LAFF2014 Diary: Must-see Films!

Got my official accreditation approval notice last night to this year's fest. I haven't checked the entire line-up yet but i have been steadily receiving messages and e-mails about certain movies screening in the festival that i should not miss.

Here are five of the films that are already on my ever-expanding list of movies to see.


Documentary Feature Los Angeles Premiere Summer Showcase
Directed By: Darius Clark Monroe
Producers: Jen Gatien, Spike Lee

About the film:
How does a 16 year-old honor student evolve into a bank robber? In EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL, filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe asks this very question—about himself. After seeing his mother and stepfather struggle to make ends meet while living outside of Houston, Texas, Monroe decided to help them by robbing a bank with two friends.

Returning to his neighborhood several years after the crime, Monroe creates an incredibly intimate and personal journey of reflection and forgiveness while examining lower class struggles, the desperation of a teen under pressure, and the emotional impact that rippled in the aftermath of that day.

Monroe interviews family members, close friends, mentors and those innocent bystanders who happened to be at the bank on that fateful day. Family and friends recount the stages of his transformation - going from a joyous childhood to the moment he realized the severity of his family’s financial problems, and how their struggles changed his outlook on society and his life as a whole. The people from the bank remember that day vividly, as he asks for their forgiveness 10 years after the act.

EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL is not only a story of a good kid gone bad, but also brings forth the issues of economic injustice, poverty, race, and the importance of family in a very moving and insightful way.

Festival screenings:
Thu, Jun 12th 7:00pm Regal Cinemas 12
Mon, Jun 16th 2:00pm Regal Cinemas 12


Documentary Feature World Premiere
Directed By: Thomas G. Miller
Producers: Kirk Marcolina, Karen Hori, David Ross

About the film:
LIMITED PARTNERSHIP is the 40-year love story between Filipino-American Richard Adams and his Australian husband, Tony Sullivan. In 1975, thanks to a courageous county clerk in Boulder, CO, Richard and Tony were one of the first same-sex couples to be legally married in the world. Richard immediately filed for a green card for Tony based on their marriage. But unlike most heterosexual married couples who easily file petitions and obtain green cards, Richard received a denial letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service stating, "You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots. " Outraged at the tone, tenor and politics of this letter and to prevent Tony’s impending deportation, the couple sued the U.S. government. This became the first federal lawsuit seeking equal treatment for a same-sex marriage in U.S. history.

LIMITED PARTNERSHIP celebrates Richard and Tony’s long path towards justice and citizenship as they challenge the traditional definitions of "spouse" and "family." This tenacious story of love, marriage and immigration equality is as precedent setting as it is little known…until now.

Festival Screening:
Sat, Jun 14th 2:25pm Regal Cinemas 8 Free Screening


Documentary Competition World Premiere
Directed By: blair dorosh-walther
Producers: blair dorosh-walther, Giovanna Chesler, Mridu Chandra, Yoruba Richen
Featuring: Renata Hill, Patreese Johnson, Terrain Dandridge, Venice Brown

About the film:
Taking us beyond the sensational "Attack of the Killer Lesbians" headlines, blair dorosh-walther's provocative documentary pulls back the curtain on a tragic miscarriage of justice. In New York City's West Village in 2006, four gay African-American women were brutally assaulted by a stranger whose unwanted sexual advances they'd just spurned. In defending themselves, they also unwittingly left themselves vulnerable to draconian prison sentences that wrested them from their supportive New Jersey families. dorosh-walther returns to the scene of their alleged crime, using security footage to condemn the deplorable conduct of unscrupulous reporters and callous police officers. With a deep compassion for its subjects tempering its outrage over the indignities they've suffered, the film poses a troubling question: How would have this unfolded had it been four straight white women instead?

Festival screenings:
Thu, Jun 12th 6:45pm Regal Cinemas 9
Mon, Jun 16th 4:15pm Regal Cinemas 14

Narrative Feature World Premiere LA Muse Section
Directed By: David Au Written By: David Au
Producers: Joyce Liu-Countryman, Michelle Ehlen
Cast: Sharon Omi, Teddy Chen Culver, Nicole Sullivan, George Takei, Aidan Bristow, Jamila Alina, Ken Narasaki, Scott Keiji Takeda, Burt Grinstead

About the film:
Feeling invisible in her bland marriage, Emma moves in with her son, Elliot, into his downtown L.A. loft. Elliot, a young chef, is facing foreclosure on his lackluster Chinese restaurant--and he's gay. Emma's disapproval has made strangers of mother and son, but the two need each other now more than ever, as Emma explores her newfound freedom--with the encouragement of a saucy new friend--and Elliot confronts his fears of intimacy. Words may fail them, but they find a common language through food.

This auspicious directorial debut from David Au offers a fresh take on life, love and food in the heart of Los Angeles. This deliciously emotional and redemptive story is supported by an endearing cast led by Sharon Omi, Teddy Chen Culver, Nicole Sullivan and a cameo with Star Trek legend George Takei.

Festival screening:
Sun, Jun 15th 4:30pm Regal Cinemas 8

Documentary Feature Los Angeles Premiere Grand Performances at California Plaza
Directed By: Dave LaMattina and Chad Walker
Featuring: Caroll Spinney, Frank Oz, Sonia Manzano, Jerry Nelson, Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado, Dr. Loretta Long, Joan Ganz Cooney
Producer: Clay Frost

About the film:
For over 40 years, Caroll Spinney has been the puppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. Now, as his hand-picked successor waits to take over (as he's been waiting for the past 20 years), Spinney rejects retirement once again. It would mean saying goodbye to characters whom he loves like children, who represent two very different parts of who he is. Carroll can't say goodbye to Big Bird because he is Big Bird. In this touching documentary, comprised largely of highlights from his amazing, never-before-seen home videos, we gain incredible insight to Spinney's life, both past and present, and get an in-depth look at how he became the man who became the bird.

Festival screening:
Sat, Jun 14th 8:30pm California Plaza


See you at the festival. June 11 - 19!

Raymond Lo

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