I'm getting used to schlepping downtown on Olympic to LAFF and laying down my 8 bucks for parking at LA Live. The theaters at Regal Cinemas were packed for two fest hits, Destin Cretton's SXSW prize-winner "Short Term 12" and Lucy Walker's Sundance entry "Crash Reel," which brought a standing ovation for snowboarder Kevin Pearce.
At the "Short Term 12" dinner at Church and State, I met John Gallagher, star of "The Newsroom," who jumped on board Cretton's superb movie on the strength of the script. For the most part he and co-star Brie Larson, who breaks out in this role, stuck to Cretton's screenplay, which was expanded from his short film, although they both credit their young co-stars for keeping them on their toes. Our interview with Cretton is here.
Gallagher says that during the first season on "Newsroom," there was little awareness about the way women were treated on the series. He was surprised by the strong reaction about gender roles, and believes that creator Aaron Sorkin was definitely on the case this season. "He cares," he says. "He has a daughter." Sure enough, at the height of Emmy season Sorkin, who doesn't do much publicity, turned up with his daughter in Time on Father's Day. That's called Emmy spin.
Maui-raised Cretton met "Fruitvale Station" writer-director Ryan Coogler on a panel and the two hit it off--which makes perfect sense. They're developing a cable series based on "Short Term 12."
Distributor Cinedigm is working on an award campaign for Brie Larson, who is exceptional as a young social worker who is facing past demons as she confronts an abused at-risk teen girl as well as her own pregnancy. Much of best acting is in silent reaction shots, and she also steals her literally silent scenes in Joseph Gordon-Levitt's upcoming "Jon Don's Addiction." In that case, she didn't realize as she was playing the role that she would generate so much laughter.
Also likely to be an awards play is Lucy Walker's HBO-financed doc "Crash Reel," which documents the comeback from a near-fatal brain injury for snowboarder Kevin Pearce. Walker herself didn't know how the story would turn out as Pearce insisted on going back on the snow against the pleas of his family, including his Down Syndrome brother David, an honest soul who shares his emotions and cuts through the crap. A winner. The film opens for an awards-qualifying run in LA July 5 and airs on HBO July 15.
At the rooftop HBO after-party I enjoyed hanging with documentarians Morgan Spurlock--whose CNN series "Inside Man" launches Sunday--and AJ Schnack, who is considering self-releasing his and David Wilson's documentary "We Always Lie to Strangers," "Detropia" style.
Self-releasing was one of the central topics Monday night on Indiewire editor-in-chief Dana Harris's provocative Influencers panel about curation, sharing information and abandoning top-down studio economics. More here.