Sunday, June 12, 2011

Coming Attraction: Los Angeles Film Festival 2011


It's coming! The Los Angeles Film Festival, now in its 17th year, will return to L.A. Live June 16-26 to screen over 200 films from more than 30 countries. That's in addition to artist-in-residence presentations and conversations with such notables as James Franco, Julie Taymor, Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine. Not only that, but Spanish filmmaker Guillermo del Toro will serve as guest director of the festival.

This is a great opportunity for film buffs to check out movies from all over the globe that don't get the same attention as, say, "X-Men" or "The Hangover, Part 2."

And, parents, don't think this event is strictly "For Grown-Ups Only." There is definitely a family-friendly element to this fest, which is showcasing thought-provoking material for the teen and tween set.

Little kids will have something for themselves, as well. "Winnie the Pooh" will be making an on-screen appearance.

There are so many films, and I can't name them all, but here are a few recommendations broken down into two categories: Family-Friendly and Parents' Night Out. (Click here to access the full festival film guide. Tickets for feature films are $13.)

Family-Friendly

"Winnie the Pooh" (Photo courtesy of L.A. Film Festival)

* "Winnie the Pooh" (Sat., June 25; 1:30 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live) -- Hosted by Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, this 69-minute screening will feature Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Piglet and that honey-loving bear, Winnie the Pooh. It will be preceded by 6-minute film "The Ballad of Nessie."

* "Salaam Dunk" (Tues., June 21, 7:10 p.m.; Weds., June 22, 4 p.m.; Fri., June 24, 7:40 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live) -- This documentary, in festival competition, tells the story of an Iraqi women's basketball team from the American University of Iraq and their efforts to succeed in a sport they have only recently learned (and have been allowed) to play. (I've seen it, and it's great. It's best for middle school students and older.)

* "Somewhere Between" (Sat., June 18, 3:10 p.m.; Tues., June 21, 7:30 p.m.; Weds., June 22, 4:30 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live) -- Also competing in the documentary category, this film follows four American teenagers who were all adopted from China as babies. The camera is with them as they bond with other adoptees and journey back to China in search of their birth parents. (Recommended for ages 14 and older.)

* "Stand by Me" (Sun., June 19, 8 p.m.; FIGat7th; Free) -- It's funny to think that this Rob Reiner coming-of-age movie is turning 25 this year. I was obsessed with this film when it came out in the 1986. I was a couple of years younger than the boys it portrayed, but I was totally riveted. It will have a free outdoor screening this year at the L.A. Film Fest. (Recommended for ages 13 and up.)

Parents' Night Out

"Drive" (Photo courtesy of L.A. Film Festival)

* "Drive" (Fri., June 17, 8 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live; 2 screenings) -- This film, starring Ryan Gosling as a stunt driver in L.A., is getting a lot of buzz. Be sure to get there early. Individual tickets will only be available the night of the screening, unless you already have a VIP, Fast, Industry, Downtown or Film Lover pass.

* "Leave It on the Floor" (Sat., June 18, 9 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live) -- This just looks fun! A movie-musical with songs and choreography from two talented people who work with Beyonce, "Leave It on the Floor" looks like an exciting way to spend an evening away from home. The story takes audiences into the world of voguing in downtown L.A.

* "The Bully Project" (Sun., June 19, 4:20 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live) -- With stories of bullying dominating the news, this free screening of the Lee Hirsch-directed documentary is very timely. (There's even a short film called "Bully" in the high school program at the festival.) The director talks to families who have been affected by bullying at school.

* "A Better Life" (Tues., June 21, 8 p.m.; Regal Cinemas L.A. Live) -- The story of an East L.A. gardener who is struggling to keep his son away from gangs and other temptations looks like a good one. It might be tricky, though, to score tickets. Individual tickets will only be available on a rush basis the night of the event, unless you already have a VIP, Fast, Industry, Downtown or Film Lover pass.

Stay tuned for reviews and interviews from the festival!

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