Downtown Film Fest LA, July 10-18

Organizers of the nonprofit Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles, being held July 10-18 in venues throughout the city's historic central core,  have announced this year's programming, highlighted by more than 100 screenings of features, documentary and short films;  an exhibition during next month's Downtown L.A. Art Walk of award-wining shorts; a 3-D film program devoted to French cinema; workshops on film finance, distribution and music supervision; and showcases devoted to feminism, Latino-American filmmakers and downtown L.A. culture and personalities.
 
The festival opens on Wednesday, July 10th with the U.S. premiere of filmmaker Wayne Thompson's "Who the F**k is Arthur Fogel?," a biopic documentary about the creative force behind 7 of the 10 of the bestselling worldwide concert tours in history. The film follows the journey of a former drummer from a forgettable rock band in Canada who finds his muse in organizing, not playing, live music, eventually becoming head of global music and touring for Live Nation and a close confidante to Madonna, Bono, Bowie, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Sting and other music superstars.
 
Other music-driven films screening at the festival include the U.S. premiere of "Punk in Africa," an award-winning documentary about how politics and music became a volatile force in apartheid-era South Africa; "Furious Beauty," which documents the South Central L.A. phenomenon of the multicultural Versa-Style dance that combines hip-hip with elements of traditional Latin dance techniques, and "Legion of the Black," a plot-driven featurette that evolved from popular glam-rock band Black Veil Brides' latest album.
 
While the festival is international in scope with entries spanning the globe from Ecuador to Iran and Denmark to Zimbabwe, a part of its annual programming is devoted to showcasing emerging local talent. "Paladar," the feature film debut by director Gil Freston, is among these films that capture downtown L.A.'s unique mix of DIY determination intertwined with a unique multiculturalism. The documentary follows the evolution of an underground, pop-up restaurant created by two University of Southern California students in their off-campus apartment, which then becomes the toast of L.A. food culture.
 
Other downtown L.A-centric films include the world premiere of director Eric Martinez's "5th Street," a gritty police drama set on the streets of L.A.  Those same streets get an entirely different look in the Los Angeles premiere of "The Human Scale," an award-winning documentary about the new wave of "human scale" urban planning in which Los Angeles is one of five cities featured.
 
The festival's Centerpiece Gala Film is director-writer Brian McGuire's "Prevetere," a not-your-ordinary relationship drama about a man and a woman and lots of other women. The film stars Terry Wayne, Antonella Ponziani, Bret Roberts, James Duval, Pollyanna McIntosh and Rose Rossi. The multi-talented McGuire steps in front of the camera as the star in director J.R. Hughto' s "Diamond On Vinyl," a relationship drama exploring love, lies and digital video, making its Los Angeles premiere at the festival after debuting earlier this year at the Slamdance. The film co-stars Sonja Kinski.
 
The 50th anniversary this year of the publication of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique and the publication earlier this year of the new book Lean In by Facebook second-in-command Sheryl Sandberg has prompted the mass media to reexamine modern-day feminism in the 21st century. In this context the festival presents a women's series anchored by the Los Angeles premiere of "Femme," the new documentary by filmmaker Emmanuel Itier that examines what the world will be like in the not too distant future when women are the majority in power. The film is executive produced by Sharon Stone and features a who's who of feminist/post-feminist thinkers from the worlds of art, academia and popular culture including Gloria Steinem, Marianne Williamson, Mira Nair,  Jean Houston, Barbara Marx Hubbard and Nobel Peace Prize laureates  Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi and Mairead Maguire.

Another feature film that is  part of the women's series is "Submerge," by the creative team of Sophie O'Connor (director, co-writer) and Kat Holmes (producer, co-writer). This quintessential Gen Y story explores the current pressure of young women to make their mark in a world and find love but with a twist on the old Hollywood formulaic plotline of romance.  There's the tried-and-true love triangle, however, in this case the two lovers wooing for the woman's affections are  a man and another woman. 
 
Male-female dynamics are explored, and tested under extreme conditions, in filmmaker John Davies' "The 25,000 Mile Love Story," a documentary that examines the relationship between Swiss endurance athlete Serge Roetheli and his adventurous wife Nicole. Their journey of a lifetime – to run a distance equal of the earth's circumference – is accomplished but not exactly with the ending that either had expected.
 
Popular culture and politics are skewered in "Reality Show" and "I'm Harry Clark," two comedic satires having their Los Angeles and world premieres, respectively, during the festival. Fresh off stellar reviews at its debut screening at SXSW, "Reality Show," directed by and starring Adam Rifkin, is about a family unwittingly starring in a TV show about their lives. Interestingly, "Reality Show," the film, began as the eponymously titled 9-part Showtime TV series that aired last year. "I'm Harry Clark," which Mickey Blaine also stars in and directs, deconstructs the discrepancies between a small-time politician's politically correct sound bites and his politically incorrect lifestyle.
 
Popular culture and a different kind of love drive the action in the documentary "Circle the Wagen," a story about a boy and his bus. When Los Angeles filmmaker Ryan Steven Green spots online the car that he was always meant to have, a 1972 baby blue VW bus, he buys it on a whim and documents the literal journey of getting the object of his desire back to L.A. Along the way, he encounters a merry band of fellow bus-kers who come to his rescue whenever parts of the VW fall apart – or fall off.
 
Rounding out the feature line-up is the festival's annual Latino-American Filmmakers  Showcase, anchored by the Los Angeles premiere of "Counterpunch," a drama set in the world of Golden Glove boxing, directed by Kenneth Castillo and starring Alvaro Orlando,  Danny Trejo, Steven Bauer and Oscar Torre. 
 
In addition to its feature film line-up, the festival will host a half-dozen programs of short films from around the world, including a special program of 3-D shorts from France.  The festival's complete short film line-up will be announced at a later date.
 
For the 5th consecutive year, Downtown Film Festival L.A. and the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art (LACDA) have collaborated on a digital art competition with winners to be exhibited during the July Downtown L.A Art Walk. 
 
Workshops on independent film finance and distribution, music supervision and soundtracks, casting and topics will be held during the festival with details also to be  announced at a later date.
 
More information about programming as well as advance ticket sales, is available at the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles' website: www.dffla.com