Romantic comedies may not be what they used to be, in terms of box office, at least.
But Hollywood wants us to celebrate the rom-com this summer, as downtown Los Angeles will play host June 20-23, 2019, to the first-ever Rom Com Fest.
The lineup announced Tuesday includes a special curated screening and fireside chat with actress Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) on her favorite, Never Been Kissed, as well as anniversary screenings of 10 Things I Hate About You (with a Q&A with screenwriters Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith and Karen McCullah) and Bride Wars (Q&A with screenwriters June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson).
The festival will host the West Coast premiere of actor Joseph Cross’ directorial debut Summer Night (starring Lana Condor, Analeigh Tipton, Victoria Justice, Justin Chatwin and Ellar Coltrane). Other highlights include a Mortified live comedy show, a live read of the winner of the Rom Com Fest screenplay competition (presented by Scriptd), as well as a live taping of WhoHaha’s “Dirty Girl” Podcast – a company co-founded by producer/actress Elizabeth Banks.
“We all need something uplifting to escape to. Routinely dismissed by film critics as a lesser genre artistically, romantic comedies are universally beloved and are a true art form, being some of the most classic and beautiful films that we know today.” said Rom Com Fest organizer and curator Miraya Berke. “I’m thrilled to be able to bring the Los Angeles community together to experience these films in a new, fun and creative atmosphere.”
Badges and individual tickets are on sale at www.romcomfest.com.
Here’s the official overview from Rom Com Fest.
CLASSIC & ANNIVERSARY SCREENINGS
10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU (20TH ANNIVERSARY), directed by Gil Junger / written by Karen McCullah & Kirsten Smith (1999) – A pretty, popular teenager can’t go out on a date until her ill-tempered older sister does. With Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. CLOSING NIGHT FILM. Q&A to follow with the film’s writers Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith and Karen McCullah, followed by a “10 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT YOU” love letter writing pop up craft activity.
BRIDE WARS (10TH ANNIVERSARY), directed by Gary Winick / written by Casey Wilson & June Diane Raphael and Greg DePaul (2009) – Two best friends become rivals when they schedule their respective weddings on the same day. With Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson and Chris Pratt.Q&A to follow with the film’s writers – actresses June Diane Raphael and Casey Wilson. Bridal party theme – attendees are encouraged to dress in white, those dressed up will receive complimentary ring pops and wedding-themed dessert.
HIS GIRL FRIDAY, written and directed by Howard Hawks (1940) – A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying. With Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy.Complimentary My Mo Mochi Ice Cream will be served before the screening, along with a Rom Com Fest themed compliment card craft. The Los Angeles Women’s Film Collective will discuss the future of romantic comedies following the screening.
HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK, directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan / written by Terry McMillan & Ron Bass (1998) – Stella is a highly successful, forty-something San Francisco stock broker who is persuaded by her colorful New York girlfriend Delilah to take a well deserved, first-class vacation to Jamaica. As she soaks in the beauty of the island, she encounters a strapping, young islander, Winston Shakespeare. His pursuits for her turn into a hot and steamy romance that forces Stella to take personal inventory of her life and try to find a balance between her desire for love and companionship, and the responsibilities of mother and corporate executive. With Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs, Regina King and Whoopi Goldberg.Pajama-party themed late night screening – attendees are encouraged to wear their PJs and will receive a complimentary bottle of CBD gummies, courtesy of Not Pot. Screening presented by Not Pot.
NEVER BEEN KISSED (20TH ANNIVERSARY), directed by Raja Gosnell / written by Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein (1999) – A newspaper reporter enrolls in high school as part of research for a story. With Drew Barrymore and David Arquette.Special screening curated by actress Rachel Bloom. A fireside chat with Bloom and Festival Director Miraya Berke will follow the screening. A conversational Heart Lapel Pin craft activity hosted by Makers Mess will also proceed the screening.
FEATURE FILMS IN COMPETITION
IN REALITY, written and directed by Ann Lupo (USA) – Despite boasting rich friendships and a creative job, young filmmaker Ann is consumed by the fantasy of finding true love. Just when she thinks she’s found it, she is friend-zoned and the disappointment of rejection shoots her down a deep rabbit hole of unrequited love. Looking for a way to climb out, Ann picks up a camera and sets her sights inward. She confronts multiple characters within her conscious, from a maniacal game show host to a glamorous cabaret performer, that guide her through her investigation of the relationship and her own neuroses. Blending docu-style interview with comedy, drama and hyperbolic fantasies, Ann creates an elaborate, eccentric world that manages to be as intensely relatable as it is one of a kind. With Ann Lupo, Miles G. Jackson and Kimiko Glenn.1920s era themed screening – attendees are encouraged to wear flapper attire to celebrate the 20s. Q&A to follow with Ann Lupo – the film’s writer, director, producer and star.
ONE BEDROOM, written and directed by Darien Sills-Evans (USA) – Breaking up is easy. Moving out is hard. Especially when there’s a New York City apartment involved. After five years of ups and downs, an African American 30-something couple in a gentrifying neighborhood spend their final afternoon in Brooklyn arguing, reminiscing and then eventually deciding if they’re moving out together or in separate directions. With Darien Sills-Evans, Stephen Hill and Devin Nelson. Q&A to follow with Darien Sills-Evans – the film’s writer, director, producer and star.
SUMMER NIGHT, directed by Joseph Cross / written by Jordan Jolliff and Joseph Cross (USA) – In a small town, a young, tight-knit group of friends fall in and out of love over the course of one intoxicating, music-filled summer night. With Justin Chatwin, Analeigh Tipton, Victoria Justice, Lana Condor, and Ellar Coltrane. OPENING NIGHT FILM.
TRACKS, directed by Jamie Patterson / written by Jamie Patterson, Chris Willoughby, April Pearson and Finn Bruce (UK) – A young couple try to save their failing relationship by interrailing around Europe together. Things don’t quite go to plan and they find themselves in all sorts of awkward situations. With April Pearson, Skye Lourie and Chris Willoughby.
TWO IN THE BUSH, directed by Laura Madalinski / written by Kelly Haas and Laura Madalinski (USA) – After losing her job, Emily arrives home early from work to ﬁnd her girlfriend in the throes of passion with someone else. In an instant, her entire life is turned upside down. Moving in with her best friend, Emily lands a new gig working for a dominatrix, and promptly falls for her new boss, and her boss’s boyfriend. In this wise and witty look at the world of bisexuality, polyamory, and dungeons, ﬁlmmaker Laura Madalinski asks us to consider what risks are worth taking for love. With Sarah Mitchell, Travis Delgado and Caitlin Aase.
SHORT FILMS IN COMPETITIONC
A JAMAIS, POUR TOUJOURS, written and directed by Louis St-Pierre (Canada) – Marianne and Maxime are meant for each other. They fit like pieces of a puzzle, understand and love one another, but…
ALMOST CHARMING, written and directed by Taylor Carnes (USA) – Inspired by the Pixar style, ‘Almost Charming’ is a modern-day fairytale told through pantomime and music. The story follows Beth, a young woman working as a children’s party princess, on her journey to get the attention of her real-life prince charming.
ANXIETY’S WILMA, written and directed by Alexandra Kyle (USA) – A short romantic comedy about a young woman and her anxiety. With Martin Starr and Alexandra Kyle.
GIRL FRIEND, written and directed by Laura Holliday (USA) – A neurotic young woman attempts to be cool and go with the flow when she learns that the guy she is dating doesn’t believe in monogamy.
*Plays before TWO IN THE BUSH
ON SECOND THOUGHT, written and directed by Nora Jobling (USA) – A New York couple looks back on their relationship from the day they met to the day they split. Seeing the same moments from both perspectives, On Second Thought ponders how love can beat the odds when love is 50/50 and hindsight is 20/20.
REKINDLED, directed by Erin Brown Thomas / written by Kelly Vrooman (USA) – After a string of failed relationships, successful career woman Kate gets the chance via a magical Groupon to rekindle romance with the love of her life — her high school boyfriend. But as she soon discovers, the 40% discount is there for a reason…
THE CURSE, written and directed by Dave Berenato (USA) – While at a Halloween party preparing for the online hookup of a lifetime, things get a little weird after Kyle bumps into a witch in the bathroom.
THE NOODLE MAN, directed by Pati Valadez / written by Jan Epstein Schwaid (USA) – A struggling actor turned street food noodle cook lies about his career in an attempt to win over the girl next door.
MORTIFIED LIVE COMEDY SHOW
Enjoy this special love-fueled edition of the MORTIFIED live comedy show. Witness adults sharing the embarrassing things they wrote as kids, in front of total strangers. Awkward crushes, painful first kisses and more. Now in its 16th year, MORTIFIED produces stage shows in 20 cities worldwide, TV and film projects (Netflix, Sundance), books, as well as a podcast.
SCRIPTD LIVE TABLE READ
In partnership with Scriptd, a story platform and script database that connects screenwriters with fans and the industry to find/promote/actualize the next big script, The Rom Com Fest screenplay competition, which received over seventy submissions in 2019, will do a live read of the winning script. Cast to be announced.
WHOHAHA’S “DIRTY GIRL” LIVE PODCAST TAPING
In partnership with Elizabeth Bank’s company WhoHaha, a creative community and digital content studio that celebrates and elevates women in comedy, Rom Com Fest will be hosting a special live podcast taping of Dirty Girl. Dirty Girl is feminist, body & sex positive podcast and tells the stories of funny, brave women who like to get dirty. The one hour live podcast will feature women sharing stories of their love life that relate to rom coms.