chasing non-existent medical records, trolling the archives of the doctor who ran the fertility clinic, and tracking down class photographs from the medical school; it’s been eleven years since she learned the truth and she doesn’t have many leads.
Sara joins an online registry for donor conceived people and meets Jennifer, who was conceived at the same clinic, in the same year. The two women discover a number of similarities (height, seasonal allergies, a penchant for psychics) and decide to take a DNA test to see if they’re half-sisters. When they meet in Hawaii to determine the results, Sara brings her camera and for nearly two years after, documents their shared hunt for information.
Jennifer spends hours every day on the computer, toggling between DNA and ancestry databases, while Sara seeks out the edges of her family story--traveling up the coast of California to visit her non-biological, bird-watching father and across the country to her home state of North Carolina—where she makes a personal request of an elderly aunt, visits her mother’s graveside, and asks her mother’s longtime boyfriend what he knew about the donor.
THANK YOU FOR COMING makes unexpected connections between the wild roots of a banyan tree, the lonesome shadow of a kite, and the comedic potential of a turkey baster. It's both a genealogical detective story and a funny, poetic meditation on love, loss, friendship, and family. The film is World Premiering at LAFF and is available for sales in all territories.
(Editor: This is one of my favorites at the ongoing LA Film Festival. Great performance from Robert Sheehan, Rory Culkin and Mary Beth Peil. The latter plays Rory Culkin's grandma, with an interesting romantic affair with Robert Sheehan who plays Culkin's best friend. Sheehan shines so well in this coming-of-age film peppered with great soundtrack. The World Premiere is on Wednesday, June 21, 9pm at Arclight Cinemas in Culver City. Don't miss it!)
THE SONG OF SWAY LAKE
Wednesday, June 21st at 9:20pm at Arclight Culver City (World Premiere)
Set mainly in present day Dallas, TX and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, this features three main characters at three different stages of the same process. Supported by a nonprofit, these extremely tall teenagers come to the United States from Haiti using basketball as means to get an education and help their own country change.
We get close to Schnider, 17, as he copes with his new, quite exhausting and scheduled life in his guardian's apartment, completely different from his way of living as a street kid in Haiti. We see him getting better at basketball and learning to tame his somewhat rebellious nature for the greater good. Experts already compare him to LeBron James when he was the same age.
We meet Pierre, 15, living with his mother in a makeshift house in the outskirts of Port-Au-Prince, walking for hours every day to the amateur basketball court, too poor to afford public transit. He is excited to study in the U.S., waiting for the nearest opportunity.
We follow another Pierre, 32, a retired pro basketball player, operating the organization, connecting kids to the colleges, helping them with paperwork and genuinely caring for them as they retrace the steps he made years ago.
Although some of them will become top basketball players, this is not a sports documentary, this film is about the kids’ quest to come back home — as new, much more capable persons.
(Editor's Note: .. newcomer Mitchell Slaggert in his first acting job is a revelation in this film .. the screen explodes with his sensitive screen presence .. maybe another#ChrisPine #BradPitt in the making ..a talent to watch out for ... discovered by director Daniel Peddle who is known for finding undiscoveted talent (one of them was #JenniferLawrence) .. Mitchell was immediately signed by WME after doing this film .. "Moss" tells the story of A troubled young man meeting a mysterious beautiful hiker on the riverbanks near his house on the day of his 18th birthday, getting him on a journey of self-discovery, helping him overcome the death of his mother and his detached relationship with his father .. set in isolated rural South, director Peddle captured the beauty and tone of deep and wild nature in the American South .. will have its #redcarpet World Premiere screening June 21, Wednesday, 8:30 pm at #arclightcinemas in #CulverCity with cast members and film director attending .. )
MOSS | World Premiere | U.S. Fiction Competition Wednesday, June 21 at 8:30PM – Arclight Culver City 3
In this modern-day coming-of-age tale set in the American South, Moss is an isolated and troubled young man who on his 18th birthday embarks on an unexpected adventure never to be forgotten. For Moss, whose mother died while delivering him, the day means freedom, especially from his father, whom Moss believes resents him for his very existence. However, it will take more than this milestone day to set the troubled young man free. During a chance encounter with a woman fleeing her own heartache, the two escape into a psychedelic journey that teaches Moss lessons of life and loss.
From accomplished casting director and documentarian Daniel Peddle, MOSS is an unexpected and sensitive portrait of Southern Gothic America, revealing the struggles and beauty of lives deeply connected to nature. The film features a beautiful performance by newcomer Mitchell Slaggert, who is captivating as the introspective and sensitive titular character.
DESOLATION **WORLD PREMIERE** Nightfall Selection at the 2017 LA Film Festival
Wednesday, June 21st at 9:30 pm at ArcLight Culver City
After starting his career at micro-budget hit factory Blumhouse Productions, director Sam Patton has crafted a tense, emotionally charged debut feature called DESOLATION, starring Jaimi Paige (PEACOCK, Rizzoli & Isles), Alyshia Ochse (THE OTHER WOMAN), Toby Nichols (TRUMBO, Iron Fist), and Claude Duhamel (WESTERN RELIGION).
Executive Producers: E. Thomas Fernandez, Michael Murdock Running Time: 78 minutes Rating: Not yet rated
Synopsis: A young mother, her son, and her best friend venture into the remote wilderness to scatter her late husband's ashes. On their trek home, they begin to realize that a lone hiker has been following them. A series of disturbing encounters forces the grieving family to confront their deepest fears when the stranger's true motives are revealed.
World Premiere: June 19th, 2017 at 9:35 pm ArcLight Cinemas – Culver City, Theater 1 (9500 Culver Blvd.)
MIDNIGHTERS is filmmaker Julius Ramsay's (director / editor of AMC's "The Walking Dead, "Cinemax's "Outcast," "Battlestar Galactica") theatrical directorial debut which was written by his brother Alston Ramsay and they produced along with Burke Ramsay.
The film has compelling and complicated female leads played by Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes, Tales of Halloween), Perla Haney-Jardine (Steve Jobs, Spider-Man 3) along with strong performances by Dylan McTee (MTV's "Sweet Vicious") and Ward Horton (Annabelle, The Wolf of Wall Street).
Directed by: Julius Ramsay Screenwriter: Alston Ramsay Producers: Alston Ramsay, Julius Ramsay Cinematographer: Alexander Alexandrov Music: Chris Westlake Cast: Alex Essoe, Perla Haney-Jardine, Dylan McTee, Ward Horton
After leaving a New Year’s Eve celebration, a young married couple’s night takes a shocking turn when they accidentally hit a man who is wandering in the road. Watching the man’s life slip away and fearing grave consequences, the couple haul the victim into the backseat and head for home, not knowing that their lives were already intertwined.
Uncompromising and intense, first-time director Julius Ramsay has crafted a highly stylized and visually scintillating suspense thriller.
YOUR OWN ROAD World Premiere - TUESDAY, JUNE 20TH 6:15 PM
YOUR OWN ROAD is a dramatic story about following your passion, no matter where the road may take you.
An idealistic recent film school graduate with few local professional options takes a road trip from Ohio to Los Angeles with his anxious best friend, his troubled high school sweetheart, and a hitchhiker hippie, to chase his dream of becoming a filmmaker.
YOUR OWN ROAD is about not letting extenuating circumstances determine your path in life. Brian (ASHTON MOIO) wants to make films but whether it’s his parents’ wishes, his geographical location, or just his self-doubt, the world seems stacked against him. Brian hits the road to break away from what is expected of him and pursue what he truly wants out of life. Along for the ride is his best friend Dan (AMIR MALAKLOU) whose whole life is structure and routine until his abusive ex-girlfriend dumps him and his plans go out the window. Brian also “accidentally” invites his next-door-neighbor and former crush, Ally (CORTNEY PALM), who abuses prescription drugs to deal with her depression from caring for her grandmother with Alzheimer’s. Along the road they meet vibrant characters none more so than Ariel (KYM JACKSON), an Australian hitchhiker hippie who is not all that she seems, who they pick up in Colorado going in no place in particular. Each one of these characters takes the journey to California for unique reasons but they all find their inner selves traveling through such a diverse and sometimes scary country.
YOUR OWN ROAD was written and directed by Brandon Buczek, and produced by Brandon Buczek and Roxy Shih. Starring Ashton Moio, Cortney Palm, Kym Jackson, and Amir Malakalou. The cinematographer is Sheldon Chau. The film was edited by Sean Puglisi.
Running Time: 103 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Directed by Arshad Khan
ABU will have its WORLD PREMIERE at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Father’s Day Sunday, June 18.
(Abu is the Urdu word for Father)
ABU is a journey to the center of a fragmented family as they grapple with religion, sexuality, colonialism and migration. Through a tapestry of narratives composed of family footage, observation and classic Bollywood films, gay-identifying Pakistani Muslim filmmaker Arshad Khan takes viewers through the tense relationships between family and fate, conservatism and liberalism and modernity and familiarity. It is a father and son’s search for that elusive place called “home”.
DIRECTOR’S BIO Khan is a graduate of the prestigious Mel Hoppenheim School of cinema in Montreal, where he received the "Outstanding overall achievement in the film production program award". Since graduation he has made several short films- documentary and fiction including Valery's Suitcase (2016), Doggoned (2013), ZEN (2012) and Threadbare (2008). He has worked on feature film projects at production designer (Saradrji 2015, Case Claus'd 2015) and art director. He is the director of the premiere South Asian film festival of Canada, MISAFF.
WHAT WE STARTED
== WORLD PREMIERE===
THURSDAY, JUNE 15, 2017 - 5:30 P.M.
ARCLIGHT SANTA MONICA 395 Santa Monica Place #330, Santa Monica
WHAT WE STARTED aims to establish itself as the defining film of the electronic music genre. Through an artfully crafted narrative and stunning visual techniques, the film delves into the highly popular world of electronic dance music, providing backdoor access to a widely misunderstood, self-driven and well-insulated industry on its way to global domination.
Presently, the genre is booming at a pinnacle higher than ever before, however most do not realize that electronic dance music began as an underground movement that originated in America. The film sets out to illuminate this rich history: from its underground inception in the late 1980s in America to the musicians and fans of this genre that relentlessly fought for their rights around the world, both in the dance club and on the streets, to find a safe space to express themselves, to the development of this modern, mainstream revolution that has taken the world by storm.
Specifically, and with unprecedented access, the film follows industry pioneers, like Carl Cox, who are juxtaposed by the journey of a young, superstar of today, Martin Garrix. These dichotomous journeys of past and present are carefully interwoven to illuminate all viewpoints and highlight the momentous and groundbreaking time that electronic dance music is experiencing presently, while also leaving open the question of what will happen next for this incredible genre of music.
Saturday, June 17, 3:00pm / Arclight Cinemas / Santa Monica (RED CARPET PREMIERE WITH TALENT ATTENDING)
(2017, 94 min.) Directed by: Timothy McNeil Screenwriter: Timothy McNeil Producers: Louise Runge, Ofrit Peres, Micah Hauptman Cinematographer: James Laxton Editor: Geraud Brisson, Andy Keir Music: Isley Reust Cast: John Carroll Lynch, Matt Bomer, Maura Tierney, Margot Bingham, Micah Hauptman
Early Landry is a paragon of human kindness and decency. Grief-stricken over the recent death of his wife, Early moves from Mississippi to Los Angeles and, despite the objections of his overprotective sister, into a run-down apartment complex in Hollywood. He is a welcome presence in his new environment, and quickly finds himself in an intense friendship with his neighbor Freda, but the simplicity of their shared loneliness and growing affection must be reconciled with the complexity of their disparate backgrounds.
As non-judgmental as its southern protagonist, Timothy McNeil’s debut feature is a deceptively quiet love story and an all too timely parable on the pressing need to bridge barriers and find common ground.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Saturday, June 17, 5:30pm, Arclight Cinemas / Santa Monica (PREMIERE)
(2017, 104 min.) Directed by: Casey Wilder Mott Screenwriter: Casey Wilder Mott Producers: Joshua Skurla, Fran Kranz, Casey Wilder Mott, Douglas Matejka Cinematographer: Daniel Katz Editor: Curtiss Clayton Music: Mia Doi Todd Cast: Lily Rabe, Hamish Linklater, Finn Wittrock, Rachael Leigh Cook, Avan Jogia, Fran Kranz, Ted Levine, Paz De La Huerta, Saul Williams
When Hermia defies her father, spurning an arranged marriage to Demetrius in order to run off with her beloved Lysander, Demetrius follows them into the woods, trailed by the besotted Helena. The quiet of evening is further disturbed by a group of film students, including comical Nick Bottom, as well as playful fairies and a hippie sprite named Puck. Mistaken bewitchings, rampant flirtations, and unrequited love rule the hours until morning, when happy endings are delivered for all who deserve them.
Adapting a classic is an ambitious move, particularly for a first-time filmmaker, and Casey Wilder Mott fully embraces the poetry of the language and the story’s joyful ridiculousness. A mad and twisting tale regardless of the setting, A Midsummer Night’s Dream finds a great match in Hollywood, where bold declarations, idiotic miscommunications and wandering amorous eyes feel right at home.
Stella Polaris - Ulloriarsuaq
Sunday, June 18, 3:35pm / Arclight Cinemas / Culver City (PREMIERE)
(2017, 90 min.) Directed by: Yatri N. Niehaus Screenwriter: Yatri N. Niehaus Producers: Yatri N. Niehaus, Laali Lyberth, Nomi Baumgartl, Sven Nieder Cinematographer: Yatri N. Niehaus Editor: Yatri N. Niehaus Music: Merzouga, Greg Haines, Gabriel Saloman Cast: Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, Laali Lyberth, Sven Neder, Nomi Baumgartl, Adam Lyberth, Atsaarsuaq Hansiina, Akaaraq Lyberth
The Kalaallit people of Greenland have been intimately connected to the eternal ice for millennia. These massive glaciers stand as records of ancient eras of the planet – but recently they began disappearing. As the foundation of their traditions literally melts beneath their feet, members of the Kalaallit community work with artists to capture the images and stories of a vanishing landscape and way of life.
First-time filmmaker Yatri Niehaus’s non-traditional narrative creates an introspective cinematic experience with an ethereal score and captivating imagery. The Kalaallit elders explain that by building a fire, others can behold their beauty while they behold the beauty of others. This film sparks a true sense of connection by sharing the wisdom of the indigenous communities most impacted by the environmental devastation that marks our current world.