LA Film Festival announces 42 world premieres in competition and a boost in diversity

by Mark Olsen

 la-et-mn-la-film-festival-announces-42-world-p-002.jpgLA Times

The LA Film Festival, produced by the arts organization Film Independent, unveiled its competition lineup on Tuesday, announcing 42 world premiere titles to play in the sections of U.S. fiction, documentary, world fiction, nightfall and LA muse. The festival runs from June 1 through 9 at ArcLight Cinemas, headquartered at ArcLight Culver City.

Following the festival’s push last year for diversity, across the five feature competition categories this year, 43% of the films are directed by women and 38% are directed by people of color. Those numbers are up from last year.

 “The competition lineup of 42 world premieres echoes Film Independent’s mission to celebrate diversity and showcases a multitude of innovative, fresh voices. We can’t wait to share these films with audiences and industry alike,” the festival's director, Stephanie Allain, said in a statement.  

“We invest a great deal to learn about filmmaking communities across the globe,” said director of programming Roya Rastegar, also in a statement. “We look for films with conviction in perspective, style and voice.”

The U.S. competition section includes 12 films, all world premieres. The films are “11:55,” directed by Ari Issler and Ben Snyder; “72 Hours,” directed by Raafi Rivero; “Blood Stripe, directed by Remy Auberjonois; “Chee and T,” directed by Tanuj Chopra; “Destined,” directed by Qasim Basir; “Dreamstates,” directed by Anisia Uzeyman; “GREEN / is / GOLD,” directed by Ryon Baxter; “My First Kiss and the People Involved,” directed by Luigi Campi; “Paint it Black,” directed by Amber Tamblyn; “Tracktown,” directed by Jeremy Teicher and Alexi Pappas; “The View from Tall,” directed by Erica Weiss and Caitlin Parrish; and “Woven,” directed by Salome Mulugeta and Nagwa Ibrahim.

The 12 world premieres in the documentary competition are “Company Town,” directed by Natalie Kottke and Erica Sardarian; “Denial,” directed by Derek Hallquist; “Dr. Feelgood,” directed by Eve Marson; “Dying Laughing,” directed by Lloyd Stanton and Paul Toogood; “The House on Coco Road,” directed by Damani Baker; “Jackson,” directed by Maisie Crow; “The Last Gold,” directed by Brian T. Brown; “Looking at the Stars,” directed by Alexandre Peralta; “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice,” directed by Deborah Riley Draper; “Out of Iraq,” directed by Eva Orner and Chris McKim; “Political Animals,” directed by Jonah Markowitz and Tracy Wares; and “They Call us Monsters,” directed by Ben Lear.

The world fiction competition selection is “Heis (chronicles),” directed by Anaïs Volpé; “Like Cotton Twines,” directed by Leila Djansi; “London Town,” directed by Derrick Borte; “Lupe Under the Sun,” directed by Rodrigo Reyes; “A Moving Image,” directed by Shola Amoo; and “Play the Devil,” directed by Maria Govan.

The muse section, spotlighting films that “capture the spirit of L.A.,” is made up of “Actors of Sound,” directed by Lalo Molina; “Girl Flu,” directed by Dorie Barton; “Manchild: The Schea Cotton Story,” directed by Eric "Ptah" Herbert; “Namour,” directed by Heidi Saman; “No Light and No Land Anywhere,” directed by Amber Sealey; and “Sensitivity Training,” directed by Melissa Finell.

The six films of the nightfall section are “Abattoir,” directed by Darren Lynn Bousman; “Beyond the Gates,” directed by Jackson Stewart; “Don’t Hang Up,” directed by Alexis Wajsbrot and Damien Macé; “Mercy,” directed by Chris Sparling; “Officer Downe,” directed by M. Shawn Crahan; and “Villisca,” directed by Tony Valenzuela.

A selection of 58 short films will also be shown as part of the festival, representing 15 countries; 64% of these are directed by women. There will also be a section of 13 independent Web episodes.

With previously announced selections, including the opening night world premiere of Ricardo De Montreuil’s “Lowriders,” starring Eva Longoria and Demián Bichir, the festival has announced 56 feature films for its 2016 edition.

Last week the festival also announced its noncompetitive buzz and limelight sections, including Mike Birbiglia's "Don't Think Twice"; Stella Meghie's "Jean of the Joneses"; Justin Tipping's "Kicks"; Roger Ross Williams' "Life, Animated"; David F. Sandberg's "Lights Out"; Isaac Rentz's "Opening Night"; and Stephen Gyllenhaal's "So B. It."

"It's with true film lovers in mind that we program: From political theater to musical theater, we're highlighting storytelling in all its forms," Jennifer Cochis, creative director, said in a statement.

Passes for the festival are on sale to Film Independent members and the general public.  For more information visit


Check this out on