Art-house films find a colder welcome in Los Angeles

"Dogtooth" — an enigmatic Greek film about family life, with intimations of animal mutilation, incest and "Flashdance" — has been among the most divisive and talked-about movies on the festival circuit since its award-winning premiere at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2009. Greece's official foreign-language submission for this year's Academy Awards, the film has also turned up in numerous critics' lists and 2010 best-of polls.

The film opened in New York last June. But apart from a single screening last summer, L.A. film fans had to wait more than six months longer to see it. Finally, it opened Friday at the under 200-seat Cinefamily theater on Fairfax Avenue — the first time that that venue, mostly known for repertory programming, has booked a movie for a one-week run.

"Dogtooth" is emblematic of how many recent art-house titles are struggling to find, let alone hold, screens in Los Angeles. Though the specialized distribution business has deep historical ties to New York and that city has always been a more natural home for foreign-language, documentary and fringe American independent film than the more Hollywood-oriented L.A. marketplace, the gap between what can be seen in the cities seems to be widening. More and more art-house films are opening in New York first and then coming to Los Angeles many weeks or months later — or not at all. Even the most dedicated moviegoers in Los Angeles may not realize how much they are missing.

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Film Business, International Cinema


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