From the down-home slices of besties and roomies, I Love Lucy and Bekka, co-starring Gina Rodriguez by Rachael Holder, to The Impossibilities by Anna Kerrigan, an impressively produced and sympathetic series about a Lesbian Yogi, to deadpan and quirky The Incredible Life of Darrell by Darrell Lake, and the bust-a-gut laughs of The Oversharer by Ali Le Roi, this program is a high octane zone of bold talent and content. Who’s behind this #HotNow program? None other than Programmer/Curator Drea Clark who went internet surfing like a Pro to bring us a wild snackable program. In addition to being a Programmer on the features and shorts committees, Drea curates the music videos, this new Launch program that includes the Interactive Storytelling: Indiecade Gaming Favorites – which pass holders can experience at the Festival Lounge. Oh, she also programs for Slamdance. Oh, she is also a Producer (Lake Los Angeles, The Last Time you had Fun). After my own heart that one. From an undisclosed remote location during the annual LA Film Fest Filmmaker retreat, Drea answered a few of my q’s about programming this exciting new program.
Sifting through the world wide web for quality series sounds daunting. What’s your approach? Where did you find them?
Totally daunting, but there’s actually a lot more really well-crafted work out there than I thought there was going to be when I started. We got a number of the webseries through our general submissions when we added it as a new category this year, and for almost all of the submissions that I liked I would also find them online and watch all of their episodes in case there was one that would play better at the Festival, or improved upon something I dug in the submitted piece. And as anyone who has ever spent quality time on the internet knows, it’s VERY easy to start to wormhole and lose hours watching more and more content. I was following a ton of random links that YouTube was auto-generating based on what I was already watching, that sort of thing. I also went through and read pretty much every “Best of the Web” wrap up I could find, and had some discoveries that way as well.
Is it your curation, or do you find that there are more female, comedy, multi-culti voices exploring and having fun on the new digital platform?
It was definitely a goal of mine to have a webseries line-up with a lot of different authorial voices. I basically approached it like programming my own TV network, and since a lot of my own complaints (and the industry’s in general) are how underrepresented certain voices are, I wanted to prove how many great stories were actually out there and being told from a wide variety of perspectives. The good news is, there is a LOT to choose from, and I do think it makes sense that people who have traditionally felt ignored or pigeon-holed by mainstream television would just make their own damn show on the web. That’s the beauty of the internet, and what balances out all the ugly comment threads and nightmare garbage people – it’s a place where anyone can be heard. If you’re an artist with an idea and a work ethic, you can put something out there… I was lucky that so much of what was being created was also really smart and enjoyable.
What’s exciting to you about this new medium? More risks? More voices?
What I love, in addition to the access to so many different perspectives and their subsequent various takes on these mini-shows, is how each creator is also defining what it MEANS to be a webseries. Some of the pieces I selected for the program reminded me of old Saturday Night Live or Kids in the Hall character bits, where there was an entire sketch built around one super eccentric character. And then some of them had entire ensembles of characters, or really unique tones, or really hilarious moments, or combinations of all those things. It does come down to risk, that they are already leaping without a net but there are also not terrible consequences if they fail – so people can push boundaries, or try something ridiculous, in a way that they couldn’t with “regular” television. As someone whose background is programming film festivals, the other element that makes webseries so special is that they really are episodic, they’re built to be watched one after another, and the stories and characters grow as you go. These aren’t short films, they’re moments of a larger whole that can still be enjoyed piecemeal. I think they’re really impressive.
To buy tickets to the showcase (and a chance to meet these talented creators) click here. Or watch right now. Click on the titles of the whole lineup below.
Dir. Ndosi Anyabwile
In the wake of a viral epidemic, a novice fighter struggles to survive illegal experimentation in order to escape from the company that imprisoned him.
Dir. Tulica Singh
A depressed croissant trying to find meaning in the superficial world of Bourgeois pastries.
Dir. Emebeit Beyene, Chandra Russell
Four recent college grads decide to call their own shots, raising money to launch their own business by turning their NYC apartment into a lucrative nightclub.
The Genderton Project(World Premiere)
Dir. Anna Martemucci, Victor Quinaz
A modern group of young gay men head to Palm Springs for a gay wedding weekend, when their story is interrupted by the tale of a 1960’s Pasadena housewife whose life is anything but a piece of cake in this gender-swapped comedy.
Happy And You Know It
Created, written and directed by Kira Hesser, Jeremy Howe and Ramsey Robinson
Having just moved to Los Angeles to take care of her grandmother, an aimless girl meets a small-time drug dealer who is similarly searching for purpose.
I Love Lucy & Bekka
Dir. Rachael Holder
Lucy & Bekka have been roommates and best friends since the beginning of their twenties. They are so close that they finish each other’s sandwiches.
Dir. Anna Kerrigan
The unexpected connections of Harry, a jaded children’s party magician and Willa, a daffy, lesbian yogi.
Jon and Jen Are Married
Dir. Gregory Fitzsimmons
Jon and Jen are married, they’re expecting a child, and they take absurd measures to influence their fetus.
Dir. Ali Le Roi
A friendly woman embodies the phrase “too much information”.
Toybox Theater: Sad Little People
Dir. Marty Schousboe / Creator Barry Hite
Stan is a Minotaur managing a midlife crisis while working at the hottest ad agency in town.
Dir. Melinda Cohen, Adam Roa
A man whose sole skill in life is his mastery of drugs begins offering his services to the public, providing guided ‘trips’ to a variety of eccentric characters.
Dir. Tom Huang
A hit man specializing in supernatural beings tries to learn on the job while taking down monsters that live and hide among the people of Los Angeles.
I went to support my esteemed Programmer friends participating in the Master Class that Women in Film put on last night called “What Film Festivals Want.” Representing the top festivals in Los Angeles was Kim Yutani, Senior Programmer at Sundance Film Festival, Roya Rastegar, Director of Programming at LA Film Fest, Jacqueline Lyanga, Director of AFI Fest, and Lucy Mukerjee-Brown, Director of Programming at Outfest. Executive Director of WIF Kirsten Schaffer, formerly director of Outfest, was perfect to moderate the panel, keeping it new filmmaker friendly and full of insight. Since I have the pleasure of knowing and/or working alongside all the ladies on the panel, I knew it wasn’t going to be another diluted, unproductive, bland conversation on Film Festival Tips. There were about 50 people there ($20 admission for non-WIF members), and it was by and large women filmmakers, across all colors and ages, from my friend, young dancer/actress Carmen Corral who just wrote and directed her first short film, to an audience member who shared she has just finished her first film at 67 years young. The difference in practices and opinions heard is proof that each festival and each film festival Programmer has their own brand of curatorial focus, taste and sensibility. As Kirsten summed it up, its worthwhile to listen to each of their takes, but do not forget that ultimately you have to follow your own instinct. Briefly each festival’s mandate: AFI Fest takes place in November so they screen LA premieres of the most acclaimed as well as under the radar international gems of the year. A big chunk is curated from other festivals, however they do have a Breakthrough section which they cull mostly from submissions. Also it offers its program for FREE! Outfest seeks to obviously show films from the LGBTQ community. However, Lucy noted more and more the programming has matured to one where LGBTQ is not the drive of the storyline but rather a perspective through which to explore different genres. LA Film Fest has gone through a programming shift this year and it is more closely aligning itself with parent nonprofit Film Independent’s mission to “support artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision”. This year the festival has an unprecedented 39 world premieres and nearly half of the program is made by women and people of color. Sundance Film Festival – what can we say about the original rebel. U.S. Competition, Next, New Frontier and Midnight is the discovery zone heard around the world for breaking innovative stories and talented storytellers. Sundance’s submissions increases each year. It received more than 12,000 submissions for the 2015 festival. Around 8,000 of them are shorts – of which they show 60-70. Yep, that’s less than 1%
On the topic of WHY IS MY FILM (S) NOT ACCEPTED. I can see why deciphering the festival code; “It is not a right fit” can be frustrating for filmmakers to hear. It is a catch-all of saying a possibility of things. First thing to remember however is that just because you don’t get into a festival it does not mean your film does not have artistic merit or deserve a platform. You are talking about 3-4 people at one festival who watched it but did not respond ENOUGH to champion or select it in the festival (My own personal note as Programmer; you have to kill your darlings and pick your battles in the room). A lot of times the reason your film may not get in is simply mathematical. There are not enough slots at a festival to select all the films the Programmers like. Sundance can theoretically program another entire (just as solid) festival program after locking their lineup. Maybe your film does not get in because that particular festival does not offer the section, or cater to that particular focus/niche your film covers. And yet another reason might be your film may be one of several films that tackles very similar issues or has a very similar storyline to other films Programmers see that year.
WHAT CAN I DO TO RAISE MY CHANCES? Sounds like common sense but follow submission instructions is number one tip (seriously not following instructions is a number one Programmer pet peeve). Not all festivals are the same. Some want press kits with film submissions. Some of the panelists encouraged the audience to write cover letters while others admitted they never read them. (Personal note: If you have something relevant about your background that you think informs your vision then by all means write up a paragraph). Roya made the point that if you had a crowdfunding campaign, or have a cast member who has over 2 million subscribers on Youtube that usually indicates you already are building an audience that is invested in your film, it doesn’t hurt for the festival to know given their concern is selling tickets to sustain the usually nonprofit’s activity. It is definitely vital to communicate these things once you have been selected so that the festival can disseminate the distinct and soundbyte aspects of your film to ‘pitch it’ (first film shot in Cuba since 1959, first indie film shot in Little Armenia).
CRITERIA: Screeners are asked to submit a detailed synopsis of the films they watch and rate technical proficiency, character and story development. But inspired (and ripped off) by Sundance’s evaluation forms, most festivals want to frame it around ORIGINALITY OF VOICE/EMOTIONAL IMPACT. Roya mentioned that she tends to be more forgiving of production value if she recognizes there is a strong, rarely heard voice driving the story. Lucy mentioned she enjoyed abiding by this guiding principle during LA Film Festival’s programming process. Knowing that films made by women/people of color tend to be the least funded and least commercial having this awareness is key, and underlines the bottom line criteria of a Programmer or anyone for that matter, wanting to find that film that can MOVE people above all.
HOW DO I KNOW WHICH FESTIVAL IS RIGHT FOR MY FILM? You can do your homework and check out the archives of the films that a festival has played to see if there is some alignment, said Jacqueline. But take it with a grain of salt. As mentioned by Roya there is a tendency of folks to carbon copy what they think is a festival film, and making a film driven by the desire to get into a festival tends to backfire. Look into international festivals, smaller niche festivals. Lucy, who is also a filmmaker, recalled being rejected by all the major festivals until they submitted randomly to new Arkansas festival, Bentonville where they ended up taking best prize. (Note: Sign up to Withoutabox. You’ll have to do some digging but you can do a search by region, niche, specialty to find the most suitable festival.) GETTING THE MOST OF YOUR FESTIVAL EXPERIENCE. Squeeze your Programmers for advice. If you are wondering whether you should contract a publicist or a sales agent ask us for recommendations, encouraged Kim. They have the relationships and know the sensibilities of all the established and emerging industry. In many ways this is Programmers’ second job after locking. Adopting film teams leading up to the festival who they can shepherd up the mountain.
DO YOU REALLY WATCH EACH FILM? Why do people LOVE to ask if a Programmer ‘really’ watches a film from beginning to end?? That is our job! First of all we get paid to do it. Second, as Kim mentioned, the worst thing for a Programmer is to have ‘missed’ a film. Make no mistake, if a film does really well at a festival or comes out somewhere else, and you don’t recall seeing it, you go back to your database to make sure it was fully considered by someone on your team (and see who the hell may have passed on it). Senior Programmers do their due diligence and review screeners’ coverage, ratings, and exports lists whether it be by region or filmmaker background. Especially nearing the end of progamming lock, they sweat over making sure they saw everything they should, and some actually dig deep into the lower ratings like films that got a 1 out of 5, just in case the screener was turned off by the premise. That strong negative reaction could very well mean a film is polemic and possibly brilliant because of it.
WHAT IF I DON’T GET IN? If you know your film has an audience, who cares if your film doesn’t get into festivals. Get a network of filmmaker and programmer friends. Get feedback. Festivals can’t supply feedback as a rule because of the volume but if you have a Programmer friend or trusted industry acquaintance ask them for input. The dangers of asking friends and families for feedback on your film is that it usually won’t be critical. As Lucy pointed out and I think everyone was in agreement; We (read: good Programmers) understand that filmmakers set out to make a good movie. The ultimate criteria is asking ourselves “What was the filmmaker trying to achieve and how close did she/he get to it in the execution?”
Last words from the panelists: Lucy: Keep making films Jacqueline: Be bolder and louder. Kim: Support other female filmmakers Sundance opens submissions in July. In August, Sundance’s Next Fest will unspool a few film and music experiences at the Ace Hotel. Outfest will be announcing their program soon and will take place July 9-19. Coming up soon is LA Film Festival, June 10-18. AFI is currently accepting submissions until July 24 for its November festival. Women in Film is accepting submissions until June 16 for their Finishing Films Fund. Shorts and feature length films that are 90% complete are eligible. Grants range from $1,000 – $25,000.
In a historical performance last night at the LA Film Festival’s Grammy night, Voices for Change (see my video clip at the end of post), a jet-black haired, black hat clad older man in a bright green suit was helped onstage and delivered a breathtaking, albeit short set. I stared in awe at his huge fingers powerfully and dexterously strumming the guitar and deeply connected to his significant lyrics, mesmerized by his voice (think a raw version of James Taylor). His weary and slight 69 year old body is no doubt the result of his back breaking working-class roots, construction labor his trade for decades save for a short moment in the late 60s and early 70s when he worked on his music only to have his commercial debut flop and step back into obscurity. This is Mexican-American singer/songwriter Sixto Diaz Rodriguez who is being rediscovered, or rather finally being discovered in the United States, thanks in part to the upcoming documentary Searching for Sugarman. Here’s the trailer:
The film by Stockholm based Malik Bendjelloul opened the World Cinema Documentary Competition at Sundance and was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics. The film shows us the lore that followed his so called disappearance which reached mythological legend (that he committed suicide among other theories). This whole time he was living a hardscrabble life in Detroit. (So if you dont want anyone to find you, go to Detroit). Watching the film I was so inspired by Rodriguez’s quiet zen and humble aura. The accepting manner with which he played the unfair cards life dealt him is as unbelievable as the fact that while he was toiling away he became a star on another continent. English his second language, the Detroit singer’s 1970 record, Cold Fact became a huge hit in South Africa where he is bigger than Jimi Hendrix. His lyrics are classic, anthemic and socially and politically prescient than ever, from “Establishment Blues” (The mayor hides the crime rate, council woman hesitates, public gets irate but forget the vote date) to “Sugarman” which when he performed, he prefaced by saying the lyrics (“colors to my dreams, silver ships”, and the literal “coke and sweet Mary Jane”reference is not based on drug experiences (yeah right). Instead he told the audience to “Stay smart, don’t start” and “Hugs, not drugs”. I highly encourage you to read his poems that form his body of work on the Sugarman website here. New original songs are included in the film which will be released in LA and NY July 27. A very touching and incredible story about a first generation Mexican-American whose voice was suppressed for many years at a time when the last name Rodriguez was perhaps too ethnic for the mainstream I thank Malik for making the film and hope it reaches audiences beyond the east and west coast. Hopefully his upcoming appearance on the Letterman show will help. Here’s a short highlight clip of the evening.
I took in a few panels over the weekend down here at LA Film Fest that I really appreciated for sparking some provocative dialogue I am eager to continue throughout the Festival. I found it especially interesting how different the US Latino and Black film communities are responding to their storytelling plight in talking about their respective representation in media. Meanwhile the lively Latino panel, which was perhaps the broadest in scope, was eloquent and skillfully led by LA Times’ Reed Johnson who brought a high level of articulation in his profesh moderating. As panel junkies know, a good moderator is key to an engaging panel and essential to keep it on point. Here are my takeaways on the three panels:
Moderated by Film Independent’s LACMA film curator and go-to festival moderator, Elvis Mitchell, I was particularly impressed at the messaging clarity and solidarity of the black film community’s efforts and goals for equal representation. The panelists were very tuned-in with monitoring their talent behind and in front of the camera, and in this case stressing the importance of festival curators, which was identified as one of three instrumental factors to enable their films getting out there.
Shari Frilot, Senior Programmer, Sundance Film Festival: There was much (due) love and props given to Frilot for her ardent and tireless championing of films of color at Sundance. She pointed out how after Lee Daniel’s breakout hit, Precious which premiered at 2009 Sundance and went on to win a couple Academy Awards, the next couple years it was the black films that were the first to be sold off the mountain including the dazzling lesbian coming of age film, Pariah. She questioned why this achievement was not picked up or lauded in the mainstream media. Its indeed curious and perhaps a telling point on the cultural gatekeeper front – (shortage of black critics and journalists?) Having witnessed Shari’s highly charged and articulate arguing for gloriously imperfect, fresh and raw films I respect how she truly changes the way the film programming conversation takes place by discussing films’ drive, potential and power. I aspire to “bring it” like she does in my own programming career. Acknowledging the personal efforts she puts in to make the festival seem accessible to filmmakers of color who may not bother putting Sundance on their radar, the idea of doing a black college tour came up.
Ava DuVernay, filmmaker (Middle of Nowhere) and founder of AFFRM: DuVernay’s emotion for the topic at hand along with her experience from her publicist days and current roles as filmmaker and distributor made her a stirring contributor to the conversation. Ava thanked LA Film Festival Director Stephanie Allain for programming Middle of Nowhere as a gala screening which elevates her film with a high profile slot within the festival. A packed house at Wednesday’s gala screening will be quite significant to the black filmmaking community given the massive 800 seat theater and checking the LA Film Fest website it’s at Rush which will make for an exciting milestone! The winner of the Best Director Award at Sundance Film Festival shared her personal observations like being stunned to see empty seats at the black film screenings at Sundance which is unheard of in the notoriously hard-to-get tickets Festival. She mentioned that while she is frequently featured on Shadow and Act, the African Diaspora blog on the Indiewire network, she has never been on Indiewire’s main page. DuVernay expressed her desire to see more films that move and operate beyond ‘black bodies’.
There was mention of films touted as successful black films when they happen to be by non-black filmmakers. I can’t help but think the room was thinking about Gimme the Loot written and directed by Adam Leon and Beasts of the Southern Wild written and directed by Benh Zeitlin. Both films have been praised and celebrated for their poignant storytelling and vivid portrayal of their black protagonists’ lifestyles – and the filmmakers happen to be white Jewish New Yorkers. And both films were quickly picked up for distribution at their respective festival premieres. I have to admit that if we are talking about presenting positive representation in films my belief is that individually, these two films offer a lot as far as image conversion for eschewing mis-representation by avoiding stereotypes about black folks. There’s nobody smoking crack or perpetuating violent crime in Gimme the Loot, and in Beasts the poetic punch of self-sufficient little Hushpuppy in the die-hard persevering displaced fictional community that alludes to the forgotten 9th Ward post-Katrina, shows a triumph of spirit against the government and society’s response efforts following the devastating natural catastrophe in the dominantly affected marginalized population.
Bradford Young, cinematographer (Middle of Nowhere, Pariah, Restless City): A Howard University alumus, the in-demand cinematographer more gently echoed Ava’s sentiment about the limited accessibility and representation of black filmmakers but I feel he gave a bit more benefit of the doubt to black films by non-black filmmakers by his eloquent word of choice to weigh the debate; “Intention”. The way he talks about his own cinematic approach is greatly influenced by the intention of the story and point of view. A NY Times article recently featured the cinematographer and made note of his full frame and close up shots in Middle of Nowhere. Indeed the luscious and texture he brings to shooting skincolor sticks out in my mind having seen it at Sundance. Bradford is one cool cat with lots of soul. All panelists agreed and were especially thankful for his eyes.
Roya Rastegar, Ph.D, Festival Programmer: Inventive cinematography, curation by more females and people of color and innovative distribution were three ways Rastegar outlined to help minority filmmakers distinguish their work and get seen by the public. I would love to get my hands on her dissertation, History of Concsiousness (here’s a taste) in which she investigates the role of festivals in shaping marginalized culture. Armed with such interesting facts on the history of film festivals, (did you know Stalin created the first film festival?) Rastegar added a lot of context to the origins and current state of film festivals. She also shared the behind the scenes conversations of film programmers when talking about films of color and the rueful tendency to dismiss these films because they aren’t so called ‘good enough’. She made no hesitation in pointing out that Tribeca Film Festival did not have one single black film in competition this year.
US Latino Cinema: Welcome to the Bi-Literate Future – Presented by San Antonio Film Commission and AFCI (Association of Film Commissions International)
I had the privilege of participating on this panel which was prefaced by a Univision spot highlighting their new campaign efforts of reaching a bi-lingual audience. In it, an old woman recalls being prevented from speaking her language as a child in school and then we cut to today’s young US Latino man who flips from Spanish to English talking about his liking alternative band, The Strokes as much as Spanish-language pop rock band, Juanes.
What it was about: Our Latino population in the US is now more than ever embracing a bi-lingual, or more importantly, a bi-literate culture. Will films reflect the changing demographic of the US as a bi-literate (a Spanish and English language culture) be commercially successful and be able to find an audience? And perhaps more importantly, will the studio system be able to adapt to the successful strategies many in the independent world are using to create commercially viable content?
Douglas Spain (Star Maps, Walkout, Band of Brothers) is used to wearing multiple hats and so acted as both panelist and moderator. Spain offered up his experience as an actor/producer/director as a gay latino filmmaker who has successfully worked in independent film and studio and television mediums. His quest for staying true to himself with the roles and films he is making rang resonant to all.
Ralph Lopez, San Antonio filmmaker: The producer of Wolf which premiered at this year’s SXSW talked about his aim is to create and tell stories that transcend color. Like his provocative film about the complexities faced by the victim of a bishop’s inappropriate behavior, his collaborations with director black filmmaker Ya Ke Smith comes first and foremost from a place of telling moving stories.
Gabriela Tagliavini, filmmaker (Ladies Night, Without Men, The Mule: Having had big success with Spanish language film Ladies Night in 2006, Gabriela switched languages and directed Eva Longoria in the English language film, Without Men which sold to many international territories given Longoria’s international brand name. With her upcoming film, The Mule she is looking to take advantage of the crime action genre and star Sharon Stone to offer real commentary on immigration and the dangerous toll of the US Mexico border.
Luis Reyes, historian and author of the comprehensive book, Hispanics in Hollywood: The old school gent on our panel made some slightly more conventional suggestions on how to make a successful bi-literate film like “know your audience” and attaching a well known actor to your film so you can market it.
I added my two cents and in retrospect I think my thoughts coincided with Rastegar’s in the proactive vein of here’s what we can-do positive approach of encouraging budding filmmakers to utilize genre (horror and gay US Latino films stand out from the stack and are sought after by festival programs). I also asked my fellow panelists if they found the US Latino filmmaking community as fragmented as I see it. Unlike Black or LGBT film organizations I feel the US Latino community has much more work in becoming inclusive within our distinct bi-lingual backgrounds in order to successfully empower and advocate for our films. Organizations like NALIP and LALIFF were mentioned in answer. But in my opinion and with all respect, I find NALIP a bit cliquesh and lacking a younger pulse and generation of organizers, and LALIFF is too inconsistent to make fundamental cultural change. Although we touched on the question of the challenges our community faces working in Spanish versus English I’m not sure we fully stayed on point in attempting to answer the ambitious subject and interesting talking points raised. But the audience seemed more the type of wanting basic advice on how to break into filmmaking so most questions and conversations was directed to the filmmakers on the panels and in that regard it was a successful exchange.
Café Latino presented by HBO and supported by University of Guadalajara Foundation
Made evident by the participating film clips that were shown before the panel there is much genre and story diversity in the Latino films at LA Film Fest this year. I’m especially happy the Festival recognizes the growing influence of the Mexican documentary by having selected Reportero by Bernardo Ruiz, Canicula by Jose Alvarez and Drought by Everardo Gonzalez. The panel was ostensibly about the Festival’s Latin American filmmakers and how they explore their roles as storytellers in an increasingly global world. With such a high number of panelists and so many interesting topics broached however, it left one wanting more time to engage with the personable talents onstage.
Reed Johnson encouraged the panelists to chime in at will which Alejandro Brugues, director of Cuban Zombie film, Juan of the Dead took full advantage of to defend big hollywood films like The Avengers, which Gonzalez initially brought up if only to point out the David and Goliath challenge filmmakers in Mexico face having to compete for screens against these big money backed blockbusters. Brugues set himself apart from the group by defending his love for the blockbuster which inspired him to direct films. Unlike his peers’ ‘artful’ films he considers his film strictly for public entertainment (he joked that his film is actually a documentary). Yet at the same time he admits he took advantage of the Zombie genre a la Romero to infuse it with his personal observations of contemporary Cuban society – which he would not have been able to shoot in Cuba otherwise.
Meanwhile Arturo Pons who was born in Mexico but has lived and worked in Spain for the past ten years described his conception for his surreal satire, The Compass is Carried by the Dead Man not necessarily about immigration but a visual canvas with which to paint the total disorientation that confronts Mexico. Ruiz talked about seeing himself as a ‘translator’ or vessel to tell stories. Alvarez talked about how he does not think of his audience as he makes his films however he does aspire to showcase Mexico Profundo in showing the vast and vibrant indigenous artistry and folklore and deliberately resisting the the media’s monopolized perpetuation of the drug violence and corruption. Lastly, Dominga Sotomayor, the 27 year old director of Thursday till Sunday whose next film Tarde Para Morir was selected to the first ever Sundance Mahindra Screenwriters Lab, added that like Mexico, in Chile there is a growing number of filmmakers but no real venues to find their audience.
LA Film Festival is going on through Sunday and a bunch of added screenings have been slotted. Check out film guide and buy tickets here.