The Los Angeles Film Festival kicks off next week with a lineup that proves once again why it is one of the most sought out film festivals on the indie scene.
Running from June 10-18 at venues around the Los Angeles area the festival will highlight the best of not only the indie world but industry trailblazers. That is why the festival is kicking off with a bang for the premiere of Pixar’s latest film Inside Out. On June 9 the film’s director Pete Docter will be on hand for the screening to talk about his creative process and what went into making the film.
The festival will also be hosting the premiere of Dope, one of the year’s most talked about films. Written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa, the movie tells the story of high school geek living in a rough neighborhood who ends up a wild adventure with his friends in Los Angeles. The dialogue and direction both look smart and fresh making it one to watch this summer.
But don’t just go to the fest for the big names. One of the perks of LAFF is discovering obscure gems and new cult classics. Below is a list of our top 5 movies you need to see at LAFF 2015:
1. Atomic Heart
Sometime around the witching hour, Arineh and Nobahar stumble out of a party giddy and spaced out. Donning brightly dyed hair covered just enough by their headscarves, the young women drive around Tehran, picking up their hipster buddy Kami along the way. In a moment of carefree distraction, they get into a car accident that pivots their night into a bizarre series of events, and the possibility of a parallel world. Symbolically lush with sharp dialogue about pop culture, the Western gaze and politics, Ali Ahmadzade’s sophomore directorial feat establishes him as a blazing new independent voice in Iranian cinema.
2. Chuck Norris vs. Communism
Communist Romania -1980s. Culturally isolated, ideologically censored; all images of life outside the Iron Curtain are cut off and TV is reduced to a couple of hours of propaganda bulletins each day. From the drab concrete housing blocks to the food ration queues, an overwhelming fear of state surveillance had prevented the people from stepping out of line. But there was one window into the free world available to anyone who dared to look.
In the mid-1980s, thousands of Hollywood films were smuggled into the country through a well-oiled operation that swelled and swelled until it reached millions across Romania. The films were dubbed by one courageous female translator whose distinct voice captivated the whole nation and became a symbol of freedom.
3. Sweet Micky For President
The film follows Pras Michel, Grammy award-winning rapper and founder of the hip-hop group The Fugees, as he returns to his homeland of Haiti post-earthquake and finds a corrupt government in paralysis. With no experience or money, Pras passionately mobilizes a presidential campaign for the unlikeliest of candidates: Michel Martelly, aka “Sweet Micky”, Haiti’s most popular and most outlandish pop star.
4. Manson Family Vacation
A successful lawyer is understandably disturbed when his brother comes to Los Angeles and wants to visit sites related to the infamous Manson Family. The brothers embark on a strange road trip that leads them from old murder sites to the modern-day world of Charles Manson. The movie explores the hero worship of Manson, the limits of brotherly love and the importance of family.
5. The Escort
The Escort begins as a story of two 20-somethings using one another for professional gain. Mitch, a sex-obsessed journalist, convinces Natalie, a Stanford-educated prostitute, to allow him to follow her around for an exposé he’s writing for a magazine. While initially hesitant to allow him into her life, Natalie eventually sees an upside for herself and (unbeknownst to Mitch) starts using him as a bodyguard to protect her from the assorted personalities she deals with on a nightly basis. What starts out as just business soon develops into a strong friendship, as the two discover their lives are more fulfilled together.