Los Angeles moviegoers just got one more reason to get excited.
After a pre-screening of Man of Steel on Wednesday, the 19th Los Angeles Film Festival, sponsored by Film Independent, opened Thursday with renowned Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s latest comedy I’m So Excited. Almodovar joined actors Javier Camara, Miguel Silvestre and Blanca Suarez, along with LAFF creative team members, on the red carpet before the film made its North American debut.
The latest Almodovar piece — which features cameos by Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas — revolves around three atypical flight attendants who must try to keep their flight’s passengers in good spirits as a technical failure onboard threatens their safety. Filled with sexuality, alcohol and crude behavior, the characters share their stories and discover what really matters in their respective lives.
Almodovar told the audience before the film’s screening that he was very thankful to attend the festival.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s a huge privilege just to be in this festival,” he said. “I don’t come very often to this town, but this is the best reason.”
Before the screening, Almodovar told The Hollywood Reporter that the film also serves as a metaphor for the current state of turmoil in Spain. Just like the passengers in the film stay suspended in the air with little knowledge of their own fate, so do Spaniards in their current state of limbo.
“We need an emergency landing, but we don’t know where, when, how, who will be in command and so that’s, you know, frightening,” he said.
Almodovar added that the film still remains a comedy, especially for American audiences who may not understand the metaphor.
The premiere kicked off Los Angeles’ 10-day film festival, which features a wide array of films ranging from documentaries to romantic comedies. David Ansen, the festival’s artistic director, who hit the carpet with Film Independent co-presidents Josh Welsh and Sean McManus, told THR that Almodovar is “a game-changer” and the festival is honored to host his film’s North American debut.
“There’s nobody like him,” Ansen said. “He completely changed the face of Spanish cinema. If there’s one foreign film director that everybody knows in this country, it’s Pedro.”
With Hollywood films dominating the film industry, Ansen stressed the importance of festivals in maintaining a diverse film culture. LAFF will host 35 premieres during the festival, and Ansen said festivalgoers are in for some fresh and rich new talent.
Tom Bernard, Sony Pictures Classics co-president, lauded Ansen’s work as artistic director of the festival, noting that festivals reflect the taste of their directors.
“We try to follow the festivals with people of taste who program them because you’re in a festival that’s meaningful because all the movies are important,” Bernard said.
Sony Pictures Classics has produced more than 12 of Almodovar’s films. Bernard told THR that he predicts the film will be a huge hit among American audiences.
“It’s a comedy about now, and it’s subversive and entertaining. It hits every level,” Bernard said. “You can’t deny it; Pedro is a master.”
I’m So Excited hits Los Angeles and New York theaters June 28.
The Los Angeles Film Festival runs from June 13-23, closing with The Way, Way Back, starring Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell and Maya Rudolph.