The LA Film Festival begins today and will take place at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood and Culver City until June 9th. It is one of the largest and most diverse film festivals in the country. The lineup features a slate of 56 feature films, 58 short films, and 13 short episodic works representing 28 countries and will feature 42 world premieres. Organizers of the festival state that 43% of the competition films in this year’s festival were directed by women and 38% were directed by people of color.
“We’re not responding to #OscarsSoWhite, we’re doing what we’ve always done.” – Stephanie Allain, Director of the LA Film Festival
Ava DuVernay (Selma) and Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) will both be honored by the festival. Coogler will serve as the Guest Director for this years festival and DuVernay and Array Releasing (Array), an independent distribution company launched by DuVernay, will receive the festival’s annual Spirit of Independence Award, which honors those who advance the cause of independent film and champion creative freedom. The Award ceremony will take place on June 4th @ 3:30pm. Tickets and additional information can be found HERE.
Today we are placing a spotlight on six women of African descent working behind the camera whose films will make their debut over the next 9 days at the LA Film Festival. We will be covering all of these films on this platform over the course of the film festival.
Writer/Producer Laverne Cox
Film: FREE CeCe!
On her way to the store with a group of friends, Chrishaun Reed “CeCe” McDonald was attacked. While defending her life, a man was killed. After a coercive interrogation, CeCe was incarcerated in a men’s prison in Minnesota. An international campaign to free CeCe garnered significant support from media and activists, including actress and executive producer Laverne Cox. Cox used this platform to explore the roles race, class and gender played in CeCe’s case. CeCe emerged not only as a survivor, but also as a leader.
Time/Date: June 2nd @ 6:45pm Tickets can be found HERE
Writer/Director Leila Djansi
Film: Like Cotton Twines
Micah, an American volunteer who takes a teaching job in a remote Ghanaian village, has great expectations for his mother’s homeland. He is enthusiastic and eager to help his students fulfill their potential, especially Tuigi, a bright 13-year-old girl. But Tuigi’s family must atone for a deadly accident committed by her father and, according to religious custom, Tuigi must abandon her education and be offered as a sex slave. Clinging to his Western moral senses, Micah pits himself in a battle against tribal culture and the state. a deadly accident committed by her father and, according to religious custom, Tuigi must abandon her education and be offered as a sex slave. Clinging to his Western moral senses, Micah pits himself in a battle against tribal culture and the state.
Time/Date: June 2nd @ 6pm Tickets can be found HERE
Writer/Director Anisia Uzeyman
Created in collaboration with Saul Williams, guided by the rhythms of an eclectic blend of music that features the most pivotal figures of the Afro-Punk movement, two wayward souls explore their love for one another while on tour across the U.S.
Time/Date: June 3rd @ 11:25pm Tickets can be found HERE
Writer/Director Deborah Riley Draper
Film: Olympic Pride American Prejudice
Before defiant fists were raised in protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics, 18 African American athletes paved the way for future generations by competing in the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin. History has placed Jesse Owens on his own pedestal, but Deborah Riley Draper’s debut feature film sheds light on the cumulative work of 17 other Black athletes and their journey from America’s attempted boycott of the ’36 Olympics, to the trials, competition and the athletes’ unceremonious return home. The courage and success of these men and women sparked pride among the African American community, as they defied both the institutional racism of Jim Crow America and the Nazi doctrine of Aryan supremacy. Their camaraderie and collective action was a critical step towards the Civil Rights Movement.
Time/Date: June 4th @ 1:10pm & June 6th @ 4:05pm Tickets can be found HERE
Writer/Director Salome Mulugeta
Willfully independent, Elenie Tariku is a young Ethiopian American psychologist who finds herself caught between cultural tradition and family responsibilities. When a mysterious crime takes the life of her only brother, Elenie becomes relentless in her search for the truth and learns to reconcile cultural expectations with her own pursuit of self-identity and love.
Time/Date: June 4th @ 11:30am Tickets can be found HERE
Writer/Director Stella Meghie
Film: Jean of the Jonses
The life of 25-year-old Jean Jones, part of a multi-generational, middle-class Jamaican American family of strong-minded women, comes to an arresting stop when her estranged grandfather dies on the doorstep of the family’s brownstone during Sunday dinner. Tensions rise at the funeral as the Jones women face their divorces, infidelities and past transgressions. While uncovering the family’s buried secrets, Jean faces the tough truths of her failing career and her crippling inability to move on from a past relationship to the love that is staring her right in the face.
Time/Date: June 7th @ 9pm Tickets can be found HERE