November 1, 2018: Tech Conference Faces Controversy Over Steve Bannon Keynote, Los Angeles Film Festival to End After 18 Years, See Skittles' Traveling Trick-or-Treat House in Toronto

By Ian Zelaya November 1, 2018, 9:19 AM EDT

1. TECH CONFERENCE FACES CONTROVERSY OVER STEVE BANNON KEYNOTE: The International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology is facing controversy this year with the inclusion of Steve Bannon. The former White House Chief Strategist is expected to push anti-immigration policies in his keynote at the 15th edition of the event. Wired: “According to the conference organizer, Bannon—who has no academic background in computer science or interactive design but whose policy ideas have been embraced by white nationalists—will give a speech about how he believes 'economic nationalism' will allow for a higher number of minorities to get jobs in sectors like computer science and gaming. The conference, also known as ACE, is scheduled to take place at the University of Montana in December. Since Bannon was added to the conference’s roster last week, academics, scholarly associations, and university departments around the world have called for boycotting the conference, including the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University, the Canadian Game Studies Association, and the Australian Digital Games Research Association. ... ACE is run by Adrian David Cheok, the director of an independent research lab called the Imagineering Institute in Malaysia and a professor at City, University of London. Cheok says he chose to invite Bannon to speak after seeing his talk on YouTube at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit last year, which had similar economic nationalism and anti-immigration themes. As a number of researchers pointed out, ACE is not a political, or even industry conference—it’s a scholarly venue meant to provide a place for academics to share their work. 'For a conference like this, the keynote is either a leading academic researcher, or someone from [an] industry who does relevant work,' says Katharine Neil, a French game developer who holds a doctorate in computer science games research. 'This is like inviting Ed Sheeran to keynote a microbiology conference. It's unfathomable.'"

2. LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL TO END AFTER 18 YEARS: The Los Angeles Film Festival won't be taking place in the future. After 18 years, Film Independent announced it was ending the festival, which moved from June to September this year. The organization will replace it with year-round events meant to build community and support for visual storytellers. Variety: “Josh Welsh, president of the nonprofit, admitted that the event had 'struggled to thrive.' 'We took a hard look at the healthy growth of Film Independent’s year-round programs and events over the past six years: the Spirit Awards, our film series curated by Elvis Mitchell, membership, labs, workshops, filmmaker grants, and international programs,' said Mary Sweeney, chair of the Film Independent board of directors. 'In the end, we concluded that the organization should explore a more nimble, sustainable form of exhibiting and celebrating independent film artists year round.' Film Independent assumed control of the festival in 2001 after it first started 24 years ago as the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival. The organization moved the festival from Westwood to downtown Los Angeles in 2010 and then to the Arclight theaters in Hollywood, Culver City and Santa Monica two years ago. ... As a result of discontinuing the festival in its present form, the nonprofit arts organization will eliminate three full-time staff positions. In recent years, the LA Film Festival placed a heavy emphasis on diversity in its competition film slate, with 42 percent of the films directed by women and 39 percent helmed by filmmakers of color. This year’s festival screened more than 200 features, shorts, and music videos, representing more than 40 countries."

3. SEE SKITTLES' TRAVELING TRICK-OR-TREAT HOUSE IN TORONTO: For Halloween in Toronto, Skittles created a roaming trick-or-treat house. The spooky activation featured a slot in its front door where a zombie hand would dispense skittles when someone rang the house's bell. Adweek: “The candy brand and DDB developed the eye-catching and mildly creepy holiday activation, building a wooden structure, about the size of a van, with a small electric vehicle hidden inside for propulsion. Two staffers inhabit the house during its travels. One drives, while the other distributes the sweet sweet samples. 'Skittles is all about twisting the predictable,' DDB Canada creative director Craig Ferguson tells Adweek. 'This seemed like an appropriately twisted spin on the traditional way of trick or treating. Why go out when we can come to you?' Last Friday night, the house toured downtown neighborhoods. On Halloween, it will park at the Toronto Eaton Centre shopping mall. The house isn’t haunted. But it does spread a brand message—which, let’s face it, is basically the same thing. All in all, it’s a fun followup to the 'Oh Canada Skittles' launch this summer, when the client-agency team celebrated the nation’s 151st birthday with a 4.5-hour video stream of a Beaver Man building a beaver dam."


COAST TO COAST:  Management+Artists Group, a collection of multi-national companies that provides creative services to the lifestyle and luxury sector, has launched MA+Creative. The talent consultancy will provide project management capabilities and connects clients with industry creatives. MA+Creative will be based in New York, Paris, London, and Milan. 

DALLAS/FORT WORTH:  Knife, a steakhouse from chef John Tesar, has opened at the Shops at Willow Bend. The 7,000-square-foot restaurant has a private dining room that accommodates as many as 60 guests for receptions. 

LOS ANGELES:  Lacma’s eighth annual Art&Film Gala will take place November 3. The event will honor photographer Catherine Opie and filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. 

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner:

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA:  The American Heart Association’s Miami Heart Walk will take place November 18 at Museum Park. 

NEW YORK:  The Orphaned Starfish Foundation will hold a benefit featuring a live performance by Stephen Schwartz on November 19 at the Cutting Room. 

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner:

TORONTO:  The seventh Parliament of the World’s Religions interfaith event will take place November 1-7 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. 

WASHINGTON, D.C.:  Convene has opened a 35,000-square-foot meeting and event space in the top two floors of the C.E.B. Tower in Arlington. The space is Convene’s second Washington location. 

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With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, and Ian Zelaya in New York.

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