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LAFF Mid-Fest Report: Reviews, Exclusive Clips and Ursula Meier Talks Oscar-Worthy 'Sister' (VIDEO)

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood June 19, 2012 at 7:17PM

Halfway through Film Independent's LA Film Fest, we've sampled a spectrum of films, among them a gala premiere ("Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"), an indie debut ("Pincus"), indie gems ("Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Gimme the Loot"), a foreign stunner ("Sister") and powerful docs ("The Invisible War," "Birth Story").

Sara Lamm and Mary Wigmore's "Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives"

Everyone who's ever been born, plans to have a baby or to impregnate a woman should watch this film. Through telling Gaskin's story, it looks at childbirth in a way traditional medicine never will. And it could help restore womens' confidence in doing what their bodies are designed to do rather than perpetuate a disconnected fear-based approach to the miracle of life. "Birth Story" is funny, provocative and inspiring. Check out the trailer here and our exclusive clip below:

Benh Zeitlin's "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

At an early "Beasts" screening before LAFF, there wasn't a dry eye in the theater for the third act, which is a testament to Zeitlin's fresh collaborative approach to moviemaking. The film is stunning and sincere, introducing the world to force-of-nature Quvenzhané Wallis. Here's our interview with Zeitlin at Sundance. Here's a clip.

Kirby Dick's "The Invisible War"

This movie will make you mad. The importance of the film's subject matter -- rape in the military -- can't be overstated, given that the suicide rate in the military is at nearly one per day. It's an engrossing and upsetting trip alongside the women and men who are fighting against our behemoth military and its institutionalization of sexual assault. Rape (of women and men) is expected and accepted, and those suffering the consequences are often left without aid (beyond exhorbitant amounts of prescription drugs) to find a way to survive the consequences. This is must-see blood-boiling documentary filmmaking. It opens in select theaters June 22.

Adam Leon's "Gimme the Loot"

This SXSW winner features more strong performances from young unknown actors and an auspicious debut for Leon. I caught it during the Seattle festival. It's scrappy, hilarious and surprisingly sweet given the frequency of the word fuck. Check out our exclusive clip.

This article is related to: Festivals, Reviews, Video, Interviews, Los Angeles Film Festival, Critics, Trailers

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.