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Spotlight: Inclusion and new voices at Los Angeles Film Festival
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 1 -- The Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF) wrapped up its 2018 season last weekend with a focus on diversity and representation.
This year, 39 percent of LAFF's slate of films were directed by people of color and a hefty 42 percent by women.
Women and minority helmed works included "Simple Wedding","In Reality", "False Confessions", "Hillbilly", "We the Coyotes", "Solace" and "The Day I Lost My Shadow".
Altogether, the LAFF's 2018 line-up included 40 feature films, 41 short films, and 10 short digital works from 26 different countries around the world that immerse the audience in the intimate, often conflicted personal lives of others.
"It's my own personal story ... turned into an hour and a half as opposed to twelve years of recovery. I never wanted to be thought of as a victim or as someone who didn't have any power because of course, that's what happens when you go through that kind of trauma," Eva Vives said when referring to "All About Nina," her black comedy about a woman who escapes an abusive relationship and hones her craft as a stand-up comedian,
"Our mission of finding fresh new voices from different geographical and cultural axes remains true," said LA Film Festival director Jennifer Cochis. "These storytellers are united by their ability to transport, impact and inspire audiences with the power of their craft."
Director and Producer of "Solace," Tchaiko Omawale, told TingVoa.com, "I wanted to make the kind of intensely personal film that if I had seen when I was young, I would have gotten help faster..."
As part of LAFF's ongoing effort to promote inclusion and diversity, the festival also launched a two-day summit entitled, "We The People" to address the ongoing problem of under-representation of women and minorities in all fields of the entertainment industry.
A benefit dinner was also held to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Project Involve, LAFF's mentorship initiative to support underrepresented talent in the entertainment industry.
Josh Welsh, President of Film Independent, told TingVoa.com that the honorees of the banquet "are the people who are bringing the change, and we're so happy to honor them at the festival this year, and to help raise funds to support the program into the future."
As it moved from its traditional June slot to the fall awards season, the 2018 LA Film Festival is actively prioritizing its mission to introduce new and lesser-known talent in its film selections.
Explained Welsh, "Tent-poles aren't really what the LA Film Festival is all about."
The festival's juries handed out laurels in several categories, including U.S. Fiction, World Fiction, Documentary, and LA Muse, along with Audience Awards in multiple categories.
"This Teacher," directed by Mark Jackson and starring Hafsia Herzi snagged the U.S. Fiction award. It's the story of a young Arab French woman who is on a journey to claim her own identity that takes her from teaming New York City into the remote wilderness.
"Hillbilly," co-directed by Sally Rubin and Ashley York, won the Documentary Award, for its exploration of America's isolated Appalachian communities.
"I grew up in Kentucky so this is a film that is in my bones and in my blood and it just took a long time to come to fruition," York said of her film "Hillbilly".
"These awards honor the wide range of exceptional storytelling we've been sincerely delighted to present," noted festival director Cochis in a statement. "All of us are looking forward to wider audiences discovering these stories in the year ahead."