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Interview: NewFilmmakers Los Angeles' BritWeek

26 April 2015 4:58 PM, PDT | Sydney's Buzz | See recent Sydney's Buzz news »

A few months ago we told you about a great and young non-profit in Los Angeles that is constantly working to create spaces for emerging talent to showcase both short and feature length works for local audiences. NewFilmmakers Los Angeles hosts a monthly event that aim to help filmmakers launch their careers, connect with crucial support, and exchange ideas with each other and attendees.

Read More: Endless Indie Talent: Larry Laboe on NewFilmmakers Los Angeles

This week NewFilmmakers L.A. is taking part in a weeklong series of diverse events across L.A entitled BritWeek, which celebrate the rich culture of our neighbors across the pond. First on Monday April 27th at the At&T Center in Downtown, NewFilmmakers will host three feature length programs consisting of both recent British and international shorts

Then on April 30th the organization will screen Thomas Vinterberg’s latest film “Far From the Madding Crowd” ahead of its theatrical release in collaboration with Fox Searchlight and Melnitz Movies at UCLA's James Bridges Theater.

We had the chance to reconnect with Larry Laboe, co-director of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles and James Defebaugh, who co-programmed the event with Nfmla Artistic Director Susie Kim and the Nfmla Programming team, to talk about this exciting new program.

Tickets for the event on April 27th can be purchased Here!

Aguilar: How this particular initiative come about and what are some of the elements that make distinct from other NewFilmmakers programs?

Larry Laboe: Our programs usually consist of two feature lengths programs that are made up of shorts and then one feature, but for this one we are doing all shorts the whole night. It’s 13 shorts for our first event on the 27th. Two of the programs are all English films and the third program is made up of international shorts. We have a film from Argentina, a film from Brazil, and two from the U.S. I’m particularly excited about a film titled “The Girlfriend Game

As you know a huge goal in our organization is to showcase international films. We feel that as a festival in Los Angeles is important to help people in the city experiences films from all over the world. Our initiatives have always focuses on highlighting films from different parts of the world. This year we decided we wanted to do a British film program. 

We reached out to Brit Week, and actually one of the NewFilmmakers board members is also BritWeek and BAFTA committee member as well. He had a relationship with Brit Week and we pitched them the idea for this program and they were really excited about it, particularly because they didn’t have any other film programs as part of BritWeek. As you might know Brit Week is a celebration of British art and culture in Los Angeles that includes exhibitions, musical performances, and other events that make it a very well rounded experience.

This initiative grew into a two-part event. We are doing the program I just mentioned and the Fox Searchlight movie “Far from the Madding Crowd.” We wanted to show a film that more people from the community would feel compelled to come out and see based on the talent that was involved in making the film, As we were researching what indie labels had new films coming out that could work with our program. We got in touch with Fox Searchlight and they were very excited to take part. Obviously this film is an English film, so it was a really fit.

Aguilar: Tells us more about the diverse British shorts included in the extensive program

James Defebaugh: We are really excited about this screenings. We feel like this program really represents a huge variety of what U.K. cinema has to offer in an array of genres.  There is a film called “Anemone,” which is a beautiful portrait of a forbidden love that has some fantastic performances by its cast. We have “Madeleine Makes a Man,” which is a whimsical, fairy tale-like retelling of Frankenstein in which the lead character is trying to create the ideal romantic partner.

There are also a couple of interesting character driven dramas, one is titled “I’m in the Corner with the Bluebells” about two siblings who meet for the first time which find themselves with a this sort of genetic attraction, which is uncomfortable but very interesting and it’s beautifully shot. There is also “Stalemate,” a historical character driven work that takes place on Christmas Day during Wwi

We have two science fiction pieces, one of them is "Perfect State," a dystopian view of the U.K. in which the government has sold out to major corporations that run all the public services, and then there is "Roadside,"which is a post-apocalyptic short that feel very kinetic and has several successful action sequences. We have a couple of comedies.

One is “The Trouble Downstairs” a comedic mystery about a guy who is trying to figure out the culprit behind his Chlamydia, and then we have “Anita’s Birthday Wish” about a teacher whose birthday is coming up and who is bored and looking for something interesting to do. She decides to smoke pot but realizes that she has solicited the pot from one of her students, which is evidently an awkward situation. We have a big range of what U.K. filmmakers have to offer.

Aguilar: What are some highlights of the non-British program that will be screening alongside the films you already mentioned?

James Defebaugh: For the other program we have some great international films. We have one from Brazil called “The Passenger,” which is about a man’s displacement, which takes him on a journey of self-discovery throughout his homeland after his wife’s death. We have a really great film from Argentina called "Esperame" based on Dante’s Divine Comedy but sues corporate imagery in a metaphorical manner to retell that story.

There is also the one Larry mentioned earlier called “The Girlfriend Game,” which is an erotic thriller with a twisted game that a couple plays at bars. It’s tone and subject matter feels like “Gone Girl” in terms of the sexual tension. This film feature Ryan Eggold who starts in NBC’s “The Blacklist” and Sarah Roemer who was in the film “Disturbia

Larry Laboe: Ryan Eggold actually has a special relationship with NewFilmmakers. We screened a short that he directed, and we’ve screened a few shorts that he starred in. It’s really exciting to see him back again at the festival. Specifically regarding “The Girlfriend Game,” the guy who produced it, Alejandro de Leon, has produced other great shorts. I’m really excited about him as a producer. One of the shorts he’s produced is called "The Strange Thing About the Johnsons," which I was really impressed by. He was also Upm of the short “Narcocorrido," which won a Student Academy Award in 2012. I particularly expect to see great things from Alejandro.

Aguilar: Why is it crucial for NewFilmmakers to balance special programs like this with films from diverse regions and backgrounds?

Larry Laboe: We do a lot of special themed programs, from Latino film programs, to African American film programs, or programs like this British one, but the reason why during these events you see a program made up of films from around the world is because we don’t want to put people inside a box. We do want to honor storytellers from different backgrounds but we don’t to make it so that storytellers become stereotyped or labeled based on being Latino, or British, or female. It’s great to honor different types of filmmakers but I think we have to be careful not to put too much of a label on it. When you see programs from NewFilmmakers that are special programs we typically like to mix it up.

James Defebaugh: We want to spotlight films that come from a specific cultural place but we also want to make sure we support indie filmmaking as a whole.

Larry Laboe: We want to support diversity all around. »

- Carlos Aguilar

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Watch: Short Film 'Narcocorrido' is a Powerful Drug Ballad

2 February 2015 3:53 PM, PST | Rope of Silicon | See recent Rope Of Silicon news »

The following short film Narcocorrido from writer/director Ryan Prows came to my attention thanks to an interview piece with Prows over at Cinephilia and Beyond. The title of the 23-minute short hints at what's to come and is a word I was originally unfamiliar with. In a 2013 Daily News piece it describes a "narcocorrido" as "a musical genre and multi-million dollar industry that peddles songs glorifying the surreal violence of warring drug syndicates and the bling, women, drugs and weapons that punctuate their lives." A guess a crude comparison would be to call it the Mexican equivalent of "gangsta rap" and Prows' film gets to the bloody reality of it all. Opening on a police officer, puking her bloody gets out, she eventually follows a truck pumping Mexican music as it rolls around the dirt hills outside of Yuma County, Arizona. Once she pulls the truck over things take »

- Brad Brevet

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2015 | 2012

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