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[UPDATED] Around Town: Film festivals this week and next

October 13, 2010 | 12:00 pm

Film festivals come in all shapes and sizes, and this week’s offerings in Los Angeles illustrate the breadth and depth of the festival circuit.

Those whose tastes run to the avant-garde will want to check out Counter Culture, Counter Cinema: An Avant-Garde Film Festival, which begins Thursday evening and continues through Saturday at the SilverScreen Theater at the Pacific Design Center. Curated by David E. James and MM Serra, the festival is sponsored by the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, the Pacific Design Center and Charles S. Cohen, the president and owner of PDC.

Over three days, the festival will screen avant-garde films from the early 1960s to the present that  have been selected from the collection of the New American Cinema Group and New York’s Film-Makers’ Cooperative. The opening program will feature Jack Smith’s “Flaming Creatures,” Jose Rodriquez-Soltero’s “Lupe” and Carolee Schneemann’s “Fuses.” Schneemann and Jonah Mekas -- both pioneers in the avant-garde field -- will participate in a panel discussion after the screening. Ken Jacobs, another veteran filmmaker, is also a special guest at the festival. www.moca.org

Bernal “Even the Rain,” starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Luis Tosar, opens the Recent Spanish Cinema series Thursday evening at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre. After the screening of Spain’s official entry for the 2010 foreign language film Oscar, there will be a discussion with Tosar. The festival, which continues through Sunday, features several U.S. premieres including “Lope” and “Paper Birds,” both screening Friday. www.americancinematheque.com

The sixth annual La Femme International Festival, which aims to celebrate and empower female artists, also commences Thursday evening at the Renberg Theatre in Los Angeles. The four-day event will present 100 films including indie features, shorts, music videos, commercials, special screenings and seminars. Actresses Angela Bassett, Virginia Madsen, Loretta Devine and Maggie Wheeler will be honored at the awards ceremony on Sunday evening. www.lafemme.org

The 2010 Bel-Air Film Festival, which begins Thursday evening and continues through Tuesday, will present 35 world premieres and 12 Los Angeles premieres at the James Bridges Theater at UCLA. Brian Austin Green, currently on “Desperate Housewives,” is being honored with the festival’s best actor award for “Turning Japanese,” a short film having its L.A. premiere at the festival. Actress/comic Kathy Najimy, who will introduce the L.A. premiere of the documentary “The Last Elephants in Thailand," and Oscar-nominated director Mark Rydell (“On Golden Pond”) will receive the legendary filmmaker awards. Salaam Remi ("Sex and the City,” “Rush Hour 3”) will be honored with the best music in film award. www.belairfilmfestival.com

The 11 1/2 annual Polish Film Festival — the 11th annual was this spring — opens Thursday evening at the Laemmle's Sunset 5 Theatre with a gala and three films: "Warsaw ECOC 2016" by Agnieszka Holland and Magdalena Lazarkiewicz, "Dawn of Darkness" and All That I Love." Friday's offerings are "Piggies" and "Player," directed by Alina Szpak, who will be in attendance.  The series continues through Oct. 21. www.polishfilmla.org

The Anaheim International Film Festival, which begins Wednesday and continues through Sunday, showcases some 100 contemporary narrative features, documentaries, live action shorts, workshops, tributes, retrospectives and galas. Among the films being screened are “Inhale,” which is the closing night presentation; the musical “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench”; the documentary “Best Worst Movie”; and contemporary Mexican cinema and extreme sports showcases. The festival takes place at the UltraStar Cinemas at the Anaheim Garden Walk. www.anaheimfilm.org

And, if you're planning already for next week ...

The American Cinematheque and the Goethe Institute Los Angeles present the fourth edition of the German Currents Showcase featuring some of the most acclaimed German films of the past year. The festival begins Wednesday, Oct. 20, at the Egyptian with “When We Leave,” Germany’s official submission for the foreign-language film Oscar. Feo Aladag, who will discuss the film after the screening, directed the drama about a young woman of Turkish heritage attempting to have a life of her own in Germany. The series continues Oct. 21-24 at the Aero Theatre. www.goethe.de/germancurrents

Dreyfuss The 25th Israel Film Festival begins also begins Wednesday, Oct. 20, with a gala awards dinner at the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton honoring Richard Dreyfuss with the career achievement award; Ryan Kavanaugh with the outstanding achievement in film award; Jon Landau with the Visionary Award; and Avi Lerner with the lifetime achievement award. The festival, which begins showing films on Oct. 21, will take place at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in West Hollywood, the Royal in West L.A. and the Laemmle Fallbrook 7 in West Hills. www.IsraelFilmFestival.com

-- Susan King

Top photo: Gael Garcia Bernal in "Letters to Juliet" Credit:  John P. Johnson / Summit Entertainment

Bottom photo: Richard Dreyfuss at a screening of "Red" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

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Wow, Susan King, you actually mentioned West Hills.


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