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Film Fest Opens With "In Search of a Midnight Kiss," Starring Downtown

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, August 11, 2008, at 10:35AM
In Search of a Midnight Kiss "In Search of a Midnight Kiss"

Vivan (Sara Simmonds) and Wilson (Scoot McNairy) survey Downtown from California Plaza in the film "In Search of a Midnight Kiss."

Downtown stars as itself in IFC Films' "In Search of a Midnight Kiss." Leads Wilson and Vivian, played by Scoot McNairy and Sara Simmonds, get off the subway at Pershing Square and spend twenty-five of the film's ninety-nine minutes wandering the streets of Downtown and admiring its faded grandeur.

Standing on the balcony of the Million Dollar Theatre, Vivian asks Wilson, "Can you imagine what this place looked like when it opened? Look at this ceiling! I can't believe this theater's just sitting here."

It's no wonder organizers chose the film to headline the Downtown Film Festival's Wednesday opening, in a night benefiting the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation. That the film itself is quite good makes for an added bonus.

Despite the vast amount of film shot here, it's rare that movies really show off Downtown Los Angeles. "Midnight Kiss" does just that, as the camera accompanies Wilson and Vivian on a tour that includes Broadway, Disney Hall, St. Vincent Court and the Pacific Stock Exchange. It's a black-and-white postcard of Downtown as it looked a little over two years ago, when the film shot in early 2006. The film's press kit notes that writer / director Alex Holdridge and actress Sara Simmonds took walks around Downtown while developing ideas for the story.

Even a film that makes Downtown a character doesn't shy away from taking a few artistic licenses. In one scene, Wilson and Vivian are shown entering the Orpheum, but interior shots were filmed in the Million Dollar. Certainly not a big deal, but given that Wednesday night's showing is in the Orpheum, the change might garner a few quizzical looks as theater goers try to match what they see on screen to the setting around them.

The story itself is one of the search for love, with Wilson turning to a Craigslist personals posting in an attempt to not spend New Year's Eve alone. Vivian answers his ad, and the two spend the rest of the day in a quirky feeling out process. With Vivian in particular, Holdridge's script does a captivating job of gradually revealing the internal processes at work in a character that can at first seem a little neurotic. Reviews have been quite positive, with the film currently scoring a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tickets for Wednesday's showing at the Orpheum are just $15, and are available through the festival's website. The night benefits the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, an organization focused on helping to return programming to historic theaters around the city.

After kicking off Wednesday evening, the Downtown Film Festival features a full slate of programming through Sunday evening.

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Downtown Film Festival

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