For the next 11 days, you can indulge in more than 275 narrative features, documentaries, shorts and music videos representing the best of American and International cinema. Along with Galas (special screening events for Joshua, Sunshine, Talk to Me), Poolside Chats, Coffee Talks, Family Day, tribute screenings, live music on Broxton Avenue and outdoor screenings at the Ford Amphitheatre, this year’s festival also features the Los Angeles premiere of Transformers. There will also be Festival chats with the 2007 Guest Director Curtis Hanson and Artist-in-Residence Pharrell Williams (of the Neptunes). Clint Eastwood will receive the Spirit of Independence Award.

And while the audience members are having fun, mixing and mingling in a whirlwind of movie madness, many of the filmmakers will be biting their nails, worried about their film’s reception. Documentary filmmakers like Jennifer Venditti (Billy the Kid), Daniel Forer (Second Chance Season) and my childhood neighbor and best friend Helen Hood Scheer (JUMP!).

This year’s Film Fest is especially significant to me because of Helen. Having watched her go through the years-long process of filming and funding JUMP!, mostly by herself, and then editing and writing it with her friend, Scott B. Morgan, I’ve watched her become totally consumed with passion and purpose. So check out the indie flicks, major movies and all the fun events in between: from the talk with the cast and crew of Hairspray and chat with Sicko’s Michael Moore to the Game of Skate Tournament and Dark Side of the Zeppelin: The Laserium Extravaganza!

For a complete listing of all events, visit