Allen's "To Rome with Love" launches LA film fest

Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:26am EDT
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By Jordan Riefe

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Film Festival kicked off Thursday night with the North American premiere of Woody Allen's "To Rome with Love," an ensemble comedy that is the veteran director's follow-up to last year's successful "Midnight in Paris."

The 76-year-old filmmaker's 2011 tale of romance in the City of Light was Allen's most successful box office performer to date over a long career, earning more than $150 million at worldwide box offices and winning Allen an Oscar for screenwriting.

"To Rome with Love" drew mixed reviews in Europe where it debuted earlier this year, but Allen and the film's distributor, Sony Pictures Classics, are hoping the Los Angeles Film Festival in Hollywood's hometown and the North American release on June 22 will offer a fresh start for the movie.

"If you like the picture, I'm thrilled," Allen told the packed house before the lights went down, then added with his wry sense of humor. "If you hate it and think it was a waste of time coming, don't let me know cause I get depressed easily."

In its 18th year, the Los Angeles Film Festival, which is organized by non-profit group Film Independent continues to lure ever bigger movies and crowds. This year's event from June 14-24 features over 200 films, shorts and videos from 30 countries.

Independent and international filmmakers get the chance to mingle with directors such as William Friedkin ("The Exorcist"), Steven Soderbergh and Allen at panels, screenings and parties.

"Woody Allen, Steve Soderbergh, even the studio fare, it's visionary, it's a unique voice," festival director Stephanie Allain told Reuters. "That's really what's celebrated."

Making its world premiere on closing night, Steven Soderbergh's "Magic Mike," starring Channing Tatum, is loosely based on the actor's experience as a male stripper.   Continued...

Director of the movie and cast member Woody Allen is interviewed at the premiere of "To Rome with Love" during the opening night of the Los Angeles Film Festival at the Regal Cinemas in Los Angeles, California June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni