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ArcLight Cinemas launches documentary festival

October 26, 2011 |  5:16 pm

ArcLight Hollywood lobby

This post has been corrected. Please see note at the bottom for details.

A good movie trailer can generate an opening weekend crowd, can win its own awards and can even inspire Muppet-filled spoofs. Now a trailer can secure a feature film a spot in a film festival, as ArcLight Cinemas has shown with its new documentary festival occurring next month.

The upscale theater chain will present its inaugural Documentary Film Festival at its Hollywood location on Sunset Boulevard. The 10 films were selected by Web users, who voted on the docs’ trailers on the ArcLight YouTube page. The top 10 “most liked” will screen at the festival Nov. 7-11. ArcLight announced Wednesday which films made the cut, after an Oct. 17-23 voting period.

The festival will award the winning documentary producer $10,000.

The festival was conceived by Gretchen McCourt, ArcLight’s executive vice president of cinema programming, after seeing the positive response to Banksy's “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” which opened in Los Angeles at ArcLight Hollywood last year. The theater chain’s marketing company, Mission Control, organized the festival.

The event “is a strong way to be able to enjoy what ArcLight wants to do more of — not just blockbusters. Independent documentaries have a lot to bring too,” said Jonathan Josell, creative director at Mission Control.

Determining the finalists through voting by the public was motivated by the opportunity to “allow people to promote their own films," Josell said. "That’s where independent film is sort of going today.”

Among the films in the festival (see full list below) is “Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians,” which is produced by Jason Connell, founder of Connell Creations. His work — putting on film festivals — takes him all over the world, but the ArcLight festival will be close to home, as the theater is just half a mile away from the company’s offices.

“I’m such a huge fan of [ArcLight Hollywood]. It’s by far my favorite theater,” Connell said. The producer also sees the festival as a way to generate more buzz for “Holy Rollers” in L.A., as he’s “close to closing a few deals” for the film’s distribution, he said.

The winning documentary selected by four judges will be announced Nov. 12 at a gala. McCourt is one of the judges, along with Rhadi Taylor, associate director of Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program; Rebecca Cammisa, director of Oscar-nominated “Which Way Home”; and Marjan Safinia, a member of the board of directors for the International Documentary Assn.

The screening schedule and ticket information will be on ArcLight’s website later this week.

Films screening in the festival:
“We Were Feared”
“Once I was a Champion”
“God In The Box”
“More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead”
“13 Families"
“Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians”
“More Than Me”
“Rize N Grind”

[For the Record, 12:45 p.m. Oct. 27: A previous version of this post misspelled Jonathan Josell's last name as Jossell.]


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Movie review: 'Exit Through the Gift Shop'

First offerings at the DocuWeeks documentary showcase

– Emily Rome

Photo: The lobby of ArcLight Hollywood. Credit: Jeff Lewis