An international jury will award filmmakers in 23 different categories, with everything from Best Picture and Best Creative Concept to Best Accessories and Best Makeup. Festival producer Fred Sweet said he’s excited to show off La Jolla to a global audience, especially the festival’s new home.
“The big thing is that we're moving to The Conrad,” Sweet said. “For the past 10 years, we've kind of bounced around, so we're really excited that this new 45,000-square-foot world-class performing arts center is going to be our new home.”
Starting with an opening reception and art installation on July 26 at 7 p.m., at The Lot La Jolla, the two-day event will continue July 27 at 10 a.m. with screenings of 65 different films, presentations, a red carpet walk and of course, the awards. Mexico City fashion artist and historian Antonio Contreras has been participating in the festival for five years. While his films have won awards for Best Actor, Best Makeup, Best Music, and Best Jewelry, he’s hoping to bring home Best Actress this year for his film, “The Falling Leaves.”
“It’s a rendition, an homage to a genre from the ’60s that was called ‘hagsploitation,’” Contreras said, describing the term as "movies featuring big stars from the golden era in Hollywood making horror flicks.” An example of this is “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane,” featuring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.
“Hollywood has a vast tradition of only hiring young women,” Contreras said. “I feel like this film is very important because older women of all ages and sizes need to be included in the conversation of fashion and cinema.”
Contreras has two other films featured in the festival: “A Life in Vogue,” an illustrated life story of Madonna’s famed dancer Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza, and “Nothing Sacred,” a documentary on the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s love for fashion which was filmed at her home in Mexico City.
The diversity of women in fashion seems to be a popular theme amongst the films at LJIFFF. Italian director Michele Bizzi and producer Claudia Di Lascia focused on self-acceptance in their film “Princess,” which will be premiering for the first time at the festival.
“The film is about a girl who doesn't like her image. She believes that nobody loves her because she looks ugly,” Bizzi said. "She says she looks like a monster and she works with the therapist to overcome this obstacle. The girl finally learns that in life beauty is not something that determines your value because your value is about who you are and what you can do.
“When she finally realizes what she's worth, she calls herself a princess. And that's when we finally see that this girl has Down syndrome."
The idea for the film came after Bizzi and Di Lascia worked with a class of disabled teenagers to explore the idea of art and fashion when it comes to self-expression. The lessons learned from that project were so powerful that the filmmakers decided to let the students help them rewrite parts of “Princess” so it would more accurately portray their experiences.
“We tried to let them know that identity is part of their beauty,” said Di Lascia. “We made this film with a very simple message, but deep message, that you have to understand who you are. After that, you can be understandable for everybody. But you have to understand yourself first.”
Tickets for the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival range from $75 for an All Screening Pass to $500 for a Best of Everything Pass. For more information and to purchase, visit ljfff.com.