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Arthur Jafa & Kahlil Joseph Team Up For 'Dreams are Colder than Death' World Premiering At LAFF - See Full Lineup

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by Tambay A. Obenson
May 6, 2014 4:15 PM
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Hortense Spillers in "Dreams Are Colder Than Death"

The Los Angeles Film Festival, presented by Film Independent, announced its official 2014 US and international selections this afternoon, and a title that immediately got my attention as I skimmed the lineup list is a project directed by Arthur Jafa tiled Dreams are Colder than Death, which will be making its World Premiere at the festival, in the LA Muse (11) section, curated by Film Independent at LACMA curator Elvis Mitchell and artist/scholar Roya Rastegar (Arthur Jafa being the visual artist, intellectual and cinematographer who shot Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust, as well as Spike Lee's Crooklyn and John Akomfrah's Seven Songs for Malcolm X and more).

I'm certainly intrigued and looking forward to seeing what Jafa has cooked up in Dreams are Colder than Death.

In short, the 52-minute documentary asks what it means to be Black in America in the 21st century. 

More below:

The recently formed Black American film group TNEG has set out to elucidate this very question. Hearing from the likes of fine artist Kara Walker and musical artist Flying Lotus, the film is based on a deceptively simple approach -- asking a refined list of black 'specialists' as well as 'uncommon folks' questions about what they think, and more importantly as lead director Arthur Jafa states, 'What they KNOW' -- the film is an unprecedented 'stream of the black consciousness' and a strikingly original and rarefied look at black intellectual and emotional life. What's so unorthodox about this simple approach is that the interviews were recorded separately from the images in the film. What results is a breathtaking, kaleidoscopic look of American black life from the dawn of three original filmmakers. 

Included in the film are: filmmaker Charles Burnett, author/professor Hortense Spillers, professor Saidiya Hartman, ex-Panther and professor Kathleen Cleaver, poet & philosopher Fred Moten, music producer Flying Lotus, contemporary artist Kara Walker and more...

Also of note (given this blog's interests), other titles selected for this year's LAFF lineup are: Evolution of a Criminal (directed by Darius Clark Monroe), Jimi: All is By My Side (directed by John Ridley), and Dear White People (Justin Simien's feature film debut).

Of course, there might be a title (or filmmaker name) or three that I don't immediately recognize; but, as I always do, I'll take a much closer look at the entire lineup for any necessary profiles of films we have yet to cover.

The 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival runs from Wednesday, June 11 to Thursday, June 19, screening a diverse slate of nearly 200 feature films (23 World Premieres), shorts and music videos from 40 countries, along with signature programs such as the Filmmaker Retreat, Music in Film Nights, Master Classes, and more. 

Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer will open the festival, while the premiere of Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys will close.

Filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko will serve as Guest Director, and Sony Pictures Classics’ Tom Bernard and Michael Barker will receive the Spirit of Independence Award

Also included are: Equal Opportunity Entertainers: Funny Talk, A Conversation with Key and Peele; the Festival’s annual celebration of women’s achievements in film, Women Who Call the Shots: A Celebration of Women Directors and Showrunners, featuring Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone), Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said), Marta Kauffman (Friends) and Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball). 

The Festival has also partnered with Funny Or Die to launch Make ’em LAFF, an internet talent search to discover content creators of color and underrepresented voices who specialize in comedy.  

“Los Angeles has nurtured the collective hopes and dreams of generations,” said Stephanie Allain, Festival Director. “This year in honor of our 20th anniversary, we’re putting the spotlight on films, conversations and performances inspired by the spirit of L.A. Many events are One Night Only so come out and celebrate!”

More special screenings and programs will be announced in the coming weeks.

This year, the Festival received 5,952 submissions from filmmakers around the world, compared to 5,428 last year. The final selections represent 35 World, International, North American and US premieres. 17 of the premieres are in the Narrative and Documentary Competition sections. 9 of the World Premieres are in the inaugural LA Muse section.

Passes are currently on sale to Film Independent members and the general public. In addition to screenings and events, Festival passes provide access to a series of networking receptions and entry to the Festival Lounge, where Festival pass holders can interact with Festival filmmakers and professionals in the film community. General admission tickets to individual films go on sale beginning May 20. Contact the Ticket Office for passes, tickets and event information by calling 866.FILM.FEST (866.345.6337) or visit LAFilmFest.com.

For the ninth year, the Los Angeles Times will serve as the Festival’s Presenting Media Sponsor and will produce the Festival Guide, the comprehensive source for all movie info, screenings, locations and related special events.

The lineup follows:

Narrative Competition (9)The Narrative Competition is comprised of films made by talented emerging filmmakers that compete for the Filmmaker Award. The winner is determined by a panel of jurors, and films in this section are also eligible for the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature or Best International Feature.

  • 10 MinutesDir. Lee Yong-Seung, South KoreaNorth American Premiere.
  • CometDir. Sam Esmail, USA. World Premiere.
  • Lake Los AngelesDir. Mike Ott, USA. World Premiere.
  • Man From RenoDir. Dave Boyle, USAWorld Premiere.
  • Recommended By EnriqueDir. Rania Attieh, Daniel Garcia, USA/Argentina/France. World Premiere.
  • RunoffDir. Kimberly Levin, USA. World Premiere.
  • Someone You Love, Dir. Pernille Fischer Christensen, DenmarkNorth American Premiere.
  • Uncertain TermsDir. Nathan Silver, USAWorld Premiere.
  • The Young KieslowskiDir. Kerem Sanga, USAWorld Premiere.

Documentary Competition (8): The Documentary Competition is comprised of films made by talented emerging documentary filmmakers that compete for the Documentary Award. The winner is determined by a panel of jurors, and films in this section are also eligible for the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature or Best International Feature.

  • Billy Mize and the Bakersfield SoundDir. William J. Saunders, USAWorld Premiere.
  • The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriestDir. Gabriel London, USA/CanadaUS Premiere.
  • Meet the PatelsDirs. Geeta V. Patel, Ravi V. Patel, USA/IndiaUS Premiere.
  • My Name Is SaltDir. Farida Pacha, Switzerland/IndiaNorth American Premiere.
  • Out in the NightDir. blair dorosh-walther, USA. World Premiere.
  • Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story, Dir. N.C. Heikin, USAWorld Premiere.
  • Stray DogDir. Debra Granik, USA. World Premiere.
  • Walking Under WaterDir. Eliza Kubarska, Poland/Germany/UKUS Premiere.

LA Muse (11) Programmed by Film Independent at LACMA curator Elvis Mitchell and artist/scholar Roya Rastegar, the LA Muse section is comprised of films made by talented emerging filmmakers that are set, shot or inspired by Los Angeles. Select films in this section are eligible for Audience Awards for Best LA Muse Feature, Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature or Best International Feature.

  • Dreams are Colder than DeathDir. Arthur Jafa, USAWorld Premiere.
  • Eat With Me, Dir. David Au, USA. World Premiere.
  • Echo ParkDir. Amanda Marsalis, USAWorld Premiere.
  • The Ever AfterDir. Mark Webber, USA/AustraliaWorld Premiere.
  • Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey, Dir. Scott Teems, USA. Sneak Peek.
  • Inner Demons, Dir. Seth Grossman, USA. World Premiere.
  • Los ÁngelesDir. Damian John Harper, Mexico/GermanyInternational Premiere.
  • NightingaleDir. Elliott Lester, USA. World Premiere.
  • The Road WithinDir. Gren Wells, USA. World Premiere.
  • SupremacyDir. Deon Taylor, USA. World Premiere.
  • Trouble Dolls, Dirs. Jess Weixler, Jennifer Prediger, USA. World Premiere

International Showcase (11)The International Showcase highlights innovative independent narrative and documentary features from outside of the United States. Films in this section are eligible for Audience Awards for Best International Feature, Best Narrative Feature or Best Documentary Feature. 

  • Club SandwichDir. Fernando Eimbcke, Mexico.
  • The Great MuseumDir. Johannes Holzhausen, Austria.
  • Han Gong-JuDir. Lee Sujin, South Korea.
  • Joy of Man’s DesiringDir. Denis Coté, Canada. US Premiere.
  • The Kidnapping of Michel HouellebecqDir. Guillaume Nicloux, France.
  • The LiberatorDir. Alberto Arvelo, Venezuela/Spain.
  • Natural SciencesDir. Matías Lucchesi, Argentina/France.
  • Of Horses and MenDir. Benedikt Erlingsson, Iceland/Germany.
  • Starred Up, Dir. David Mackenzie, Northern Ireland/UK.
  • Stream of LoveDir. Àgnes Sòs, Hungary.
  • VioletteDir. Martin Provost, France.


Summer Showcase (11)The Summer Showcase section offers an advanced look at this summer’s most talked about independent film releases and will include highlights from the festival circuit and premieres. Films in this section are eligible for Audience Awards for Best International Feature, Best Narrative Feature or Best Documentary Feature.

  • The Battered Bastards of Baseball, Dirs. Chapman Way, Maclain Way, USA.
  • Cut Bank, Dir. Matt Shakman, USA. World Premiere.
  • Evolution of a CriminalDir. Darius Clark Monroe, USA.
  • FrankDir. Lenny Abrahamson, Ireland/UK.
  • Harmontown, Dir. Neil Berkley, USA.
  • Jimi: All is By My SideDir. John Ridley, USA.
  • Land Ho!, Dirs. Martha Stephens, Aaron Katz, Iceland/USA.
  • Last Days in VietnamDir. Rory Kennedy, USA.
  • The Last Time You Had FunDir. Mo Perkins, USAWorld Premiere.
  • The OvernightersDir. Jesse Moss, USA.
  • A Thousand Times Good Night, Dir. Erik Poppe, Ireland/Norway/Sweden.


Free Community Screenings (5)These films will be presented free to the public. New films in this section are eligible for Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature or Best Documentary Feature.

  • CluelessDir. Amy Heckerling, USA  – Pre-Festival Screening
  • La Bamba (1987), Dir. Luis Valdez, USA. – Dance-A-Long at Union Station
  • Limited Partnership, Dir. Thomas G. Miller, USA. – Project Involve Screening
  • I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney StoryDir. Dave LaMattina, Chad Walker, USA– Grand Performances Screening
  • Sherlock Jr. (1924)/Cops (1922), Dir. Buster Keaton, USA. – Grand Performances Screening


The Beyond (3): The Beyond offers films that dare to be different. Films in this section are eligible for Audience Awards for Best International Feature, Best Narrative Feature or Best Documentary Feature.

  • Giuseppe Makes a Movie, Dir. Adam Rifkin, USAUS Premiere.
  • Jossy’sDir. Yuichi Fukuda, JapanInternational Premiere.
  • The Well, Dir. Tom Hammock, USAWorld Premiere.

Retro (2):

  • Friday (1995), Dir. F. Gary Gray, USA. – Ice Cube in Conversation
  • Repo Man (1984), Dir. Alex Cox, USA. – 30th Anniversary Screening


The Film That Got Away: The Film That Got Away is an ongoing series of outstanding recent films that haven’t yet screened locally, curated by members of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association

  • Caterpillar (2010), Dir. Koji Wakamatsu, Japan


Short Films (40): Shorts are shown before features and as part of four short film programs. With their diverse and complex content, these films shine brilliantly. Most short films, domestic and international, will compete for prizes in Narrative, Documentary and Animation/Experimental categories. The winner is determined by a panel of jurors. An Audience Award for Best Short Film is also presented.

  • Shorts Program 1-4

Future Filmmakers Showcase: High School Shorts (29)These two programs of shorts are made by high school students from around the world, featuring work by the next generation of filmmakers.

  • Programs 1-2

Interactive (9) An international selection of video game playthroughs with commentary by the gamer, the Let’s Plays highlighted here exhibit a range of independent games (horror, interactive fiction, playable character quests, minimalistic platformer) as well as a variety of gamer/commenter approaches (instructional, humorous, multi-player).  Game developers and Let’s Play video creators will be in attendance for a Q&A.

  • Let’s Play 


Music Videos (51): The Music Video Showcase consists of three programs. I See Music: Exploring Beyoncé’s Visual Album is a simultaneous audio/visual experience, screening the non-linear short films that illustrate the songs on her most recent release, followed by an extended talk with the creators and directors of those videos, focusing on the artistry of the creation process and the tones and themes expressed throughout. Eclectic Mix 1 and 2 are visual mix tapes of this year’s best independent music videos with a few innovative major label artists thrown in for good measure.  Music videos will compete for an Audience Award. 

  • Eclectic Mix 1 – 2
  • I See Music: Exploring Beyoncé’s Visual Album

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