Los Angeles is a city of astounding diversity. Demographically of course, but also geographically, historically, culturally, topologically—you name it. Drop an alien down amid the fanciful murals and bustling bodegas of Boyle Heights and other among the peaceful, sun-dappled fields of Topanga Canyon; there’s little chance our extraterrestrial tourists would guess they were on the same planet, let alone a scant (though admittedly harrowing) 45-minute freeway commute apart. The city, it seems, is endlessly mutable and customizable. And within this vast palette of urban experiences, there exists an equally expansive supply of stories.
For proof, look no further than the 12 films selected for our LA Muse section at this year’s LA Film Festival. Designed specifically to honor the Festival’s civic namesake, LA Muse is a special competition category spotlighting a dozen quintessentially “LA” films. Narrative features and documentaries are both included, ranging from inspirational character studies to tense mysteries to uproarious comedic fare.
And their portrait of the city is just as wide-ranging, traveling from the beaches of Santa Monica to the streets of Skid Row. So c’mon. Let’s meet the filmmakers, learn about their movies and go explore this city we all love so deeply:
THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN
Elysian Fields (at the top of Elysian Park, above Dodger Stadium) is a great place to shoot an indie movie—provided you can withstand a little gunfire. Just ask director Lea Thompson and writer/actor/composer Madelyn Deutch, the mother-daughter creators of the new coming-of-age dramedy The Year of Spectacular Men.
SKID ROW MARATHON
Skid Row can be a bleak place, but also one full of hope. At least that’s what we found out while also working up a sweat with documentary subject Craig Mitchell and filmmakers Mark and Gabriele Hayes, when we joined them to chat about their inspiring new film, Skid Row Marathon.
LA is where people go to reinvent themselves. That’s what we found out when we visited the historic Barton apartments in Hollywood to chat with writer/director Timothy McNeil and Associate producer Kylene K. Steele about the new romantic drama Anything.
Venice Beach has long been one of LA’s most interesting locales. But! Did you know that it was once also a thriving roller dance hub? Lace up your skates as we talk to director Kate Hickey and producer Diana Ward about their new documentary, Roller Dreams.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Who doesn’t love Shakespeare in the park? Particularly when it’s Topanga State Park, where we met up with writer/director Casey Wilder Mott and actor/producer Fran Kranz to learn about their adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
BUILT TO FAIL: A STREETWEAR STORY
Los Angeles is integral location in the history of street fashion, a fact we learned when we ventured south of downtown to the City of Vernon to talk to Bobby Kim (aka “Bobby Hundreds”) about his new documentary Built to Fail: A Streetwear Story.
YOUR OWN ROAD
Encountering a real-life wild seal, our trip to the Santa Monica beach was incredibly beautiful, even despite the early morning marine layer—perfect for chatting with writer/director Brandon Buczek about his new road trip saga, Your Own Road.
We returned to Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles to explore the story of one prophetic musician’s journey back from the (literal and figurative) ashes, chatting with producer Aimee Schoof and director Delila Vallot about their inspirational and incisive new doc, Mighty Ground.
Who knew there was a boys’ camp nestled high in the hills above Griffith Park? Well, screenwriter Chuck Hayward and director Jennifer Arnold sure did, since that’s where we found them to discuss their hilariously lewd new comedy Fat Camp.
There’s nothing like a high-stakes football rivalry to stoke civic passion. At least not according to director Billy McMillin, with whom we met with on the border of Boyle Heights and East LA to talk about his incisive new pigskin doc, The Classic.
AND THEN THERE WAS EVE
A mystery wrapped in issues of gender identity and dramatic family dynamics, we ventured to Heritage Square Museum in Mt. Washington to chat with writer Collette Freedman and star Rachel Crowl about their film And Then There Was Eve.
WHAT WE STARTED
Join us on a pulse-pounding, bleary-eyed trip to the Sound nightclub deep in the heart of Hollywood, as we talk with directors Bert Marcus and Cyrus Saidi as well as Executive Producer Pete Tong about their new EDM documentary What We Started.
To learn more about the films in this year’s LA Muse section—including how to purchase tickets—click here. Can’t get enough of the City of Angeles? Explore more of the city with last year’s LA Muse interview by clicking here.
The 2017 LA Film Festival takes place June 14-22, headquartered at the ArcLight Cinemas Culver City, with additional screenings at ArcLight Hollywood, ArcLight Santa Monica and more.
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