He isn't a Power List 100 studio executive, nor is he an A-list filmmaker or even a manager or agent to one.
Yet today, Carlos de Abreu has carved out a unique place during the intense Hollywood awards season. The film festival he launched after discovering that nobody had copyrighted the term "Hollywood" is back for its eighth incarnation, culminating in a star-studded ceremony Oct. 18 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills that is already sold out. This year's honorees include Mel Gibson, Annette Bening, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Keira Knightly, director Michael Mann and lifetime award winner John Travolta.
The banquet will cap the six-day Hollywood Film Festival, which will run from Tuesday through Oct. 17. De Abreu said he expects 25,000 people to attend the events and noted that tickets to the festival panel discussions are sold out. Tickets for individual screenings, however, can still be obtained at the ArcLight theaters in Hollywood, where all the screenings will be held, or online at www.arclightcinemas.com.
Because of the shortened Academy Awards season, this year's festival has become a platform for both independent and studio films and for actors to get noticed before Oscar campaigns get underway.
Among this year's films being showcased are Miramax Films' "Finding Neverland" by director Marc Forster, Lions Gate Films' "Eulogy" by Michael Clancy, United Artists' "Undertow" by David Gordon Green and Newmarket Films' "P.S." by Dylan Kidd. Opening night will showcase a documentary on Hollywood film editing called "The Cutting Edge" by Wendy Apple, while closing night will feature the U.S. premiere of Lions Gate's "A Love Song for Bobby Long" by Shainee Gabel. Both the opening and closing night shows are by invitation only.
In collaboration with Film Threat, an underground website that deals with genre cinema, the festival will also celebrate horror, sci-fi and fantasy films with nightly screenings.
De Abreu said that this year's festival saw 2,100 submissions from filmmakers around the world, a 30% increase over last year. Feature films alone totaled 400 submissions, he said. The total number of documentaries, features and shorts were eventually whittled down to 60.
The festival's biggest attraction -- the banquet for 1,200 guests at the Beverly Hilton -- has no live television coverage, unlike the Golden Globe Awards or even the Broadcast Film Critics Assn.'s Critics' Choice Awards dinner. But the banquet has drawn stars such as Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Charlize Theron and Steven Spielberg in years past.
"We don't feel a need to broadcast it at this time," De Abreu said. "If it's not broken, why fix it?"
This year, the festival landed a major coup when Gibson accepted an invitation to receive the producer of the year award for his controversial film "The Passion of the Christ." The festival is also honoring Bening as actress of the year for her role in "Being Julia" and DiCaprio as actor of the year for his role in "The Aviator." Foxx is getting the breakthrough acting award for "Ray" and Knightly is receiving the breakthrough award for "King Arthur." Mann will receive director of the year for "Collateral." Travolta is getting a lifetime achievement award.