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 Kevin Spacey. In this thriller based on real events, Spacey initially played 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 but has been reshot, cutting Spacey and replacing him with Christopher Plummer.

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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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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AFI Fest 2012 announces award winners

AFI Fest 2012 presented by Audi wrapped up today with the gala screening of “Lincoln” by Steven Spielberg and encore showings of some of the winning films. The program included 140 films (84 features, 56 shorts) from 3,400 submissions across 28 countries, with France, UK and Germany topping the international selections.

“Our desire is to have these films reach an even wider audience after these eight festival days, and that our jury and audience awards contribute to building an audience for these films,” said festival director Jacqueline Lyanga at the awards brunch.

The event was held in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt Hotel, which was the venue for the first Academy Awards presentation on May 16, 1929.

AUDIENCE AWARDS
World Cinema: “A Royal Affair,” by Nikolaj Arcel, Denmark/Sweden/Czech Republic/Germany.

New Auteurs: “A Hijacking,” by Tobias Lindholm, Denmark.

Young Americans: “Only the Young,” by Jason Tippet, Elizabeth Mims, US.

Breakthrough: “Nairobi Half Life,” by David Tosh Gitonga, Kenya/Germany.

Mati Diop

GRAND JURY AWARDS, NEW AUTEURS
Grand Jury Award: “Eat Sleep Die,” by Gabriela Pichler, Sweden.

Special Mention for Performance: Mati Diop for her contribution to “Simon Killer” as both an actress and screenwriter. (“Simon Killer,” by Antonio Campos, US.)

Special Mention: “Here and There,” by Antonio Mendez Esparza, for its honest depiction of lives that are otherwise often invisible in our society. Mexico/Spain/US.

You can see the full list of winners here.

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