Gutsy, independent, smart and free

Wow, what an opening. Limos cruised behind the red carpet, helicopters buzzed around LA Live, spotlights strobed the skies, and I felt like I was in a Batman movie, with the big action sequence about to erupt around me. Festival volunteers ushered me to the rooftop Opening Night party of the LA Film Festival, telling me excitedly "you'll be able to watch the riots from there!".

Yes the riot police were marching out. Were people actually RIOTING over the opening night film, 'The Kids Are All Right'? I thought the audience seemed to be in agreement that it was pretty funny really. ...I mean rioting, over a comedy? Sure the theme was gay marriage, but that takes film criticism to a new level. I know it´s the LA Film Festival, and people here take film pretty seriously, but... I can see batons?!

I was wondering whether to grab my camera and run over, or run away, when a caterer handed me a cocktail and the happy news "the LAKERS WON!!". Oh. All that excitement was over a basketball game? And I'd been so impressed with the size of the LA Film Festival's helicopter budget.

Film Independent certainly chose a dramatic stage when they selected Downtown as their festival venue. Though the buzz around Opening night was racing off the richter scale for the wrong reasons, it certainly gave it atmosphere. And when the stars came out, the Opening Night film completed the coup.

´The Kids Are All Right´ was a real charmer, leaving the audience in chuckles over a lovable lesbian couple (played by the lovely Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) whose lives are turned upside down when their kids introduce them to the handsome Mark Ruffalo ("Hi, I'm your sperm donor"). And yep, he turns out to be quite the charmer too.

Charming could well be Mark Ruffalo's middle name, as he looked deep into my eyes, with those darling big brown eyes of his, and answered the question I put to him on the red carpet, just as passionately: So what type of directors do you like to work with?

"Gutsy, original, smart and free".

I resisted the urge to reply "yep, that would be ME!!". Because if he was looking for fine independent filmmakers, he was in the right place - on the red carpet at the Opening Night of the Los Angeles Film Festival, helicopters were hovering over so many of them, someone must have called the riot police.

Wendy Dent

17 June 2010