Indie films 'Talk' at LAFF


Kasi Lemmons' "Talk to Me," a portrait of Washington radio personality Ralph Waldo "Petey" Green from Focus Features that stars Don Cheadle, will serve as the opening-night film at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival, which gets under way June 21 at the Mann Village Theatre in Westwood. The fest, mounted by Film Independent, runs through July 1 and will present more than 230 feature films, shorts and music videos in various locations in Westwood and surrounding neighborhoods.

Danny Boyle's "Sunshine" from Fox Searchlight Pictures will hold down the closing-night slot July 1 at the Wadsworth Theatre. Starring Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Troy Garity and Cillian Murphy, the film is set 50 years in the future when a spaceship is dispatched to try to save the dying sun.

As previously announced, Clint Eastwood will receive the fest's Spirit of Independence Award on June 28 at a special event at which Tony Bennett, the subject of a new documentary by Eastwood, will present the director with the award.

"This year's festival once again showcases the unique vision and independent spirit we strive to support and promote at Film Independent," Film Independent exec director Dawn Hudson said. The fest is headed by director Richard Raddon and director of programming Rachel Rosen.

Eight films by emerging U.S. filmmakers will take part in the narrative competition, with the winner receiving the Target Filmmaker Award, an unrestricted $50,000 grant. They are Chris Eska's "August Evening," Jess Manafort's "The Beautiful Ordinary," Andrews Jenkins' "How to Rob a Bank," Scott Prendergast's "Kabluey," Ilya Chaiken's "Liberty Kid," Stephane Gauger's "Owl and the Sparrow," Tony Stone's "Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America" and Rodger Grossman's "What We Do Is Secret."

The international showcase section of the film includes 21 films, including such titles as Patrice Leconte's "My Best Friend" and Charles Burnett's "Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation."

Sidebar groupings include Summer Previews, which features 13 films from indie distributors; a three-film Spotlight on Romanian Cinema; Dark Wave, edgy films intended for mature audiences; Guilty Pleasures; and Family-Friendly screenings, among others. Six movies will be presented under the Free Screenings program.

The fest also will stage six outdoor screenings at the Ford Amphitheatre. It will offer tribute screenings of Bob Clark's "A Christmas Story," David Lynch's "The Elephant Man," Chris Hall and Mike Kerry's "Love Story" and Axel Schill's "The Man Who Shot Chinatown: The Life and Work of John A. Alonzo." The fest also will present extended conversations with director Paul Mazursky, who will screen "Harry and Tonto"; Joseph Sargent, presenting "The Man"; and Ulu Grosbard, who will screen "Straight Time."