New Film Series Bringing Edgier Films We Otherwise Wouldn't Get In L.A.
In a city so movie-centric, it's hard to believe that there are still gaps that need to be filled in Los Angeles' film programming. A new screening series aims to remedy that.
Announced last week by founder Jordan Cronk, Acropolis Cinema will host itinerant screenings of arthouse, experimental, independent, and international titles that would otherwise not find an opportunity to play in L.A. Acropolis kicks off after the new year on Jan. 13 with a screening of La úiltima película, a sardonic indie riff on Dennis Hopper's cult classic The Last Movie. Directed by Raya Martin and Mark Pearanson and starring Listen Up Philip director Alex Ross Perry, La úiltima película received a week-long run at New York's Film Society of Lincoln Center, but otherwise hasn't played elsewhere—not even in the epicenter of the movie industry.
"What I'm going to focus on, initially, will be experimental narrative films," Cronk, a film critic and programmer, tells LAist. "There isn't really an outlet for that kind of filmmaking [in L.A.]." Venues and series like Cinefamily, REDCAT, and Los Angeles Film Forum give cinephiles a taste of the more niche arthouse film world in L.A., but even those places have their limitations.
"They don't touch on what I want to do," Cronk continues. "I see these types of films on the festival circuit and keep track of them to see if they come to L.A. Most of them do, but a lot of them open in New York and not here."
Why this is the case has been a point of frustration for many film connoisseurs in L.A. Michael Nordine tackled our "art house film desert" in an L.A. Times editorial this past summer, with most distributors and exhibitors seeming to agree that traffic was the biggest hurdle—too many potential audience member will have to sit through traffic gridlocks in order to make it to theaters in Santa Monica or West L.A..
And in a town so industry-oriented, it's also hard for niche films to break through the noise of Hollywood and awards buzz. "There's not a lot of awareness of writing about these types of film out here," said Cronk. "More casual filmgoers are reading things that aren't covering films like these."
Too often film fanatics will check the release schedule of quality distributors such as Cinema Guild and Kino Lorber and see that critically acclaimed titles from the festival circuit will get an L.A. release many months after a New York premiere, if at all. Last year, angst built up amongst the arthouse community over the possibility that we would never see Jean-Luc Godard's 3-D feature Goodbye To Language on an L.A. screen. This year, Pedro Costa's Horse Money (a prizewinner at the Locarno International Film Festival) will finally get one screening this Sunday through Film Forum—almost five months after it received a run in New York. The latest films from Guy Maddin and Miguel Gomes (The Forbidden Room and the Arabian Nights trilogy, respectively), aren't scheduled to be released in L.A., at this point.
"I think there's a demand for those among the nascent film community out there—you can see that when you go to different theaters when they do show them," says Cronk. "There's a strong arts community, but there's still a divide between the audience and what's being shown."
Acropolis Cinema plans on bringing such films to underserved audiences in the arts-oriented eastern parts of the city, where there are few, if any, theaters showing these edgier works on their first run. The majority of first-runs for such films are typically all west of La Brea Avenue, at the Nuart, Laemmle Royal, Laemmle Music Hall, Sundance Sunset, or Cinefamily. The L.A. premiere of La úiltima película that Acropolis is hosting will be at the Los Feliz 3, and their second event, a program of avant-garde shorts by Blake Williams, will be at an art space in Chinatown. Cronk says he's also interested in bringing film to newer spaces. "I'm talking to smaller art spaces or places that aren't generally movie-oriented."
Cronk feels that Acropolis Cinema is a first step in fixing the shortcomings of the L.A. film scene, but doesn't put it all on the shoulders of the exhibitors. "It's not their fault if they don't think they'll make money on showing this stuff. I don't blame them," he says. "If those theaters don't take them, then I will."