Saturday, June 25, 2016


By Jose Alberto Hermosillo,
"Opening Night" premiere, Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016
2016 will be considered the “Year of the Diversity” in LA Film Festival, regardless of the considerable reduction of foreign films selected.
"Dreamstates" Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016

All the different communities were well represented: the Afro-American, Indian-American, Mexican-American, Asian-American, Middle Eastern, Latinos, Jewish, people with disabilities, the millenniums, the immigrants and the LGBT community too.

Women Filmmakers. Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016

This year, 40 percent of the films selected by LA Film Festival were directed by women.

"Lights Out" premiere, Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016

LA Film Festival took good care of its filmmakers, sponsors, their programmers, and the members of Film Independent. The prestigious festival still needs to work on its relationship with the press in order to make more noise, reviews, and exposure of the films and the filmmakers, simply to tell the world that something is happening in LA.

"Girl Flu" cast, Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016

All the films were well deserved award winners, and those films still need to hit the movie theaters and digital distribution as soon as possible, those films are a very important and need to reach a wider audience.

"London Town" Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016


"Heis (chronicles)" Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016
The World Fiction Award went to Anaïs Volpé for HEIS (cronicles), France.

"Lupe Under the Sun" cast, Photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyrights, 2016

Special Mention: Lupe Under the Sun, directed by Rodrigo Reyes, Mexico-US.

The U.S. Fiction Award went to Remy Auberjonois for Blood Stripe.

The Documentary Award went to Jonah Markowitz and Tracy Wares for Political Animals.

The LA Muse Award was given to Heidi Saman for Namour.

The Nightfall Award went to Jackson Stewart for Beyond The Gates.


The Audience Award for Fiction Feature Film went to GREEN / is / GOLD, directed by Ryon Baxter.

The Audience Award for Documentary Feature Film was given to Political Animals, directed by Jonah Markowitz and Tracy Wares.

The Award for Short Fiction went to The Beast (Zvjerka), directed by Daina Oniunas Pusic.

The Award for Short Documentary went to The Gatekeeper, directed by Yung Chang.

The Audience Award for Short Film went to Into Darkness directed by Rachida El Garani.

The Audience Award for Web Series went to Instababy, directed by Rosie Haber.

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25 Great Foreign Films that Did Not Get Distribution in US Theaters

The World's Best Female Lead Singer Movies

Ixcanul Pursuits Guatemala’s First Oscar® Nomination

10 The Best Latino Performances of 2016 And Their Absence From The Nominations

  Copyright © Festival in LA, 2016

Friday, June 24, 2016

Septembers of Shiraz: The Struggle of a Jewish Family During The Persian Revolution

By José Alberto Hermosillo
Septembers of Shiraz review

“Septembers of Shiraz” is a gripping and provocative cry for freedom.

In 1977, the song “Staying Alive” is heard as background at a gathering of a wealthy, secular Jewish/Iranian family in Tehran - when the Iranian religious revolution overthrew the regime of the Shah of Iran.

Septembers of Shiraz poster

The Amin family celebrates their son’s farewell, who will study abroad in Massachusetts.

Salma Hayek in Septembers of Shiraz review

At that time, the prosecution of hard-working, wealthy, and educated families was an everyday norm. The State considered that people could overthrow the government.

Septembers of Shiraz review
The Academy-winning winning actor Adrien Brody is terrific as Issac Amin. His character’s arc starts as a businessman and father figure, and he becomes a prisoner and a victim of torture. 
His suffering makes him value life more than any material possessions. Soon after, he negotiates his freedom and his family’s safety.

Oscar® nominee Salma Hayek-Pinault plays the devoted wife, Farnez, an Iranian Jewish woman with an opinion and a voice. As a woman in Iran, those skills are against the revolution. She is the ideal housewife and loving mother. She also writes for local magazines about lifestyles in foreign places. According to the new fundamentalist government, her pieces become indecent and subversive political propaganda.

Salma Hayek in Septembers of Shiraz. Review
“Septembers of Shiraz” is Salma Hayek’s best performance since “Frida.”  

 Oscar® nominee Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo (“House of Sand and Fog”) is terrific, and she plays Habibeh, who helps Farnez with house labor and personal moral issues. Her son Morteza (Navid Navid) becomes the “Judas” of the story, and he betrays everyone, including his mother and the revolution.
Based on the best-seller novel by Iranian-born, N.Y. -based writer Dalia Sofer, the film was adapted to the screen by a Yale graduate Hanna Weg.

The Australian director Wayne Blair (“The Sapphires”) in “Septembers of Shiraz” keeps the actors’ performance under-tone to contrast with the dominant images of torture and repression.

Salma Hayek in “Septembers of Shiraz.

The music by Mark Isham is discreet and capable of accentuating the actors’ emotions from the beginning. With only a few musical tones, the dramatic momentum continues throughout the story.

The film reconstructed the 1970’s period in Iran to precision. The production value of this film is exceptional. “Septembers of Shiraz” was shot in Bulgaria. Knowing their craft very well, they came out with a remarkable production.

In 2012, Hollywood tackled the Iranian conflict for CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), who helped rescue US diplomats from Tehran in “Argo.” The best picture Oscar® winner created controversy regarding the nationalities and the background.  

Having all talent from the exact origin is almost impossible in international production. Regardless of the nationalities, all the actors are genuine and respectful to the real people they portray.

“Septembers of Shiraz” has the feeling of authenticity. It may be visually predictable, but it illustrates this family struggle who helped many by giving them jobs and a brighter future in Iran before the revolution.

In the revolution, many were prosecuted and killed; in the film, we learned that people from different classes don’t mesh well. They betrayed their people; we must remember that the world has plenty of ingratitude. 

The fundamentalists in Iran call themselves “brothers,” even though they torture and kill each other.

“Septembers of Shiraz” is dedicated to all the families who have endured prosecution. Remarkable! An essential viewing that restores human dignity.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hunt for the Wilderpeople: Is the Funniest Manhunt Movie Ever

By Jose Alberto Hermosillo
“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is the funniest manhunt movie of ever! A wild adventure. 

Taika Waititi ("Eagle vs. Shark," "Boy," "What We Do in the Shadows"), New Zealand
From the accomplished director Taika Waititi (“What we do in the Shadows,” “Boy,” “Eagle vs. Shark,” and the upcoming Marvel Superhero adventure: “Thor: Ragnarok”) comes this incredible adventure “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.”

This New Zeland's smatching hit opens with a beautiful landscape that looks out of one of “The Hobbit” movies, where our adventure begins.

Classified by the authorities as a menace to society, Ricky (Julian Dennison) is sent to a foster home in a farm. 

The film vividly shows, in a flashback, his criminal record: cursing, graffiti, and spitting among other felonies done in his elementary school, and in the streets. 

The vehement social worker takes those offenses seriously. She becomes an obsessive vigilante of the kid from beginning to end.
Ricky gets a new chance in life, to live in a very modes farm with Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and the crabby Uncle Hec played by Sam Neill. They don't have any children, neither any modern devices to entertain this young punk who likes hip-hop.
In a marvelously welcoming scene, they receive Ricky with an open arms, a birthday cake and a precious gift, a dog he names Tupac.

When he gets used the new lifestyle, something happens that freaks him out, propelling his scape into the wild. 
After a few days alone, uncle Hec joins him. As they share the road, the adventure turns amusing, and the manhunt goes viral because the odd couple becomes the famous outlaw and the most wanted on the Internet.
“Hunting for the Wilderpeople” has some underlying questions hard to see in a Hollywood movie: What an ethnic child is doing with an older white male alone in the woods? Who are wilder, the runaways or the hunters? Who is always pushing Ricky to the side, the people, or the system?

Ricky is wonderfully played by a very young and talented Julian Dennison (“Chronesthesia,” “Paper Planes,” and “Shopping”). He is hilarious, his confidence and charisma go beyond expectations. Ricky's self-esteem never goes down because Ricky is a warrior and never gives up.
Julian Dennison, photo by Jose A Hermosillo, Copyright Festival in LA 2016
Contemplating the breathtaking landscape, Uncle Hec tells his little companion: “This place is “majestical,” the kid corrects him: “Majestic” is the right word.”
In every chapter, the film has an incredible new adventure, with clever references to “Rambo,” “The Terminator,” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Also, there is a spectacular car chase comparable to any of the “Mad Max” movies made in Australia.

“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” remarkably shows children in everyday situations becoming extraordinary – as in the 2004 British film “Millions” by the Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “Trainspotting”) or “Whale Rider,” 2004. Also, it has similar humor as in the 2013 Eugenio Derbez Mexican hit “Instructions Not Included.”

“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” correctly manages to dwell universal values of acceptance, tolerance, diversity, respect and above all... love one another.

Copyright © Festival in LA, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Heis (cronicles): Wins Los Angeles Film Festival World Fiction Award - Is it a Movie or Is It Art?

By Kenny Hargrove, 

HEIS (chronicles) Copyright 2016

LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL - MOVIE REVIEW.  Los Angeles, June 13, 2016 – “Heis (cronicles)”, the debut feature film from writer, director, cinematographer, and actress Anaïs Volpé, is a beautiful, poetic and contemplative collage of visual storytelling. It is as much a work of art as it is a very personal heartfelt family portrait.
Anaïs Volpé, “Heis (cronicles) Photo by Kenny Hargrove, Copyrights 2016

The impressive debut from the young French woman was awarded the coveted World Fiction prize when it premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival last week. 

The multi-layered cross-media film tells the story of a young woman, forced to return home by a string of bad luck, who then makes a tortured decision to leave her family in France to move to China to pursue her art.  

“It’s all about the duty to stay versus the right to go”, said Volpé, who is also the star of the film.

For Volpe, who returned to France to pitch new projects before the awards were announced, it was a big surprise.   “I was already very happy to be in the selection but now, my joy is so big!  I didn't expect so much,” she said.

The very personal movie achieves its poetry from its unique history and masterful juxtaposition of images, which include fantasy characters, angels, monkeys and a video within the film about the protagonist’s mother.

What began as a Web series when Voplé visited Beijing and began to think about home, became a feature film that was crafted and re-crafted and then embellished with visual arts components that have been viewed in art galleries and at various exhibitions.   

HEIS (chronicles) Copyright 2016

“It is like a puzzle.” “During three years I did a lot of layers,” she explained.    

As a result, the final film is as much a work of art as it is a multilayered story. The textured work by the visual artist moves seamlessly between past and present, dreams and reality. While offering the innermost thoughts of the character through multi-layered visual images.  
“Heis” is a Greek word meaning to complete oneself but, like the works of veteran art-house auteurs Wim Wenders, Peter Greenaway, and Terrence Malick, Volpé’s film achieves a dream state that you won’t want to end.  

Volpé refers to her unique filmmaking style as “emergency cinema”, based on her urgent need to communicate this story of millennial malaise that affects an entire generation.  
She credits her close-knit team for the film’s success, including actor and co-cinematographer Alexandre Desane and actors Matthieu Longatte, Emilia Derou Bernal, Laura François, Malec Demiaro, and Akéla Sari (who died earlier this year). 
Volpé hopes that winning the Los Angeles Film Festival award will inspire other emerging independent filmmakers who are seeking to tell cinematic stories but struggling with very low budgets and little likelihood of other support.    
"With all the talk about diversifying Hollywood, the LA Film Festival provides proof that talented filmmakers with new voices are out there, they just need a platform and that's what we are providing," said LA Film Festival Director Stephanie Allain, herself the producer of the Oscar-winning "Hustle and Flow" and Sundance Film Festival favorite "Dear White People". 
“Heis” is an excellent example. “Winning this award means that everything could be possible”, said Volpe. “With a lot of work and patience, we can reach some of our goals”. However, instead of resting on her new laurels, Volpé is eager to create new work. 

 She recently pitched projects at the Cannes Film Festival market.  She is also hard at work writing two new screenplays, including a story about expatriates that she hopes to shoot in New York. 

                         Copyright © 2016 Festival in LA