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Heidi Fleiss & Richard Nixon + Guillermo del Toro & Dinosaurs : Los Angeles Film Festival

Al Pacino Scarface
Al Pacino in Scarface.

Los Angeles Film Festival Awards

2008 Los Angeles Film Festival: June 19-29.

Prince of Broadway tells the story of a Ghanaian immigrant living in New York City, whose ex-girlfriend disappears after dropping their 2-year-old son in his arms.

Target Filmmaker Award for Best Narrative Feature
Prince of Broadway, written by Sean Baker and Darren Dean, and directed by Sean Baker.

Target Documentary Award for Best Documentary Feature
Loot, written/directed by Darius Marder

Special Documentary Jury Commendation
Pressure Cooker, directed by Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker

Outstanding Performance in the Narrative Competition
Jennifer Lawrence for The Poker House

Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
The Wackness, written/directed by Jonathan Levine

Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature
Anvil! The Story of Anvil, directed by Sacha Gervasi

Audience Award for Best International Feature
Man on Wire, directed by James Marsh

Best Narrative Short Film
Magic Paris, by Alice Winocour

Best Documentary Short Film
City of Cranes, by Eva Weber

Best Animated/Experimental Short Film
I Have Seen the Future, by Cam Christiansen

Audience Award for Best Short Film
Frankie, by Darren Thornton

Audience Award for Best Music Video
“Run: Air,” by Melanie Mandl

Los Angeles Film Festival, Sunday, June 29

Jennifer Phang’s apocalyptic tale Half-Life (Majestic Crest, 7 pm) chronicles the struggles of the Wu family – a single mother and her two children – throughout assorted natural disasters and relentless violence. With Sanoe Lake, Julia Nickson, Leonardo Nam, Ben Redgrave.

The latest remake of Jules Verne’s classic Journey to the Center of the Earth (Mann Village Theatre, 3 pm) stars Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem. Directed by Eric Brevig. Written by Michael Weiss, Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin. Presented in RealD 3D.

Jeff Stimmel’s documentary The Art of Failure: Chuck Connelly Not for Sale (The Landmark, 4:30 pm) follow the ups and downs of painter Chuck Connelly’s career.

Directed by veteran Charles Crichton and written by John Cleese, the politically incorrect – at times downright mean-spirited – comedy A Fish Called Wanda (W Los Angeles – Westwood at 930 Hilgard Ave., 8:30 pm) was a big hit upon its release 20 years ago. And to think that some of it is actually quite funny. The cast includes Jamie Lee Curtis, best supporting actor Academy Award winner Kevin Kline, John Cleese, and Michael Palin. Free screening.

‘Frost/Nixon’ at London Film Festival

Ron Howard’s drama Frost/Nixon will open the Times BFI 52nd London Film Festival on October 15.

Adapted for the screen from his own stage play by Peter Morgan, who was nominated for a BAFTA and an Oscar for The QueenFrost/Nixon has Michael Sheen (who played a cleaner version of slimy Tony Blair in The Queen) and Frank Langella reprising their West End and Broadway roles as British journalist David Frost and US president Richard Nixon. The film covers the behind-the-scenes maneuvering up to the summer 1977 Frost/Nixon interviews, which attracted the largest audience for a news program in the history of American television.

Also in the cast: Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Matthew MacfadyenRebecca Hall, Oliver Platt, and veteran Patty McCormack (the cute little girl with blond pigtails and vile murderous instincts in The Bad Seed) as Pat Nixon.

The London Film Festival runs until October 30.

Frost/Nixon is scheduled to open in the US on Dec. 5.

Los Angeles Film Festival: Saturday, June 28

Produced by Run Run Shaw, directed by Zhang Che, and written by Qiu Gangjian, the 1969 romp The Singing Thief (Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum, 1 pm) follows the musical travails of a thief-turned-cabaret singer who is accused of a series of robberies.

Kodak Focus: Guillermo Navarro (The Landmark 3, 1:30 pm) will feature a conversation with Guillermo del Toro’s frequent cinematographer, who won an Oscar for Pan’s Labyrinth last year. Among Navarro’s other credits are Cronos, Jackie Brown, The Devil’s Backbone, Hellboy, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Free event, but a ticket is required. Tickets may be requested in person only at the Festival Ticket Office or at the door, while supplies last.

Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army (The Regent, 6:30 pm) is a summer flick about a war of the worlds and humankind’s last hope: the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense’s Hellboy. In the cast: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Jeffrey Tambor, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, Seth MacFarlane, and John Hurt. The screening will be followed by a party on Broxton Ave.

Directed by Jerry Schatzberg from a screenplay by Harold Pinter, the 1989 drama Reunion (Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum, 4 pm) chronicles a (German) Jewish man’s (Jason Robards) search for his (non-Jewish) German boyhood friend.

Robert Kramer and John Douglas’ 1975 effort Milestones (Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum, 8 pm) is described as a “’scripted documentary’ about the small triumphs and significant failures of the American radical movement.” Co-presented by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (website) and the UCLA Film & Television Archive (website).

Los Angeles Film Festival: Friday, June 27

Stefan Forbes’ documentary Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story (The Landmark 3, 1:45pm) focuses on the unscrupulous man behind the presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

Sarah Friedland’s Thing with No Name (Italian Cultural Institute, 4:30 pm) offers a portrait of the human faces – in this case, two Zulu women – behind the statistics for the ravages of AIDS in South Africa, home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s HIV-infected population.

PJ Raval and Jay Hodges’ Trinidad (Italian Cultural Institute, 7 pm) is set in a former coal-mining and ranching town that is currently known in some quarters as the “Sex Change Capital of America.” Trinidad follows Dr. Marci Bowers, a former sex-change patient, and two of her own patients at different stages of their sexual transformation from male to female.

Nahid Persson’s Four Wives – One Man (The Landmark 8, 7:30 pm) depicts the messy polygamous marriage(s) of a man and four women (with a fifth on the way) in rural Iran.

Directed by John Crowley and written by Mark O’Rowe (from Jonathan Trigell’s novel), Boy A (Majestic Crest, 9:45 pm) chronicles the struggles of a young man (Andrew Garfield) who, following some time away (initially, it’s not clear where he’s been), tries to readjust himself to life in society.

Isaac Julien’s Derek (The Landmark 8, 9:45 pm) presents the life of British filmmaker and gay-rights activist Derek Jarman, who died of complications from AIDS at the age of 52 in 1994. Written by this year’s best supporting actress Oscar winner Tilda Swinton.

Los Angeles Film Festival 2008 on Thursday, June 26

Seth Packard’s HottieBoombaLottie (The Regent, 2 pm) revolves around a young man (Packard) obsessed with dating the girl of his dreams.

A Conversation with Guillermo del Toro (Majestic Crest, 7 pm)

Spencer Parsons’ I’ll Come Running (The Landmark 3, 7:15 pm), co-written by Parson and Line Langebek, focuses on a Danish tourist and a waitress in Austin, Texas, whose passionate one-night stand has life-altering consequences. In the cast: Melonie Diaz, Jon Lange, Christian Tafdrup, Birgitte Raaberg.

Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal (Majestic Crest Theatre, 9:30 pm) follows former Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss as she tries to open a new business, a “Stud Ranch” – male sex workers for a female clientele – in prostitution-friendly Nye County, Nevada. (Cowboy hats off to Ms. Fleiss’ entrepreneurial spirit.)

In Olaf De Fleur Johannesson’s documentary/fantasy The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela (Mann Festival, 9:45 pm), a Filipina transsexual dreams of love and Paris. Queen Raquela won this year’s Teddy Award for Best Gay & Lesbian Feature at the Berlin Film Festival.

In Alexey Balabanov’s Cargo 200 (AMC Avco Center, 10 pm), Hollywood horror-movie cliches – young couple seek refuge in an isolated house inhabited by freaks – are mixed with social commentary about the moribund Soviet Union of the mid-’80s.

Los Angeles Film Festival: June 25

Justine Jacob and Alex D. da Silva’s Paper or Plastic? (Mann Festival Theatre, 4 pm) follows eight state champions from across the US, all avidly aiming for the Best Bagger title in the topmost supermarket sweep.

Directed by Paul Weiland from a screenplay by Peter Staughan, Sixty Six (Mann Festival Theatre, 7 pm) tells the story of a British boy whose life gets turned upside down when his Bar Mitzvah is scheduled on the day of the 1966 England-vs.-West Germany World Cup Final. In the cast: Eddie Marsan, Helena Bonham Carter, Stephen Rea, and Gregg Sulkin.

Nicolás Pereda’s Where Are Their Stories? (The Landmark 8, 7 pm) is a Mexican drama about a young man who attempts to save his grandmother’s land from her greedy sons, while dealing with the fact that his mother – a house servant for an upscale urban couple – has been offered money to conceive a child for her bosses.

Based on Giuseppe Fiori’s novel, Salvatore Mereu’s Sonetàula (Italian Cultural Institute, 8:30 pm) follows a Sardinian adolescent (Francesco Falchetto) whose life takes a dramatic turn after his father is falsely accused of murder.

Kenta Fukasaku’s X-Cross (The Landmark 3, 7:30 pm), from a screenplay by Oishi Tetsuya (of the Death Note films), follows a group of girls who head out to a remote hot springs resort where they are met by “bizarre locals, blood rituals, and crazed harajuku girls brandishing frightfully large pairs of scissors.”

Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River (AMC Avco Center, 4:15 pm) stars Melissa Leo and Misty Upham as two struggling single mothers who try to earn fast money through border smuggling. Frozen River won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Also in the cast: Michael O’Keefe, Charlie McDermott, and James Reilly.

Set in the mid-1990s, Jonathan Levine’s comedy The Wackness (Majestic Crest, 7 pm) stars Josh Peck as a New York City teenager trying to cope with encroaching adulthood. Ben Kingsley plays his pothead therapist. Winner of the Audience Award – Dramatic at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

Directed by Serge Bozon and written by Axelle Ropert, La France (AMC Avco Center, 7 pm) mixes the horrors of war with a musical fairy tale. Winner of the Prix Jean Vigo. In the cast: Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory, Guillaume Verdier, François Negret.

In Aditya Assarat’s Thai drama Wonderful Town (The Landmark, 9:45 pm), the life of a young Bangkok architect changes after his new project takes him to a placid coastal town – one that’s still suffering from the effects of the 2004 tsunami that killed thousands in the area.

Fear(s) of the Dark (AMC Avco Center, 9:45 pm) is an omnibus feature – six animated shorts tied together by a recurring monologue. Directed by Blutch, Charles Burns, Marie Caillou, Pierre di Sciullo, Lorenzo Mattotti, and Richard McGuire. With the voices of Guillaume Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, and others.

And at the Billy Wilder Theater at 8 pm, Una Noche con Antonio Banderas.

June 19: Film Independent’s Los Angeles Film Festival kicks off this evening with a screening of Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy, at 7:30pm at the Mann Village Bruin, Crest, and Regent theaters in Westwood Village.

The festival, with screenings in a few sections of the LA area (mostly in Westwood) until June 29, will present more than 230 narrative features, documentaries, shorts, and music videos, in addition to “poolside chats,” tribute screenings, and live musical performances.

The festival’s gala and special screenings – the ones that will receive the most publicity – consist of mainstream fare, e.g., the aforementioned Wanted, X-Files: I Want To Believe, Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army, films that hardly need more media attention to either find a distributor (they already have one) or audiences.

The important thing is to keep an eye out for the hidden gems that such festivals invariably offer. Contrary to what was said in a Los Angeles Times (the festival’s “presenter”) report of a few days ago, LA, the “movie capital of the world,” suffers from an appalling dearth of venues for both independent and foreign films. (One publicist recently told me – perhaps only half-jokingly – that every time she has to open a foreign/independent film in LA, she feels like slashing her wrists.)

Anyhow, that’s why festivals such as the LAFF are not only important but downright essential for Angeleno film lovers.

Festival passes are available for the general public, while individual tickets are available through phone and online sales. The Festival Ticket Office, located at 1020 Westwood Boulevard, is open to the public, selling both passes and individual tickets.

For event information and tickets, call 866.FILM.FEST (866.345.6337) or visit LAFilmFest.com.

Below is the LAFF’s list of upcoming gala/special screenings/tributes. More festival news to follow…

Swear-A-Long Scarface
Friday, June 20
Where: Ford Amphitheatre
When: 8:30pm

X-Files: I Want To Believe – Sneak Peek (clips from the upcoming summer blockbuster)
Followed by a conversation Chris Carter, screenwriter Frank Spotznick and David Duchovny
Sunday, June 22
Where: Crest Theatre
When: 7:00pm

The Right Men – Conversation with Ivan and Jason Reitman
Monday, June 23
Where: Geffen Playhouse
When: 7:00pm

Una Noche Con Antonio Banderas – Special conversation w/ Antonio Banderas
Tuesday, June 24
Where: Billy Wilder Theater
When: 8:00pm

Centerpiece Screening – Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Thursday, June 26
Where: Crest Theater
When: 8:00pm

The American President (1995) – Conversation with director Rob Reiner
Thursday, June 26
Where: Billy Wilder Theatre
When: 8:00pm

Closing Night Gala – Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Saturday, June 28
Where: Crest, Regent and Mann Village Bruin Theaters
When: 6:00pm

Awards Ceremony w/ Spirit of Independence Honoree Don Cheadle
Sunday, June 29
Where: Billy Wilder Theatre / Hammer Museum
When: 7:00pm

Family Day
Sunday, June 29
Where: Broxton Avenue Stage
When: 11:00am

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D – Los Angeles premiere screening
Sunday, June 29
Where: Mann Village Theatre
When: 3:00pm

June 19: José Padilha’s The Elite Squad (AMC Avco Center 4:00 pm), about cops and druglords in Rio’s slums, was the controversial winner of this year’s Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.

Jason Sanders calls Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In (screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist) “a remarkable award-winning blend of preteen schoolyard melodrama and vampire flick.” (AMC Avco Center 10:30 pm)

Bye Bye Birdie (outdoor screening on Broxton Ave in Westwood at 8:30 pm). This 1963 George Sidney musical spoof on the Elvis Presley phenomenon stars Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh, and a highly charged Ann-Margret. Not the greatest comedy or musical ever made, but it’s worth a look. And it’s free.

James Marsh’s Man on Wire (Majestic Crest 7:00 pm), about the French acrobat who walked on a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers back in 1974, was the best documentary winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Lori Petty’s The Poker House (Mann Festival 7:30 pm) is a coming-of-age story in which the young heroine is stuck “with a strung-out mother, a pimp father figure, and a home overrun by gamblers, thieves, and johns.” Petty co-wrote the screenplay with David Alan Grier, who also has a role in the film. The Poker House stars Selma Blair, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bokeem Woodbine.

The Swear-A-Long Scarface screening (Ford Amphitheatre 8:30 pm) – that’s the Brian De Palma Scarface, starring Al Pacino – sounds like entertainment for the whole family. It’ll certainly be more wholesome than those perverse The Sound of Music sing-a-longs.

Claude Chabrol’s A Girl Cut in Two (Majestic Crest 9:45 pm) stars Ludivine Sagnier (who was excellent in both 8 Women and Swimming Pool), Benoît Magimel (the handsome and oh-so-wholesome young man seduced by kinky Isabelle Huppert in The Piano Player), and François Berléand (best known for The Chorus / Les Choristes). On the LAFF website, Rachel Rosen wrote the following: “Set in and around present-day Lyon, France, Claude Chabrol’s latest wicked evisceration of France’s class-conscious society takes as its jumping-off point the famed Golden Age murder of the architect Stanford White. Ludivine Sagnier plays Gabrielle, a young TV weather reporter simultaneously pursued by two men: a jaded womanizing novelist and a young eccentric heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. Though no pushover, Gabrielle is not immune to the attractions of either intellectual culture or moneyed society. At the same time, her presence seems to magnify the two men’s egos and insecurities with calamitous results.”

“While taking a statement from women’s room peeper Kwan, police officer and career underachiever Tsim quickly decides his suspect must be nuts, especially when Kwan claims he’s investigating a female conspiracy to kill all men. But when Kwan recants after a visit from Tsim’s superior, Madam Fong, Tsim does a little research of his own and notices a striking pattern of ‘accidental’ deaths. Could it be true? And what’s with Tsim’s pretty wife and her nutcracker dolls?” That’s Lucia Bozzola on Pang Ho-Cheung’s Exodus (The Landmark 3 7:00 pm).

“Eighty-three-years-old, fit, and active, Paul Hafner would be the model octogenarian if he weren’t penning a book called Hitler For Eternity. Günter Schwaiger’s subversive documentary chronicles the day-to-day life of this former S.S. officer and Holocaust denier, now in his fifth decade as a resident of Madrid, who considers his life – past and present – perfect.” That’s how Amy Nicholson describes Hafner’s Paradise (The Landmark 3 10:00 pm).

Scott Foundas on Robert Kramer’s Ice (Billy Wilder Theater 3:30 pm): “Praised by Jonas Mekas as ‘the most original and most significant American narrative film of the late sixties,’ Ice unfolds in a vaguely defined neo-future (looking suspiciously like late-1960s New York) where the U.S. has abandoned the war in Vietnam in favor of a new one in Mexico, and where a revolutionary guerilla cell struggles to maintain unity while combating government-issued fascism.” In the cast: Leo Braudy, Tom Griffin, Robert Kramer, Paul McIsaac.

Lucia Bozzola on Nicolas Klotz’s Heartbeat Detector (screenplay by Elisabeth Perceval): “Assured company psychologist Simon Kessler excels at weeding out bad employees at a German chemical conglomerate’s Paris branch and helping the corporate team bond through the occasional dance rave. Naturally, he’s the icy assistant director’s go-to guy to surreptitiously diagnose the CEO’s recent odd behavior. As Kessler’s clandestine operation deepens, he uncovers secrets about the company’s wartime past that upset his own emotional stability.” Heartbeat Detector stars Mathieu Amalric and veteran Michael Lonsdale. (The duo played father and son in Steven Spielberg’s Munich.) (Billy Wilder Theater 7:00 pm)

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8 comments

Mitchell Brieshan -

I am trying to get a contact address for any X Files people to send a script that would help their cause. Thank you for your time.

Reply
Flora P. Rose -

In other words, Paper or Plastic? has a more complex set of characters and motivations and internal struggles in it than ninety percent of most movies you’ll see this summer. Da Silva and Jacob give the film time to get to know these people, but they also keep it moving to the tick-tock towards Las Vegas, the championships and how one bagger will become primus inter pares, first among equals, taking home $2,000 and a gigantic smile.

Reply
Cindy Moore -

The Poker House is the most well thought out, creative and realistic piece of art that I have ever seen and I have seen much with my eyes. This movie I saw with my head, eyes, heart, and heard every bit with my ears. How amazing! Lori Petty should win the best of all time there is no other like her, super award! And the young cast bleeds out talent from their veins. C. Moore

Reply
Liz -

A Fish Called Wanda is a gem. I’d much rather see that for the umpteenth time than Journey to the Center of the Earth, which really didn’t need another remake IMHO. Especially not with Brendan “Built-In Smug” Fraser.

Reply
Liz -

I’ll be interesting to start reading early thoughts on Hellboy. I enjoyed the first one, but this looks like it might actually be better.

Reply
Old Movies -

Tho she disappeared for a moment, am happy for her to see her again and the oscar too. she deserves it

Reply
Liz -

Seems like Tilda Swinton came out of nowhere a few years ago, and suddenly she’s in EVERYTHING. Well, good for her. That Oscar was deserved.

Reply
Liz -

Heidi Fleiss is always an interesting subject; I’d like to see that if it ever makes it past the festival circuit.

Reply

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