A Guide to the 18th Annual LA Film Festival

Veteran and up-and-coming filmmakers head to Tinseltown as the Los Angeles Film Festival opens tonight in a cinematic melting pot of documentaries, cult favorites, and everything in between, to satisfy film junkies of all ages.

Presented by Film Independent, the festival will be held in downtown Los Angeles at LA Live starting tonight until June 24.

Art-house staple and four-time Academy Award-winner Woody Allen opens the annual festival with his latest romantic comedy, To Rome With Love, starring Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page and Jesse Eisenberg.

Oceans Eleven director Steven Soderbergh will close the festivities with his highly-anticipated stripper flick, Magic Mike, which stars Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey flaunting their assets in nearly nothing but a smile. Ladies, get your bills ready.

Now in its 18th year, the LA Film Festival is showcasing a selection of submissions featuring diversity. From the Indian villages in Trishna, starring Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) to The Iran Job, which follows American basketball player Kevin Sheppard and his decision to play for the Middle East, there is no shortage of films—big and small—highlighting the world’s cultural influences.

Other notable selections include:

  • Artist in Residence: Raphael Saadiq in conversation (Friday, June 15 at 7:30pm)

The film follows the Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and producer, since his early days with ‘80s soul trio, Tony! Toni! Tone!

  • People Like Us (Friday, June 15 at 8pm)

Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde and Michelle Pfeiffer star in this drama about a man who’s tasked with delivering $150,000 of his deceased father’s fortune to the sister he’s never met.

  • Celeste and Jesse (Thursday, June 21 at 7:30pm and Friday, June 22 at 5:30pm)

Rashida Jones co-stars and co-wrote the screenplay for this comedy with Andy Samberg. The two play an LA couple that married young and are now going through an amicable divorce.

  • Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Monday, June 18 at 7:30pm)

Keira Knightley plays Steve Carell’s free spirited neighbor as she tries to convince him to get his life together, even as the world is falling apart.

  • Gimme the Loot (Friday, June 15 at 9:30pm or Monday, June 18 at 5pm)

Taking the top jury prize at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW), this film follows two teenagers from the Bronx and their life as graffiti writers whose work was painted over by a rival team.

  • Killer Joe (Friday, June 15 at 7:30pm)

As one of the most highly anticipated films at the festival, Matthew McConaughey gives one of his most disturbing performances yet as a dirty cop hired to kill the hated matriarch of a trailer park family. Emile Hirsch co-stars in this film rumored of a NC-17 rating.

Recognized as a world-class event, the festival will screen a wide-ranging slate of nearly 200 feature films, shorts, music videos and documentaries representing more than 30 countries, along with filmmaker discussions, musical performances, and other special events.

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