By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 6, 2008 at 5:35AM
The Los Angeles Film fest is looming large; tickets went on sale Monday. Fest director Rich Raddon and programmer Rachel Rosen are offering a wide swath of entertainment designed to pull in moviegoers of every stripe.
Raddon and Film Independent, which puts on the fest, feel strongly that they are not an indie film fest per se. I figure that with such a strong identification with the indies, the fest should stay within range of their indie brand--I never understood what the hell they were doing pulling Harrison Ford into their orbit, anyway--but Hudson insists that the Indie Spirit Awards are one thing and a popular, growing, well-attended summer film fest is something else. "We have not articulated well enough our message of what the fest encompasses," says Hudson. "It's serving both our purposes at Film Independent and building a great cultural even in L.A. We are uniquely positioned to help filmmakers get discovered in L.A. But the fest is designed to captivate not just the film industry but all the citizens of our diverse constituency."
Opening night pic Wanted, for example, a Universal summer actioner starring Angelina Jolie, is directed by Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov, who was discovered by the fest back in 2004 with his wildly original fantasy-thriller Nightwatch. "Regular folks can buy passes and tics to red carpet premieres that are typically exclusive," says Hudson. "We want the fest to be in the spirit of flip-flops and accessible summer fun."
True, last year's Westwood block party for 4000 for Transformers had a fun summer energy quite different from the usual studio-run event. In the spirit of last year's Buffy the Vampire Slayer singalong, this fest boasts a Scarface Swearalong and an outdoor screening of Planet of the Apes in honor of Charlton Heston.
The fest's closing night film, Guillermo del Toro's big-budget, fantasmagorical Hellboy II: The Golden Army, also belongs in any fest lineup. Del Toro, who once served on the Indie Spirit nominating committee, will do a Q & A. The fest is also serving up a Journey 3-D event on a new screen at the Mann Village for Family Day. While indie films are part of the fest's cinephile-driven programming, obviously Hudson and Raddon have their sights on besting last year's record attendance of over 80,000. So far tic sales are up: they want 90,000 this year.
One event I'd like to catch is a father-son career talk between directors Ivan and Jason Reitman at the Geffen Playhouse on June 23.
Of the summer previews, many of them unveiled at Sundance, I recommend both the Canadian border-smuggling drama Frozen River and the well-made, thrilling criminal conspiracy Philippe Petit doc Man on Wire:
Here's a Sundance interview clip:
And I will definitely check out the New York-set narrative competition pic that was picked up by IFC out of Cannes, The Pleasure of Being Robbed, directed by rookie Josh Safdie, who stars in the pic along with his co-writer, Eleonore Hendricks.
And I will catch up with Nanette Burstein's Sundance hit doc American Teen, which Vantage acquired: