Curtain Goes Up on L.A.’s Downtown Film Festival

Curtain Goes Up on L.A.’s Downtown Film Festival
Highlights at this years festival include a star-studded documentary about Arthur Fogel and a special screening of "Chinatown."
((l-r) Courtesy of, © 1974 Paramount Pictures, Courtesy of "Who The F Is Arthur Fogel?" Facebook, Issac Brekken/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive)

LOS ANGELES – The fifth annual Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles kicked off Wednesday with the U.S. premiere of Ron Chapman’s “Who the F**k is Arthur Fogel?,” a documentary about the man behind seven of the ten bestselling worldwide concert tours, including Madonna, Bono, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Sting, and others.

Running July 10-18, this non-profit festival is expected to attract 20,000 visitors and will offer more than 100 screenings of features, documentary, and short films from around the world.


Also included is an exhibition of award-winning shorts during next month’s Downtown L.A. Art Walk, a 3-D film program devoted to French cinema, and workshops covering topics like film finance, distribution, and music supervision.

Special showcases devoted to feminism, Latino-American filmmakers, and downtown L.A. culture and personalities will include the Los Angeles premiere of “Femme,” a new documentary produced by Sharon Stone featuring interviews with Gloria Steinem, Mira Nair, and others that examines a future where women are the majority in power.

Other festival highlights include “My Father and the Man in Black,” Jonathan Holiff’s documentary about his father, Johnny Cash’s manager, Saul Holiff, screening, appropriately enough, at the Grammy Museum, as well as a closing night unspooling of the Roman Polanski classic “Chinatown,” showing at downtown’s iconic Union Station.

Twenty years ago, downtown L.A. was a place where bankers and lawyers came to work, but sidewalks were overrun with the homeless, mentally ill, and drug addicts. Today it boasts some of the city’s leading cultural institutions and has become a hub for fine dining and nightlife.

“The creative nexus of downtown L.A. emanates today in lots of directions — film, food, the arts, fashion,” said festival co-director Greg Ptacek on the festival’s website, where he describes L.A.-centric titles like, “5th Street,” a police drama set on the streets of L.A., and “The Human Scale,” a documentary about the new wave of urban planning looking at five cities, including Los Angeles.

“Our programming reflects downtown L.A.’s vibrant new urbanism, the unique ethnic and cultural diversity of its communities and neighborhoods, and its seminal role in the early days of American cinema,” festival PR head Natasha Walker told ARTINFO in a statement. “Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles celebrates the renaissance of downtown L.A. in all its facets, its historic movie palaces, its legendary cultural institutions, its thriving business and residential communities, and its unique ethnic-cultural diversity.”