Los Angeles film fest moving downtown

Event will be headquartered at L.A. Live from June 17-27

The Los Angeles Film Festival is headed downtown for its 2010 edition.

Based in Westwood since 2006, Film Independent's 16-year-old festival will be headquartered at L.A. Live from June 17-27. Half of its program is set for Regal Cinemas L.A. Live Stadium 14, with other screenings scheduled for REDCAT, the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater in Walt Disney Concert Hall; Downtown Independent on Main Street; Soundstage Theatre at the Grammy Museum; and the Orpheum Theatre on Broadway.

Open-air screenings will be held at California Plaza. The fest also will continue traditional nighttime screenings at the outdoor John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood.

LAFF began looking for a new home shortly after last year's fest ended as the future of Westwood's stock of theaters began looking problematic. The Mann Festival Theatre closed in July, and the Village and Bruin theaters were in danger of shutting down until Regency Theatres took over the properties last month.

"We were faced with the possibility of not having a basic footprint in Westwood Village," festival director Rebecca Yeldham said.

So fest organizers began entertaining invitations from other parts of the city.

"We really fell in love with the opportunities downtown," Yeldham said. "Spending time at L.A. Live, the Arts District, theater row on Broadway and the other museums, feeling the energy down there, it felt like the right match."

Film Independent also ventured to L.A. Live for its annual Spirit Awards last month, but Yeldham said the two moves were unrelated.

Eager to play host, L.A. Live worked with the fest to accommodate its needs. Reduced parking rates will be offered, shuttles will connect the various venues, and the new all-digital Regal multiplex is installing projectors to accommodate film prints.

Realizing that luring some Westsiders downtown will be a challenge, the fest plans to stagger evening screening times to avoid rush-hour traffic.

"We're hoping that the events and the films, combined with everything else downtown including the amazing restaurants, will be an incentive to get people to overcome their aversion to going downtown," Yeldham said. "Certainly, people with cultural interests already have a familiarity with the area."

Will the new location be reflected in the fest's programming?

"We're very conscious of putting together a very strong Latin program, and we think our Spanish-speaking films will be particularly strong this year," fest artistic director David Ansen said. "As to whether we'll have movies that are specific to downtown, we'll see."
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