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Presented by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Los Angeles Film Festival and the UCLA Film & Television Archive

The films selected for the latest edition of “The Films That Got Away”—being presented for the first time in a collaboration between LAFCA, the Festival and the Archive—represent only a microscopic sliver of the fine work circulating around the globe that has yet to be commercially released in Los Angeles. What makes the selection difficult isn’t how few films there are, but how many. It’s easily conceivable to create a program of films that have gotten away strictly from single countries, such as Argentina, South Korea, Mexico, Denmark or Thailand, just for starters; or genres, such as the upcoming “The Films That Got Away” being planned around animated films. This series isn’t meant as a celebration of entry, that, finally, these worthy films are in our midst, if only briefly. Rather, its intent is frankly more polemical, to remind moviegoers in Los Angeles of how many films from around the world they are routinely denied; of how many great and developing filmmakers yet to be seen in the self-proclaimed “film capital of the world;” and how every programming selection in a film festival is a political act.

At the same time, these three films do belong together, and can be seen as part of a larger movement by younger directors (all of them living far from Hollywood) rebelling against the Hollywood model. Each plays with real time, contains sophisticated use of plan-sequence, embraces elliptical storytelling in lieu of easy explanations and is made with classical craftsmanship while investigating more radical, perhaps “poetic” forms. Each, as well, is the filmmaker’s sophomore feature. Tellingly, the people in Yu Lik-wai’s ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES, Lisandro Alonso’s LOS MUERTOS and Abderrahmane Sissako’s WAITING FOR HAPPINESS are all encountering various states of what it means to be free, with varying consequences. Can this freedom extend to the cinema itself, and the liberty of moviegoers to see—on the big screen—a wider range of human expression than the corporate system allows them? This is the primary question “The Films That Got Away” wishes to pose.

—Robert Koehler, Variety film critic

Program curated by Ray Greene, Robert Koehler and Wade Major