Los Angeles Film Festival 2013: Documentary Overview

LAFilmFest_stack_final_reverse-01_1-460x721The 19th edition of the Los Angeles Film Festival begins this Thursday, June 13 and runs through Sunday, June 23. Film Independent’s annual event serves as a platform for both higher-profile Summer fare and the best of new and recent independent productions. Its features lineup includes more than two dozen documentaries, presented in a standalone competition as well as throughout the remaining sections of the festival, including the Galas, which sees the world premiere of Doug Pray’s LEVITATED MASS: THE STORY OF MICHAEL HEIZER’S MONOLITHIC SCULPTURE, about the transportation and reactions to the LACMA exhibition. While it remains a festival that I’ve never attended, I always take note of the docs making their debut here. The following offers some highlights by programming section:

american revolutionaryTen films make up the Documentary Competition, including the world premieres of Yoruba Richen’s thought-provoking THE NEW BLACK, about the view of LGBT rights in the African American community; Alexandra Lescaze’s ALL OF ME, a perceptive look at shifting friendships among a group of plus-sized women as some start to lose weight; and Grace Lee’s AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY: THE EVOLUTION OF GRACE LEE BOGGS (pictured), an engaging profile of the visionary 97-year-old Detroit-based social justice activist. Also making its world premiere is Ryan McGarry’s CODE BLACK, which promises an immersion in LA County Hospital’s ER; while Kevin Jerome Everson’s THE ISLAND OF ST MATTHEWS, a portrait of the flood-prone community of Westport MS, makes its North American debut; and Rodrigo Reyes’ PURGATORIO, a meditation on the people living and working on the border between the US and Mexico, screening in the US for the first time.

venus vsThe festival’s Summer Showcase section includes the world premieres of Ava DuVernay’s anticipated portrait of tennis powerhouse Venus Williams, VENUS VS (pictured), and of Jeff Broadway’s tribute to the influential record label, OUR VINYL WEIGHS A TON (THIS IS STONES THROW RECORDS); as well as a screening of SXSW favorite Reuben Atlas’ portrait of the eight-sibling strong jazz band, BROTHERS HYPNOTIC.

brasslandsFinally, LAFF’s Free Screenings and International Showcase also present several nonfiction features. Among the offerings in the former are another music-focused entry, the world premiere of the Meerkat Media Collective’s BRASSLANDS (pictured), following a Brooklyn brass band that specializes in Balkan music on their journey to the world’s largest trumpet festival in a tiny Serbian village. The latter section includes the US premiere of Valentina Mac-Pherson and Patricia Correa’s THE WOMEN AND THE PASSENGER, in which the maids of a Chilean sex motel speak frankly about love and sex while tending to their work.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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