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Going Out

Shouting it from the rooftops

Resfest again celebrates the best of digital and underground filmmaking.

October 07, 2004|Steve Baltin | Special to The Times

Here is where sharp meets cutting edge.

The monthly screenings and receptions held in Los Angeles this year by the people behind Res magazine have been part showcase, part industry mixer and part party. And having attracted between 350 and 600 attendees, the events affirm that the pulse of the underground and digital filmmaking community is strong.

Starting Wednesday, the beat will get even stronger when Resfest, the annual celebration of the best in underground and digital filmmaking, including feature films, music videos and commercials, makes its eighth trip to Los Angeles.

"It's the culmination of everything we've been doing this year," festival director Jonathan Wells says.

What Res has done since January is build a social community as an extension of its bimonthly publication, each issue of which contains a DVD of short films and music videos.

"We were already kind of curating something on a regular basis and we just thought 'Why not translate that into a screening event?' " Wells says. "Essentially it's about 70, 80 minutes of work that we're projecting each month and then we have guests there."

Those guests have included members of the Parisian design firm H5 and members of respected L.A. production house Imaginary Forces.

Just as important as rubbing elbows with industry heavyweights, though, are the afterparties, which have been held at such venues as the French restaurant Cafe Des Artistes, the courtyard of the Egyptian Theatre and, most memorably, the rooftop of local production house HKM. These functions have developed a reputation for both their lack of La-La Land pretension and their cross-section of devotees.

"Res definitely exists at the crossroads of art and commerce," says Kiino Villand, an L.A.-based DJ and photographer who helps put the events together.

"We highlight very creative material that isn't so far out in left field that only 30 people can relate to it. That translates into our afterparties too. So it's not about really pumping the DJ floor; that's why a lot of our afterparties have more of a lounge vibe."

Whatever works. The August rooftop blowout certainly was a highlight. "What made it really cool was I'd never been on a rooftop party in Hollywood and I met Helen Stickler, who did the documentary 'Stoked,' " says Brandon Martinez, creative director of the design firm Colourmovie and a regular RES guest. "There were all these filmmakers and here we were sitting among all these buildings in L.A. with a DJ."

Wells describes that event as a template for Resfest's opening-night party Wednesday, which will feature the debut U.S. performance of Japanese turntablist Hifana.

"We selected one of their music videos for the Cinema Electronica program this year and they're going to do a really kind of amazing [audio/visual] performance in the courtyard," Wells says. "We're going to have huge scrims suspended amongst the palm trees in the courtyard, so there'll be kind of interactive video things all over."

The closing-night festivities Oct. 17 will include L.A. rock trio Midnight Movies playing in the Egyptian courtyard.

"I always say, the films are great, but if you just see the films alone you're missing half of the festival," says Wells, who moved from New York City to Venice a year ago.

"There are all types of events that happen in L.A. all the time, but they're exclusive. This is something that's open to the public; it's not like a party that you have to find out how to get a special invite or finagle your way in."

Interaction between filmmakers and attendees will again be plentiful, beginning with the opening party. Among the other social functions is a Meet the Filmmakers barbecue Oct. 16.

Screenings and studio tours account for the bulk of the Resfest schedule. The tours will feature groups of 20 visiting production houses such as Mike Mills and Roman Coppola's the Director's Bureau, Motion Theory and Imaginary Forces.

Karin Fong, who works with Imaginary Forces, says these firms open up and provide all access based on the Res reputation. "Res has always provided a forum for films that often doesn't fit neatly into conventional categories," she says. "It's always been a place to both show and see new work that merges all kinds of images -- from live action to graphic -- into a new kind of hybrid aesthetic."

Wells and Villano believe that same approach has infused the Res events.

"We inhabit a space happily below the radar of the mainstream," Villano says. "I like the idea that people will leave with the idea that L.A. is a pretty cool kind of place."

*

RESFEST

Full schedule: www.resfest.com

* Wednesday: Screening of shorts, 8 p.m., followed by party featuring a performance by Tokyo's Hifana.

* Oct. 14: Studio tours, 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.; screenings 8 and 10 p.m.

* Oct. 15: Studio tours, 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.; screenings 8 and 10 p.m.

* Oct. 16: Meet the Filmmakers barbecue, 4 p.m.; screenings, 6, 8 and 10 p.m.

* Oct. 17: Screenings, 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m., followed by closing party featuring a performance by Midnight Movies.

Where: Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood

Steve Baltin can be reached at weekend@latimes.com.

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