Angelenos have a well-deserved reputation as laid-back -- but when it comes to movies, they can be as passionate and serious as the most diehard cinephile.  There are convenient places to check out the latest high-profile releases – like downtown’s no-frills Laemmle’s Grande 4-Plex, or the pricey ArcLight in Hollywood.  But part of the fun of living in such close proximity to the movie capital of the world comes from the many special screenings and in-person appearances by filmmakers.  The week of the PDC is no exception...

To find out more about the nuts-and-bolts of movie-making, you could check out a behind-the-scenes workshop by Richard King, sound editor for the year’s biggest film: The Dark Knight.  On Monday night, he’ll be talking at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theater with music editor Alex Gibson about how the two approached the project, complete with pre-dub and post-dub excerpts from the film.  If you’ve ever wanted to ask writer/director Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt) a question, he’ll be doing a Q&A after a screening of his 1999 film Election at the U.S.C. film school on Thursday.

The week of the PDC is also a great week for documentaries.  None other than the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences screens Oscar-winning documentaries each Monday, and on the 27th, will be showing two of the winners from 1993: Defending Our Lives, about abused women driven to kill their tormentors, and I Am A Promise, about an inspiring Philadelphia principal in a low-income school.  Doc producers will be in attendance to discuss.  On Tuesday, the Egyptian will be screening Lioness, a new doc about five female soldiers who saw combat in Iraq, even though technically women are not supposed to be under fire.  And along with a panel of distinguished academics, U.S.C. professor Joe Saltzman will screen and discuss Black on Black, the Emmy-winning documentary he produced in 1968 about the devastating riots in South L.A. during that unquiet decade.

Lastly, the annual film festival of the American Film Institute will begin on October 30, which may give you an incentive to stay in town an extra day or two.  Opening night will kick off with the world premiere of The Soloist, starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx, based on the true story of an L.A. Times columnist who befriends a homeless, mentally-ill man on skid row who turns out to be a trained classical musician.  But make sure to buy tickets in advance!

Monday, October 27, Behind-the-scenes look at the sound of The Dark Knight (free), Egyptian Theater, Hollywood, 7:30 – red line to Hollywood and Highland.

Defending Our Lives and I Am a Promise ($5), Linwood Dunn Theater, Hollywood, doors open at 6:30 – red line to Hollywood and Vine, walk 4 blocks south to 1313 Vine St.

Tuesday, October 28, Lioness (free), Egyptian Theater – red line to Hollywood and Highland;

Black on Black (free, although RSVP requested at annenberg.usc.edu/rsvp), Annenberg Auditorium, 5 P.M. -- Take southbound commuter Express Bus 422 from stop in front of convention center at Pico and Figueroa -- bus terminates at Jefferson and Hoover, at USC campus.  Marked as “ASC” in grid square D4 on this map.

Thursday, October 30, world premiere of The Soloist ($25; $125) – red line to Hollywood and Vine; $25 screening held at Arclight Theater; $125 at Cinerama Dome next door, 7 P.M.

Q. & A. with Alexander Payne and screening of Election (free; although email visionandvoices@usc.edu to get instructions on how early to arrive to deal with first-come, first-served policy), room 108 of George Lucas Instructional Building, 7 P.M. – Take southbound commuter Express Bus 422 from stop in front of convention center at Pico and Figueroa -- bus terminates at Jefferson and Hoover, at USC campus.  Screening will take place in room 108 of George Lucas Instructional Building, marked as “LUC” in square 3D on this map.