by Tom Nguyen
After Memorial Day weekend, the first week of June has always been my marker for when LA’s summer really starts: the calendar kicks into high gear, filling up with too many great cultural events nonstop between now and Labor Day. Plenty of music, dance, art…and film is no exception as June greets us with not one, not two, but three great film festivals: 10th Annual Los Angeles Greek Festival, 22nd Annual LA Film Festival which both opened last night and 19th Annual Dances With Films opening today.
All 3 festivals offer a wide swath of narrative features, documentaries and short films. With so much to see and so little time, I tend to skew towards documentaries. Here are my top 3 films for 3 festivals:
10th Annual Los Angeles Greek Festival (June 1-5)
“Suntan” – A lonely middle-aged doctor who gets a second chance at long-lost youth becomes obsessively fixated on a beautiful tourist.
“Golden Dawn” – Amid the financial collapse of Greece, a filmmaker tries to infiltrate and understand a neo-Nazi group.
“Ludlow” – Forgotten history of the role Greek immigrants played during the deadliest confrontation between workers and corporate power in US labor history.
22nd Annual LA Film Festival (June 1-9)
“Music of Strangers” – Cellist Yo-Yo Ma brings together a collective of musicians from different worlds and traditions along the Silk Road, in a message of peace and hope.
“Life, Animated” – A documentary about how one father learned to communicate and understand his autistic son through the son’s love of Disney characters.
“FREE CeCe!” – Transgender people are disproportionately the victims of violence and incarceration. This film confronts this grim reality through the ordeal of Chrishaun Reed “CeCe” McDonald, who is imprisoned for self-defense. Written and produced by actress and activist Laverne Cox.
19th Annual Dances With Films (June 2-12)
“Alison” – [Trigger Warning: Extreme violence and sexual assault] Alison Botha is a survivor of an unimaginably violent rape and was left for dead. This is her story.
“What Would Beethoven Do?” – Is classical music dead and uncool? This film follows the innovators who are shattering stereotypes and reinventing classical music in the 21st century.
“Virtual Revolution” – Virtual reality is set to become the next great technological leap and Elon Musk recently said he believes we’re probably characters in an advanced civilization’s video game. This sci-fi film imagines a future dystopia where virtual reality rules.