LOS ANGELES (LAFilmFestival.com) — The Los Angeles Film Festival has announced the world premiere of Richard Linklater’s Bernie as the opening night film for the 2011 Festival.

A “Remembering Sidney Lumet” conversation with Quincy Jones and Frank Pierson, as well as additional films and programming for its Festival Talks have also been added. As previously announced, the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival will screen a diverse slate of over 200 feature films, shorts, and music videos, representing more than 30 countries.

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The Festival is produced by Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that also produces the Spirit Awards. Artists in Residence and additional talent and programming will be announced in the coming weeks.

Richard Linklater’s Bernie will kick off the Festival on June 16 at Regal Cinemas Stadium 14 L.A. LIVE. The film is written by Skip Hollandsworth and Linklater, stars Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, and is produced and financed by Mandalay Vision and Wind Dancer Films. Black plays Bernie, the beloved mortician in a small Texas town. MacLaine is the town’s richest, meanest widow, and even she adores him. You can’t get anybody to say a bad word about Bernie—even after he commits a very nasty crime.

The film is available for distribution in the United States/Canada, with Graham Taylor of WME and attorney John Sloss handling domestic sales and Hyde Park International handling international sales.

“We’re thrilled to be opening the Festival with the world premiere of this delicious black comedy – a treat from one of the most original and exciting voices in independent film, Richard Linklater,” said Festival Director Rebecca Yeldham. “With its fabulous all-star cast, Bernie is a perfect stage setter for the incredible line-up of original entertainment we’ve assembled for this year’s Festival.”

In addition to conversations with James Franco and Julie Taymor, the Festival will present “Remembering Sidney Lumet,” a conversation with some of his collaborators, including music impresario Quincy Jones, writer Frank Pierson, and more about the legacy of this remarkable artist and storyteller.

As previously announced, Guillermo del Toro will be this year’s Guest Director and introduce a film that has been an influence to him. He has chosen to screen a rarely seen Italian film from 1996 called The Arcane Enchanter, written and directed by Pupi Avati. In Pupi Avati’s neglected gothic masterwork, a seminary student accused of bewitching a young girl feels to a remote castle and the questionable company of a defrocked priest who is rumored to dabble in the black arts.

Additional talent at the Festival include director Phillip Noyce (Salt, The Quiet American), writers Roberto Orci (Cowboys & Aliens, Star Trek), Dustin Lance Black (J. Edgar, Milk), comedians and actor/writers behind the cult comedy TV series The State and Reno 911! Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, composters Clint Mansell (Black Swan, Moon), Mychael Danna ((500) Days of Summer, Capote) and more.

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The Festival will also be holding a variety of conversations on the convergence of film, art and commerce for a weekend series on June 18 and 19 called “Money Talks & Art Matters.” Panelists include writer/directors Allison Anders and Kurt Voss, filmmakers Patrick Creadon and Javier Fuentes-Léon, FilmDistrict’s Bob & Jeanne Berney, Pandemonium Film’s Bill Mechanic, Landmark Theatre’s Ted Mundorff, CrowdStarter’s Liz Ogilvie, and Participant Media’s Ricky Strauss, with more to be announced.

Returning to downtown Los Angeles, with its central hub at L.A. LIVE, the Festival will run from Thursday, June 16 to Sunday, June 26. Now in its seventeenth year, the Festival is recognized as a world-class event, showcasing the best in new American and international cinema and providing the movie-loving public with access to critically acclaimed filmmakers, film industry professionals, and emerging talent from around the world.

Passes to attend the Festival are currently available to the general public, with special rates for Film Independent members. In addition to screenings and events, Festival passes provide access to a series of networking receptions and entry to the Filmmaker Lounge, where Festival pass holders can interact with Festival filmmakers and professionals in the film community. General admission tickets to individual films go on sale beginning May 31. Contact the Ticket Office for passes, tickets and event information by calling 866.FILM.FEST (866.345-6337) or visit LAFilmFest.com.

Festival passes and tickets can also be purchased in person beginning on Monday, June 13 at the Coca-Cola Ticket Center, located in the Festival Village on the rooftop of the West Parking Garage at L.A. LIVE’s Event Deck. The Official Film Guide, the comprehensive source for all movie info, screenings, locations, and related events is produced by the Los Angeles Times. It will top The Los Angeles Times on Sunday, June 12 in Los Angeles and Orange County and be made available throughout downtown during the ten-day event.


Opening Night: Sponsored by Virgin America
• Bernie, Richard Linklater – WORLD PREMIERE

• Remembering Sidney Lumet

Guest Director Selection:
• The Arcane Enchanter (1996), Pupi Avati – Italy

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L.A. Film Critics: The Films That Got Away (2): Hosted by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
• Mr. Nobody (2009), Jaco Van Dormael – Belgium/France
• Paper Soldier (2008), Alexey German Jr. – Russia