Lajolla International Fashion Film Festival
The Worlds Best Fashion Films At The La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival – Forbes
If you love Cannes and Sundance, pay attention to the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival in San Diego, California. The next big film festivals are going to be fashion films and the place to see them will be there. It’s a little festival with a big heart and big talent that has been quietly working with some of the best directors around the globe.
The festival is the passion project of Fred Sweet, owner and founder, who his model and talent agency to embrace his belief in the importance of fashion film and to create a platform where talented directors and designers could showcase their work. While some directors are beginning to produce big budget films for brands like Chanel and Prada, many are still funding them out of their own pockets – that’s how excited they are about this medium.
It’s grown from a small affair to now being a “must attend” for many prominent directors and now, in its 8th year it’s one of the largest and most unique fashion film festivals in the world. Unique because it’s invite only and privately funded. The largest, because each year, the festival culls from over 11,000 films, separating the wheat from the chaff to come up with an exciting mix of less than a 100 of the best films.
How important are fashion films? Most of the big fashion houses have embraced them to the point of creating big advertising budgets. At the Academy Awards, 2018, you may be seeing them on the red carpet as a new awards category. The second largest film studio in China, Bolong ECPG (Europe China Pictures Group) are here with their general manager John Lambert, actively scouting stylists, designers and directors for their current production of “Year of the Hat” a feature length fashion film/romantic comedy that will shoot in London and China this Fall. I caught up with John to ask why they were investing so heavily in feature films and they said, “it’s a mysterious genre…fashion films have no boundaries and are allowing the film makers to explore and create short films with amazing concepts and visually stunning story telling.” Other big names in the audience included Larry Namer founder of E! Entertainment Television, George and Ted Schilowitz of Filmcast Live, Arthur Valverde whose film Statures of Gods won best Cinematography, Brandon Jameson whose film Pearl won for Best Fashion, Best Narration, and Best Actress (Catherine Roberts), and notably one of the best fashion film directors in the world, Bruno Aveillan. When you have names like these in attendance, you know it’s just a matter of time before fashion films, unknown by the majority of the population are a buzz word on everyone’s lips.
But it’s not for name dropping or celebrity watching that that great directors come here or why Fred runs the festival. This festival is all about heart. The people who come love the way fashion films allow them to explore important issues we all face through beautiful visuals. Take the dystopian future of the film “Robots” by directors Joshua Brandao and Nicolai Kornum, in which everyone can have a different face at the touch of a button. Director Petra Springer is actively building a fashion brand of clothes that fit women of every shape and promoting it with her animated and funny film, “Holy Sh*t It Fits.” Transcendent beauty and power of nature pushes you back in your seat in Elemental Beauty directed by Elena Kovalenko.
The festival starts on Thursday with the first screening and follows with seminars and a second screening on Friday followed by an after party. As I’ve missed the first day, I’m starting out my favorite way, at the party. It’s a perfect Summer evening at The Lot, a hip, upscale restaurant slash elegant movie theater in La JoIla. The vibe is relaxed, a mix that’s half men and women dressed in elegant suits and dresses and half standard film garb, aka jeans and a loose button-down shirt. People are gathered in clusters speaking excitedly in Italian, Spanish, French and German making it clear that this is truly an international gathering of directors, writers and producers
Saturday morning, my friend and I make ourselves cozy in the lush leather seats of the theater and push the call button for breakfast (height of luxury) to see a screening of 12 films. The first few are what I’ve come to expect, too focused on being “artsy” and not enough on storytelling, but then we get to Cocoon Redux by Maria Burns and Marco DeOrnella and I think “finally” a fashion film that brings together the feel of a fashion editorial, with movement and storytelling, to perfection. Cocoon Redux is followed by five more great films that demonstrate some of the cleverest ideas can be done on a small budget.
At the Awards Ceremony, they roll out some of the big budget films. First up is Infinite Path by director Francesco Torricella for Etro a visually lush and inspiring film that is a combination of Last Samurai, the Dalai Lama and Avatar. Pearl by Brendan Jameson is a sweet and expertly crafted film. Casamorati for an Italian perfume company is a sweeping fairytale through time. Think Outside the Box by director Doug Clayton creates an entirely new paradigm in sports advertisements with a gritty and real film for NBA South America.