LA Film Festival Thu 6.11.2015

Happy Opening Night! LA Film Fest Kicks Off with Lily Tomlin in Grandma

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 10:  (L-R) Actresses Judy Greer, Julia Garner, Lily Tomlin and Marcia Gay Harden attend the opening night premiere of "Grandma" during the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on June 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jerod Harris/WireImage)

The 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival is officially underway! Last night, we kicked off with the LA premiere of writer-director Paul Weitz’s Sundance hit Grandma. Lily Tomlin stars as Elle Reid, a septuagenarian lesbian poet whose partner recently passed away, and whose rebound relationship even more recently fell to pieces. When Elle’s teenage granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) seeks her help in a moment of crisis, the two of them take off on an LA odyssey of sorts, searching every corner of the city and contacting every friend they have to get Sage out of trouble—unearthing more than a few of each other’s secrets along the way.

Weitz, who had previously worked with Tomlin on his 2013 film Admission, joked that he was really just trying to contrive a good excuse to hang out with her all the time, so he wrote a screenplay with her in every scene. Joking that he felt “the film was sort of in the bag in the sense that it can only be so bad, if you have a cast like this,” he introduced the actors in attendance, including Tomlin, Garner, Judy Greer, Mo Aboul-Zelof, Sam Elliott and Marcia Gay Harden, who plays Elle’s daughter and Sage’s mother.

Grandma is a quintessential LA story, “about how you fight back, how you live in this place, how you make it your own,” Film Independent Curator Elvis Mitchell said in his introduction. As such, it is a perfect movie to kick off the LA Film Fest, the only major festival to take place right in the heart of the film industry, and one that is devoted to celebrating the unique spirit and culture of LA. The film was preceded by a short in which various filmmakers, industry professionals and Mayor Garcetti enumerated the many virtues of shooting here and promote the newly expanded tax incentive.

Earlier in the evening, Film Independent honored Tomlin with this year’s Spirit of Independence Award, which is awarded every year to an artist who exemplifies creative independence. Tomlin sat down with Mitchell to discuss her career, the conversation spanning from how she’s been influenced by her childhood love of the radio series The Beulah Show to the memory of demanding lunch money from Robert Altman to the time she went to a porno movie with Richard Pryor. (“I said I would go, but I was paying my own way. It wasn’t that good.”)

The award couldn’t have gone to a more worthy recipient, and the LA Film Fest couldn’t have had a better opening night screening. Eight more days of great movies starts now!

Mary Sollosi / Film Independent Blogger