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'Paper Man' opens L.A. Film Festival

Hollywood Wrap with George Pennacchio
June 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The 2009 L.A. Film Festival kicks off Thursday in Westwood. This year there were 4,600 feature film submissions. Including documentaries, about 80 made the final cut. There are also premieres, seminars, shorts and even music videos among all the offerings. For film lovers, it's 10 days of fun.Jeff Daniels and Ryan Reynolds star in the Los Angeles Film Festival's opening night movie, "Paper Man," a comedy about a failed author and his imaginary superhero friend. What makes this different for the festival is that the movie does not have a distributor.

Producer Rebecca Yeldham is the new executive director of the festival.

"I've always personally been in the business of championing new artists and backing works and filmmakers before they had been anointed as great," said Yeldham. "And I love this movie."

Another movie without a home is the documentary, "Branson." It's about performers looking for fame in the Vegas of the Bible belt.

"The intent of the festival is to play great cinema. Now that can be cinema that comes from the studio sector, the big Hollywood movies like 'Public Enemies', or it can be the teeny independents that are having their first breath of life here at the film festival," said Yeldham.

An example of that is "The Stoning of Soraya M," based on a true story about an Iranian woman in 1986 whose arranged marriage ended in tragedy. The film stars Shoreh Agdashloo and Jim Caviezel.

On the big-budget front, the new "Transformers" film gets a big red carpet premiere.

Not all movies get the same treatment, but they're all available to the general public. Most films cost $12, but some films - including "Which Way Home," the HBO documentary on child migrants - will screen for free.

"I would say the great thing about L.A.Film Festival is that there is a little bit of something for everyone," said Yeldham. "I think, particularly in these times, it's really nice to have a reminder of why we all fell in love with movies in the first place, why we all share this passion for the movies. And I think that's something that we've really tapped into this year for the film festival."

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