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Los Angeles Film Festival Heads Downtown (updated)

Annual event will be centered at L.A. Live for first time

The Los Angeles Film Festival is going downtown.

Film Independent, the nonprofit organization that produces both the festival and the Spirit Awards, announced Thursday that the June 17-27 film festival will be centered at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles.

The move follows the group’s decision this year to move the Spirit Awards presentation off the beach at Santa Monica and into the Nokia Theater at L.A. Live.

In recent years the LAFF has taken place in Westwood, but uncertainty about the future of theaters in that neighborhood led to the change, festival director Rebecca Yeldham told theWrap.

"When the festival ended last year, we lost one of the theaters in Westwood," Yeldham said.  "And we were worried about the prospect of not having the Village and the Bruin either, because we knew Mann was not renewing their lease."  (Those two theaters, the largest in Westwood, were recently taken over by Regency, and remain open.)

With the Westwood theaters in jeopardy, Yeldham says Film Independent began exploring different parts of the city, looking for a location "where we could have a centralized footprint but also involve the whole community."

LAFF will present screenings and events at the new Regal Cinemas L.A. Live Stadium 14, as well as at REDCAT at Disney Hall, the Downtown Independent, the Soundstage Theater at the Grammy Museum, JW Marriot Hotel Los Angeles at L.A. Live, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Los Angeles, the historic Orpheum Theater and outdoor venue California Plaza.

"From the beginning when we were talking to L.A. Live, we talked about our enthusiasm for historic L.A.," Yeldham said.  "We told them that we didn’t want to be exclusive to the L.A. Live campus, but to truly take advantage of all the incredible pockets of downtown."

Nighttime screenings will again be held at Hollywood’s outdoor John Anson Ford Amphitheater in Hollywood.

Yeldham said that she hoped the move would not inconvenience the usual LAFF audience, which is based on the west side of Los Angeles.

"I know there’s a psychological divide for some people in West L.A. — for some it’s going east of La Cienega, for others it’s La Brea.  But we’ve gone to great lengths to ensure easy and low-cost parking for our patrons.  We really hope that our Westsiders will come down, and we’re excited to attract new people."

At the behest of Film Independent, the Regal theaters complex at L.A. Live, originally an all-digital cinema, has been retrofitted with 35mm projectors to accommodate the festival.

In the statement announcing the festival, Yeldham commented further: “The festival’s move to downtown Los Angeles allows us a unique opportunity to celebrate the history and future of our city.  Our new location will continue to pave the way for LAFF to realize its potential as an international destination event, and unites our filmmakers and audiences with the diverse arts community that exists downtown.”

"Downtown Los Angeles continues to attract more of the city’s best music, visual arts and dance events. Now, the programming universe is more complete with the arrival of the Los Angeles Film Festival to downtown venues from L.A. Live to REDCAT. We are delighted to have such an important film festival celebrating L.A.’s unique diversity, creative culture and artistic talent join this growing arts community," Olga Garay, executive director of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, said in a statement.

Official selections, encompassing more than 200 features, shorts and music videos from more than 30 countries, will be announced in early May.

For more information, visit the festival website.