Hollywood films highlight the Los Angeles Film Festival June 14-24.  And wouldn’t you expect them to?

Opening the festival, which started in 1995, is the North American premiere of Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love.  An ensemble piece, the film stars Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page.  The famed director himself, in European mode these days but willing to briefly stop by the West Coast on occasion, is expected to attend the screening.

I was unable to get into that screening because “limited press seats are available.”  That means I’m not one of the big-media elite.  I expect to get turned down for the rest of the major screenings, but there’s always hope.

Closing the fest is Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike with Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn, Olivia Munn, Matt Bomer, Riley Keough, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriguez and Gabriel Iglesias.  Tatum is one of the producers of the film, which is based on his real-life stripping days.

The world premiere of Steve Carell and Keira Knightley’s Seeking a Friend For the End of The World will be June 18.

LAFF is more than just films.  There’s their famous Coffee Talks (film people talking to each other about their craft, but for all the audience to hear); intimate discussions with artists; and of course,  parties.

Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin is guest director.  The Exorcist helmer will screen his new film Killer Joe, starring Emile Hirsch and Matthew McConaughey.  Composer Danny Elfman is Artist in Residence; he’ll sit down for a discussion of his work.

As part of the Artists in Conversation series, show creator Vince Gilligan will discuss Breaking Bad along with the cast; Aaron Sorkin, executive producer Alan Poul and director Greg Mottola will spotlight their soon-to-debut (June 24) show The Newsroom on HBO.

Others scheduled to be part of Coffee Talks include Bryan Cranston, director Catherine Hardwicke, Zak Penn, Jason Isaacs, John August, Lawrence Kasdan, and Jonathan Nolan.

So many films to choose from, but a few we’ll throw at you to consider:

G-Dog by Academy Award-winner Freida Lee Mock I cried several times during this film about the inspiring work of Father Greg Boyle, or as he’s commonly called by his homeboys, G-Dog.  The film takes a look at Homeboy Industries, the largest and most successful gang-prevention and -rehab program in the country.

The King of Pigs This South Korean animated film takes a hard look at bullying and teen violence in Korea.

People Like Us A family drama with Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, and Michelle Pfieffer.

The Iran Job A documentary about an American pro basketball player joining the Iranian Super League team.

ET: The Extra-Terrestrial A 30th-anniversary screening with prizes, food trucks, and bike valet.

Dead Man’s Burden An indie Western that takes place in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Call Me Kuchu A documentary about David Kato, Uganda’s first openly gay activist.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Khan!!!! The 30th-anniversary screening with prizes, food trucks, and CosPlay.

About Face A documentary on the many faces that have graced the covers of magazines.

Words of Witness The documentary follows how Facebook postings became weapons against President Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt.

Disney Pixar’s Brave The animated movie will have its Hollywood premiere at the new Dolby Theater, formerly the Kodak Theater.  There were issues with the Dolby sound, but they seem to have been more than cleared up, and anticipation (mine especially) for the film is high.

Also on the weekend if the AFCI locations show, featuring panels, workshops, and an expo at the L.A. Convention Center.

In a few weeks, downtown L.A.’s scene will give way to the X Games and Anime Expo.  But for now, the films rule.


–Ken Choy

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