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Los Angeles Film Festival Turns Sweet 16

In a town where seeing movies is a busman's holiday, how does a film festival seduce industry brass? That's one riddle teasing the Los Angeles Film Festival as it heads into its 16th reel in Los Angeles, California, June 17 to 27, 2010.

Another is how to ignite a sense of "must see" for this Academy Award-qualifying forum that comes so early in the awards cycle. (Answer: offer free tickets.) And yet another brain teaser gets at the Festival's very identity and purpose.

Nearly a decade ago, LAFF dropped "independent" from its name with the idea of broadening its appeal. That was shortly after it was taken over by non-profit shingle Film Independent, the IFP/Los Angeles reincarnation that runs the Spirit Awards. So since the early 00s, the Festival has been showcasing American indie and world cinema while also dangling Hollywood fare and some of the tinseled names behind it.

As has become all too familiar to LAFF director Rebecca Yeldlam and now David Ansen – the former Newsweek film critic who marks his first year as artistic director -- this strategy has stirred some questions about the Festival's target audience. Yet providing something for all Angelinos appears precisely the point.

LAFF is expected to draw 80,000 attendees to its new Downtown home. Short of an earthquake pulverizing a major thoroughfare, few other events could occasion the pitter-patter of so many pedestrians in L.A. The pull is more than 100 features, shorts, and music videos from some 40 countries -- plus, the organizers hope, greater artistic cachet than its old Westwood Village holler could offer. The main redoubt for the 2010 Festival is the L.A. Live complex and its Regal Theaters multiplex.

This year the Festival will mount the world premieres of two big, shiny titles, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (invitation only) and the animated work, Despicable Me. And Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Ben Affleck and Josh Brolin are among the celebrities lending their spark to the 10-day event. To be sure, sharing air space with movie makers and talent has its perks.

The Opening Night film is Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are All Right, starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. The creator of High Art and Laurel Canyon marries melodrama with comic relief in this Focus Features production about two siblings (Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska) who seek out their lesbian parents' sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo) and unleash family chaos. As Moore's character notes, a grounding in Russian novels would help in assimilating the story's satisfyingly layered dynamics, and that about sums up why some festival-goers will adore it, and others may run for the Hollywood Hills.

Other brightly anticipated titles are The Tillman Story, Amir Bar-Lev's documentary about former NFL star Pat Tillman, who died during military service in Afghanistan, and the gala screening of Revolución, a collaboration by Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Rodrigo García and seven other Mexican filmmakers marking the centennial of the Mexican Revolution.

Harder core cinephiles will relish the four-title retrospective of Argentine director, producer and screenwriter Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, including his 1959 gothic tale of sexual awakening, The Fall/La caída). And digging further back in the foreign film archives, they'll find Carl Froelich's rarely shown 1913 film, The Life of Richard Wagner. This silent relic from the dawn of film biography charts the composer's coming of age and artistic apotheosis as the creator of Parsifal and The Ring.

For a current take on a dead, white, German-speaking composer, there's the gala world premiere of Mahler on the Couch/Mahler auf der Couch. Directed by Percy Adlon, it noses into Gustav Mahler's nosing into his young wife's adulterous affair, and what Sigmund Freud had to say about it.

Alongside the program of screenings, some of which will take place under the stars at the Ford Amphitheater, LAFF will present panels, professional seminars and Family Day. Its hallmark event is the two-day pre-Festival filmmakers retreat, hosted by this year's guest director Kathryn Bigelow at Skywalker Ranch in Northern California.

Nearly as buzzed about is the Spirit of Independence Award ceremony and gala. But this being L.A., steep competition comes from the Festival's Poolside Chats.

For comprehensive details, consult

Los Angeles Film Festival
June 17 to 27, 2010


Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14
1000 West Olympic Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90015

800 West Olympic Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90015

Downtown Independent Theatre
251 South Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theatre
631 West 2nd Street
(@ Disney Concert Hall)

Los Angeles, CA 90012

John Anson Ford Amphitheater
2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East

Hollywood, CA 90068

Grand Performances @ California Plaza
350 S Grand Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90071

57th Annual Sydney Film Festival “Unleashes 2010”

The 57th annual edition of the Sydney Film Festival, subtitled, Unleashes 2010, is running from June 2 to 14, 2010, in Sydney, Australia. This year’s program includes 157 films from 47 countries --  all winning films from International film festivals. There are 92 Australian premieres, eight new Australian feature films, seven World premieres, two international premiers, nine documentaries and 12 shorts. The festival ends on the long weekend for The Queens Birthday, June 14th, 2010, a public holiday. The venues include: The State Theatre, the Sydney Opera House, Dendy Opera Quays Cinema at Sydney Cove, and the NSW Art Gallery.

Enchanting audiences since 1929, The State Theatre -- “The Palace of Dreams” -- seats 2000 and is in a truly magnificent and heritage listed building with eclectic elements of Gothic, Italian and Art deco design.

The Dress Circle Gallery houses artworks by Australian artists including William Dobell and Charles Wheeler and while located in an auditorium, the Koh-I-Nor cut crystal chandelier is the second largest on earth; on the stage, the 21 piped Wurlitzer organ -- which is used for the “Silent Screen Retrospectives” during the Film Festival -- makes for a unique venue to visit even when it's not showing such compelling fare.

Australian actors and filmmakers feature prominently in this year's Film Festival, while movies directed by women open and close the event.  
Australia's father-daughter acting duo Barry and Miranda Otto will headline the festival's opening night on June 2, with the world premiere of Shirley Barrett's South Solitary. Barrett’s distinctive filmmaking is underpinned by elegant storytelling and an intoxicating, playful tone.

Australian actress Mia Wasikowska, who starred in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, will appear with Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in the closing night film The Kids Are All Right directed by Lisa Cholodenko, on June 14.

Director Julie Bertucelli’s (Since Otar Left) lucid, deeply poetic Australian/French co-production The Tree, translates a bold concept into a thoroughly believable realm. After the sudden death of her father, 8-year-old Simone shares a secret with her mother Dawn (the luminous Charlotte Gainsbourg). She’s convinced her father whispers to her through the leaves of her favorite tree and he’s come back to protect them.

The festival, bracketed by films directed by women, is also enhanced by the high caliber offering of Australian films. There are screenings of three exceptionally inventive films including Patrick Hughes' western-police thriller Red Hill which stars Aussie actor Ryan Kwanten, who has found international fame with the HBO vampire series True Blood.

 The festival will also offer the Australian premieres of Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer featuring actor Ewan McGregor, The Runaways starring Kristen Stewart and Mammuth with Gerard Depardieu.

Featured in this year’s Official Competition line-up include:

• Three films from 2010 Cannes Film Festival – including Cannes Closing Night film Julie Bertucelli’s Australian/French o-production, The Tree, along with Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (screening in Cannes Official Competition) and Canadian Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats (screening in Un Certain Regard)Laurie Anderson [photo: B. Balfour]

• The World Premiere of Ben C Lucas’ explosive debut feature Wasted on the Young.

• Australian Premieres of films by renowned directors – including Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me, Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime, Brillante Mendoza’s Lola and celebrated Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s Women Without Men

Chris Morris’ outrageous comedy Four Lions and Raoul Peck’s searing Haitian satire Moloch Tropical

Berlin Film Festival winners from Russia, How I Ended this Summer and Romania, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle

Other program elements include:

SFF Sydney Opera House – “Sounds on Screen”
The Playhouse at Sydney Opera House, will be home to Sounds on Screen, a celebration of the special relationship between film and music,  screenings of Rocksteady: the Roots of Reggae followed by live performance by King Tide.  

Vivid LIVE will be in the concert hall performing live is Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Reed’s short film, Day for Night, will be in the Movie Marathon, eight epic hours of film, live music and spoken word renowned filmmaker and artist Bill Morrison. Anderson will be illuminating the sails of the Opera House and introducing her Music for Dogs for “SFF Unleashes 2010”.

A special Vampire Retrospective
A selection of films from SFF’s special vampire retrospective will also screen at Sydney Opera House including:

  • The return of Nosferatu with live accompaniment by Darth Vegas and live sound effects by Miss Death
  • Australia’s only postmodern vampire movie, Thirst
  • Guy Maddin’s vampire ballet, Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary
  • Immortal Seduction
  • Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark
  • Roman Polanski’s Dance of the Vampires, his preferred UK version of the film that was released elsewhere as The Fearless Vampire Killers, Or Pardon Me But Your Teeth Are in My Neck

Kids Flicks
The fest presents a selection of fun and fabulous films for the family:

  • See galactic escapades in Welcome to the Space Show
  • journey into a magical world of goblins and fallen angels in Yona Yona Penguin
  • discover amazing true-life adventure in Turtle: The Incredible Journey

The United States Studies Centre has partnered with the SFF  to support Judith Erhlich and Rick Goldsmith's The Most Dangerous Man In America.

Set in a majestic city with venues at the Sydney Opera House, this festival is an absolute feast of film and festivities. 

Tickets can be purchased for single screenings or through flexipass. 

For more information and other award winners visit   

The 57th Annual Sydney Film Festival
June 2 – 14, 2010

State Theatre
49 Market Street
Sydney New South Wales 2000, Australia
(02) 9373 6655

Sydney Opera House
Macquarie St.
Sydney New South Wales 2000, Australia
02-9250 7111

Dendy Opera Quays Cinema
2 East Circular Quay
Sydney New South Wales 2000
61 2 9247 3800

NSW Art Gallery
Art Gallery Road
The Domain
Sydney New South Wales 2000 Australia
Australia-wide toll-free number: 1-800-NSW-ART (1-800-679-278)
61 2 9225 1744

Phuket Film Festival: Thai One On

After a hiatus in 2008 and a cancellation in 2009, the Phuket Film Festival is back for its second round running from June 4 – June 13, 2010 on the beautiful Phuket Island in Thailand. Movies screen at the Coliseum Cineplex while a “Meet the Directors” is scheduled at The Yamu in Cape Yamu.

The opening film will be the Asian Harishchchandrachi Factory, premiere of from Indian director Paresh Mokashi. The quirky, light-hearted film depicts the struggle of Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian cinema, when he made India’s first silent film, Raja Harishchandra, in 1913.
Harishchchandrachi Factory was India's entry to the 2010 Oscars in the Foreign Language Film category and the movie is one of several South Asian movies the Phuket Film Festival will feature as it turns the spotlight on Indian films.
Said Scott Rosenberg, the Phuket Film Festival's managing director, in a press release: "We're honoring India not only as their cinema industry turns 100 years old but because of the close relationship between Indian filmmakers and Thailand."
The gala opening will take place on June 5th at the Royal Phuket Marina, one of the largest boat marinas on the island.
On June 6, moviegoers are invited to The Green Man on Rawai Beach for a free screening of The Prince and Me 4: The Elephant Adventure, followed by a performance by hip-hop band Thaitanium.
Also included in the lineup is Entourage star Adrien Grenier's Teenage Paparazzo; the Vietnamese action thriller Bay Rong; and the Australian comedy Bran Nue Dae. As a tribute to Thai director Kom Akadej, free screenings of his classic films will play all day June 6.
The Phuket Film Festival will wind up with a screening of the acclaimed Thai director Yuthlert Sippapak's Friday Killer on June 13. The world premiere is the first movie in Sippapak’s The Killers Trilogy . The acclaimed writer / director is known for his daring visual style and unconventional screenwriting in films such as Killer Tattoo, February and Buppah Rahtree, some of Thailand’s highest grossing movies. The audience can expect Sippapak’s signature eccentric plot lines that blend horror with comedy.
Friday Killer follows the character Pae Uzi, played by the comedian Suthep Pho-ngam, a professional hit man who was just set free from prison. After his release, he learns he has a daughter, Dao, played by Ploy Jindachote. The tables are turned on Pae when his daughter tries to kill him because she thinks that he killed her father.
Award winning Hollywood directors Gus Van Sant of Milk and Darnell Martin of Cadillac Records will participate in the Meet the Directors series on June 8th.
Tickets are $4 per movie or $116 for a festival pass. Prices for special events vary.

for more information visit:

The Phuket Film Festival
June 4 – June 13, 2010
Phuket Island

Royal Phuket Marina
Kohkaew Muang
68 Moo 2, Thepkasattri Rd.
Phuket 83200
The Green Man Pub
82/15 Moo 4 Patak Rd.
Phuket 83130
Coliseum Cineplex
3rd Fl., Central Festival
By-Pass Rd., A. Muang
Phuket 83000
The Yamu
222 Moo 7, T. Paklok A. Thalang
Phuket 83110

NYC's LBGT NewFest Kicks Off Its 22nd Season

New York's annual LBGT film festival, NewFest, running June 3 to 13, 2010, kicked off its 22nd season at the SVA Theater, 333 W. 23rd Street in Chelsea, with a screening of Undertow, the first full-length feature film from Peruvian director-screenwriter Javier Fuentes-León. Joan Rivers

Winner of the 2010 World Cinema Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Undertow is the story of Miguel played by Cristian Mercado (Che), a married fisherman and expectant father in Cabo Blanco, Peru, and his scandalous secret: a clandestine love affair with the openly gay Santiago, played by Manolo Cardona (Beverly Hills Chihuahua).

When Santiago drowns accidentally in the ocean's strong undercurrent, he cannot pass peacefully to the other side. He returns after his death to ask Miguel to look for his body and bury it according to the rituals of the town. Miguel must choose between sentencing Santiago to eternal torment or doing right by him and, in turn, revealing their relationship to the entire village.

With sweeping images of the beautiful Peruvian coastline, Undertow is described as an "emotional intersection of contemporary sexuality, confronted by tradition and belief."

The screening was followed by a lavish opening night party at the Chelsea Art Museum, attended by filmmakers from several countries, industry representatives and local and regional press.

This years festival will feature over 100 films from 20 countries.

Another notable film to be screened at NewFest is Howl, the story of "beat poet" and San Francisco bookstore owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his relationship with fellow poet Allen Ginsberg. The film details the trial following the publication of Ginsberg's poem Howl and also is a revealing look at homosexuality in 1940s New York. The film stars James Franco (Milk), Mary-Louise Parker, Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Jeff Daniels with a score by Carter Burwell.

Women's Night on June 6 will feature a screening of The Owls, a tale of the reunion of two "older wiser" lesbians. Described as "far from your average psychological thriller," the film combines themes of aging in the lesbian community, gender anxiety and--last but not least--accidental murder.

A film that could not have been more timely in light of recent Congressional action is Out of Annapolis, the story of  LBGT navy and marine corps alumni of the US Naval Academy. The documentary was directed by Abe Forman-Greenwald and is co-sponsored by the Serviceman's Legal Defense Network

Another documentary on a lighter, although no less compelling, topic is Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sudberg. This film follows the legendary comedian (and longtime supporter of LBGT issues) as she performs across the US, promotes her jewelry line, appears on The Celebrity Apprentice and rehearses her play. The sold-out June 9 screening will be followed by a Q&A with Rivers moderated by Village Voice columnist Michael Musto.

Those hard-to-define members of the LBGT communiy known as "bears" (not all are chubby and/or hairy) are well represented at NewFest by the romantic comedy Bear City and the documentary Bear Nation.

Bear City, directed by Doug Langway and starring Stephen Guarino and Gerald McCullouch (C.S.I.) follows five beary friends as they pursue love and face life changing decisions as Bear Party Weekend rapidly approaches.

Bear Nation, directed by Malcolm Ingram (Small Town Gay Bar) is an insightful and comical exploration of bear identity, body image and community featuring bears of all ages and types.

The true story of  "the most popular twin lesbian yodelers in New Zealand" is told in the documentary The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls, starring Jools and Lynda Topp and directed by Leanne Pooley.

National superstars (and LBGT activists) in Kiwi Land with their own comedy television show, the Topp Twins will make their US debut following the June 10 screening. This unique entertainment experience is a must-see for all twins, lesbians, yodelers, Kiwis and those who admire them.

Another legend of the show business community to be profiled at NewFest is Rock Hudson in the Andrew Davies documentary Rock Hudson: Dark and Handsome Stranger. This intimate overview of the closeted superstar features interviews with close friends and also focuses on Hudson's "deathbed" revelation that he had contracted HIV, a now historical moment that raised awareness of HIV and AIDS and impacted the level and honesty of public discourse.

The Closing Night film is Violet Tendencies starring Mindy Cohn from TV's The Facts of Life in the title role. This hilarious and politically incorrect comedy features Cohn as "the oldest living fag hag" who can't seem to meet her own Mr. Right. The film also stars Jesse Archer, Marcus Patrick, Samuel Whitten, Kim Allen and Casper Andreas, who also directs this New York based film which features "surprising cameos." The screening will be followed by the always fabulous NewFest Closing Night Party at the Chelsea Art Museum.

NewFest wil leave the SVA Theater for screenings of three films from the Bahamas, Canada and Israel. On June 7, the groundbreaking Bahamian film Children of God will be shown at Harlem Stage (150 Convent Avenue). On June 9, two documentaries will be screened at the JCC (334 Amsterdam Avenue): Gay Days from Israel and the Canadian film The So-Called Movie.

NewFest also features six shorts programs and a series of filmmakers workshops and film seminars.

NewFest is presented by Marc Jacobs and sponsors include The Real L Word, Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams, Tekserve, LBGT Center, Gem Hotel, Grand Marnier, ifp and Orchard Films.

For a complete list of films, workshops, seminars and ticket information please go to:

June 3 to 13, 2010

The New Festival, Inc.
Orchard Films
68 Jay St, Suite 319
Brooklyn, NY 11201
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SVA Theater
333 W. 23rd St.
New York, NY 10011

Chelsea Art Museum
160 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

Harlem Stage
150 Convent Avenue
New York, NY 10031-9200

334 Amsterdam Avenue
Samuel Priest Rose Building
334 Amsterdam Ave, at 76th St.
New York, NY 10023



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