Husam Asi reports from LA
5 May 2009
Under the slogan “The British are coming”, the LA British Film Festival was inaugurated last night at the Custom Hotel in Los Angeles.
The inauguration party lacked the glitz and glamour that are usually attached to Hollywood events. Stars and celebrities were conspicuously absent on the red carpet, which resulted in poor turnout of the media. However, the makers of the movies and their cast have attended in force; some flew all the way from the UK at their own expense. “We have just started,” the festival’s executive director, Laura Orr, explained. “We didn’t get support from neither the UK Film Council nor the British Council. We couldn’t afford sponsoring filmmakers, and currently the festival is run by volunteers. We hope the success of the festival this year will prompt bigger sponsors to support us in the subsequent years.”
Over 175 films will be screened at the festival from a wide variety of categories including traditional features, documentaries, animated films, avant-garde, television pilots, LGBT, short films and music videos. The movies are mostly British, but also include a number of American films that won awards in other festivals. “Our goal is to introduce British talent to American talent and the Film industry in LA,” Laura Orr said.
The opening film The Gods of Circumstance, staring John Schneider, Brain Krause, Melissa Bacelar and East-ender actress, Leila Birch, was screened at the Hotel’s outdoor swimming pool, where drinks and hot dogs were served. The film was made in the US by a British director, Justin Golding, for less than $250,000. Speaking to other filmmakers, most the movies in the festival were made for little or no money and without any institutional or public support.
At the end of the week-long festival a gala celebration will be held and awards given out in numerous categories for each country submitting, including Best Short, Best Documentary and Best Feature, all voted by the Los Angeles audiences.