More than 100 films will screen at the 2016 DTLA Film Festival, September 21 to 28 at L.A. LIVE. The line-up for the 8th edition of the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles, includes films from all genres and curated programming covering a wide range of topics Income Inequality, Art-Architecture+Design, Actions Sports, and The People and The Police.
While proudly a showcase for new and emerging talent in the historic center of the Entertainment Capital of the World, this year’s line-up includes films featuring a host of celebrity talent including David Bowie (The Man Who Fell To Earth), Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), Candy Clark (American Grafitti), Billy Zane (Titanic), Julian Sands (Room With A View), Jason Schwartzman (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Taryn Manning (Orange Is the New Black), Reza Sixo Safai (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night), Shane Black (Iron Man 3), Laura Harring (Mulholland Drive), Connie Stevens (77 Sunset Strip), Buck Henry (The Player), among many others.
The feature film line-up includes Tribeca alum Do Not Resist, which won the festival’s Best Documentary Feature award for its chilling reporting on the militarization of the nation’s police; Children of the Mountain, a poignant story of a young mother in Africa struggling with a child born with birth defects, and whose director Priscilla Anany was awarded Best New Narrative Director; I Voted?, director Jason Grant’s Smith insightful look at the frightening state of the voting system in the U.S., and The Banksy Job, a documentary about the famous bad-boy graffiti artist Banksy.
Do Not Resist is a part of the festival The People & The Police series, which also includes a screening of director Charles Burnett’s 1994 police drama, The Glass Shield and the dark comedy by director Paul Sapiano’s Driving While Black, which nabbed the Audience Favorite Award at the New Orleans Film Festival.
The co-joined worlds of art, architecture, design and fashion are explored in the festival’s Art+Architecture+Design series, anchored by the Los Angeles premiere of Design Disruptors, a documentary that goes behind the scenes at 15 industry-toppling companies that control more than $1 trillion in combined assets and share a secret advantage – the transformative power of design. (Think Facebook, Google, NetFlix,Twitter, Uber.) The series continues with the Los Angeles premiere of the biopic of the world’s most enigmatic and influential fashion designers, in Yohji Yamamoto – Dressmaker.
Rounding out the A+A+D series is Jonathan Parker’s narrative feature The Architect, Alexander Lorenz’s biopic of versatile Bauhaus artist-designer-architect Peter Behrens, Robert Adanto’s The F Word, which explores a younger generation of 4th wave feminist artists using their bodies as subject matter, and the previously mentioned The Banksy Job.
In this most partisan of political years no other issue electrified voters across the political spectrum more than income inequality. The topic is explored in the festival’s series It’s Everybody’s Problem: Income Inequality in America, presented by Services Employees Union International (Local 721). This free-to-the-public program tackles the rising economic disparity in the U.S. through the screening of feature-length and short documentary films as well as a panel discussion. The film line-up includes the Los Angeles public premiere of the HBO-produced film Class Divide, directed by Marc Levin, which contrasts the experiences of the rich and poor when an affluent private school is located across the street from public housing projects in New York City’s West Chelsea neighborhood.
Other films in the series include Brandon Kramer’s City of Trees, documenting systemic and social obstacles that threatened a “green” stimulus-funded nonprofit hiring 150 unemployed workers at the height of the recession; Margaret Byrne’s Raising Bertie, depicting the connections between generational poverty, educational inequity and race, and Eric Stoll’s and Jarrod Wellin-Cann’s Good White People that explores the devastating effects of gentrification in a Cincinnati neighborhood. All three films are making their Los Angeles premiere.
The homegrown Southern California sports of surfing and BMX bicycling are featured in the festival’s Action Sports Series. The series films include Tim Bumham’s Dirty Old Wedge, which documents the history of Balboa Peninsula in Orange County where waves reach mythic proportions; Illustrated, Justin Kosman’s documentary of the Vans BMX Team worldwide tour, and Shorebreak, a biopic of a legendary surf photographer Clark Little.
Los Angeles’ diverse Latin cultures are reflected in three special series: American-Latino Filmmakers, Hola Cuba! New Cinema From Havana And Beyond, both presented by Sigue, and a Spotlight on Spanish Cinema. The American-Latino Filmmakers series focuses on movies by U.S.-born filmmakers of Hispanic-Latino heritage. Launching the series is Joel Gonzales Crave: The Fast Life, a narrative drama exploring the powerful and lifelong impact of a father’s abandonment of his son.
Other films in the series include Chris Cashman’s Club Frontera, a must-see documentary for soccer fans about the professional team in Tijuana and its uplifting impact on the community; Jennica Caromona’s Millie and the Lords, a poignant love story set in New York’s Spanish Harlem; Ruben Rojo’s The Night and The Nightingale, a drama about a woman’s determination to pay tribute to poet Frederico Garcia Lorca, and Jorge Valdes-Iga’s I Was There, the story of a 911 New York City fireman consumed with survivor’s guilt.
The Spanish cinema showcase includes a rare screening of the sci-fi classic Before The Fall by director F. Javier Guttierez, who is currently putting the finishing touches on Rings, the third installment in the popular Ring franchise. The filmmaker is scheduled to make a special appearance at the screening.
The festival’s Cuban film series – the first in Los Angeles since the normalizing of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the island nation – explores the heartbreak of a family split apart by immigration in Julio Rodriguez’s The Pathways of Aissa, and the return of a Cuban-American in search of her roots in Nicole Di Rocco’s Passport Cuba. Dr. Oscar Biscet – a well-known human rights activist whom the Cuban government unsuccessfully tried everything it could to force him to leave their country, including imprisonment – is the subject of Jordan Allot’s biopic Oscar’s Cuba. In Gerardo Chijona’s The Human Thing, a young thief flirts with prison when he steals the masterpiece script of a writer and sends it as his work to a literary contest.
Also highlighting the festival is a strong slate of music documentaries, including the Los Angeles premiere of Bjork: The Creative Universe of a Music Missionary, co-directed by Tita Von Hardenberg and Hannes Rosacher; Jaco, the biopic of influential bass player Jaco Pastourias, directed by Paul Marchand and produced by Metallica’s Robert Trujillo; Om’Mas Keith: Across The Board, a biopic by Michael Rapaport about the artist-musician-songwriter who produced Frank Ocean’s new album Blonde; Hard Lovin’ Woman, the biopic about the actor-musician Juliette Lewis, and two Blues feature documentaries: Samuel D. Pollard’s Two Trains Runnin’, the search for forgotten blues singers, and Victoria Luther’s How Berlin Got The Blues, a biopic about musician Ebylee Davis, who after his Army stint in Cold War Berlin in the 1950s, introduced the blues to the German people.
“From action sports to political action, architecture to art, and Bowie to Bjork, the diversity of our curated film series reflects Los Angeles’ own incredibly cosmopolitan landscape, “ said programming director Carolyn Schroeder. “There is no other film festival likes ours because there’s no other place like DTLA and it surrounding environs.”
Rounding out the festival’s feature film line-up are:
All Out Dysfunktion!, dir. Ryan LeMasters – Five narcissistic Hollywood roommates get more than they bargained for when they throw a rave party in their rented mansion.
Beijing, New York, dir. Rain Li – A complex love story bridging time, distance and culture.
Between The Miles, dir. Michelle Opitz – Three teens living on the streets of Los Angeles are taken under the wing of a struggling musician.
Bornless Ones, dir. Alexander Babaev – A group of friends visiting a remote cabin become possessed by evil spirits.
Displacement, dir. Kenneth Mader – A young physics student must reverse a deadly quantum time anomaly, and solve the murder of her boyfriend.
Diverge, dir. James Morrison – A man must travel to a parallel universe to stop his other self from destroying his world.
Dreamland, dir. Robert Schwartzman – Part-time pianist begins a May-December romance that upends his life.
Erasing Eden, dir. Beth Deway – A young woman sabotages her own wedding to reclaim her identity.
Face of Evil, Vito Dinatolo – A soldier returns from combat duty only to find a pandemic has turned his homecoming into hell.
Liza, Liza Skies Are Grey, dir. Terry Sanders – Two teens take off on a motorcycle road trip from L.A. to Big Sur to consummate their relationship, only to be detoured many times.
Occupants, dir. Russell Emmanuel – A reality show goes awry when the cameras capture an alternate reality that threatens to unravel the cast members’ very existence.
Search Engines, dir. Russell Brown – Relationships are put to the test when circumstances force a family to survive Thanksgiving holiday without their cell phones.
SMART, dir. Justin Zimmerman – A documentary about Los Angeles’ Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team.
Somebody’s Mother, dir. Gabriela Tollman – Two sisters deal with the trauma of the one-year anniversary death of one of their babies.
South of 8, Tony Olmos – In the near future a group of young bank robbers become infamous during America’s Second Great Depression.
Suited, dir. Jason Benjamin – An HBO-produced documentary about a bespoke tailoring company catering to the diverse LGBTQ community.
Sustainable, dir. Matt Wechsler – A documentary investigation into the economic and environmental instability of America’s food system.
The Big Shot, dir. Demetrious Navarro – An alcoholic film editor struggles to uncover his sister’s murder in this modern-day San Francisco film noir.
The Taker, dir. Demetrious Navarro –The crew of an urban-myth reality show meet a real-life bogeyman in a nightmarish prop house.