The Silver Lake Film Festival, to be held September 10-18, announced programming for its fourth annual event. More than 200 features, documentaries, and shorts will be presented during nine days of programming at the Vista Theater, the Los Feliz Theater, and the Barnsdall Gallery Theater. Complemented by filmmaker appearances, issue-based symposia, and the now-annual Fringe Fest, a parallel program of avant-garde cinema and theater, this year’s Festival also features a full roster of galas, after-parties, and its traditional Spirit of Silver Lake Award.
“This year’s schedule is the most comprehensive and compelling one ever,” said Greg Ptacek, Festival founder and director. “We have expanded the parameters of the Festival to embrace the best independent films from America and beyond, while continuing our commitment to showcasing the work of local and emerging filmmakers.”
David Andrusia, programming director added, “The geographical scope of this year’s film selections is incredibly broad, especially for a festival in its fourth year. Virtually every continent is represented on screen this year.”
1. OPENING NIGHT GALA, Wednesday, September 10
2. KOREAN CINEMA 2003 AND GALA, Friday, September 12: Curated by Francois Masson, the Festival announces the U.S. premiere of “Spring, Summer, Winter, and Spring.” by Kim Ki-Duk. The “Made In Korea” series, which is presented with the participation of the Korean Cultural Center (Consulate General of The Republic of Korea) of Los Angeles, features a total of five new Korean films.
3. CENTERPIECE GALA, Saturday, September 13: SPIRIT OF SILVER LAKE AWARD: John C. Reilly is this year’s recipient of the annual Spirit of Silver Lake Award, honoring career achievement in independent cinema. The Festival will screen “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” co-starring Leonardo di Caprio, Johnny Depp and Juliette Lewis, “Hard Eight” (aka “Sydney”), which simultaneously launched the careers of Mr. Reilly and director Paul Thomas Anderson, and “Frank’s Book,” a little-seen, award-winning short. A gala celebration will follow.
4. SO YOU WANT TO BE (A ROCK AND ROLL STAR), various times: The Festival presents a program on the struggles and successes of rock musicians. Films include: “Here Comes Huffamoose,” They Would Love You in France, Betty Blowtorch and Her Amazing True-Life Adventures, My Life with Morrissey, “Come Feel Me Tremble” and “My Dinner With Jimi.” Live performances and parties will complement many of these screenings.
5. CLOSING NIGHT GALA, Thursday, September 18: Continuing in the Festival’s tradition of honoring Silver Lake’s early film history, a Silent Era film will again be the focus of the Closing Night Gala. This year, the Festival also celebrates the 80th anniversary of Silver Lake’s landmark Vista Theater, which opened in 1923 with a screening of a movie starring “Baby Peggy,” the biggest child star of the time. The Festival has the extraordinary privilege to fete Diana Serra Cary, “Baby Peggy” herself, on Closing Night with a program that includes the showing of two of her better known films, the feature-length “Captain January” and the short “The Cub Reporter.” The screenings will be followed by a Q&A with Ms. Carey, to this day a noted author and lecturer. Then, as is the festival’s custom, she will memorialize her handprints in cement in front of the Vista Theater. A portion of Sunset Boulevard will then be closed to traffic to accommodate a street celebration that sees out this year’s Festival in cinematic style.
BEYOND BOLLYWOOD: Independent Movies of India showcases three new, boundary-breaking films from Bombay, the heart of Indian film industry. Kaizad Gustad, the director of “Boom,” is scheduled to attend the screening of his film, which will be followed by a Q & A. Other programmed films are “Three Walls” and “The Truth.” Note: This series is curated by Silver Lake denizen Evan Astrowsky, producer of the new Lions Gate movie, Cabin Fever, which will screen prior to its commercial release for a special sneak preview at the Vista at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11.
BLAXPLOITATION: Streetwise or Stereotype? Curated by casting director Akua Campanella, addresses the “blaxploitative” films of the ‘70s from an historical perspective. Once reviled for its negative images of black American life, some scholars and industry professionals now view these films, whatever their faults, as a portal of entry for black filmmakers. The screening of “Superfly” on Monday, Sept. 15 at 7:00 p.m., will be followed by an informal discussion moderated by producer Roy Campanella II and featuring USC instructor of film production Oscar Williams (director of “Five on the Black Hand Side”); actors Dick Anthony Williams, Art Evans, and Anna Maria Horsford; and with a special rare appearance by “Superfly” female lead Sheila Frazier. Then get your badasss over to the Beauty Bar, 1638 N. Cahuenga Blvd., where an after-party begins at 9:30 pm. Note: The Festival also features a program of African-American themed shorts at the Los Feliz 3 on Monday, September 15 at 4:30 p.m.
LEFT OF CENTER: Time for A Regime Change? curated by programming director David Andrusia and Lisa Andresen, a film forum on progressive politics, features a Sunday-afternoon symposium on the topic “America: Is Democracy Dead?”; expected to attend are Jackie Goldberg and Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times. Series film titles include: “Third Party: Political
Alternatives,” “Surplus,” “Sacrificio,” “Stealing the Fire,” “60 Spins Around The Sun” and “Unprecedented.”
BLUES PERIODS in Three Part Harmony celebrates 2003 as The Year of The Blues as proclaimed by Congress. Curated by festival director Greg Ptacek and special projects director Carolyn Schroeder, comprises three documentaries about the blues life: the Los Angeles premiere of “Warming By The Devil’s Fire,” director Charles Burnett’s (“To Sleep With Anger,” “Killer of Sheep”) exploration of that period in the early part of the last century when the blues began to garner a national audience through its first sound recordings; “Sounds of Memphis,” about the unique geographical and cultural confluence of influences in that town (the film will be shown with “Elvis and June,” a sweetly nostalgic look at Memphis’s most famous son’s early career and first true love); and “Honeyboy,” a moving biography of Delta Blues man David “Honeyboy” Edwards, one of the remaining preeminent figures in the history of Blues and the 2002 recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship.
“FREEDOM” FILMS: French Cinema’s New Look showcases some of the most provocative entries in the latest wave from the land of Godard and Truffaut with a special focus on films from Wild Bunch, including “Fear and Trembling” (among the most talked-about films at Cannes this year), “The Devils,” and “Interstellar 5555,” a new Franco-Nippon anime feature-film collaboration. Also in the series is “Ballroom” (see description under “For Your Critical Consideration”) and “Aime ton Pere,” a film a clef starring Gerard Depardieu and his son, Guillaume.
MIDDLE EAST MERIDIAN: Unheard Voices, Unseen Lands offers sometimes-honest, sometimes-brutal, but always clearsighted views of the contemporary Middle East, both factual and fictive. Chief among these: “El Kotbia,” a stirring Tunisian drama of self-discovery; “Total Love,” a look at love among disaffected Israeli youth; “Along Came A Spider,” about Iran’s most infamous serial murderer; and “Afghanistan: From Ground Zero to Ground Zero,” filmed by an Afghan-American first-time director and presenting a view of post-war Afghanistan unchallenged by network censors.
ANNIVERSARY SERIES presents a series of film classics, all with Silver Lake connections. Among these: “Nosferatu,” the original Dracula film, which was filmed partially at the Prospect Studio; D.W. Griffith’s “Judith of Bethulia,” (also filmed locally), an early Biograph Studios picture that film historians consider the first feature film ever made, and the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” shot at the Monogram Studios, now the headquarters and production facilities of KCET-TV. Note: Three-time Academy Award -winning producer Walter Mirisch (“Man of the West,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “Midway,” “Same Time Next Year”) and producer of “Invasion,” will make a special public appearance including a Q&A following the film’s screening on Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 7 pm.
DOWN AND OUT IN L.A. shows us a side of our city that most people willingly overlook. Three extraordinary short films share the program: “Life In a Basket,” which presents the lives of shopping-cart people in the context of a high-fashion video commercial, “Royce Reed: Out of Fashion,” an unblemished look at one of downtown’s most colorful characters, a down-on-her-luck debutante and “Beautiful,” a faithful rendition of Charles Bukowski’s short story, “The Most Woman In Town,” about the unlikely love story between two lost souls struggling to find peace through one another’s obsessions.
FRINGE FEST, curated by Jenna Beaufils, is on the cutting edge of film, theater, and performance art. This year’s highlights include:
M&A, a nightly outdoor video installation and screening ^ Echo Park Film Center Showcase ^ Cur, a work of original theater ^ Cine Oblique, hotshots from emerging filmmakers ^ Movie Drill, an exercise in whiplash moviemaking–with filming, screening, and awards all in the space of one day.
For more info, visit the Silver Lake Film Festival.

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