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Downtown film fest introduces 'Hecklevision' to screening on Friday the 13th

By Hayley Fox
Published: Thursday, July 05, 2012, at 12:29PM
Mikey Wally

Inside the Downtown Independent theater, where a majority of the film festival screenings will be held.

The Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles begins Friday and for eight days features independent narrative and documentary films, in addition to panels, art shows, workshops and daily parties.

"We utilize Downtown as our canvas," said the festival's co-founder and co-director, Henry Priest.

Priest emphasized that the Downtown Film Fest distinguishes itself through its partnerships with the DTLA community. The festival brought people to the area before it was really "cool" to be in DTLA, he said. The event also works with more than 25 companies in Downtown, and showcases the heart and soul of the area by hosting events in historic theaters, Chinatown lofts and local restaurants.

"We've always been a champion of Skid Row," Priest added, pointing out that last year they held a midnight, outdoor screening at a park in the neighborhood. They rolled out the red carpet for Skid Row residents, put up bright lights and a backdrop for photos, and had food trucks donate food for the event.

This year's festival opening night includes a screening of "The Diary of Preston Plummer," starring Rumer Willis and Robert Loggia, and a reception at Towne Food and Drink -- a new restaurant in the bottom floor of the Watermarke Tower.

The festival's screenings take place at the Downtown Independent, Hayworth Theater or Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live, with special events at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Engine Co. No. 28 and Kleverdog -- a loft space in Chinatown.

The Downtown Film Festival comes on the heels of the veteran Los Angeles Film Festival, a 10-day event that often features studio films, according to Priest.

The L.A. Film Festival moved from the Westside to Downtown in 2010. It's "great for what it is," said Priest, but added that the Downtown fest is more of a "cultural experience" that highlights the DTLA landscape and stays true to the idea that a film fest should highlight independent work.

Some of this year's documentary highlights include "Getting Up: The Tempt One Story" about a graffiti artist who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, "We are Legion" about the "hacktivist" group Anonymous and a film focused on Downtown's Skid Row called "Falling Up."

Tickets to screenings are $12 to $14 and admission to the opening night film and reception are $35. If you want to skip the movie and go straight to cocktails and food, tickets are $20.

Since the festival began in 2008 it's included an array of special events including a premiere of Spike Lee’s music doc “Passing Strange: The Movie,” screenings at MOCA, a drive-in at Sci-Arc and a music series at the Grammy Museum.

This year's festival concludes with a film fitting for the Friday the 13th end date. Classic horror movie "Night of the Living Dead" will be shown at the Hayworth Theater but with a 21st century addition; "Hecklevision" -- which allows moviegoers to use their phones to send comments on the film to the screen.

Priest expects about 20,000 attendees at this year's event.

For more information or to buy tickets to the festival go to the festival's website

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