While the American Film Market takes Santa Monica, the 26th annual AFI Fest brings diverse cinematic life to Hollywood Thursday night with the world premiere of "Hitchcock." The Sacha Gervasi film starring Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson is one of only two world premieres at the festival, and the second has technically already had a "secret screening" at the New York Film Festival: Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln."
World premieres are not what make AFI Fest special. Not only does it offer free tickets for the cream of the year's international fest faves to LA moviegoers, it turns famed Hollywood Boulevard locations such as Graumann's Chinese and The Egyptian and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel into hot spots for film buffs.
TOH has checked out a number of the festival entries. David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" is deliriously enjoyable with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in top form. Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone" is an exquisite melodrama with two actors in their own leagues–Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts (good luck to anyone who wants to argue against Cotillard deserving her second Oscar for this one).
"The Impossible," about a family's survival during the 2004 Thailand tsunami, is a moving hybrid of family survival drama and intense thriller with three exceptional performances by Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and young Tom Holland. Stay tuned for our interviews with Watts and McGregor.
Walter Salles' flawed but brilliantly acted "On the Road" finally arrives in Los Angeles after making its festival rounds. Lovers of the Jack Kerouac novel will be able to see for themselves just how well stars Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen and Amy Adams met the task. Here's our review out of Cannes, as well as for Ang Lee's gorgeous adaptation of "Life of Pi" which also gets a gala screening at the fest.
"Starlet," starring Dree Hemingway and Besedka Johnson, has been a busy festival bee leading up to its theatrical release on November 9. It is a surprising, unexpected and refreshing study of friendship and connection. We interview director Sean Baker ("Prince of Broadway") here.
Of the AFI Fest's twelve Foreign Language Oscar entries, we admired tense cold war drama from Germany "Barbara" (Christian Petzold), Romania's "Beyond the Hills" (Cristian Mungiu), South Korea's Golden Lion winner "Pieta" (Kim Ki-duk) and Austria's "Amour" (Michael Haneke), which could be a major factor in the Oscar race. We interview Danish "A Royal Affair" star Mads Mikkelson here (he also talks about "The Hunt," another must-see AFI Fest title for which he won Best Actor in Cannes).
Other Oscar submissions we need to catch include Mexico's "After Lucia" (dir: Michel Franco), Canada's "War Witch" (Kim Nguyen), Belgium's "Our Children" Joachim Lafosse, Italy's "Caesar Must Die" (Paolo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani), Norway's "Kon-Tiki" (various directors) and Portugal's “Blood of My Blood” (João Canijo).
Many other features, documentaries and shorts are pllaying AFI Fest. Check out the schedule and get yourself some tickets here.
The AFM and AFI Fest are also joining to introduce a new festival program at the market. Three films seeking international sales reps will screen at AFM on Tuesday ("Here and There" [aka "Aqui y Alla"], "Nairobi Half Life," and "Starlet"). AFM's Jonathan Wolf says: "this was a natural progression of our partnership with AFI Fest and provides these filmmakers an invaluable opportunity to screen for the world's top sales agents."
Together, AFM and AFI Fest are the only concurrent festival-market in North America. Twenty-seven of AFI Fest's films will also be represented at AFM. They are listed below.
11 AFI FEST films will screen at AFM, including ABCs OF DEATH (Magnolia Pictures); ANTIVIRAL (IFC Films/TF1 International); COME OUT AND PLAY (Cananá Films); GINGER AND ROSA (The Match Factory); JOHN DIES AT THE END (Magnolia Pictures); KON-TIKI (Media Plan PR/HanWay Films); QUARTET(HanWay Films); SIMON KILLER (IFC Films/ Fortissimo Films); and ZAYTOUN (Pathé International).
16 additional festival selections will be represented at AFM including: A ROYAL AFFAIR (Magnolia Pictures); BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (IFC Films/The Match Factory); BEYOND THE HILLS (IFC Films); CAESAR MUST DIE (Adopt Films, LLC/Rai Trade); EAT SLEEP DIE (The Yellow Affair); HERE COMES THE DEVIL (MPI Media Group); HOLY MOTORS (Indomina); IN ANOTHER COUNTRY (Kino Lorber); IN THE FOG (Strand Releasing/The Match Factory); KID (Media Luna New Films); PIETA (Finecut); TABU (Adopt Films, LLC); THE HUNT (Magnolia Pictures); THE IMPOSSIBLE (Summit Entertainment); THE MOST FUN I’VE EVER HAD WITH MY PANTS ON (Continental Media); and WAR WITCH (Tribeca Enterprises/Films Distribution).