LA Film Festival Most Anticipated Films
And Then There Was Eve
Directed by: Savannah Bloch
Screenwriter: Savannah Bloch, Colette Freedman
Cast: Tania Nolan, Rachel Crowl, Mary Holland, Karan Soni, Anne Gee Byrd, John Kassir
What it’s about (by Malin Kan): Alyssa, a successful photographer, wakes one morning to find her apartment ransacked and her husband mysteriously missing. Left without even a photograph to offer the police, she turns to his colleague Eve, a talented jazz pianist with a flirtatious charm and disarming grace. Eve helps her confront her husband’s longtime struggle with depression and to, over time, accept his absence. While getting to know this woman through such unusual circumstances, Alyssa is surprised to find herself falling in love again.
Featuring an extraordinary breakout performance from Rachel Crowl and an evocative jazz score by Robert Lydecker, Savannah Bloch’s directorial debut is insightful and original, both an engaging psychological thriller and a uniquely frank depiction of the difficulty of retaining one’s own identity within the confines of a romantic relationship.
Why do I want to see it?: Sometimes stories and descriptions just grab you. That is the case with And Then There Was Eve.
The Book of Henry
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Screenwriter: Gregg Hurwitz
Cast: Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman, Lee Pace, Maddie Ziegler, Dean Norris
What it’s about (by Jennifer Cochis): Things are not always what they seem. Though only 11 years old, Henry is wise beyond his years. His intelligence, compassion, and knack for inventing touch the lives of everyone he comes into contact with, including his classmate and next-door neighbor, Christina. When Henry discovers that Christina’s upstanding family has a dangerous secret, he devises a plan to intervene that requires assistance from his mother, Susan.
This film masterfully explores notions of community, friendship, and family, and touchingly examines what it means to take care of one another
Why do I want to see it?: I love Jacob Tremblay since his performance in Room and I think he shows real promise as a young actor. The rest of the cast is really well rounded and filled with some favorite actors of mine. The trailer is engaging, and I can’t wait to see The Book of Henry.
Directed by: Leena Pendharkar
Screenwriter: Leena Pendharkar
Cast: Anna Margaret Hollyman, Amir Arison, Sujata Day, Michelle Krusiec, Jocelin Donahue, Richard Riehle, Robin McDonald
What it’s about (by Ana Souza): Maya and Ronan, a couple of 30-somethings, are in love and expecting a baby when a health condition that could impact their unborn child is discovered during a routine scan. As their outlook on parenthood shifts and evolves, the couple is forced to re-examine whether they will be able to tackle the challenges they face and the future of their family.
In this bold and sincere romantic drama, writer-director Leena Pendharkar guides her two leads through nuanced and sometimes excruciating levels of intimacy and vulnerability, shaping an incisive and rare look at the pressures surrounding pregnancy and relationships.
Why do I want to see it?: Amir Arison is a great actor on the NBC hit show The Blacklist and I am interested in seeing him in a film role. The story itself has the potential to be extremely emotional and takes a look at something very real for a lot of people.
Directed by: Rafael Kapelinski
Screenwriter: Greer Taylor Ellison
Cast: Theo Stevenson, Byron Lyons, Liam Whiting, Rosie Day, Elliot Cowan, Thomas Turgoose
What it’s about (by Namee Baijal): Jake is a sensitive, quiet teenager caught in a tough, muscle-flexing world. His casually vicious friends are obsessed with girls, billiards, and porn. When the alluring Zara moves onto the 19th floor of their council estate, Jake’s friends are determined to help him lose his virginity. But Jake hides a dark truth that he doesn’t dare speak aloud.
Gorgeous black-and-white lensing and a haunting score create a stylish and assured debut from Rafael Kapelinski, which presents an improbably humanizing and emotionally complex portrait of a young man battling external pressures and inner demons.
Why do I want to see it?: The black and white lensing really is a draw that sets the film apart from others along with a really interesting story. It has the potential to be something that you don’t anticipate and surprises you.
Directed by: Jennifer Arnold
Screenwriter: Chuck Hayward
Cast: Chris Redd, Anabelle Acosta, Michael Cienfuegos, Mel Rodriguez, Vivica A. Fox, Bre-Z
What it’s about (by Roya Rastegar): Image is everything for twenty-something Hutch. But fronting like a baller only goes so far when you’ve got no work and you’ve been kicked out of your mama’s house. With nowhere to go, Hutch begrudgingly takes a counselor job at his uncle’s fat camp. When Hutch’s rough and rude approach to training his misfit campers fails miserably, fellow counselors Charlie and the gorgeous Abby find ways to deflate Hutch’s ego so he (and his inner fat kid) can finally grow up.
Chuck Hayward’s irreverent script is all about embracing your inner loser as the ultimate winner, making Jennifer Arnold’s fiction feature directorial debut a willfully offensive adult comedy with no manners and tons of heart.
Why do I want to see it?: Fat camp stories will always draw me in since Heavyweights. Stories about the underdogs and embracing the inner loser are really relatable and are generally really enjoyable for the audience.
Your Own Road
Directed by: Brandon Buczek
Screenwriter: Brandon Buczek
Cast: Ashton Moio, Cortney Palm, Kym Jackson, Amir Malaklou
What it’s about (by Roya Rastegar): Fresh out of film school, Brian is determined not to let the lack of opportunity in small-town Ohio keep him from his dreams. Despite his father’s overbearing insistence that he find a “real job,” Brian applies for every film production assistant job he can find in Los Angeles. When he finally lands an interview, he ropes in his nerdy best friend Dan, whose girlfriend just cheated on him, to come along for a bromantic road trip across the country. The buddy dynamic quickly turns into an awkward third wheel situation when Brian also invites his troubled high school crush. Somewhere between Kansas City and Las Vegas, Dan picks up a free-spirited hippie hitchhiker. Despite being in the same car, the four twenty-something’s are all on vastly different paths – until Brian’s grand ambitions are threatened, inspiring them to come together.
Embodying true grassroots indie filmmaking, Brandon Buczek’s directorial debut reminds us of the dedication, grit, and faith required to leave behind hometown life and drive across the country to pursue dreams of filmmaking in our City of Angels.
Why do I want to see it?: Coming from a smaller town on the east coast, I can understand the desire to leave and find a place that allows for more opportunities. I empathize with that feeling and the focus on getting to LA makes it even more exciting. LA is big this year with the release of La La Land and there isn’t a better time for a film like this to screen than now.
The Big Sick
Directed by: Michael Showalter
Screenwriter: Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani
Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano
What it’s about (by Jenn Wilson): For many Pakistani-American immigrants, it is still a custom for parents to arrange a marriage for each of their children. Born in Pakistan, but making a life as a standup comedian/Uber driver in the US, Kumail Nanjiani is trying to navigate his own dating life even though his mother is determined to find him a wife. Afraid of being disowned by his parents, Kumail hides his relationship with then-girlfriend Emily, while at the same time hiding his relationship with his parents from Emily. Emily discovers Kumail’s double-life and leaves him, but what should be the end of the relationship and the story turns into a whole new chapter when Emily becomes seriously ill and Kumail becomes unexpectedly emotionally attached to both Emily and her parents.
This true-life tale of the unlikely courtship between Kumail and his wife Emily is a heartbreaking and hilarious look at the culture clash between Pakistani and American family traditions.
Why do I want to see it?: I’ve actually already seen The Big Sick at SXSW this year and LOVED it which is why it is on my list. I want to see it again and again. The film is really heartfelt, funny and worth seeing over and over again.
Directed by: Geremy Jasper
Screenwriter: Geremy Jasper
Cast: Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett, Siddharth Dhanajay, Mamoudou Athie, MC Lyte, Cathy Moriarty
What it’s about (by Drea Clark): Patricia Dombrowski (aka Patti Cake$) lives in small-town New Jersey, where everyone calls her Dumbo even as she envisions herself as Killa P – a badass, fast-talking rapper with spit and shine to spare. Living in a rundown house with her boozy mom and her Nana, Patti’s drive to prove her worth shows up in everything from catering gigs to parking lot rap battles. Cheered on by her only friend Hareesh, and nurturing a burgeoning connection to a punk rocker called Antichrist, Patti cuts through the bleakness of her day to day life with raw, joyful talent and an ambition that dares to dream big.
A breakout festival hit, Patti Cake$ oscillates between the grittiness of the squad’s lower-middle-class realities and the otherworldly, magnetic energy of their musical collaborations. Patti’s hustle in everything she does makes her the rare dreamer who seems deserving of her fantasies, a testament to first-time director Geremy Jasper’s ability to pinpoint the beating heart at the center of a mundane world.
Directed by: Kurt Voelker
Screenwriter: Kurt Voelker
Cast: J.K. Simmons, Josh Wiggins, Julie Delpy, Kevin Dunn, Odeya Rush
What it’s about (by Roya Rastegar): Bill, a math teacher, is devastated by the sudden death of his wife and is left to raise their 17-year-old son Wes alone. Unable to cope in their old town, father and son drive south to Los Angeles for a fresh start at an upscale all-boys private school. At the new school, Wes begins tutoring a troubled and awkward young woman from a neighboring all-girls school, while a fellow teacher strikes up a friendship with Bill that provides some welcome relief and warmth. But when grief refuses to loosen its grip on Bill, the connection between father and son is tested, and along with it their opportunity to build a new future.
Led by a strong ensemble cast, acclaimed writer Kurt Voelker’s sophomore feature is a heartfelt and moving exploration of different ways to navigate loss and unexpected life changes.
The Keeping Hours
Directed by: Karen Moncrieff
Screenwriter: Rebecca Sonnenshinei
Cast: Lee Pace, Carrie Coon, Sander Thomas, Amy Smart, Ana Ortiz, Ray Baker
What it’s about (by Drea Clark): Mark and Elizabeth are a loving couple, doting on their son as they build a life and a home together. When tragedy strikes and he is killed in a car accident, grief and anger push them apart. Six years later, Elizabeth is remarried and is a successful author, and Mark’s compulsive hours as a corporate lawyer are interrupted by renters’ repair requests for the home he never finished fixing up for Elizabeth. After it is left vacant by the most recent tenant, Mark and Elizabeth discover the house may hold more than just memories.
Director Karen Moncrieff thoughtfully conveys both intimacies and specters, with an artful emphasis on emotional connections. Grounded by the persuasive performances of stars Lee Pace and Carrie Coon, The Keeping Hours offers up a supernatural romance where the estranged lovers are haunted by more than just their shared history.
Why do I want to see it?: Another really emotional film with an actor I really like, Lee Pace. Being female directed and written, this film has great potential to hit a really emotional note.