By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Charles Taylor
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Brian Feinzimer
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By Amy Nicholson
Anyone else's eyeballs on fire?
The fall film-fest follies—we began with the SoCal Film Festival in Huntington Beach on Sept. 26, the Silverado Film Festival on Sept. 27 and Irvine's Silent River Film Festival on Oct. 17—continues on Thursday, Oct. 24, with opening night of the four-day Indie Fest USA in Garden Grove.
Historic Main Street, Village Green Park and Gem Theater in that fine city will be overtaken by what has evolved into the seventh-annual Indie Fest USA International Film & Music Festival, and if that's not long enough to make a theater-marquee changer weep, consider the co-sponsor is the Garden Grove Community Arts Society. Even Vanna White does not have that many vowels.
The event boasts a car show; arts and crafts; a fiesta and an Asian celebration, both with traditional and fusion foods; at least 14 local and regional bands and solo artists steeped in such genres as rock, alternative, jazz and folk; and a closing-night, Halloween-themed party at which masks and costumes are encouraged.
But you didn't stumble onto the Film page for that hoo-hah. Indie Fest organizers have also managed to keep movies, 65 of them, part of its deal. Here are some that caught my peepers:
Operation: Amnesty for All. Crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S. illegally has become fodder for countless documentaries, but director Brandon James Miller relies on the experiences of a 14-year-old boy.
Fortune Cookie Prophecies. Director Henry Li's feature-length chiller is about a physician trying to keep his wife from dying after she opens a fortune cookie foretelling her death in four days. In bed?
The Insomniac. "Inspired by a true story," director Monty Miranda's feature-length suspense flick is about a guy (Eddy Salazar) who can't sleep after coming home from a meeting that was canceled, only to find someone had broken in.
Mobster. Writer/producer/director Brian Eric Johnson's "found footage" drama is about the West Coast head of the Israeli mob, an undercover FBI agent and black-market nuclear weapons in LA. Gulp. Now I'm the one with insomnia.
Big In LA. Speaking of La-La Land, this music video was booked for Indie Fest before it became a YouTube smash thanks to a 14-year-old English-schoolgirl singer named Joelle, who wears a wig and drawn-on eyebrows onscreen due to alopecia.
The Retreat. Luis Robledo directed this thriller that, based on the trailer, is about couples getting engaged, screwing and having to put up with a freaky clown.
Getting into these movies in the Gem Theater requires a ticket, but there will be free screenings in the park of movies with Latino (Oct. 24), classic car (Oct. 25) and Asian (Oct. 26) themes. You're encouraged to bring blankets or beach chairs.
The festival also packs workshops and seminars. Genevieve Davis—who wrote, produced and directed the documentary Secret Life, Secret Death (2012); the video documentary short On the Trail of a Black Sheep (2009); and the short Sweet Nothings, a Commedia Dell'Arte Confection (2008)—chats about filmmaking early on the afternoon of Oct. 25.
Later that same day, actor Noel Gugliemi heads a seminar for at-risk youth. You may recognize him from Bruce Almighty, Training Day, and scores of movie and TV roles, often as a gangbanger. In real life, he's a Christian who ministers to young people, and he appears opposite producer Radhaa Nilia in the fest's opening-night film Hope Cafe, which has both their characters struggling with faith.
The next afternoon, actress Sally Kirkland, who will be coming off the love she lapped up on the red carpet at the aforementioned Silent River festival days, will talk about a career that has included nabbing an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and a Golden Globe win in 1987 for Anna. Kirkland's latest film, Posey, which plays at Indie Fest just as it did at Silent River, features her as a grandmother bound for assisted-care living.
That same afternoon, actor/casting director Billy DaMota (America's Most Wanted, Chopper Chicks In Zombietown, Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker) leads a seminar about his DoNotPay.org campaign against "the casting director payola scheme in Hollywood."
Indie Fest organizers will present two lifetime-achievement awards during closing-night festivities, when a total of 30 awards will be doled out, on Oct. 27. Previously announced as a recipient is actor Ray Wise, who has been in a ton of films and a second ton of TV shows. My three favorite roles of his: Laura Palmer's killer dad in Twin Peaks; Dr. Doone Struts, the leader of the Shrim Healing Center, in Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie; and Skip Reming, the anti-Andy Rooney, on Adult Swim's Newsreaders.
The other movie star to receive a lifetime-achievement award is . . . Sally Kirkland! Whoa, how'd that happen?