This isn't to say there isn't plenty of worthwhile films to choose from outside our list, but we figured a helpful nudge or two (or ten) might help make scheduling your own personal AFI FEST a little bit easier:
“All the Light in the Sky” (North American Premiere)
This Young Americans entry is the latest from super-prolific lo-fi filmmaker Joe Swanberg, who again directed, co-wrote, produced, edited and shot his own film. In a change from his usual milieus, however, “All the Light in the Sky” is a Hollywood story, albeit a very small one. Jane Adams, who co-wrote the 79-minute film, stars with Sophia Takal (a writer-director herself with the 2011 thriller “Green”) as an aging actress and her visiting niece, who spend the weekend together in a house perched on a Malibu beach. Though his improvisational, stripped-down approach is not for everyone, Swanberg remains a fearless filmmaker whose raw, character-driven work is worth keeping an eye on. [Jay A. Fernandez]
"The Angel's Share" (U.S. Premiere)
At 75-years-old, Ken Loach shows no signs of slowing down with his newest work, "The Angel's Share," making its U.S. premiere at AFI FEST. His latest collaboration with Scottish lawyer turned screenwriter Paul Laverty ("The Wind That Shakes the Barley") finds Loach making one of his most light-hearted entertainments to date -- a heist comedy with a cast mostly made up on non-professional actors. The film, which initially premiered at Cannes earlier this year to solid notices, centers on Robbie, a Glasgow boy who is given one final chance to stay out of prison after coming across a whiskey distillery while out doing community service. Chances are with Loach at the helm, this won't be Scotland's answer to "Ocean's Eleven." Still, anything from the Palme d'Or-winning filmmaker is always worth a watch.
Bernardo Bertolucci's Guest Artistic Director Program
Technically five films, Bernardo Bertolucci follows David Lynch and Pedro Almodovar as AFI FEST's Guest Artistic Director, offering up a meaty program of his favorite work. "42nd Street" (by Lloyd Bacon), "La Regle du Jeu" (by Jean Renoir), "Surnrise" (by F.W. Murnau) and "Vivre Ca Vie" (by Jean-Luc Godard) represent the filmmakers' tastes and a nice tour down film history lane, while in addition the festival will present "Electric Chair," a behind-the-scenes film about the making of Bertolucci’s new movie, "Me and You." [Peter Knegt]