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Uptown Film Festival Celebrates Local Filmmakers

The Uptown Film Festival is back in town…for its 4th year! The highly-anticipated annual three-day film festival (and celebration of cinema) will take place November 7 through November 9 and presents over 100 diverse films to over 500 film enthusiasts!

The Uptown Film Festival has honored artistic achievements of Michigan filmmakers, as well as those from around the globe! Screenings will take place at the Palladium 12 and Birmingham 8 theaters in Birmingham. The festival has always set out with the goal of enriching our local culture, raising consciousness of film as an art form, and driving the area as an economic engine. They're big on Detroit and we've taken notice.

CW50 had the chance to catch up with Jessica Golden – she's the producer on the film Los Wild Ones – to hear about the festival, the multi-award winner and nominated documentary film, and why Detroit is important to her. Los Wild Ones premiered earlier this year at the 2013 Documentary Competition at South by Southwest. The film makes its premiere in Detroit with the Uptown Film Festival.

Jessica Golden grew up just outside of Detroit – today she is an actress, writer, comedian, and producer. You may have seen her in the movie Cloud Nine or in the movie Reign Over Me with Adam Sandler. She's also appeared on a couple of popular late night talk shows. Los Wild Ones marks Jessica's feature film debut as a producer – and we got the inside scoop from her!

So Jessica, tell us about yourself:

I love collaborating with other creative people who inspire me.  I can't help but find what's funny about almost any situation.  I find joy in connecting with and learning from all different kinds of people.  Being open to various forms of collaboration has afforded me some unique opportunities that I never could have imagined I'd be doing.  Like producing a documentary for example.  I try to live consciously and I believe most of all in being a good person and striving to make positive contributions to the situations we find ourselves in.

We think it's great what you're doing – and bringing some of that positivity to Detroit – tell us about the film, Los Wild Ones:

LOS WILD ONES follows the lives of Reb Kennedy and the artists on his LA based indie label, Wild Records.  Wild is composed of young Hispanic musicians who write and perform 50's rock 'n' roll. The film delivers an honest look at the label's ethos and unconventional but tight-knit family of Reb, the Irish father figure, and his 'kids'. Reminiscent of the early days of Sun Records and the influence that label had on popular music, Wild mirrors that journey.  The bond between Reb and his artists is unparalleled in the music industry.  Just like every family system, there is a fair amount of dysfunction but they manage to stick together.  The label is Reb Kennedy and Reb is Wild's founding father.  A purist and vinyl fanatic, he is extremely reluctant to embrace the digital age.  He is a genius in many ways and has created so much of what the record label is, who the artists are: their style, their voices, their image.  Realistically however, Reb must adopt newer ways to take Wild Records and these talented artists to the next level.

The film was pitched to me by Elise (the director) who told me she had met with Reb to discuss using his music in another project and when she saw him in action and saw how the label was run, the way they function as a family, how they all play in each other's' bands…how interesting and unique this group of people was…she thought: someone needs to make a movie about them.  And when I saw it myself firsthand, then heard their music and got a feel for the Wild world so to speak, I absolutely agreed.  This was definitely a compelling group and Reb is an extremely interesting character to follow.  And so we did.  For about half a year.

Wow! What a great way to get caught in the culture and with a great story too, who worked on this film?

Elise Salomon: Director, Writer, Producer
Ryan Brown: Editor, Writer
Yamit Shimonovitz: Director of Photography

Is there a goal you and the team had, when making this movie?

I like to think the film challenges your definition of success and reminds you there's no substitute for living a life guided by passion, doing what you love and having the support of family (which is not always the family you're born with, sometimes it's the family you create).  In the case of Wild Records, it's all about family, music, passion, love and being there for one another…and it's truly infectious.

Now, we know the film has one a few awards in other festivals, could you tell us a little about that?

Los Wild Ones premiered in the 2013 Documentary Competition at South by Southwest and took home the award for Best Documentary at the Phoenix Film Festival and Best Feature at the Reel Indie Film Fest.  Our European debut is coming up at the end of the month – we are an Official Selection for the IDFA, a prominent documentary festival in Amsterdam.  And we're nominated for a Michigan Film Award, so we'll see how that goes!

…And now in Detroit!

I grew up in a suburb of Detroit…all the film's investors are family/family friends and they are all from Detroit.  There's a lot of meaning for me in bringing a film back home.  I'm really excited to be a part of the Uptown Film Festival and to be showing our film to other Detroiters who I think will have a unique appreciation for it.  There's also nothing like a Detroit crowd!

Closing thought for us?

It's just great to be home and I can't wait to share the film with so many people I love and/or am connected to by being a Detroiter.

For more information on the Uptown Film Festival, check out their website here! And for the film, Los Wild Ones, click here!

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