Your Ultimate Guide To May: 20 Cool Events Happening In Los Angeles

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Bust out the formal wear because The Groundlings are celebrating their 40th anniversary this month. (Image: Cheri Oteri and Will Ferrell, courtesy of The Groundlings)

We found a number of notable happenings in May, so we're ready to help you plan your social calendar. Read on for some of our favorite events this month. And feel free to add yours in the comments section.

May 1-4

FILM FEST: The 3rd Annual Wayne Federman International Film Festival at Cinefamily not only lets comedians select the films to screen, but also then perform, do the intros and participate in post-screening Q&As. Scheduled to screen films this weekend are Kathy Griffin, Jimmy Pardo, Doug Benson, Jeff Garlin, Taylor Negron and T.J. Miller, among others. $12/free to members.

May 2-31

COMEDY: The Groundlings celebrates its 40th anniversary all month long, bringing back classic Groundlings shows as well as the new main stage show, 40 Is the New Groundlings, which opens May 2. Groundlings alumni scheduled to return this month include a veritable who’s who of comedy: Kristen Wiig, Jim Rash, Phil LaMarr, Mindy Sterling, Jennifer Coolidge, Taran Killam, Stephanie Courtney, Rachael Harris, Nat Faxon, Laraine Newman, Maya Rudolph, Michaela Watkins, Jillian Bell, Will Forte and many others. Tickets $10-25 per performance (except $50 on opening night anniversary party).

May 2-June 24

FILM SERIES: The Academy presents a new series of classic Polish films, all personally selected by Martin Scorsese, at LACMA’s Bing Theater. Brand-new digital restorations from Poland’s critically acclaimed filmmakers have been selected, including directors Andrzej Wajda, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Jerzy Kawalerowicz and Wojciech Has.Tickets: $5.

May 1-11

FILM FEST: This year marks the 30th Anniversary edition of the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. The fest opens with the L.A. premiere of the documentary, To Be Takei, which chronicles the life of actor, artist, activist and awesome Tweeter George Takei, from his Star Trek days to his civil rights and marriage equality advocacy. Ticket prices vary by program.

May 1-10

MUSIC: The Pacific Opera Project holds the Los Angeles Premiere of Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto at the Ebell Club of Highland Park. It’s a “POP-Up” production that includes staging and rehearsing the entire opera in just over a week. Individual tickets: $20.

May 1-25

THEATER: The Company of Angels theater company presents the short play festival L.A. Views: Traffic Jam. The festival gives L.A. playwrights the opportunity to be “inspired by and write of issues and themes about Los Angeles.” At the Los Angeles Theatre Center in DTLA. Preview tickets $10, regular performance tickets: $20.

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Angel City Derby Girls put on a Grindhouse Art Fair and charity auction this weekend. (Poster art: Ryan Padgham)

May 3

ART: Eat Your Art Out VII: Grindhouse Inferno is an underground art show and charity auction that takes over Titmouse Animation Studios. The event will give props to ‘70s grindhouse cinema, all while hosting an open bar for adults, popcorn and treats for the kids, food trucks, live art, music by DJ Expo, DJ Mahf and DJ Day. All ages. Admission: $5.

May 6-June 1

SCI-FI THEATER: Sci-Fest—the first Los Angeles Science Fiction One-Act Play Festival—premieres at The ACME Theatre featuring two different evenings (‘A’ and ‘B’ nights) of new and classic sci-fi works, including Ray Bradbury’s “Kaleidoscope.” Tickets start at $20, and vary by day/performance.

May 8-9

FOUND FOOTAGE: The Found Footage Festival is celebrating its 10th year and returns to LA for two night at the New Beverly. Hosts Joe Pickett (The Onion) and Nick Prueher (Letterman, Colbert) screen a new slate of VHS finds from garage sales, warehouses, thrift shops and dumpsters everywhere. 9 pm. Tickets: $13.

May 14-June 1

FILM SERIES: The American Cinematheque and the Luis Buñuel Film Institute present the film series, It’s Been Surreal: Films of Luis Buñuel, at both the Aero and Egyptian Theatres. Our fav? On May 31, the series screens “Un Chien Andalou,” “Land Without Bread” and Belle de Jour, followed by a surrealist ball, with appetizers served from Buñuel’s home menu.

May 13-18

MUSICAL THEATER: Green Day’s American Idiot comes to the Pantages for one week. The rock opera, based on the Green Day album, tells the story of three friends, forced to choose “between their dreams and the safety of suburbia.” For ages 13 and older. Tickets: $25-$150+ fees.

May 15-18

COMEDY SHORTS: The Downtown Independent hosts the LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival, now in its sixth year. There are four nights of comedy short films, networking, panels, script competition and parties. Festival badges are available, and individual tickets begin at $15.

May 17

MUSIC: The Getty Center’s music series Saturdays off the 405 returns for 2014 beginning with a concert by Jonathan Williams Wilson from 6-9 pm. Enjoy the music while taking in the great views. DJ sets open and close the night. Free. No reservations required.

May 17-18

STRAWBERRIES: Yes, we know technically that the California Strawberry Festival is not in L.A., but we love strawberries especially near the peak of the season. If you do, too, then consider taking a road trip to Oxnard for this festival. Music, entertainment, arts & crafts, and food. More than 50 booths are dedicated to all things strawberry, from strawberry pizza and strawberry nachos, to strawberry kabobs, chocolate dipped strawberries, strawberry funnel cake, strawberry flan, strawberry cotton candy, deep-fried strawberries, strawberry beer, etc. You get the picture. Admission: $5-$12.

BUGS: The Natural History Museum’s Bug Fair is the largest bug fest in North America. Vendors will be on hand to help visitors start or build their own bug collections. They're also selling bug-related art and merchandise. Live specimens will be on view and booths will be set up to meet museum entomologists and local nature and wildlife groups, to ask anything and everything about bugs. (Anyone else find it kind of interesting that one of the sponsors of the bug fair is Western Exterminator?)

May 18

TRANSPORTATION TALK: KCRW and Helms Bakery present an afternoon of exhibits and talks for the program, Reinventing the Wheel, The Future of Mobility in Los Angeles. Learn the latest in bike, car and transit design with DnA's Frances Anderton in conversation with Geoff Wardle (Art Center College of Design), Craig Hodgetts (UCLA's Hyperloop Suprastudio), Harald Belker (concept designer for Batman and Robin, Minority Report, etc.) and Michael Lejeune (Creative Director Metro Los Angeles). Food trucks, free beer from Father’s Office and live music from KCRW DJ Aaron Byrd, too. Tickets: $15.

May 19-20

FOOD: The LA Times presents Bite Nites—two nights to explore some of the city’s best restaurants, each hand-picked by critic Jonathan Gold. The evening will be held in the Times’ DTLA printing plant. More than 20 different restaurants will be participating each night, ensuring different choices each night. 7:30-10 pm. Tickets: $125 each (limit of two) for LAT members (aka subscribers) only.

May 24-26

FAIR: 41st Annual Topanga Days Festival takes place over Memorial Day Weekend with music, food and fun for the family. It’s a bohemian country fair with live music (e.g., Venice, Cubensis), arts and crafts, local vendors, food and beverages and its “eccentric, exciting, community-driven historic parade.” General admission: $15-25. Free shuttle bus service along Topanga Boulevard.

May 29

ART TALK: Tickets are now on sale for the next installment of The Broad’s popular Un-Private Collection Series. The heralded Japanese artist Takashi Murakami will be joined by bestselling author and Japan scholar Pico Iyer for a conversation at the Orpheum Theatre. 8 pm. Tickets: $12.

May 30-June 1

FILM FEST: The LA Times’ Hero Complex Film Festival, now in its fifth year, is a weekend dedicated to all things sci-fi, fantasy and horror. Screenings, Q&As and live appearances are planned throughout the Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatres. Scheduled to appear are: Jamie Bamber, Jay Baruchel, James Cameron, Joe Dante, Dean DeBlois, America Ferrera, Mary McDonnell, Ronald D. Moore, Edward James Olmos and Sigourney Weaver, among others. Tickets: $20-$40 per screening—many of which are selling out fast.

Want the 411 on additional events and happenings in L.A.? Follow @LAist or me (@christineziemba) on Twitter.