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The Week Ahead

Hollywood festival beefs up local edge

October 13, 2003|Robert W. Welkos

It hasn't reached the heights of the Golden Globe Awards -- and the odds are long that it ever will. Indeed, you won't see NBC or any other network televising the Hollywood Film Festival's gala, star-studded awards banquet this year.

But the festival, which runs Wednesday through next Monday, manages to do things that only a major festival ever manages: It attracts the biggest stars and industry insiders in Tinseltown year after year while its lineup of films, both studio and independent, seems to get stronger.

"I don't want to be the Golden Globes, I don't want to be the Oscars, but I want the festival to be an important and significant part of the awards season -- and I think we can," said founder and executive director Carlos de Abreu, who started the festival seven years ago amid questions whether he could ever pull it off.

Producer Paula Wagner, chairing this year's event, believes she knows why the Hollywood Film Festival has succeeded: The festival is in Hollywood's own backyard.

"People are here making movies, people in the industry live here, work here, and Hollywood has an extraordinary tradition and history," said Wagner, Tom Cruise's producing partner.

This year, however, the festival takes on added importance because of the shortened Academy Awards season, giving films playing in it like "The Human Stain," "Shattered Glass," "The Singing Detective" and "Girl With a Pearl Earring" a publicity boost heading into the Oscars.

"We believe we are the first pre-Oscar event of significance," De Abreu said.

This year's festival includes public screenings of nearly 50 films, along with panel discussions and a special tribute to film preservation.

Also planned is a gala ceremony honoring, among others, director Ron Howard, actors Anthony Hopkins, Goldie Hahn, Orlando Bloom and Scarlett Johansson, producer Sydney Pollack and Columbia Pictures Chairman Amy Pascal.

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Tickets can be purchased at www.arclightcinemas .com or at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood.

-- Robert W. Welkos

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