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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

LA Film Fest Announces Gala Screenings

The LA Film Festival, produced by Film Independent (the nonprofit arts organization that also produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards) announced Gala Screenings for the upcoming Festival. The selected films include Ike Barinholtz’s directorial debut The Oath, which stars Ike Barinholtz, Tiffany Haddish, John Cho, Carrie Brownstein and Nora Dunn among others. Also set for a Galas are Jimmy Chin’s documentary Free Solo, Rupert Everett’s The Happy Prince, and Eva Vives’ All About Nina.

There will also be a Special Screening of Tom Volf’s documentary Maria by Callas, a Series program that includes the first episode of the series Into the Dark, and America to Me a multipart unscripted documentary series from filmmaker Steve James. Also announced are twelve films in the Buzz Section and three podcasts in the Podcast Section have been unveiled.

“My aim with LA Film Festival is to celebrate and acknowledge storytelling in all its myriad of forms,” said LA Film Festival Director Jennifer Cochis. “Bringing forth part of our Series programming, launching our Podcast section, and shining a spotlight on this year’s Galas is all in effort to honor these creative teams, processes and stories.”

The Galas begin with the West Coast Premiere screening of All About Nina on Sunday, September 23, at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Directed by Eva Vives, the film is about a brilliant and angry stand-up just as she kicks her career into high gear, her romantic life gets complicated, and she is forced to reckon with what it means to be creative, authentic, and a woman in today’s culture. This seems to be a timely subject. The Gala for The Happy Prince is set for September 25, also at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. This is the Los Angeles Premier of director Rupert Everett's Rupert Everett's directorial debut. The tale is about the last days of Oscar Wilde and the ghosts that haunted him.

The Special Screening of Maria By Callas is set for Friday, September 21, at ArcLight in Hollywood. This is considered the definitive documentary on the life and work of the Greek-American opera singer. The film features never before seen or heard footage and performances of Callas. On Tuesday, September 25, the ArcLight in Hollywood will screen another directorial debut, as well as the World Premier of The Oath, directed by Ike Barinholtz. This politically based film has a controversial White House policy turning family member against family member. It is a savagely funny dark comedy about surviving life and Thanksgiving in the age of political tribalism.

Thursday, September 27, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts once again plays host for the Los Angeles Premier of Free Solo, directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. This documentary is a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Friday, September 21, at the WGA Theatre, the series, Into the Dark, has its World Premier with the screening of episode one, The Body, directed by Paul Davis.

The story is about a hitman with a cynical view on modern society who has to transport a body on Halloween night, but everyone is enamored by what they think is his killer costume. The Hulu Original Series includes 12 self-contained episodes, with a new episode premiering each month (The Body will premiere exclusively on Hulu, October 5th, 2018). Then on Sunday, September 23, the WGA Theatre will screen the episode of America To Me, I Don’t Have to Think About Being White directed by Steve James. Described as poignant and funny, America to Me spends an academic year at Chicagoland's elite Oak Park and River Forest High School. The fifth episode of the epic 10-part docu-series from Starz looks closely at decades-long racial and educational inequities. America To Me will premiere on Starz this Sunday, August 26 at 10pm PT/ET.

Well that's a lot to choose from! Hopefully there is something here for everyone. I can't imagine with this variety of quality productions that the Festival will be lacking in excitement, as well as a lot of buzz. Be sure to catch at least one screening during the festival. The LAFF has yet to let me down. I'm sure you won't be either. Happy viewing!

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