At its core, the Los Angeles United Film Festival believes that a film festival can unite people from diverse backgrounds through their love of motion pictures. The LAUFF is one of three “united” film festivals that documentary moviemaker Jason Connell has founded in the past six years. He began the Tulsa United Film Festival in his hometown and the New York United Film Festival, the newest addition to the trilogy, one year ago. “Being a filmmaker myself and traveling the film festival circuit, I got a firsthand look at what works and what doesn’t at other festivals,” says Connell, “so I’m very conscious of creating the kind of environment that will keep people coming back year after year.”
In the style of the golden age of the movie theatre, the LAUFF will unite a 20-minute block of two or three narrative and documentary short films with one feature film. Connell’s theory is that audiences will be exposed to films that they would not normally see through their interest in the more popular features.
In its second year, the LAUFF has gone from one feature-length film to 12. Although this year they are all documentaries, Connell is not anxious to limit the vision of the festival. “No matter how much larger the lineup gets, we will always have films from very diverse backgrounds,” he says, “because we truly believe it makes our festival more unique and helps set us apart from all the others.”
At the 2008 LAUFF, the feature films are award-winning documentaries and Los Angeles premieres attended by world-famous celebrities, including composers Danny Elfman and Alan Menken, who will attend the screening of Finding Kraftland, a documentary about a film music agent and his son whose house, “Kraftland,” is filled with a collection of American toys. Actors William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman will be present at the screening of Darius Goes West, which follows Darius Weems, a 15-year old with muscular dystrophy, on his journey with his wheelchair to convince MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” to, well, pimp his ride.
The LAUFF will be held at the Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills from April 18th through April 20th. A Q&A session with the moviemakers will follow each film presentation. There will be a kick-off party on the night of April 17th at the Gibson Musical Instruments Showroom.
For more information, visit www.launitedfest.com.