Alternative screenings

Alternative screenings

The seventh annual Silver Lake Film Festival brings Hollywood glamour to the East Side

By Carl Kozlowski 05/03/2007

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Pasadena-based filmmaker Tim Cahill is riding a real hot streak these days. After all, his most recent film, “The Oates' Valor,” is the only short on the planet to be accepted by both the Cannes and Sundance film festivals.                                               

But while those are great honors, Cahill realized that he wanted to have a special hometown premiere. So when it came time to pick a festival from the myriad competitions held each year in the Los Angeles area, he selected the seventh annual Silver Lake Film Festival, which starts tonight and runs through May 12.

“I spend a lot of time hanging out in Silver Lake, and I thought this would be a great way to do an LA premiere. I appreciate the anti-commercial aspect of the SLFF. They push the edge, as the saying goes,” explained Cahill, who described his film as a character-driven comedy in the vein of Wes Anderson's “The Royal Tenenbaums.”

“I've never been to a film festival, let alone submitted a film to Sundance, which opened a lot of doors,” he added. “I didn't even tell people I submitted to Cannes because big fests usually want to compete for the premiere, but everyone seems to be going for this.”

Yet Cahill's film is just one of 200 films to screen at the fest, which this year counts Ben Stiller and his Red Hour production company among its sponsors. Among the films are works by Mt. Washington–based director Anthony Scarpa, Art Center College of Design student Timothy Atkinson and Pasadena's James Intveld and Regina O'Brien.

The film fest kicks off with an opening gala centered on a real score: the LA premiere of “Fay Grim,” the new film by acclaimed director Hal Hartley (“The Unbelievable Truth,” “Henry Fool”).

Closing night will feature a screening of the new music documentary “X: The Unheard Music,” which details the story of the seminal LA punk band and will include a post-screening awards program paying tribute to X band member and actor John Doe.

But the most intriguing film is the fest's centerpiece, “Letters of the Underground II,” which screens Wednesday and features 10 original short films about counterculture figures told in their own words.

“‘Letters' is our original production this year, a sequel to an earlier production a few years ago. Each filmmaker built one short film around one piece of correspondence from their favorite writer in the group,” explained festival director Greg Ptacek, who is the only founding member of the fest to remain in charge. “We're a festival that does a lot of curating programs: We get an idea, then find the films to fit the screen. ‘Sustainable LA' is a series of films this year, plus there's another called ‘Conspiracy Theories' that are documentaries about government and international conspiracies.”

Ptacek also noted that the fest will be spotlighting New Indian Cinema, with films outside the famed genre of Bollywood spectacles.  

But it's the “Film and Architecture” event on Tuesday night that features the strongest connection to Pasadena, as its films about how the two fields “collide and work off each other” will feature a post-screening panel discussion at the wind tunnel of Pasadena's Art Center College of Design.

“Pasadena's design school is at the cutting edge of what's going on in film and technology. It's at the center of art and technology meeting in SoCal, so therefore in the world,” said Ptacek. “Pasadena has a real interest in green technology and sustainability, and the city is moving pretty aggressively towards those. Our original intention was to have a fest where independent film could be seen in the film capital of the world. Most fests had become studio oriented, but we wanted a festival that could honor filmmakers on the east end of the LA area, where a lot of the film community is actually based.”   o

The seventh annual Silver Lake Film Festival starts tonight and runs through May 12 at several locations throughout Los Angeles. Tickets for most programs are $11 and are available in advance either through the fest's Web site, www.silverlakefilmfestival.org, by calling (800) 838-3006, ext. 1, or by visiting the festival's box office from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday or 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Vista Theater, 4475 Sunset Drive, Los Angeles. For more information, call (323) 953-8340, or visit www.silverlakefilmfestival.org .

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