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Twilight at the L.A. Film Festival turns Downtown into the new Uptown

The L.A. Film Festival Directors have set the scene. And the Film Independent press conference today announced action. Downtown LA will be the stage for the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival, with red carpet events such as the World Premiere of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse about to eclipse a lot of fine indie films but spotlight "a vibrant and burgeoning independent arts community in downtown Los Angeles".

Over 16 years the L.A. Film Festival has shown itself worthy of its reputation as a world class event, showcasing the best of world cinema from venues all over Los Angeles. “Our new location will continue to pave the way for LAFF to realize its potential as an international destination event, and unites our filmmakers and audiences with the diverse arts community that exists downtown", said Festival Director Rebecca Yeldham.

Last year's LAFF, based in Westwood Village, attracted over 85,000 attendees. For this year's festival from June 17 to 27, it's easy to imagine that number alone lining the roads to LA LIVE, where all LAFF events will be centred - uptown girls rushing downtown for just a glimpse of Robert Pattinson, the centre of their universe.

In an alternative universe, the independent film community will also be celebrating some great success stories on film.

“We welcome the Los Angeles Film Festival and its supporters to L.A. LIVE and downtown Los Angeles, an area that is already considered one of the great arts communities in our region,” said Tim Leiweke, president and CEO, AEG, developers of L.A. LIVE. “With our array of restaurants and entertainment options for visitors, L.A. LIVE was truly built to be the home of prestigious internationally noted events like the Los Angeles Film Festival.”

And diners will have a lot to discuss over dinner, with a world class entree into the independent film world at LAFF 2010 including over 200 features, short films and music videos from over 30 countries.

Aside from the Twilight invitation-only event, other gala screenings will showcase a whole other world of cinema far beyond the Hollywood studio system. 'Revolucion' promises a subversive vision of Mexico as seen through the lens of 10 cutting edge Mexican directors in the midst of their centenary celebrations. And Animal Kingdom, starring Guy Pearce of L.A. Confidential fame, hopes to repeat his gunning down of the box office in yet another in a long line of "intense, high class Australian crime movies" that hints this as the 'genre du jour' for Australian film.

The Los Angeles downtown theme (and a twilight theme) continues in a fun festival side program 'Downtown Confidential'. 'The Driver´ (1978) "unfolds in an urban twilight zone between Union Station and the Bonaventure Hotel, where Ryan O'Neal's getaway driver rules the night streets and Bruce Dern's obsessed cop tries to bust him on his last ride", you´ll read in the festival program, as you race downtown for the next screening. And who could resist the chance to see Bill Cosby as "a downtrodden private eye searching for a missing girl in the sun-bleached mean streets of early '70s Los Angeles, leaving violence in his wake" according to the festival program. Could 'Hickey and Boggs' (1972) be that masterpiece of modern cinema that you unfortunately missed?

Or perhaps you'll find those masterpieces in another genre. The LAFF International Spotlight falls this year on Argentinian writer/director/producer Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, proving his right to the title "international art house sensation" with four films ranging from baroque melodrama to dark, expressionistic tales dripping with sexual desire.

For those who desire another genre it will be a delight to just dip into another downtown venue for a different cinematic experience.

From Annette Bening in the opening film 'The Kids Are All Right', (about two teenagers conceived by artificial insemination), to Julie Andrews in the closing night film 'Despicable Me', (about a supervillain, voiced by Steve Carroll, planning to steal the moon) the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival traverses more universes than one.

And isn't that the beauty of independent film?

Wendy Dent
Reporting on the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival, June 17 to 27

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