LA Film Fest 2013: Anticipated Films

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This year’s Los Angeles Film Festival promises to be a great one, with another fantastic lineup.  Three of our writers, Ernie Trinidad, Gina Kelly, and Elisha Male chimed in on what they are most looking forward to at the fest, which kicks off tonight.

Hit the jump to read their thoughts and be sure to stay tuned all throughout the fest for tons of coverage.  Be sure to leave your most anticipated movies in the comments and for more information on the festival, check out the official site here.

Ernie Trinidad

If you read this site, shame on you if you don’t, you know that I simply love movies.  I will see just about anything.  Anything and not everything?  Well, haven’t witnessed a Tyler Perry directed film and I’m pretty proud of that.   Needless to say a film festival, especially one as prolific and diverse as the LA Film Fest, drops me right into my kind of candy store.   While having the opportunity to see advance screenings of such films like Man of Steel, The Conjuring, Only God Forgives or I’m So Excited is highly appealing it’s catching the films that I’ve not heard about that truly excites me.

Many years ago I attended a Johnnie To retrospective that featured films like Breaking News, Running Out of Time 1 & 2 and Election.   That was my first exposure to his films and I became a fan.  The fest will be screening his latest film Drug War.  I haven’t seen a trailer and have only read the synopsis but as a fan of Hong Kong cinema I’m really looking forward to it.  When I read about Europa Report I was immediately dismissive of it because of the whole found footage thing.  Last year’s Apollo 18 certainly influenced my opinion.  However, upon seeing the trailer I was immediately taken by the look and the visual effects of the film.  While story threads remind me of Arthur C. Clarke’s “2010: Odyssey Two” I’m still intrigued.  There are also a large number of documentaries that I’d like to see but based on description alone I’m really looking forward to Code Black the most.  While I haven’t spent much time in the emergency room I did work as an background actor on several episodes of the hit television show ER so I think I have an idea of the chaos and drama of it.  However, in this case it is real.

I intend to see a lot.  Hopefully I will see some outstanding films.  A few years ago I caught Bullhead and The Snowtown Murders at one AFI Fest and both of those ended up on my Top Twenty Films list of that year.    Mostly I’m just looking forward to some great storytelling and it doesn’t look like this year’s festival will disappoint.

Gina Kelly

From the outside, the major films at this festival are either made by advanced auteurs or newer independent’s who are strongly influenced by the established auteur’s that have become legends in filmmaking.  You’re going to find that kind of “Terrance Mallick’ vibe, or you’ll see something surprisingly fresh in its simplicity.  I’m excited to discover some of these filmmakers, many of whom have screened at Sundance, London’s International Film Festival, and Cannes.  I am maybe most excited to see Ain’t Them Bodies Saints or Forty Years From Yesterday.

While even the trailer for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints reverberates with a Terrance Mallick Badlands vibe, the director David Patrick Lowery seems to have created an incredibly impressionistic film starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.  I find the work of Casey Affleck to be original, he’s a great actor, inventive thinker, and carries a sense of commitment to his roles ranging cowards to pranksters with unexpected sentimentality (think I’m Still Here).  Even with the obvious Mallick styling, Lowery’s film looks to carry an originality in it.  It will be interesting to see how Lowery, most notably associated with mumblecore’s Joe Swanberg and Amy Seimetz, for covering a range of departmental skills, often editing, carries his influences in a film that was also produced with the help of Sundance.  He’s been working with great young autuers, and its in this film that I expect to see him ‘arrive’ with his own voice.

As a critic, artist, and film buff, I can’t help but love to see filmmakers coming from unique paths and arriving on the independent film scene with something unique to say.  This is what independent filmmaking is all about.  Directors Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Odeja-Beck both graduated from UC-Monteray Bay for Filmmaking, they are both under 30 years old, and they have made a film based on a subject each of them would perhaps struggle to understand in a personal way, and I find that very intriguing.  I’m also relieved to see young filmmakers dealing with hard subject matter, literally life’s struggle, in a way that looks very genuine.  The aesthetic seems to be one that is simultaneously engaging and personal.

I do have a huge list of things I’ll be seeing, including award winning documentarist Alan Berliner’s new film First Cousin Once Removed, and other documentaries as well as an onslaught of foreign films, shorts, and animations.  This festival is positively loaded with intriguing work, and my job over the next week is to simply be a sponge.  Stay tuned in, we’ll see what squeezes out.

Elisha Male

With the number of highly-anticipated films premiering at LAFF over the next few weeks, it’s hard to resist the urge to go into depth on all of them. However, two films in particular stand out as deserving of attention:

Shamelessly promoting “In A World” may have something to do with my bias as a woman working in the film industry, but still. The film has made quite a splash in the online film critic and feminist spheres for finally acknowledging the overlooked issue of male dominance in the voiceover industry. I’m hoping that this film will not only bring issues of sexism in the film industry to the surface, but also reveal that, despite how far we’ve come, there’s still much progress to be made in terms of gender equality.

The upstate NY liberal arts college student in me has also got her fingers crossed for “Expedition to the End of the World.” The masterfully shot documentary depicts a motley crew of archaeologists, geolists, and artists who venture to the rapidly-melting ice massifs of North-East Greenland to explore land that, before global warming, was impenetrable. Critics are praising it for having less of a political agenda than most climate films and being more about our environment’s latest transition through the merging perspectives of science, art, and philosophy.

These aren’t the only films to get hyped about. The young female director Eva Neymann’s “House With a Turret” looks beautiful and promising, while the kickstarter-funded indie “The House that Jack Built” will give us a good look at whether online fundraising has an effect on the quality of a film. Whatever happens, there is no doubt that this year’s LAFF will not disappoint.