LA film fest announces Lisa Cholodenko as Guest Director and special award for SPC honchos

The Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF) is gearing up for a bow this June, having already announced Bong Joon-ho's “Snowpiercer” as the opening night premiere. Today Film Independent, which puts on the fest, announced this year's guest director and a special honor for two all-timers in the indie game.

First off, “The Kids Are All Right” helmer Lisa Cholodenko has been tapped as Guest Director for the 20th annual. Past Guest Directors have included David O. Russell, Kathryn Bigelow, William Friedkin, Guillermo Del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón. Cholodenko will attend the 13th annual Filmmaker Retreat at the Parker Palm Springs, a gathering of festival filmmakers and honored artists.

“Lisa's work exemplifies our mission of supporting artists who are diverse, innovative and have a unique point of view,” LAFF Director Stephanie Allen said. “We're lucky to have her share her insights and process with us at our annual retreat.”

Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Classics co-heads Michael Barker and Tom Bernard have been selected to receive the festival's Spirit of Independence Award. Over a span of two decades, Barker and Bernard have found a way to stay afloat in the indie game as excursions like Warner Independent and Paramount Vantage have shuttered around them. Their product is a constant in the awards season, capped off just this past year with big nominations for Woody Allen's “Blue Jasmine” and Richard Linklater's “Before Midnight,” as well as a Best Actress win for Cate Blanchett. The duo will discuss their work with Festival Artistic Director David Ansen and choose a film to screen from the impressive SPC catalogue.

LAFF also announced a series of Master Classes which will launch with a moderated conversation with two-time Oscar-winning editor Atticus Ross (“The Social Network,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”). Elvis Mitchell will do the honors.

Elsewhere, a celebration of women's achievements in film called “Women Who Call the Shots: Women Directors and Showrunners” will take place, as will a “free-wheeling conversation” with Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele of “Key & Peele.”

The 20th annual Los Angeles Film Festival runs June 11-19.