LA Film Fest 2014 Saturday Recap

s_P1010388When covering a film festival here in Los Angeles, I always tend to base my selection on specific themes, picking one entry per subject I intend to visit. As a result, I usually focus on a list of 10 films, which represent my own – fully subjective and non-exhaustive – vision of the festival.  As for the themes, genres or subgenres covered, they include immigration, women, music, bizarre works, art, documentaries, history, political works.

For some reason, my first at a festival always tend to be a pretty satisfactory experience and this 2014 edition was no exception.

The Austrian documentary The Great Museum (read our review here) offered a fascinating look at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. Focusing on the museum’s daily life rather than on the art on display, it gave a passionate and sometimes amusing look at what goes on behind the scenes, from staff management to budgeting, bidding for new acquisitions, restoring works and welcoming dignitaries for private visits.

With its documentary feel, non-professional cast and intimate setting in a small Zapotec community in Oaxaca, Los Angeles (read our full review here) proves to be different from most Mexican movies about emigration to the US. Rather than focusing on the journey, which we’ve seen a dozen times, it shows how Los Angeles and the US are perceived as some kind of fantasy dream and only escape from poverty. Of course, reality is another story especially when it includes gangs and broken dreams (I was particularly amused when Torrance was described as some perfect city). While the matter could have been pretty heavy, there is a great deal of humor and poetry intertwined with the depiction of this community, which makes it a powerful and subtle work. The film was followed with a Q&A with writer/director Damian John Harper and one of the executive producers (picture above).

Based on a true story, Frank (read our review here) followed the journey of a band whose singer was constantly wearing a big head made of papier-maché.  Poking fun at and embracing at the same time those small artsy bands that hipsters love – or pretend to love -, Franck proved to be a highly entertaining and absurd work, boosted by strong performances from Michael Fassbender – it was certainly a bold idea to hide the intense actor under a mask for 80 mn – and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

About the festival itself, it seemed to be pretty low-key for a Saturday, without much happening in terms of guests, Q&A’s and red carpet activity. I also found the Lounge to be pretty fairly cold this year, mostly due to the furniture provided by sponsor Z gallery – bit that’s obviously a question of taste.


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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.