Now in its seventeenth year, the festival has only grown in popularity and complexity, and music videos, feature films, documentaries, narratives, and a number of additional genres each have their own categories. But the annual ten day festival, a contest that features both American and internationally produced pieces, is not only a film showcase.
With conversations, panel discussions, parties, and a limited number of free screenings, plus a fair share of celebrity names splashed across the program, the LA Film Festival had much to offer those willing to brave the downtown traffic.
High profile names appeared throughout the festival's run, including Matthew McConaughey (with wife Camilla Alves by his side) who sported a cowboy hat and turned heads with a new mustache. The actor met up with Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine during a special opening night screening of Richard Linklater's Bernie, in which the three star.
This year's Artist in Residence, singer/actress/producer Erykah Badu, appeared numerous times throughout the festival. The Twilight Saga's Kristin Stewart and young heartthrob Taylor Lautner arrived for a Wednesday screening of New Moon director Chris Weitz's A Better Life.
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Kate Bosworth starred in Kat Coiro's debut film L!fe Happens, and Kristin Chenoweth was seen at the Q&A session for the winning documentary feature, Beverly Kopf and Bobbie Birleffi's Wish Me Away.
Ryan Gossling and Mad Men's Christina Hendricks appeared for a screening of Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, in which the two play parts.
Wrapping up the festival yesterday was Katie Holmes and eleven year old costar Bailee Madison for the premiere screening of their new Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.
The winners were announced yesterday at the Awards Brunch, with a number of different awards to go around.
The Narrative Award for the best narrative feature went to Quebecois Stéphane Lafleur for Familiar Ground, with the jury calling it 'the singular vision that stood out the most.' The 'droll, deadpan comedy' features 'unhappy, isolated ordinary people' and their meeting with a man from the future who warns them of possible impending disaster, culminating in a surprise ending.
Winner of the Documentary Award for best documentary feature was Kopf and Birleffi's Wish Me Away, which jurors stated had the 'potential to change minds and even save lives,' told the tale of country star Chely Wright's painfully wrought decision to come out of the closet.
Best Performance in the Narrative Competition went to Amber Sealey, Kent Osborne, Amanda Street and Gabriel Diamond in Sealey'sHow to Cheat, a touching film that 'reveals marriage to be as funny as it is heartbreaking.'
Saba Riazi's The Wind Is Blowing on My Street, an Iranian film about a young girl locked out of her home without a headscarf, was chosen as for Best Narrative Short Film. The actress who played the young Tehrani was forced to remain anonymous, but wowed the jury with her 'remarkable lead performance.'
Audience awards included Joe Rosen's Blind Date for Best Short Film and Mike Please's The Eagleman Stag for Best Animated Short Film.
Although the full films are not available online, many of the official trailers can be viewed on YouTube. More information about the winning films and additional award winners is available on the LA Film Festival 2011 Festival Winners page.