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NFMLA is “changing the reel” for communal filmmakers

NewFilmmakers Los Angeles has managed to thrive as a non-profit, serving moviemakers and lovers through their programs and film festivals. The festivals provide not only opportunities to view the works of up-and-coming filmmakers, but also opportunities for those involved in networking.

The foundation of NFMLA was started with a central idea according to Executive Director and Founder Larry Laboe.

“We’re going on 16 years this summer. The whole idea when we first founded it was there should be a festival in LA that instead of being once a year, like Sundance, it’s once a month,” Laboe said.

The film festivals provide opportunities for screenwriters and directors to network with film executives and agents in their respective fields. All are welcome to attend and even encouraged, as every month brings a new theme of submissions. Laboe’s 16-year project with NFMLA has created a mountain of networking and opportunities through some of the programs they have including Student Mentorship, volunteer opportunities and academic partnerships with universities like Long Beach State and Mount Saint Mary’s University.

“The idea of this is 15 movies, but 12 times a year. In one year you have anywhere between 180 and 220 movies, but you have them spread out so it’s very digestible,” Laboe stated.

The significance of NFMLA’s ongoing mission depends heavily on local community involvement through its academic partnerships and volunteer programs. The film festivals rely on volunteers, which help navigate and usher guests throughout the event. Student volunteer María Chávarri said she hopes to continue volunteering for future film events.

“A lot of people trying to volunteer are trying to meet people and network,” Chávarri said. “I think it’s really good to volunteer if you’re in film school.”

Chávarri is a film studies major at Loyola Marymount University, and one of the many students benefiting from NFMLA’s developed support system for those interested in film careers.

February’s InFocus annual theme is Black Cinema, coinciding with Black History Month while placing a spotlight on Black stories.

“Every month throughout the year, we have different themes at the festival. In celebration of Black History Month we have InFocus Black Cinema,” Laboe said.

NFMLA, along with its founder Larry Laboe, strongly holds values of inclusion and diversity by allowing for all submissions to be considered even during monthly themed film festivals. NFMLA is hoping to motivate newer filmmakers to make submissions for consideration. Not only do the film festivals grant an opportunity to showcase their work, but they also provide nomination status to filmmakers.

“We want to have younger filmmakers both attend our events and be submitting films to be considered for our events,” Laboe said. “Right now probably about 10% of all the films we play are student films.”

Many young and aspiring filmmakers who make submissions often dream of having the opportunity to take part in a film festival. NFMLA makes this dream a reality every month.

Put best in the words of Laboe, “NewFilmmakers LA is so much more than the film industry, it’s arts and culture.”

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