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Arts and Entertainment

10 Must-See Movies at the Los Angeles Film Festival

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Film Independent’sLos Angeles Film Festival returns to L.A. Live on Thursday (June 13) and continues through June 23 with a jam-packed schedule that includes nearly 200 feature films, shorts and music videos from more than 40 countries. Organizers are expecting up to 92,000 visitors for the films, workshops, panels and other anciliary programs.

We sifted through the films so you wouldn’t have to—and here are 10 films we’re most looking forward to watching, in no particular order:

> Pedro Almodóvar’sI’m so Excited (2012) has its North American premiere as it serves as the festival’s opener on Thursday night. In Spanish with English subtitles, the film focuses on what happens in business class as a passenger jet headed for Mexico develops dangerous mechanical problems. On the plane are your basic Almodóvarian characters, including a psychic, a chic dominatrix, a crooked businessman and a soap star.

> Lake Bell wrote, directed and also stars in the film In A World... (2013), which skewers the politics of gender in Hollywood. When LA’s king of movie voice-overs dies, a not-quite-together vocal coach (Bell) finds herself in contention for the coveted, but usually male, role. It screens on June 15 and 16.

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> The horror flick The Conjuring screens on June 21. Based on a true story that happened before Amityville, it tells the tale of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren who were called to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse.

> One of the festival’s gala films is Ryan Coogler’s first feature Fruitvale Station (2012), screening on June 17. It’s based on the true story of Oscar Grant, the young African American man killed by Oakland's BART transit police. We hear that Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights) is just riveting in the lead role.

> Another gala film Only God Forgives (2013) screens on June 20. Director Nicolas Winding Refn once again teams with his Drive star Ryan Gosling for this brutal film about an American expat in Bangkok's underworld. He’s forced by his mother’s obsession to avenge his brother’s murder. Although the film sharply divided audiences and critics alike Cannes, it still has Ryan Gosling—so we’ll bite.

> In the Summer Showcase, we’re looking foward to checking out Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013), screening on June 15 and June 17. Casey Affleck stars as an outlaw on the run who’s trying to reunite with his wife (Rooney Mara) and the daughter he’s never met.

> Crystal Fairy (2012) is also a Summer Showcase film, screening on June 14 and 18. In the adventure-comedy, Michael Cera plays a boorish American in Chile whose searching for a legendary hallucinogenic cactus. His trip gets even stranger when he’s joined by Gaby Hoffman's Crystal Fairy. It's written and directed by Sebastián Silva.

> Closing out the festival on June 23 is The Way, Way Back (2013) directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. It’s a coming of age story of 14-year-old Duncan's (Liam James, who also stars in The Killing) summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette), her overbearing boyfriend (Steve Carell), and his daughter (Zoe Levin). The shy Duncan finds an unexpected friendship in the manager of the Water Wizz water park—played by the incomparable Sam Rockwell.

> There’s a special screening of Monsters University on June 18, a few days before it opens in wide release. Dan Scanlon directs this Disney/Pixar film that looks back at the contentious relationship between Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) during their days at Monsters University.

> The Spectacular Now, directed by James Ponsoldt (Smashed) and written by (500) Days of Summer scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, is a coming-of-age story about opposites attracting, with young actors Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. It screens June 17 and 21.

And finally, there are four separate programs in theShort Film Competition, with films programmed under a unifying theme. So many more films—documentaries, international offerings, free films— are also worth seeing...there are just too many to list. What do you want to see? Post in the comments below.

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Most of these screenings take place at Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14 with additional films and events at LACMA, JW Marriot - ION Rooftop Bar, GRAMMY Museum, Grand Performances and Arts Brookfield at FIGat7th Plaza. Individual ticket prices are $13, with $20 for gala screenings. If you got the cash, passes range from $150-$2,500 with a special college package $80 (Requires proof of enrollment in a university or college for spring or summer semester 2013).