Culver City Observer -

2017 LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL "MUST SEE FESTIVAL FILMS"

 

debbie lynn elias

Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival

It's that time again! Time for the LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL. And what a festival 2017 should prove to be! Returning for the second year to its latest home base in the Heart of Screenland - Culver City - and running from June 14th through 22nd, filmmakers and fans alike will once again be blanketed by some of the richest history cinema has to offer, starting with the festival's storied location. Adding an even greater element of cinematic magic to the proceedings is that Culver City is currently celebrating its Centennial, an event in which LA Film Festival is now a part. Seems destined by the movie gods.

LA Film Festival filmmakers and fans will walk in the shadows of history as they mix and mingle on the very grounds of what is now known as "The Culver Studios". Changing hands since Thomas Ince originally built the studio in 1918, over the decades the likes of Cecil B. DeMille, RKO Pictures, David O. Selznick Productions and yes, even Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz' Desilu Studios were housed here. One look at the grandeur of the white-columned mansion and you can just imagine Lucy and Desi bounding out the front door or Orson Welles whispering "Rosebud" or Hitchcock being "Spellbound" by Gregory Peck, Ingrid Bergman and Rhonda Fleming. But wait! Is that the ghost of Gloria Swanson in the windows above? And there they are! The Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder, Adam West and Burt Ward facing off against Otto Preminger, Victor Buono, Vincent Price, Roddy McDowall, Anne Baxter, Ida Lupino, Cliff Robertson, Tallulah Bankhead and Van Johnson. Cinema and its history captures the imagination and that's just what LA FILM FESTIVAL does from June 14th through 22nd.

This year LAFF boasts 10 world premieres with feature length competition categories to include U.S. Fiction, Documentary, World Fiction, LA Muse, and the always popular Nightfall. The LA Muse section which features fiction and documentary films capturing the spirit of Los Angeles has been so wildly popular over the past few years that the category has now been expanded to showcase 12 features this year with six narratives and six documentaries. Always leading the charge in embracing diversity not only of filmmakers and voices, but the ever-changing media platforms of today's world, "Indie Series From The Web" returns, this year showcasing 10 diverse and dynamic independently crafted web series, among them two of my "Must See" picks - GUILT TRIP and HIGH & MIGHTY. Also returning this year is the always well-received shorts program boasting 40 entries from around the globe. The fan favorite Buzz Section is also back. Films fresh off their world premieres at other film festivals, these eight curated films are making their Los Angeles premiere at LA Film Festival.

Although headquartered at The Culver Hotel and ArcLight Cinemas located in the heart of Downtown Culver City where Culver Boulevard and Washington Boulevard intersect, this is the LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL which means other venues throughout Los Angeles will also be showcased with events during the Fest, including the Kirk Douglas Theatre, ArcLight Santa Monica (just a hop, skip and a train ride away), ArcLight Hollywood, LACMA, and The Ace Hotel.

Did I say The Ace Hotel? On Monday, June 19th, you can catch a special advance screening of ANNABELLE at The Ace Hotel starring LAFF 2016 veteran Talitha Bateman (SO B. IT). But before that, head on downtown on June 16 for G-Funk! That's right! One of the quintessential forms of West Coast hip hop was pioneered in the 80's and 90's by Los Angeles legends Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Nate Dogg. Director Karam Gill now chronicles the music's rise with his new documentary G-Funk. And of course, what would a screening of G-Funk be without a live performance from Warren G himself immediately after the screening.

Returning to LAFF 2017 on June 18thth at the Kirk Douglas Theatre are the ever-popular COFFEE TALKS. Focusing on Directors, Screenwriters, Composers, and Actors, the Coffee Talks feature guest speakers like directors Andrew Ahn (SPA NIGHT) and Justin Simien (DEAR WHITE PEOPLE), composers Tyler Bates (JOHN WICK, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 1 & 2) and Rob Simonsen (THE SPECTACULAR NOW, FOXCATCHER), and screenwriters Simon Barrett (YOU'RE NEXT), Linda Woolverton (MALEFICIENT, THE LION KING, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991)).

Other Festival events include the West Coast Premiere of the new USA Network show, THE SINNER, on June 16th at ArcLight Santa Monica, while Focus Features celebrates its 15th anniversary with five movies, including an advance screening of Sofia Coppola's THE BEGUILED with Coppola in attendance for a post-screening Q&A. For all you PORTLANDIA fans, you won't want to miss Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein as they talk "Portlandia: A Look Back and A Look Forward" on June 15 at Kirk Douglas Theatre. And then there's a full day of screenings of every episode of "Documentary Now!" at ArcLight Culver City on Sunday the 18th. And it's FREE! But the really hot ticket may be on June 16 at the Kirk Douglas theatre for a conversation with the stars of IFC's "Baroness Von Sketch Show" which is being moderated by none other than Lea DeLaria, who supplies the voice and personality of "Miss Fritter", one of the newest and funniest characters in CARS 3! (Come on guys! It's Miss Fritter in person!)

Opening the festival on Wednesday, June 14th is THE BOOK OF HENRY. Directed by Colin Trevorrow with script by Gregg Hurwitz, THE BOOK OF HENRY stars Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman, Lee Pace, Maddie Ziegler and Dean Norris and is the story of 11-year old Henry. Wise beyond his years, sensitive and kind, Henry touches the lives of everyone he comes into contact with, including his next door neighbor Christina. When he discovers a secret that may hurt Christina, he puts the wheels in motion for a plan to intervene, calling on his mother Susan for help which leads to a strong female narrative within the film. Adding to the film's pedigree is cinematographer John Schwartzman and composer Michael Giacchino. And speaking of a strong female narrative, how about closing the festival on June 22 with writer/director Matt Spicer's INGRID GOES WEST starring Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O'Shea Jackson Jr, Billy Magnussen, Wyatt Russell and Pom Klementieff. Any film with Aubrey Plaza is a film worth screening.

So let's cut to the chase and take a look at this year's 2017 LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL "MUST SEE FESTIVAL FILMS".

Who doesn't love Shakespeare? I know, I know. Quite a few of you aren't fans of the Bard thanks to being force fed his plays in junior high school by frustrated actors turned English teachers, and then never quite understanding either the play itself or its relation to modern day. To you I say, get thee to ArcLight Santa Monica for a screening of my first "Must See Festival Film" , this one from writer/director Casey Wilder Mott - A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM!

First time feature director Mott wows with this fresh and refreshing adaptation set in Los Angeles under guise of the Hollywood Dream Factory. Thanks to cinematographer Daniel Katz' lighting and lensing, we are treated to a pantheon of visual delights punctuated by color and saturation, all highlighting the fantasy of Glen Hall's production design. The film pulsates, mesmerizes and hypnotizes. A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM is truly a visual wonder and worth the price of admission for that alone. But then toss in a cast that boasts Ted Levine, Hamish Linklater, Lily Rabe, Rachel Leigh Cook, the films two real standouts, Fran Kranz and Avan Jogia. Kranz, from the world of Whedon (aka Joss Whedon), is no stranger to Shakespeare thanks to his work in Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing". Already proving his command of the Shakespearean cadence, here, as Bottom, he soars. But then you add Avan Jogia as a mischievous Puck and the gloves are off. What a performance! You'll be craving more of Jogia after this film so it's a good thing he's also starring in THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN.

One of my top "Must See Festival Films" picks, and a contender in the LA Muse Category, is indeed THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN directed by none other than Lea Thompson and written by daughter Madelyn Deutch. Making it a real family affair is daughter Zoey and dad Howard Deutch as producer. Screening on June 16 at ArcLight Santa Monica, THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN is frothy and fun with the Deutch women feeding off each other onscreen with a mother-daughter love that is palpable, resonant and warm in a story that takes us a journey of big sister Izzy (Madelyn) trying to "find herself" by finding the right man. Of course, she finds herself leaning on sister Sabrina and mom as we go through the months and the seasons of the year. Supporting cast is top-notch starting with Avan Logia, only to be followed by Jesse Bradford, Alec Mapa and Nicholas Braun. Marking Thompson's feature debut, the film shows that not only does she have a keen sense of comic timing, but a sharp visual eye, embracing beautiful visual metaphor, soft colors and wonderful use of superimpositions. But then just listen to the score which features a fun jazz sound and you'll know that Lea Thompson is the real deal as a director.

Another fun "Must See Festival Film" is Jennifer Arnold's FAT CAMP. Written by Chuck Hayward and directed by Arnold, FAT CAMP is an irreverent look at embracing one's self on the inside and ignoring the naysayers outside (even if that naysayer is you). Honing in on Hutch, a 20-something living at home with his mom now four-year post-college graduation, he can't hold a job, doesn't want to hold a job, and mom decides it's time for some tough love and to kick her baby bird out of the nest. So she kicks him into the nest of Uncle Mike who just happens to run a summer "Fat Camp" for kids who want to get lean and limber. With a bad attitude that tends to initially alienate his young charges and everyone else Hutch meets, we eventually learn what's behind his bravado and fear, adding dimension and depth to the character. Expect the usual camp hijinks (only tenfold), but more importantly, the friendships that develop between Hutch and fellow C.I.T. Charlie, all of the campers, and of course, the eye of Hutch's affection, Abby.

Chris Redd keeps the comedy flowing as Hutch while Michael Cienfuegos shines as CIT Charlie. But watch out for the young campers played by Juliocesar Chavez, Bentley Green, Luke Clark and Steven Thomas Capp! These boys will steal your hearts and your funny bone. The only person to rival their charm is an hilarious over-the-top performance by Vivica A. Fox as Hutch's mother.

Well known for his sharp editing of comedies, editor Brand Wilhite keeps the mood light and tight, moving the film along faster than you can say FAT CAMP, making you want to go back and visit again next summer! Although formulaic in structure, FAT CAMP is willfully offensive (in a good way), with Arnold pushing the envelope to great result that strikes an effective balance of sweetness and laughter making FAT CAMP a winning "Must See Festival Film."

And how about if you take YOUR OWN ROAD, because that's exactly what our lead character Brian does in writer/director Brandon Buczek's love letter to not only the struggling filmmaker, but the struggle within each of us to carve our own path, follow our own dream and not that of our parents. First time director Buczek easily makes the cut with YOUR OWN ROAD as a "Must See Festival Film."

Brian is a wannabe filmmaker. But it's not like jobs in the film industry are a dime-a-dozen in small town Ohio. As to be expected, his dad wants him to "get a real job", but the only possible jobs in film production are in Los Angeles, all of which he applies to. And all of which he fails to even get an interview. But the day arrives when the call comes. He has an interview. Only problem is that it's in Los Angeles and Brian doesn't have enough money for a plane ticket. But he strikes upon a plan that involves his best friend Dan whose girlfriend just cheated on him (so he needs an escape) and a little bit of deception with Brian's dad. In short. Road trip! What should have been the perfect male BFF escape, however, turns into a bit of a debacle when Brian invites a high-school friend on whom he had a crush, and apparently still does, and Dan picks up a hippie hitchhiker. What can possibly happen with four millennials crossing the country on a race against time to get to Los Angeles? The answer? Anything and everything, especially when dad finds out about Brian's little escapade.

With YOUR OWN ROAD, Buczek not only shows he has a grasp on story and character construction, but has an eye for visuals. Suspecting some of this story to come from Buczek's own experiences, the film is unfettered in its look, focusing its attention on the characters. And when it comes to those characters, Buczek has done a fine job of casting starting with Ashton Moio as Brian and quickly followed by Amir Malaklou as BFF Dan, Kyjm Jackson as hitchhiker Ariel and Cortney Palm as the somewhat troubled Ally. The chemistry among the actors is undeniable and quite enjoyable, as are the antics that unfold.

Book to film adaptation are always tricky, even for the most seasoned of screenwriters and directors. Adapting a novel like AND THEN I GO is even more challenging given the subject matter. But scribes Brett Haley and the book's author Jim Shepard more than deliver, as does director Vincent Grashaw. Already known for his films which explore the darker aspects of life, Grashaw dives into AND THEN I GO with a humanizing sensitivity as we watch the story unfold of two junior high school friends, Edwin and Flake.

Bullied by all, including his own family and even some teachers, Edwin draws within himself, alienated from the accepted social standards of junior high. No one understands him or even tries to but for Flake, another boy with the same experiences and feelings. In what can only be described as a moral and social tragedy, Edwin and Flake join forces as they find a way to express their hurt, anger and frustration, by planning revenge of the most heinous kind as set in the world of the teenaged mind.

What is striking with AND THEN I GO, scribes Haley and Shepard make the boys sympathetic figures. The audience sees how smart they are and how funny they can be. The heart breaks as you realize no one in their world sees that, only the audience. Told with a blend of expository voiceover, present day and flashbacks, Grashaw gives an understanding to the complexity of the misunderstood youths through this tapestried and layered film. Calling on extended moments of contemplative close-ups and strong evocative and emotive score, the visuals are clean, simple. All eyes are kept on the story and on strong performances by Arman Darbo as Edwin and Sawyer Barth as Flake. Supporting performances by Melanie Lynskey, Justin Long, Carrie Preston, Melonie Diaz and Tony Hale fuel the unfolding emotion.

Talk about the embodiment of creativity, imagination and inspiration! One need look no further than LIYANA for our next "Must See Festival Film." A documentary for the whole family, directors Aaron and Amanda Kopp take us to the Kingdom of Swaziland where we meet a group of orphaned children and a dedicated teacher.

As a means to not only teach the children, but help them come to terms with all the suffering they have experienced in their short lives and move forward, story advisor/author Gcina Mhlophe and animator Shofela Coker work with the children to create the story of LIYANA. With the philosophy that a fictional character allows the children to deal with their real life experiences, we see the story of LIYANA take shape as Mhlope asks them questions that spark responses reflective of their own life experiences. Live action camera captures the children as they make suggestions for the character's actions and plot points, e.g. Liyana's father is sick in the story. The children pipe up with things like "He has HIV. It pops out, biting and biting and then gets inside. He gets weak and sick. He dies. They have sickness. They have AIDS." It is sobering to hear these things come from such young minds. Or they add a plot line of a robbery where Liyana's twin brothers are "stolen" and she must go on her adventure to find them. Three months earlier there had been a robbery at the children's home where they all now live.

An entertaining and engaging blend of live action and interviews to animation of the story as being told by the children, we are transported into their wonderful imaginations. To see and hear their individual enthusiasm as they act out parts of the story, like a bull making noise when he sees bubbles from a crocodile in the water, or when their own dreams of seeing the ocean become LIYANA's dreams, or when they introduce a beautiful colorful peacock into LIYANA's world, is uplifting and heartwarming. Each one of these children, Phumlani, Nomcebo, Sibusiso, Mkhuleko and Zweli have a light within them that burns so brightly and thanks to Aaron and Amanda Kopp that light can now spread across the world.

Competing in the World Fiction Category and another of my "Must See" picks is the animated IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD. Directed by Sunao Katabuchi, once an assistant to Hayao Miyazaki, we are transported to WWII Hiroshima with the story of Suzu.

At 18-years of age, Suzu is sent from her home in Eba to the seaport town of Kure for an arranged marriage. As war descends on the world, Suzu remains upbeat as the perfect Japanese housewife, taking care of domestic chores, her husband and eventually his family when he is called off to war. But she is also an artist and in her spare time draws pictures of everything and everyone, including an old folk tale about a crocodile. Her drawings help take minds off the deteriorating conditions of the region due to the war.

Retaining the POV of a housewife and her civilian life, Suzu is an upbeat force as the world explodes around her. As war escalates, animation reflects the societal changes for women, while the days leading up to bombing of Hiroshima is portrayed with a palpable fear. A beautiful contrast are Suzu's happier dreams, drawn with bright, vibrant pastels which serve as a nice contrast to the paler watercolor anime.

Thoughtful and creative in the telling of this chapter of world history from a unique perspective, IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD is a film for the whole family. Japanese with English subtitles.

LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL is nothing is not conscious of the world around us, always including films of social and global relevance. The festival that brought you Al Gore and "An Inconvenient Truth" now brings you STELLAR POLARIS ULLORIARSUAQ.

Filmmaker Yatri Niehaus takes us deep into the heart of Greenland and the Kalaallit with this non-traditional narrative fueled by breathtaking imagery, an indelible soundscape, and a haunting subtle score. Immersing us in the region, one is mesmerized by the glistening walls of an ice cave or the hollow sound of a wind bellowing to an empty sky. With judiciously sparse interviews providing wisdom and remembrances from indigenous elders, we learn about climate change and global warming as witnessed first-hand by the Kalaallit over the years while all the while Niehaus' camera captures a vanishing world.

How can you go wrong with Elliot Gould and Jemaine Clement together? The answer is, you can't. Making it's world premiere at LAFF, HUMOR ME comes from writer/director Sam Hoffman, who here makes his directorial debut. Inspired by Hoffman's website "Old Jews Telling Jokes" which has already led to an off-Broadway play, a best-selling book and a lecture series, it was only a matter of time before HUMOR ME made it to the big screen.

Nate is a playwright suffering from writer's block and is unable to complete his latest play. Fired by producer/agent C.C., Nate also gets dumped by his wife Nirit who has apparently found herself a billionaire able to give her the life to which she wants to be accustomed. Problem for Nate is that it's Nirit who has been supporting him. Kicking Nate to the curb and taking their son Gabe with her, Nate finds himself with no job, no wife and no home. He has just one option. Go to New Jersey and stay with his dad Bob in a retirement community.

Needless to say, with a father who only keeps diet cream soda in the house and who expects his son to earn his keep by doing chores, uncomfortable and comedic situations abound as Nate refuses to "grow up" while Bob refuses to coddle or cater to him. But as things do, they generally have a way of working themselves out as heart and humor make that bumpy road a little bit easier, a lot more fun, and filled with a lot of surprises.

Showing great confidence in storytelling as a director Hoffman calls on the best of the best with a supporting cast that includes Priscilla Lopez, Annie Potts, Bebe Neuwirth, Willie C. Carpenter and Ingrid Michaelson, while he taps cinematographer Seamus Tierney to maintain a light, bright visual palette complementing the humor at hand.

Moving into my favorite category of the festival, Nightfall, elicits two "Must See Festival Films." The first being REPLACE and that is thanks in no small part to the beauteous cinematography of Tim Peter Kuhn.

It's always exciting to discover a unique new story that hasn't been told before. It's even more exciting to discover a new director who has an unparalleled storytelling vision. That's exactly what we have with REPLACE and director Norbert Keil. Written by horror veteran Richard Stanley this is the story of Kira, a woman obsessed by beauty and youth, a woman who doesn't want to grow old, a woman who is suffering with a memory loss, a woman who discovers her skin is crusting and peeling, a woman whose complexity both fascinates and disturbs.

Befriended by her neighbor Sophia, Kira is reluctant to disclose what she believes to be a gross and disgusting skin condition, lest it turn Sophia away. However, after a fainting spell which Sophia witnesses, Kira is forced to go to the doctor, a doctor whom she may have seen before given she has the doctor's card in her possession. But she can't remember.

Seeking treatment with Dr. Crober for both her skin and her "forgetfulness", Kira soon learns that she has a disease which causes her skin to age rapidly so that it peels away. The miraculous part of the disease is that new skin will adhere to the peeled areas of Kira's body. But how to get the new skin? As Kira sees it, Dr. Crober's medication isn't helping her. She'll have to "treat" herself. Fleshing out her own course of treatment, Kira's condition seems to improve. And the better she feels, the closer she and Sophia become. But what happens when Kira's body and psyche start to spiral out of control? Can Sophia help her? Can Dr. Crober help her?

A fascinating, thought-provoking blend of science and sci-fi, Keil and cinematographer Kuhn play on the concept of beauty and create the most exquisite visuals serving as a dichotomous metaphor to the story at hand. Polished and steeped in color with red, turquoise and blue bring prominent in use, all are vibrant and highly saturated, creating a unique layer of storytelling. Kuhn's lighting and lensing plays with light and color, often diffusing images as if blurring the line between fantasy and reality. Strikingly hypnotic with an undeniable sexiness.

And then look at the cast starting with horror icon Barbara Crampton as Dr. Crober. Steely, determined and curious, Crampton commands the screen with a tacit strength and cold stare. Countering Crampton though is Rebecca Forsythe who is compelling as Kira while Lucie Aron provides a soft balance as Sophia.

Mesmerizing, riveting, compelling and thought-provoking, nothing can take the place of REPLACE as one of my top three "Must See Festival Films."

Also competing in the Nightfall Category is DESOLATION. Written by Matt Anderson and Michael Larson Kangas, and directed by Sam Patton making his directorial debut, DESOLATION is a "Must See" for the obvious: You can never go wrong with a stalker in the woods at night.

Abby heads into the wilderness with her son Sam and friend Jen in order to spread her husband's ashes. Not the woodsy person in the family, Abby leans on Jen for wilderness support while Sam is a reluctant participant to the trek. But before they arrive at their destination point, they discover another hiker. All clad in black, he seems to be following them. Initially dismissing their fears, the tension ratchets up more than a notch when Jen disappears, leaving Abby and Sam to uncover what's happening as well as make it back to civilization.

Over the past few years it's become evident that LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL needs to start giving out awards for Best Achievement in Cinematography and 2017 is more than enough proof of that. This year's fest bodes some of the best cinematography we've seen yet. As already discussed, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM is a standout for its cinematography, as is the indelible REPLACE, but joining those films with exemplary levels of excellence is MOSS, another "Must See Festival Film" and Juri Beythein's cinematography is one of the reasons MOSS is a "must see."

It's not just real estate that lives by the mantra, "location, location, location", so do films and MOSS is the perfect example of that. Set along the banks of a North Carolina river lends itself as the perfect setting for the coming-of-age tale from writer/director Daniel Peddle. With a completely organic feel, Peddle immerses us in the country world of the South and one day in the life of 18-year old Moss, complete with the river, the woods, the quiet and the isolation, while exploring the ideals of self-discovery, identity, love and loss. One of the breakout stars of LAFF this year, Mitchell Slaggert delivers an unforgettable performance steeped in quiet reflection.

A lush, lyrical look at the "gothic" South, Juri Beythein's cinematography dazzles with texture and depth as he captures the blue skies, silken waters and green grasses, all laced with the shadows and weight of life. Sound design immerses us in the world as we hear the constant buzz and click of insects, the twitter of birds, crunch of leaves and soft lapping of water on the river's sandy bank. Ian Hatton's music completes the picture with a mysterious twangy sound while editor Zimo Huang delivers a slow and easy pace that mirrors the life of the region.

Rounding out my quartet of films for cinematographic excellence at LA Film Festival this year is SHOT CALLER. Not only is SHOT CALLER the Gala Centerpiece event of the festival, but it is my #1 "Must See Festival Film" for LAFF 2017.

Written and directed by Ric Roman Waugh, SHOT CALLER is a "sequel" to Waugh's acclaimed film FELON which stars Val Kilmer and Stephen Dorff. We now meet successful businessman Jacob Harlon. On top of the world, Harlon has it all; that is until he's drinking and driving, gets in an accident and kills his best friend who was a passenger in his car. Sent to a maximum security prison he quickly learns how to survive and transforms into "Money", a hard-ass gangster with both brains and brawn. Released from prison, Money wants to stay clean but under threat by high-ranking gang members behind prison walls with ties to the outside, Money is forced to pull off one more job.

An intricately tapestried character study of a way of life as well as an individual character study of Jacob/Money, Waugh weaves the past and the present into a calculating and riveting thriller that not only keeps the characters on their toes, but the audience as well. As comes as no surprise, the authenticity and intricacy of maximum security prison life is flawless in its depiction. But it's the tacit strength of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau which leads the charge. He is riveting. Commanding attention without saying a word. And he undergoes an amazing transformation both physically and emotionally as Jacob "becomes" Money. But it's Waugh's crafting of not only Money's core values, but that of all of the characters that fuel the story, creating memorable and indelible characters. Each is three-dimensional, layered, complex. This is particularly evident with Jon Bernthal's performance and the character of "Shotgun."

On a technical level look no further than cinematographer Dana Gonzalez for visual storytelling as lighting sets the tone both inside and out of prison. Framing is impeccable. Color and negative space are equally important in creating this palette as night shots. Michael Tessard's editing is superlative as he takes us from past to present and back again, all of which is done in tandem with Gonzalez' distinguishing lighting. Completing the picture is Antonio Pinto's score which is non-intrusive yet buoys film perfectly.

The 2017 LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL runs June 14th through 22nd , based in historic Culver City at the ArcLight Theatre. Passes are still available as are individual tickets, but with this incredible line-up, all are going fast. For complete information on the festival line up and to purchase tickets, go to the festival website at http://www.lafilmfest.com. And take note, many of the films discussed here have multiple festival viewings so check out the festival website for more info.

As always, look for my full reviews of these films and many more, as well as my exclusive 1:1 interviews with the filmmakers, on the radio on "Behind The Lens", as well as in print and online at, among others, http://www.BehindtheLensOnline.net.

Happy Festing!

 

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