As AFI turns 50, this year’s fest looks set to be one of the best

We are very excited that AFI FEST presented by Audi starts in Hollywood on Thursday, Nov. 9, and ends Thursday, Nov. 16. This great fest is open to the public so check it out.

Load the app and pack some snacks – there are more than 100 movies showing!

Opening the festival on Thursday night is Dee Rees’ “Mudbound,” a drama set in post-World War II Mississippi, starring Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige and Rob Morgan.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the American Film Institute, several 1967 titles will screen, such as: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Barefoot in the Park,” “Blow-Up,” and “Red Desert.”

On Saturday, Nov. 11, documentary filmmaker Errol Morris will be honored with a tribute following a 3 p.m. screening of “Wormwood,” about one man’s 60-year quest to illuminate the circumstances of his father’s mysterious death. Peter Sarsgaard stars. Morris’ credits include the Oscar®-winning “The Fog of War” (2003) as well as “Gates of Heaven” (1978), “The Thin Blue Line” (1988), “Tabloid” (2010) and “The Unknown Known” (2013).

The world premiere of Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” was scheduled to close the festival. On Monday, however, Sony pulled the film from the fest because of the sexual misconduct allegations against its star, Kevin Spacey. In this thriller based on real events, Spacey plays billionaire J. Paul Getty in 1973, as he refuses to give in to kidnappers who demand $17 million in ransom for the release of Getty’s grandson. The movie is still scheduled for theatrical release later this year.

Here at FNB, of course, we are super stoked about the neo-noir slate of programming, in particular:

Writer/director Aaron Katz’s “Gemini,” a thriller set in Hollywood starring Lola Kirke and Zoë Kravitz.

Have a Nice Day,” a Chinese animated noir about greed and ruthlessness amid China’s new economy, is generating buzz. Jian Liu writes and directs.

Gloria Grahame

“Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool,” is Paul McGuigan’s film based on Peter Turner’s memoir of his relationship with actress Gloria Grahame, near the end of her life. Annette Bening plays Grahame, an icon of film noir. Jamie Bell plays her young lover, Peter. Julie Walters and Vanessa Redgrave round out the cast.

In “Molly’s Game,” Jessica Chastain is Molly Bloom, a former athlete targeted by the FBI after she gets involved in running high-stakes poker games. Based on a true story; directed by writing giant Aaron Sorkin.

In the Fade” is Germany’s contender this year for Best Foreign Film Oscar. Diane Kruger plays a wife and mother who turns vigilante after violence rips her life apart. Fatih Akin directs and co-writes. This is one of 14 Foreign Language Oscar entries in the fest lineup.

An athlete with an unscrupulous agenda – figure skater Tonya Harding – is the subject of “I, Tonya,” from director Craig Gillespie. Margot Robbie stars. Our friend Bob Strauss of the LA Daily News describes this as “hilarious and hard-hitting.”

Spoor” is a new crime thriller by the great Agnieszka Holland and is Poland’s Best Foreign Film Oscar entry.

In Laurent Cantet’s “The Workshop,” set in a declining town near Marseille, the vibe of a writers’ group goes from soothing to sinister.

An estranged couple must join forces to find their missing son in Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless,” which is Russia’s Best Foreign Film Oscar hopeful.

Other highlights include:

The 12-film Robert Altman retrospective will screen “M*A*S*H” (1970), “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” (1971), “The Long Goodbye” (1972), “California Split” (1973), “Nashville” (1975), “3 Women” (1977), “Vincent & Theo” (1990), “The Player” (1992), “Short Cuts” (1993), “Kansas City” (1996), “Gosford Park” (2001) and “A Prairie Home Companion” (2006). Talent in attendance at screenings will be announced closer to the festival.

Call Me By Your Name” is a coming-of-age bisexual love story set in Italy in 1983, directed by Luca Guadagnino, based on André Aciman’s novel and starring Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg.

Hostiles,” a highly anticipated Western by Scott Cooper, starring Christian Bale.

Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” a sci-fi love story set during the Cold War.

Let the Sun Shine In” a comedy/romance with the always-wonderful Juliette Binoche; directed by Claire Denis.

Isabelle Huppert

Isabelle Huppert fans, take note. The inimitable actress stars in two dramas: Michael Haneke’s “Happy End” and “Claire’s Camera” by Hong Sang-soo. (“Happy End” is Austria’s Best Foreign Film Oscar contender.)

Another coveted ticket: “The Other Side of Hope” by Finland’s Aki Kaurismäki, a critics’ darling.

Talent scheduled to appear at AFI FEST presented by Audi includes: Christopher Nolan, Angelina Jolie, Sofia Coppola, Martin McDonagh, Agnes Varda and Jordan Peele (“Get Out”).

Enjoy!

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AFI FEST spotlights strong women in unusual roles

Isabelle Huppert

By Film Noir Blonde and Michael Wilmington

It’s clearly the year of Isabelle Huppert … at least at AFI FEST presented by AUDI, Huppert starred in two excellent films: “Elle” a thriller by Paul Verhoeven and “Things to Come” a family drama by Mia Hansen Love. In the first she is tough as nails; the second is one of the most human and tender roles of her career. Both are well worth seeing.

Overall, the festival highlighted many strong women’s roles:
Annette Bening in “20th Century Women,” by director Mike Mills
Nicole Kidman in “Lion,” by Garth Davis
Jessica Chastain in “Miss Sloane,” by John Madden
Oulaya Amamra in “Divines” by Houda Benyamina
Nathalie Baye, Marion Cotillard and Lea Seydoux in “It’s Only the End of the World,” by Xavier Dolan
Emma Suarez and Adriana Ugarte in “Julieta,” by Pedro Almodovar
Kika Magalhaes in “The Eyes of My Mother,” by Nicolas Pesce
Alice Lowe (actress, writer and director) of “Prevenge.”

And “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds,” by Fisher Stevens and Alexis Bloom is more than a little brilliant.

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AFI FEST 2016 honors Lupino, Dandridge and Wong

By Film Noir Blonde and Michael Wilmington

Ida Lupino directed “The Hitch-Hiker” and “The Bigamist,” both from 1953, as well as five other features.

Ida Lupino directed “The Hitch-Hiker” and “The Bigamist” as well as five other features.

The AFI FEST presented by AUDI, which runs in Hollywood from Nov. 10-17, will honor three brilliant women as part of its Cinema Legacy programming: Ida Lupino, Dorothy Dandridge and Anna May Wong.

Most famous as an actress, Lupino was also a director, writer and producer. She was the second woman (after Dorothy Arzner) to join the Directors Guild of America. Lupino was known for her energy and her intensity as well as her fiery temperament and mercurial character. She once described herself as “the poor man’s Bette Davis.” Like Davis, Lupino craved meaty, challenging roles and was not afraid to look unglamorous while playing them.

Dorothy Dandridge

Earlier in her career, she was billed as “the English Jean Harlow” and she was made to dye her hair blonde. But whether she was a blonde or a brunette, Lupino had a strong affinity with film noir. Lupino said of her early days: “I was going to play all the sweet roles. Whereupon, at the tender age of 13, I set upon the path of playing nothing but hookers.”

In addition to “They Drive By Night” and “High Sierra,” she earned 15 film noir or crime/mystery acting credits. She directed seven feature films (most notably “The Hitch-Hiker” and “The Bigamist” both from 1953) as well as many TV shows.

Dandridge, sometimes called the black Marilyn Monroe, was the first African American to receive a Best Actress Oscar nod. Dandridge was nominated for her performance in “Carmen Jones” (1954, Otto Preminger) but lost to Grace Kelly in “The Country Girl.”

Dandridge and Preminger began an affair during the shoot. He also started giving her career advice, which included turning down several roles. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for 1959’s “Porgy and Bess” (also directed by Preminger). In 1965, she died, alone, under mysterious circumstances. She was 42.

Anna May Wong

Wong was the first Chinese-American movie star. A native of Los Angeles, she worked in silent film, sound movies, television, stage and radio. But given the prejudices of the time, she did get her fair share of Hollywood roles.

Most egregiously, she was not considered for the lead of 1937’s “The Good Earth.” The part went to Luise Rainer. Wong made “Piccadilly” in London with director E.A. Dupont. She died in 1961 at age 56.

“The Hitch-Hiker,” “Carmen Jones” and “Piccadilly” will screen at AFI FEST.

This stellar fest is open to the public and will present galas, tributes, special screenings, world cinema, new auteurs, American independents, shorts and more.

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AFI FEST delights film noir fans

Film noir aficionados were gratified to see Pablo Trapero’s “The Clan,” a grisly crime story about the infamous Puccio family, featured at AFI FEST presented by Audi. “The Clan” is Argentina’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Other AFI FEST highlights:

By the Sea,” directed by Angelina Jolie-Pitt, who also stars in the film with husband Brad Pitt. Dark and moody and sexy, just the way we like ’em.

Concussion,” starring Will Smith as a doctor who takes on the NFL. Co-starring Alec Baldwin and directed by Peter Landesman.

Director Patricia Riggen’s “The 33,” a tense drama about the 2010 collapse of a Chilean mine and the rescue attempts that followed.

The Big Short,” a comedy/drama about a Wall Street wild man who cashed in on the housing market and defaulting subprime home loans. Directed by Adam McKay, based on real events. Starring Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell.

The full lineup included 17 docs and 10 Foreign Language Oscar entries among 127 total films from 45 countries.

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AFI Fest is coming up soon!

We are excited that the AFI Fest presented by Audi is coming soon. The fest runs Nov. 5-12 in Hollywood.

The opening night gala is the world premiere of “By the Sea” starring Angelina Jolie Pitt and her husband Brad Pitt as a couple in crisis in 1970s France. The film is written, directed, produced by and stars Academy Award ® winner Jolie Pitt and co-produced by Academy Award® winner Pitt.

American Film Institute announced the full schedule today.

 

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Film noir features prominently at AFI FEST 2014

A Most Violent Year poster largeWe at FNB are eagerly awaiting the start of AFI FEST 2014 presented by Audi.

The terrific slate of shows runs Nov. 6-13 in Hollywood. The fest opens and closes with neo-noir titles that are generating Oscar buzz. “A Most Violent Year,” starring Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain and David Oyelowo, will kick things off. Set in 1981 in New York City, the film tells the story of an immigrant struggling to survive amid intense crime and danger. “A Most Violent Year” is directed by J.C. Chandor (“Margin Call” and “All Is Lost”).

Inherent Vice posterThere will be two screenings on Sat., Nov. 8., of director Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest feature: an adaptation of “Inherent Vice” by novelist Thomas Pynchon. Joaquin Phoenix stars as P.I. Doc Sportello in 1970-ish Los Angeles. We’re in. Phoenix leads a stellar cast including Katherine Waterston, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro, Jena Malone, Maya Rudolph and Martin Short.

On Monday, Nov. 10, “The Gambler” is the gala screening. In this remake of the 1974 James Caan film, Mark Wahlberg plays Jim Bennett, a college professor immersed in the watch-your-back world of underground gambling. English director Rupert Wyatt (“The Escapist” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) joins forces with Boston-born writer William Monahan (“The Departed”).

Foxcatcher,” the closing night movie, is based on the real-life saga of ’80s Olympic wrestling champs Dave and Mark Schultz (Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum) and their uneasy working relationship with ultra-wealthy wrestling hobbyist/“coach” John du Pont (Steve Carell). Things go from tense to deadly in this spare and thoughtful drama, for which Bennett Miller took home the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Fest. (His previous work includes “Capote” and “Moneyball.”) We caught this at a press screening last night – it is very chilling and very well done. From his pasty skin to his zombie rasp that passes for a voice, Carell perfectly conveys the menacing imperiousness and internal emptiness that apparently defined du Pont’s personality. Ruffalo and Tatum are excellent as well.

sophia-loren-afi-tribute[1]These are just a few of the film-noir offerings and there is much more going on, such as the Sophia Loren tribute on Nov. 12. Who doesn’t love this supremely talented and stunningly beautiful actress?

The complete AFI FEST program includes 118 films (73 features, 45 shorts), representing 39 countries. There are 29 films directed/co-directed by women, 16 documentaries and 17 animated films.  The breakdown by section is: Galas/Tributes (6), Special Screenings (8), American Independents (8), New Auteurs (10), World Cinema (29), Midnight (4), Breakthrough (4), Conversations (4), Cinema’s Legacy (4) and Short Films (45), and includes 9 official Foreign Language Film Oscar® submissions.

Free tickets are available: http://www.afi.com/afifest/freetickets.aspx

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American Film Institute announces festival lineup

Cleo

“Cleo from 5 to 7” stars Corinne Marchand.

We at FNB are thrilled to be attending the AFI Fest 2013 presented by Audi. The fest runs Nov. 7-14 in Hollywood.

Organizers recently announced the schedule: http://afifest.afi.com/sections. Among the highlights: Agnès Varda is guest artistic director and her 1962 film “Cleo from 5 to 7” will screen at the fest. (There will be a conversation with Varda beforehand.)

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