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Actor Taylor John Smith at SDIFF Film Insider Series

Left Coast. La was honored to attend the San Diego International Film Festival’s VIP Film Insider Series featuring HBO’s new “Sharp Objects” starring Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson and Taylor John Smith. The event was held at the  ArcLight Cinemas in San Diego, CA. 

Based on the book of the same name by The New York Times bestselling author Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl,” “Dark Places”), “Sharp Objects” is an eight-episode series that tells the story of reporter Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) who “returns to her small hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. Trying to put together a psychological puzzle from her past, she finds herself identifying with the young victims a bit too closely,” according to HBO. In addition to Adams, Clarkson and Smith, the series features Chris Messina, Eliza Scanlen, Elizabeth Perkins and Matt Craven. It is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée from scripts by Marti Noxon and Flynn.

Heading into the theater no one knew what to expect, but by the end of the VIP preview the 200 person crowd was on the same page. This show is definitely a must see! “Sharp Objects” Premiers Sunday, July 8 at 9 p.m.
 
 

Tonya Mantooth, Taylor John Smith, Adam Loew

Kristian Forster, Careesa Campbell, Managing Director of Maserati & Ferrari San Diego, Vicky Carlson

BARRY WETCHER/WARNER BROS.
Mindy Kaling (third from left) in the recently released “Ocean’s 8” with (from left) Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter.

 

LOS ANGELES — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Oscars people) has invited Kendrick Lamar, J.K. Rowling, and Audra McDonald among the 928 actors, writers, casting directors and others both in front of and behind the camera to join its growing membership. Today’s move comes as the Academy is trying to diversify its ranks. 

This year’s record-number of new members invited tops 2017 with a previous record of 774 new members and that of 2016 when 683 new members were invited, according to Variety

Among those invited to join the Academy today are several with Boston and New England ties including actors Cambridge native Mindy Kaling, who graduated from Buckingham, Browne & Nichols; Medford native Julianne Nicholson; and  Sarah Silverman, who hails from New Hampshire. Invitees from the casting branch includes Sheila Jaffe, whose work on the Oscar-winning “The Fighter,” which starred Mark Wahlberg as  boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, is among her enviable list of credits. 

“The expansion of Academy membership to more than 8,200 stems from an ongoing effort to diversify its ranks following uproar over the lack of African-American nominees in 2015 and 2016, which culminated in  2016’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy,” Variety wrote. 

 

LOS ANGELES – L.A. Live, the entertainment complex with a 40,000-square-foot, open-air plaza that features giant LED screens as well as a red-carpet site for special events, celebrated its 10th anniversary on June 8 in Microsoft Square.

A press conference, hosted by ESPN co-anchors Neil Everett and Stan Verret, kicked-off the festivities while the chemistry between the two filled the outside space with positive energy.

 

Neil and Stan introduced us to the friends and driving forces behind L.A. Live, which includes Dan Beckerman, president and CEO of AEG; Lee Zeidman, president of Staples Center and L.A. Live; Curren D. Price Jr., 9th District Council Member of Los Angeles; Luke Walton, head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers; chef/restauranteur Wolfgang Puck; and Luc Robitaille, president of the Los Angeles Kings.

The press conference concluded with a special performance by the Conga Room Foundation’s “Conga Kids.” Once the Conga Kids were done wiggling their little hips to “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley, Wolfgang Puck surprised us with the grand finale—a three-foot tall, tiered birthday cake designed especially for the occasion.

Later that evening, L.A. Live transformed into the ultimate anniversary celebration called “Dark Nights Birthday Edition” sponsored by Absolut Vodka. The celebration reflected the name of the location “LIVE” with outstanding performances including Weekend Celebrity, Ryan & Liz Dueling Pianos, and Phobik Vyal.

For the past 10 years L.A. Live has hosted more than 204 million guests and 15,000 events, including 93 award shows, 125 movie premieres, 1,700 sporting events, and more than 2,000 concerts and live events so it’s no secret why L.A. Live is Los Angeles premier sports and entertainment district.

Happy Birthday LA Live and we at LeftCoast.LA wish you many more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reggae artist Konshens

Monday, May 28th the UCLA Cultural Affairs Commision celebrated the 32nd anniversary of their annual Jazz Reggae Festival. The festival was held at the UCLA Sunset Recreational Center and sponsored by Coca-Cola and Playfull. There were live performances from Half Pint, Charlotte Day Wilson, Sahara Grim, Jamila Woods, Global Soul Collective and an amazing performance by headliner Konshens and the Submachine band. In between acts, DJ, QBwoy was spinning the hottest tunes in hip-hop reggae and top 40’s while the crowd sang along.

 

The food vendors had their work cut out for them but they handled the large crowd gracefully. My two favorite vendors were “Flavors of East Africa” and “Unforgettable Lemonade” the combination of the two was to die for. We also visited the craft booths where we got a chance to talk to Ronnie Skin Care Daddy, the founder of LosAngelesOilsAndButters.com. Ronnie had a lot of products containing black seed oil, which happens to be an immune system booster that I am obsessed with.

The Jazz Reggae Festival launched in 1986. Throughout the years the JRF has brought in many respected artists such as Erykah Badu, The Roots, Damian Marley, Common, and many more. The JRF always strives to create a cohesive and welcoming space for students and the greater Los Angeles community. This year LeftCoast.LA was there and it didn’t take us long to feel at home. Between the spot-on staff and the lively crowd there was not one ingredient missing! This event was cooked to perfection.

 

MC Sloan-7th generation descendant of Toussaint Louverture

Coming from the East Coast, I did not know what to expect when it came to Haitian Flag celebrations in Los Angeles. I was born in Jacmel, my father is from there and my mother is from Port-de-Paix, so I think that qualifies me as 100% Haitian but this Haitian had never been to a flag celebration like this one before.  I have to say this festival did not disappoint! Premier Event Promotion Services did an amazing job putting together this Haitian Heritage festival and they locked down Leimert Park in Los Angeles with good food, live music and positive vibes.

One of the highlights of the concert had to be artist MC Sloan, who is a 7th generation relative to Toussaint Louverture, arguably one of the biggest names in Haitian history. Because of Toussaint’s resilience and ability to lead Haiti, he successfully defeated colonialism and slavery. Another nod to history was delivered by MC Sloan, who did an outstanding with a brief lesson reminding us of where we came from and where we need to be today. Alongside all the beautiful West Indian faces we saw that night were countless numbers of supporters from the American and African American community.

The host, Mr. Haiti, kept us on our toes and grinning as we saw live performances from MC Romane Simon, a respected film producer in Los Angeles, Mr Surprise, a Reggae artist for the soul; my favorite tune of his is “Send no Gun”, Hip Hop artist Lil Litty, who had me craving Lemonade Juice by the end of his set, Theresa King, who relaxed us with her vocals and Pickleez California’s go-to Haitian band.
It’s safe to say we can’t wait to see what else P.E.P.S.LA has up their sleeves…stick with LeftCoast.LA for all things LA!

ARTIST CAROLINE GEYS

 
 
I have to share with you the amazing! and captivating experience we had at the Future, Light and Space event planned by media company Standard Vision. If you were there on Thursday, May 17th between 7 pm – 11 pm you were among the lucky sipping cocktails on the patio at the Yard House. The location couldn’t be better for an art show- it had a killer view of the four story high SVLA1 Screen on Marriott Courtyard LA and as we sampled some oh so good wine we took in the amazing art in front of us.
 
The event is a program of other-worldly animations and eye-popping graphics abstractions that did more than just mesmerize our mind, it captivated our soul too. The artist spotlight was on Belgian designer Caroline Geys,  a multi-media artist with a strong focus on color- she did not disappoint and the artworks and animation left you delighted and craving more. Other notable artists, whose works were on display that day, were NYC and LA-based artists, FLOAT, Shane Griffin, Superficial Studio and Nate Makuch. They brought their best to the event and to our delight, every single one was worth it, they were exactly what one needs to be reassured that the beauty of life never fades.We had so much fun, the arts were bewitching and entertaining as it drew pedestrians from everywhere to it. There was no other choice but to stop and absorb the beauty on display that day.
 
We had the privilege to interact with Mark Escribano, executive producer of Standard Vision, and he explained how the arts were hand-picked by Pitch Studios. Watch the video to see some of these inspirational images.
 
 

It is here! “Deadpool 2″ is upon us. Another superhero Marvel movie that we’ve all been waiting for. The theaters will be brought to life again this Friday with this amazing sequel that critics are saying is better than the first. What else did we find amazing?  The” Deadpool 2″ Theme Bar Pop-Up experience that we attended, brought to us by Mike’s Harder and the Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival, was an adventure to be talked about, an event not to be missed, and certainly the best pop up scene on this side of the globe. Check out my video “Leftcoastla hits Deadpool2″

It really has never felt this good. A Bar Pop-Up experience that’s far better than what you would expect from a normal Marvel show. Oh… Wait! ‘Far better’ is actually not good enough to describe what the pop-up experience party felt like. Saturday, May 12th will be a day to remember for every Marvel fan in LA, and it all went down in style as the actors stayed in character. It was so real and gave fans a feel of what the movie will be like, and now everyone is talking about “Deadpool 2”.

Aside from the free drinks and chimichangas that were available, the fun was unstoppable as the DJ kept dishing out all the latest tracks. Now the expectation has been created. The anticipation is sky high. Every Marvel fan in attendance can’t wait to rock and roll-if this is not the real deal, then we wonder what is! Kudos to Marvel for not disappointing us.  So what are you waiting for? May 18th is just around the corner. “Deadpool 2” is here. Grab a bucket of popcorn, pick up your tickets and join in the fever. Let’s journey together.

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down in LA for a lively chat with the Massachusetts-based entrepreneur and level III Reiki Master Practitioner, Farah Andre. Reiki  healing has been practiced for decades on the West Coast but the East Coast has been slow to embrace it.

Farah is working to change that perception. A registered nurse with a Bachelors of Nursing degree from Labouré College, she is a believer and is in LA to talk to experts about the best ways to bring this practice to Boston. She touched on her background and shared some insights on her work encouraging people, especially from the black community, to adopt the benefits of Reiki to recognize and remedy core spiritual wounds which, when left untended to, affect their general wellness.

Check out our one on one interview with Farah Andre.

Reiki is a system of healing used for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing on all levels; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The word Reiki is from a Japanese word meaning universal life force or energy.

According to Farah, Reiki is really about energy and meditation. It is an elevation cleansing of the body, mind, soul, cos, where everything is interconnected.

“It is about finding what your true life purpose is. It is about guiding you and letting go of things that no longer benefit you so you can prosper.”

She explains that Reiki is a stress reliever and excellent for achieving homeostasis for people suffering the effect of external stressors such as school, work or family. Many health issues like hypertension or high blood pressure, eczema, etc. are often a result of our body reacting to these external stressors.

Farah, who is part of the Black Nurses Rock New England, also talked about plans to partner with a number of NBA teams to see how Reiki can benefit the performance of basketball players in their game and practice sessions, especially for players who have suffered anxiety and panic attacks in the past.

Despite her accomplishments and list of achievements, Farah remains humble and grounded and a lot of fun to be with. She explains that she likes to keep it “quiet” even as she steadily climbs the ladder of success.

For now, Farah continues to support patients in healthcare settings while offering Reiki treatments through her woman and minority-owned business, Endless Konnections.

For more information on Reiki contact Farah at www.endlesskonnections.com.    

 

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By Joane Nelson

LA JOLLA, Calif.—Those who were lucky enough to be at the ArcLight Cinema for the U.S. premiere of “I’m Not Here,” on April 25 will not soon forget the special night. If, alas, you were not at the San Diego International Film Festival VIP pre-screening on Wednesday night, then you missed out on a thought-provoking, exclusive screening with a theater packed with people excited to see J.K. Simmons do what he does best.

The film “I’m Not Here” is directed by Michelle Schumacher, whose star is her husband, Academy Award-winner Simmons. It was nothing short of amazing. In addition to Simmons, the features Mandy Moore and Sebastian Stan, who can be seen in “Avengers: Infinity Wars” and “I, Tonya.”

There’s really no way to describe this feature without any spoiler alerts but we have to try: Simmons plays a man at the end of his rope who’s dealt with problems that a lot of people can relate to. The film’s teasing logline is “A man struggles with the tragic memories of his past to make sense of his present, but soon realizes that time isn’t the enemy he thinks it is.”

In addition to the pre-screening, SDIFF also announced it had a new sponsor, the blue chip financial investment company, Morgan Stanley, which was represented by several staff including systems and policy expert VR Raman. Also in attendance were members of styleboston.tv and LeftCoast.LA.

Tonya Mantooth, CEO of SDIFF, led a lively post-screening Q & A panel with Simmons, Schumacher, and others who held nothing back as the night was full of thoughtful conversation, drinks, and laughs.

(Screening location: ArcLight La Jolla, 4425 La Jolla Village Drive, CA 92122.)

 

SDIFF: Michelle Schumacher in Director’s Chair from styleboston on Vimeo.

Speaking of movie director Michelle Schumacher, J.K. Simmons talked about the important qualities she brought to the production, including her sense of purpose, her detailed preparations and an ability to adapt to different situations. Michelle on her part told the SDIFF audience that the production was very dear to her heart. She thanked everyone who supported the project and described the movie as a low budget production which was made possible through the collaboration of friends and family.

 

SDIFF: Q & A with the Audience from styleboston on Vimeo.

Answering questions from the audience during the prescreening of the movie, Simmons talked about how he decided to shed more than 20 pounds to play the role of an emaciated 60-year-old alcoholic. According to him, he had a choice between getting emaciated or bloated for the movie role but he chose the former.

He and Michelle also talked about similarities/differences between the movie characters and real life.

 

SDIFF: J.K. Simmons ‘talks” about not using dialogue from styleboston on Vimeo.

In “I’m Not Here” J.K. Simmons played a remarkable character that did not speak a single word throughout the movie. He told the audience during the SDIFF prescreening that he had to completely immerse himself in the screenplay to prepare for the movie role. He said he was able to make a success out of it by relying on the guidance of the movie director

“I’m so happy I could cry,” begins the most recent Facebook post from Becki Dennis.  “I just found out that I received the Best Actress Award at the Boston International Film Festival and our Director, Eric R. Eastman, has also won a well-deserved Indie Spirit Recognition Award!”

Dennis played the lead role in the new indie film “Spin The Plate,” which recently premiered at the Boston International Film Festival. In a plot twist of her own, she was not able to attend the screening as she was working on her new film, “Justine” in Los Angeles, which she now calls home. A recent transplant, she was amazed to discover how many other Bostonians, who like her have been performing their whole lives, have packed their bags for the City of Angels, where people really do become stars of the screen and stage.

Dennis has been performing since she was a kid, always in dance and theater productions and always drawn to the performing arts. She caught the acting bug pretty hard in high school and wanted to major in musical theater in college.  After three years at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, she came back to Boston, took an acting class at Emerson, a music class at Berklee and did an acting/directing course at Boston University.

She worked as an actor and performer for several years in the Boston market and one lucky day was recommended to David O. Russell for a speaking role in a major film.

“Filmmakers started to shoot more in Boston so I started to show up as an extra and really fell in love with being on a film set. I started to do commercials, training videos, short films, things like that-then came my first big break, which was “American Hustle.”

After being cast in another blockbuster film, “Ted 2” which was also shot in Boston, Dennis decided that she no longer wanted to be a big fish in a small pond and in order to branch out to bigger markets she had to make the move.  It has paid off. Landing the role of Jo in “Spin the Plate” was a turning point for Dennis.

“I always thought I couldn’t act in film or TV because you had to look like a model. Lead roles for plus size women have not come around too often in the past, unless it’s like the butt of the joke or something, but times are changing so to get to play something so complex and interesting is a gift.”

Dennis has gone on to have parts in 15 television shows in two years, though she started out slow and had to build up a portfolio of work to get to where she is now. Since she is in the middle of filming the feature film “Justine”  there is not a lot she can tell us yet about her new role.

“It’s a supporting role, it’s a good role and toward the end of the film, I play a nurse, and there’s a really interesting scene. The writer, director and lead actress is Stephanie Turner, who wrote the script when she was in the Sundance Screenwriters lab. Hopefully it’s Sundance bound…hoping it can be the next ‘LadyBird’ or something.”

Meanwhile, she and her husband are embracing the good life and the abundance of sunshine in LA but when asked what she misses most about the East Coast, besides her family, she immediately responds with “really good Italian food in the North End.”

As one bi-coastal resident to another, I say, “Amen to that.”

 

SDIFF Ambassadors Liese Cornwell and Terri Stanley with actor/comedian Kumail Nanjiani and spouse Emily Gordon

San Diego: Kumail Nanjiani is receiving lots of applause for his writing and acting in the new indie movie The Big Sick, and was among a handful of Hollywood celebrities honored at the 16th annual San Diego International Film Festival‘s Tribute to the Stars. Hosted by Variety magazine and held in the ballroom of the smart, new Pendry San Diego hotel, the glittering gala included Nanjiani, who won the Auteur award, and his wife Emily V. Gordon, who co-wrote the script based on the true story of their relationship. (Actress Zoe Kazan played Emily in the film.)

SDIFF’s top honor went to Sir Patrick Stewart, who accepted The Gregory Peck Award for Excellence in Film, and was presented by Peck’s daughter, Cecilia Peck. (Last year’s recipient was actress Annette Bening.)  Other awardees include Heather Graham, who brought her glam game on to accept the Virtuoso Award and Blake Jenner, who walked away with the Rising Star Award. The Chris Brinker award, given to a promising new director and inspired by the late director Chris Brinker, went to Manny Rodriquez Jr for Butterfly Caught.

One of the premier festivals in the region, SDIFF opened with the screening of Marshall  at the iconic Balboa Park Theatre and was followed by four days of screenings, panels and parties. Executive and Artistic Director Tonya Mantooth and her team deserve a big round of applause for continuing to bring quality films to the arts and film communities of southern California. For more coverage see the links below.

Fox 5 covers Variety Night of the Stars

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