The DTLA Film Festival embraces the signature cultural, ethnic, and gender diversity of Los Angeles and is one of the only completely volunteer-run film festivals of its type, the nonprofit festival features an extensive selection of film.  Without any paid staff, the DTLA Film Festival is dependent on committed volunteers and a list of sponsors including Regal L.A. Live Cinemas, Maven, Level DTLA, Atelier apartments, and more.


As much as festival directors actively sought out films from women, LGTBQ, and people of color, their intent was also set on being a platform for genuinely independent films.  Originally launched in 2000 as the Silver Lake Film Festival, eastsiders flocked to screenings at the iconic Vista Theater and others.  Efforts were focused Downtown in 2007 as organizers realized they had outgrown the area’s venues.  Plus, they were already using historic theaters on Broadway Street so it was an easy choice.  Around this same time, the indie film community in L.A. was continually moving eastward.  Today, the DTLA Film Festival has become the largest single film event in Downtown.  Showing over 100 films of all genres, the selection is progressive, to say the least.  Not to mention, the festival has live music events, seminars, and more.

UCLA v. USC Film Face Off.

Due to popular demand, special programming was set up for student films like the series UCLA v. USC.  Students were offered a discounted film submission rate.  UCLA extension has a campus in downtown LA and offers students a lot of help with screenwriting courses and certificate programs providing students with practical knowledge from real-world experiences.  Completing a film and entering in the festival circuit is the solid experience that gives the next generation of filmmakers the opportunity to see how audiences respond and what questions arise.

USC film student and Director, Sohil Vaidya, has a sixteen minute short that was chosen by his school out of 150 films. Being from India, he seemed modest about his film being chosen.  “It was three days of production but I was out of money to finish the film,” says Vaidya.  After eight months on hiatus, he pulled the funds necessary for the musical score and editing.   You can view Vaidya’s film along with the USC/UCLA shorts program on 9/24 in Theater 11 at 2 pm.


This year’s theme for the DTLA Film Festival is ‘Movies. Not walls.’  According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 40% of L.A. residents are foreign-born persons.  Being the most diverse city center, DTLA was in high demand for an intentional film festival for the longest time. At this years DTLA Film Festival, you can expect to find distinct programs for short form, features, and as part of this year’s theme, the first Enemy Nations Film Series which presents films from the Muslim majority countries affected by presidential travel bans.  In the least, these films will give a give greater perspective counterbalancing any negative media trends to demonize people of the Muslim community.

The power of storytelling through a film in other countries still resonates like the days of old.  One film from this series documents changes from war-torn Syria.  ‘Houses Without Doors’ by Avo Kaprealian, was shot from the balcony of a home that sits on the front lines.  Through the film, Kaprealian’s family and neighborhood undergo dramatic changes.

This is a film festival not to be missed!  The schedule is spread out and accommodating enough for even the busiest movie buffs.  Supporting this festival is support for experimental independent filmmaking.