Posted by Joy Bennett
Last Sunday, June 23rd was the closing night of the Los Angeles Film Festival, and what an exceptional festival it was. I went to many of the events throughout the festival, which ran from June 13 to June 23, 2013. I was generously given a press pass to the festival from Film Independent, the festival's organizers.
For a complete coverage of everything I wrote and photographed about the festival, go to joybennett.com, and use the index tabs on the top right to select LA Film Festival. That will give you only the posts about the festival. Then go to Flickr.com/joybennett and scroll down through the photos to see the many shots from the festival. The festival had a huge number of events, so there's quite a lot of photos and coverage available, although of course I couldn't get to all the events.
Sunday's closing night event on June 23rd featured a special screening of the new film The Way, Way Back. I got there in time to stand in the rush line for the screening of the film, which stars Steve Caroll and Toni Collette. Most of the stars and filmmakers from the film were there at the theatre, and they had an huge Red Carpet set up before the showing as the stars arrived at the film festival. I chatted with friends while in line, and got to peak around at the Red Carpet but was soon rushed into the film. The place was packed and it was a most exciting evening.
While waiting in the theatre for the movie to start, I met Nolan Gerard Funk, a highly successful working actor. He has been in the TV shows Awkward, Glee, the film The House at the End of the Street, many other films and TV shows, and was Conrad on Broadway in Bye, Bye Birdie. Couldn't have been nicer, he spoke to me for a few minutes and I discovered he is originally from Vancouver, Canada and now lives in LA. He's a very handsome, polite and focused young man and doubtless this has contributed greatly to his success.
Now on to the film we saw. The Way, Way Back, directed and written by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, is a perfect confection of a summer film. Light, funny, and well-acted, it was the perfect way to end an amazing film festival. The movie stars Steve Carell, who for once is an unsympathetic character (excellent as always); Toni Collette (a beautiful and gifted actress), Liam James, also terrific, and others. They all do a great job and lend this rather light piece a great deal of heavyweight acting chops. It is reminiscent of The Descendents, without quite the emotional punch of the other film's dramatic arc. Nonetheless, it was a very enjoyable movie, and opens in theatres July 5th.
I tried to get in to the after party, but alas, could not, so I walked over the Lawry's The Carvery at L.A. LIVE and had a delicious fresh turkey sandwich and mashed potatoes, yum! More film festival coverage on my website joybennett.com, and lots more photos on my Flickr page here: flickr.com/joybennett.
Be sure to check out the LA Film Festival next June, for more information about the festival, visit their website here: lafilmfest.com. Congratulations to all the staff, filmmakers, volunteers and board members of Film Independent for a remarkable 2013 LA Film Festival. Until next year!
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June 26, 2013 | 9:49 am
Posted by Joy Bennett
Hi, I’m the Shiksa, Joy Bennett. I have been writing a blog on and off since 2000, mostly on my own website joybennett.com. Now I get to share my musings with you all! I love all things cultural in this town, and often finagle press passes to local events that I'll share and review for you here. I adore music, film, theatre, the arts, and also adore writing about them. I'm a UCLA graduate, and am married with two dogs, one cat, and one teenaged daughter. I'm not Jewish, but am married to a Jewish fellow and have many lovely Jewish friends and family. So here goes, enjoy, and feel free to drop me a line, post a comment, or come up and say hi if you see me in the movie line!
The performing arts are one way we can all express our humanity, engage in community, and, when it all works, lift ourselves into magic.
Recently, I covered extensively on my writer's website the LOS ANGELES JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL, which ran from June 1st to 6th and was outstanding. This gem of a film festival had terrific films, wonderful events, delicious food, and some of the nicest folks you'd ever hope to meet. Visit joybennett.com to read all my coverage from the festival, and see many more photos! I highly recommend the festival, you can visit lajfilmfest.org to find out more.
One event from the festival was "An Evening of Food and Film" on Tuesday, June 4th, which was held at the Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. First, they had a reception with delicious Jewish food and desserts, and I got to mingle with the filmmakers and attendees. Then we all moved to the screening room, and saw several outstanding short films by emerging young filmmakers. This was followed by a Question and Answer session with several of the filmmakers and cast. The films were outstanding, of particular note was Negative directed by Yoav Hornung; Gambling Mensch, directed by Jason Zavaleta, Dr. Gutman's Eulogy, directed by Melanie Wainberg, and my favorite Jew, directed by Michael Carney.
Jew is a longer short film that explores hate crimes and how we all need to overcome our rage and love and accept each other, despite our differences. It comes to a shattering climax that had many in the audience sniffling, myself included. It stars Josh Berger, photo above. After the screening I had an opportunity to briefly interview Mr. Berger, who was most accommodating and polite.
The film is wonderfully made, with powerful acting, and there are also extensive fight scenes. I asked Mr. Berger if he was a fighter before the filming, or did he train. He said he trained for it, and also said that although he is Jewish but not an Orthodox Jew, he spent a month living as one to prepare for the role, which was quite involved. I also asked him how does one emotionally recover from filming such a dark section of the movie. He said he was depressed for about a week, but has studied acting extensively, and that is one of the jobs of an actor, to be able to go to those dark places but not stay there. Look for more exceptional films from Mr. Berger and others participating in this screening, as the quality of films shown was quite high, and in some cases, breathtaking.
A note about the photos. Most of them are taken by the Shiksa, and are free to borrow for non-commercial use, but if you would like to use some commercially, please contact Joy at email@example.com, thank you.
I will be posting here at SHIKSA IN HOLLYWOOD at least once or twice a week, so keep reading, and keep supporting the arts, it's the heart and soul of Los Angeles!