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’05 LA Film Festival Takes Off Tomorrow:

Director of Programming Rachel Rosen, Festival Director Rich Raddon and Film Independent [FIND] Executive Director Dawn Hudson announced the program line-up for the 2005 Los Angeles Film Festival last week.

Director Sydney Pollack, who occasionally doubles as a producer and actor, will be guest director and actors Don Cheadle, Lisa Kudrow, and Elijah Wood will serve as Honorary Festival Chairs for the Festival, which gets underway tomorrow, June 16, runs through June 26, and includes a day on the Santa Monica Pier on June 25.

“As our organization begins a new chapter, I am proud to show our continued commitment to championing the cause of independent film and raising awareness for emerging artists,” said Executive Director of Film Independent [FIND] Dawn Hudson. “With a diversity of backgrounds, voices, and experiences, this year’s program slate reflects the wide spectrum of filmmakers we support.”

“We are thrilled to be highlighting two films for our Centerpiece and closing night screenings by two wonderful independent directors,” said Director of Programming Rachel Rosen. “Both reveal their director’s unique mix of humanism, perception, and wit, and each features an embarrassment of riches of ensemble acting talent.”

“Sydney Pollack is a master filmmaker, and it is such a gift for our Festival filmmakers to have the opportunity to listen and learn from a director with such a wealth of creative experience,” said Festival Director Richard Raddon.

“I’m looking forward to participating in a festival that not only showcases such a diverse line-up of films, but provides audiences with important tools of the trade,” said Pollack. “This is a great opportunity to explore the creative depth of the Los Angeles film community.”

Commenting on this year’s program, Rosen said, “The program this year offers a full spectrum of independent filmmaking from around the world. Los Angeles audiences will be able to choose from new films by established directors or discover fresh talent from innovative newcomers, many of whom will be attending the festival to present their films to Festival audiences.”

The Festival will open with the North American premiere of David Jacobson’s Down In The Valley and George Clooney will receive the inaugural Spirit of Independence Award.

Rodrigo Garcia’s Nine Lives will screen as the Centerpiece Premiere on Tuesday, June 21 at 7 p.m. at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills. A reception will follow the screening. The Centerpiece Premiere screening and reception are sponsored by Target. By depicting nine different characters at emotional crossroads, Nine Lives examines how women so often find themselves captives of relationships, both past and present. The film stars Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Elpidia Carrillo, Glenn Close, Stephen Dillane, Dakota Fanning, William Fichtner, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Holly Hunter, Jason Isaacs, Ian McShane, Joe Montegna, Molly Parker, Mary Kay Place, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Aidan Quinn, Miguel Sandoval, Amanda Seyfried, Sissy Spacek, and Robin Wright Penn. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is the executive producer, and Julie Lynn is the producer.

Don Roos’s (The Opposite of Sex, Bounce) Happy Endings will be screened as the Closing Night Gala on Sunday, June 26 at 7:00 p.m. at Mann’s National Theatre in Westwood. Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Tom Arnold, Jesse Bradford, Bobby Cannavale, Sarah Clarke, Steve Coogan, Laura Dern, Lisa Kudrow, Jason Ritter, David Sutcliffe, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lions Gate Films’ Happy Endings deftly weaves together multiple stories to create a sharp, witty look at love, family, and the sheer unpredictability of life.

Wood will host the opening night festivities, Kudrow will preside closing night, and Cheadle will present the Target Filmmaker Award for best narrative feature at the Spirit of Independence Evening on Saturday, June 25.

In his role as guest director, Pollack will host a two-day filmmaker retreat, program a sidebar of films that have inspired his work, and will be present on opening night.

His 19 films have received 46 Academy Award nominations, including two for Best Picture. His film Out of Africa won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. His body of work includes The Slender Thread, This Property Is Condemned, The Scalphunters, Castle Keep, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Jeremiah Johnson, The Way We Were, The Yakuza, Three Days of the Condor, Bobby Deerfield, The Electric Horseman, Absence of Malice, Tootsie, Havana, The Firm, Sabrina, Random Hearts, and most recently Universal Pictures’ The Interpreter.

Musician, film composer, and actor THE RZA will serve as Artist in Residence for this year’s Festival. THE RZA is the chief producer and founding member of the legendary hip hop group the Wu-Tang Clan, which also spawned Method Man and the late O.D.B. In addition to his success as a recording artist/producer, THE RZA is a BAFTA-nominated film composer.

He starred in Coffee and Cigarettes opposite Bill Murray, and will appear in the upcoming film Derailed, with Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen. As Artist in Residence, he has selected three films that will screen at the Festival and will headline ToonTime with THE RZA at the Ford Amphitheater on Wednesday, June 22 at 8:30 p.m. While some of the strangest, coolest cartoons screen behind him, THE RZA will layer together a live soundtrack.

On Saturday, June 25, the Festival will celebrate Family Day at the Santa Monica Pier. Free to the public, it will kick off at 11 a.m. and will include celebrity storytelling, a kiddie red carpet, arts and crafts, dance and yoga classes, karaoke, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, magicians, and several bands, and will conclude with an outdoor screening of the Academy Award-nominated film, Babe.For a complete schedule, go to www.lafilmfest.com.

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