Festivalland (1/2)

Los Angeles is “movietown”, everybody knows that. Hollywood, the studios, the majors, the mini-majors, the Oscars, the blockbusters productions and the star-system at the very core of it. But – luckily –  there is much more than that for cinema lovers. Los Angeles and its surrounding area are not just home to Hollywood, they are a real film festival freaks paradise. An inventory of all festivals throughout the year is practically impossible. I’ll try and mention a few.

It starts in January – when the Golden Globe are assigned, the Oscar fever grows and Sundance Festival opens in Utah – with the Scandinavian Film Festival L.A (SFFLA), a yearly showcase of the best films from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. This year “Le Havre”, Aki Kaurislaki’s latest masterpiece was in the programme.  If you are not an Oscar addict, in February you might decide to hang out at the PAFF, the Pan-African Film and Arts Festival, possibly the best African festival outside Africa. Twelve days of films, debates, artistic performances with a lot of visiting stars – including the African American ones. Otherwise you can go to the Los Angeles Italia Film Festival  at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre which honoured Dario Argento and Pupi Avati this year. March is family month with the International Family Film Festival. April is a real feast with Indian, Japanese, French, Brazilian and Beverly Hills film festivals followed by the amazing Festival of Film Noir organized by American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre presenting rare original films, most of which are not available on DVD, including films which have been recently restored by the Film Noir Foundation and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. I have been invited to the opening tomorrow featuring a double screening of the “The Great Gatsby” (1949) and “This gun for hire” (1942). I’ll tell you about it.

May starts with the South East European Film Festival/L.A which aims at  creating opportunities for cultural exchange between Southern California and South East Europe and opens up when the huge and glamorous Newport Beach Film Festivals – 400 films from 50 different countries – comes to an end. Santa Catalina Film Festival – taking place on the homonimous beautiful island in front of LA – celebrates filmmakers dedicated to promoting their goal of protecting, restoring, and experiencing the power of nature. Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival is the last May festival unless you wanna fly to Seattle for the 38th edition of SIFF, possibly one of the three most important and European oriented film festivals in the US.

In June, Los Angeles Greek Film Festival and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival are the appetizers before the main course of the year: the LA Film Fest which offers the best of American and international independent (yes, independent !) cinema. and ncludes panels, seminars, music video showcases, high school programs, family-friendly activities, and numerous special events, from glamorous gala premieres to free outdoors screenings. Opening Night this year will be… Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love”.

(to be continued)

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