The fall festival season continues to take shape. Next up: Los Angeles’ own AFI FEST, which will open with the world premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feature directorial debut, “Tick Tick Boom” (stylized by Netflix as “tick, tick…BOOM”). The Netflix feature is based on the autobiographical musical by “Rent” playwright Jonathan Larson and stars Academy Award nominee and Tony Award winner Andrew Garfield. The film is written by Tony Award winner Steven Levenson and produced by Academy Award and Emmy winners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard for Imagine Entertainment, Julie Oh, and Miranda. The Opening Night screening will take place at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre.
The festival experimented with an October festival berth and virtual festival last year during the pandemic; after three years running both AFI Fest and AFI Docs, director Michael Lumpkin retired in March, 2021. He is yet to be replaced; for the moment the woman in charge is Sarah Harris, who moved into Director of Programming at AFI Festivals to replace the departing Lane Kneedler.
And the festival has moved back to its usual November slot, when it can take advantage of late-breaking Oscar contenders like Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper” and Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” Running November 10 through 14, the festival will roll out in a hybrid format, including both in-person screenings and events in Los Angeles as well as virtual screenings. The festival will also include a gala event celebrating AFI Life Achievement Honoree Julie Andrews. With health and safety being top priority, AFI FEST 2021 will require all festival-goers who attend in-person events and/or screenings to be fully vaccinated.
“AFI FEST will remind the world the power of this art form to lift our spirits at a time we need it most,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO in an official statement. “Opening with the imperative voice of Lin-Manuel Miranda and celebrating the joy that Julie Andrews has provided generations will set our sights on a brighter day – just like in the movies.”
Larson performed the musical “Tick Tick Boom” as a solo work in 1990, before playwright David Auburn revamped it into a 2001 Off-Broadway musical following Larson’s tragic death. “Rent” opened on Broadway in the meantime, making the late Larson a musical theater phenomenon. Garfield is joined in the film by co-stars Alexandra Shipp, Tony Award nominee Robin de Jesús, Tony Award nominee Joshua Henry, Emmy Award nominee Mj Rodriguez, Emmy Award winner Bradley Whitford, Tariq Trotter aka Black Thought of The Roots, with Emmy and Tony Award winner Judith Light, and Vanessa Hudgens. The film will be in select theaters on November 12 and on Netflix November 19.