Sundance Next Fest Moving to Downtown Los Angeles

"Napoleon Dynamite"
"Napoleon Dynamite"
 Twentieth Century Fox

The Sundance Next Fest summer film festival, now in its second year, is moving to downtown Los Angeles, where it will be headquartered at the recently restored Theatre at the Ace Hotel, Aug. 7-10. Offering a mixture of movies and music, the neophyte festival, which was located last year at the Sundance Cinemas in West Hollywood, is taking up residence in the historic 1,600-seat movie palace, previously known as the United Artists Theatre.

“As we continue to increase efforts to grow the audience for independent films, we were looking for an unique experience in Los Angeles, and downtown is a great opportunity for us,” John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival said. “It’s a huge, beautiful theater that has been renovated and reoutfitted. I think it will allow us to make a splash for these films and these musicians. And it’s connected to the hotel, with a restaurant at its base and a bar on its roof, which should be a fun hub.”

The Next Fest program consists of the Los Angeles premiere of six films that played this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Additionally, the weekend event will open with a 10th anniversary screening of Napoleon Dynamite, which originally bowed at Sundance and will be shown outdoors at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Aug. 7. “There’ll be a cast reunion, and we’ll be able to elaborate on our history with the film and how a tiny little film from Preston, Idaho, has reached so many people,” said Trevor Groth, the Sundance fest’s director of programming.

To turn each screening into an event, the organizers also pairing some of the films with music concerts while others will be followed by conversations with the filmmakers.

Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, an Iran-set vampire tale, has been paired with the L.A. band Warpaint, which will perform following the film, since Groth explains its music “is ethereal, hypnotic,” in tune with the film that is very dreamlike. Malik Vitthal’s Imperial Dreams, set in Watts, will be followed by a performance by singer-songwriter Tinashe. And Jeff Baena’s Life After Birth will be complemented by a solo acoustic performance by Father John Misty.

The other films in the lineup — which will be followed by conversations with the filmmakers — include Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip, Adam Wingard’s The Guest and David Zellner’s Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter.

The festival is inspired by the Sundance fest’s Next sidebar. Although not all the films being presented originally played in that section of the fest, they all embrace its spirit, Cooper said, explaining, “Next has always been about adventurous approaches to filmmaking and storytelling.”

A schedule and ticket information are available at sundance.org/next.

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