10 Things to Get Excited About at 2014 Irvine International Film Festival ... in Laguna Hills

Categories: Film

Irvine is one of the largest cities in Orange County as well as the safest and best-run city in America, according to recent rankings. The University Town Center theater across from UC Irvine has been heralded as the best independent movie house so many times by the Weekly we routinely get embarrassed and choose another joint just so we don't get accused of bias. Irvine has other great places to catch movies, including at the aforementioned UCI. And so, the third-ever Irvine International Film Festival's seven-day runs kicks off this afternoon at ... Laguna Hills Mall? WTF!?!

The amazing Ms. SR Davies gives a brief overview of the IIFF in our Calendar: Irvine International Film Festival. That's also where you will find the links to the program and ticket information.

Here are 10 things I'm looking forward to:

1) Karen Black: On Acting

You would have never known it by looking at her, but Karen Black was a Hollywood "it" girl in the 1970s, when it seemed as if she appeared in every other flick just as Jennifer Lawrence does today. Black was pursued by leading men in many of these. As a tween and teen at the time, I never got it. But, there is no denying you could not take your eyes off her crossed-eyes and compelling performances. She sat down in January 2013 with director Russell Brown to share 40 years' worth of insights into the craft of acting. Three months later, Black revealed she had been battling cancer for years, and by that August she was gone. Fortunately, Brown had cameras rolling when he spoke with Black, and the result is a 75-minute film that screens for free, followed by a panel discussion, Saturday morning.

2) Torn

The next best thing to watching Karen Black in Airport 1975 from your seat in a jetliner? Watching Jeremiah Birnbaum's drama in a quiet suburban California town's shopping mall. Torn has two teen-age boys dying in an explosion at a quiet suburban California town's shopping mall, with the tragedy bringing together their mothers, a working-class single mom and an upper-middle class Pakistani immigrant. Their deep bond is strained when the Pakistani's Muslim son is fingered as the prime suspect in the blast. This film opens the festival tonight.

3) Running From Crazy

This is something I've always wondered about but would have found too indelicate to ask Mariel Hemingway: What's it like having a grandfather (Ernest) who famously committed suicide and sister (Margaux) who famously died of an overdose? Fortunately, Barbara Kopple is not me, and she got the actress to open up about her family history of mental illness and personal search for ways to overcome a similar fate. This screens Saturday afternoon.

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