Posted with permission from Hollywood Progressive

LA Film Fest


The LA Film Festival is presented by Film Independent – an L.A.-based non-profit organization which bestows the yearly Spirit Awards and whose "mission is to champion creative independence in visual storytelling and support a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision." LAFF emphasizes an indie sensibility and is one of Los Angeles' most important annual filmfests for domestic and foreign features, documentaries, shorts, etc., made outside of the commercial, studio-dominated motion picture industry.

In terms of fiction and nonfiction films, as well as panels, the 23rd LAFF stressed the significance of having a multitude of voices – in regards to ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, etc. – and providing them with exposure in a multi-verse of mass medium screenings. All of the screenings I attended this year were at ArcLight Culver City, although other venues included the ArcLights at Santa Monica and Hollywood, the Theatre at Ace Hotel and Bing Theater at LACMA. Among this critic's highlights for the 2017 LAFF are:

LA Film FestLA Film Festival's 2017 Awards

The U.S. Fiction Award went to Elizabeth Rohrbaugh and Daniel Powell for Becks, which made its World Premiere at the Festival. The U.S. Fiction Cinematography Award presented by Aputure went to cinematographers Christian Sorensen Hansen and Pete Ohs for Everything Beautiful is Far Away, which made its World Premiere at the Festival. Jury Members: Duncan Birmingham, Riley Stearns and Emily Ting.

LA Film Fest Lake Bell attends the "Shot Caller" Premiere

The World Fiction Award went to Diego Ros for The Night Guard (El Vigilante), which made its North American Premiere at the Festival. Jury Members: Caroline Graham, Lincoln Jones and Javier Fuentes-León.

The Documentary Award went to Amanda Kopp and Aaron Kopp for Liyana, which made its World Premiere at the Festival. Jury Members: Katherine Fairfax-Wright, Paul Federbush and Matt Holzman.

The LA Muse Awards were given to two films, one fiction and one documentary. The LA Muse Documentary Award went to Mark Hayes for Skid Row Marathon, which made its World Premiere at the Festival. The LA Muse Fiction Award went to Savannah Bloch for And Then There Was Eve, which made its World Premiere at the Festival.  Jury Members: Susan Burke, Juan Iglesias and Kimrie Lewis-Davis.

LA Film Fest Sofia Vergara speaks at the "The Female Brain" Premiere

The Nightfall Award went to Amanda Evans for Serpent, which made its World Premiere at the Festival. Jury Members: Jimmy Tsai, Clarke Wolfe and Andrew Curry.

The Award for Short Fiction went to A Funeral for Lightning, directed by Emily Kai Bock. The Award for Short Documentary went to Black America Again, directed by Bradford Young. Jury Members: Kim Adelman, Jonni Cheatwood and Naomi Ladizinsky.

The Audience Award for Documentary Feature Film was given to Skid Row Marathon, directed by Mark Hayes.

The Audience Award for Fiction Feature Film went to The Keeping Hours, directed by Karen Moncrieff.

Ed RampellThe Audience Award for Short Film went to Swim directed by Mari Walker.  The Audience Award for Web Series went to High & Mighty, directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada.

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Ed Rampell

Ed Rampell is an L.A.-based film historian/reviewer co-presenting Alexander Dovzhenko's Arsenal on Friday, 7:30 p.m., June 23 at The L.A. Workers Center, 1251 S. St. Andrews Place, L.A., CA 90019. This is part of the ongoing "Ten Films That Shook the World" series celebrating the centennial of the Russian Revolution through November. For info: