The 24th Annual AFI FEST returns with its popular “See A Film On Us!” program initiated last year by then fest director Rose Kuo (currently the executive director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.) AFI Fest 2010 will offer free daytime screenings and a limited number of free tickets to evening screenings and galas, including Opening and Closing Night.
Jacqueline Lyanga, an AFI veteran programmer and key architect in the planning and implementation of AFI FEST and other AFI events since 2005, was named Festival Director for AFI FEST 2010, Lyanga, a graduate of the world-renowned AFI Conservatory, was joined by AFI FEST veteran, Lane Kneedler, who has been named Associate Director of Programming. Returning as Festival Producer is Derek Call, who managed Festival operations and the eight-acre AFI Campus from 2002-2008.
“AFI FEST 2010” will present a sidebar of films selected by its first-ever Guest Artistic Director, David Lynch. Lynch graduated from AFI in 1970. Lynch’s selections are: “Hour Of the Wolf”(Ingmar Bergman), “Lolita” (Stanley Kubrick), “Mon Oncle” (Jacques Tati), “Rear Window” (Alfred Hitchcock) and “Sunset Blvd (Billy Wilder). “I picked these particular films because they are the ones that have inspired me most. I think each is a masterpiece,” said Lynch. “If people have already seen them, they are certainly worth being seen again. And if people haven’t seen them, here is an opportunity to see what I consider cinema at its best.”
Recommended: Bergman’s 1968 “Hour Of the Wolf” (which rarely scenes, although it played at LACMA earlier this year) is an exquisite gothic psychological horror story. The hallucinatory dream scenes, recounted by the tortured artist Johan Borg (Max von Sydow), are filled with sixties class satire. The stylized black and white cinematography by master Sven Nykvist and Marik Vos-Lundh’s production design influenced countless films. Kubrick’s biting, tone perfect mid century satire “Lolita” features Shelley Winter’s finest performance, wonderful multi personalities essayed by Peter Sellers, a catchy Pop theme by Nelson Riddle and the black and white cinematography of Oswald Morris. Jacques Tati’s daffy masterpiece won the Cannes Special Jury prize and the best Foreign Film Oscar in 1958. Tati’s signature character Mr. Hulot, in his raincoat, fedora, bow-tie short pants and striped socks stumbles through life brandishing his long stemmed pipe, which he nervously taps against his shoe to punctuate his confusion. Affable bachelor Uncle Hulot charms his delighted nephew Gerard Arpel. Gerard lives in a fully mechanized suburban” house of the future” with his parents, plastic hose manufacturer Charles (Jean-Pierre Zola) and cleanness freak Madame Arpel (Adrienne Servantie), Hulot’s sister. Tati builds his masterful gags (inspired by Keaton and Chaplin) with a leisurely pace. Two round windows, filled with the silhouetted heads of the Arpels, become eyeballs, in one of many memorable gags. Once the Arpels get Hulot a job at the factory, his eccentric solutions to the workplace lead to his exile as a traveling salesman.
Lynch, noted for such films as “Eraserhead”, “The Elephant Man”, “Blue Velvet,” Mulholland Drive” and “Inland Empire” and the TV series, “Twin Peaks”, will attend the festival on Saturday, November 6 to present the double-bill of “Eraserhead” and “Sunset Blvd,” The public is invited to tweet questions for Lynch to address at the double-bill presentation. Questions should be sent to the AFI FEST Twitter account (@AFIFEST). Lynch has prepared special video introductions for the remaining three films.
Lynch’s artwork serves as the official image of the 24th annual festival. While supplies last, those who purchase an AFI Membership, AFI FEST Patron Package or AFI FEST pass will receive a limited-edition commemorative poster of David Lynch’s festival artwork. Lynch’s festival art, along with exclusive video content, is featured on the AFI FEST iPhone app, available for download at the iTunes store starting today.
This year’s AFI FEST celebrates a number of AFI Conservatory alumni, including David Lynch, the festival’s Guest Artistic Director; director Edward Zwick and the creative ensemble of “Love & Other Drugs” (World Premiere Opening Night Gala); and director Darren Aronofsky and the creative ensemble of “Black Swan”(Closing Night Gala).
“AFI is where it began for me, and where I return as often as possible, to teach and to learn,” said Edward Zwick. “I’m honored to open the festival, and to join Darren, David, and so many alumni for whom this marks a kind of coming home.” The creative ensemble of “Love & Other Drugs” also features other alumni of the AFI Conservatory, including co-writer/co-producer Marshall Herskovitz, editor Steven Rosenblum, cinematographer Steven Fierberg and producer Pieter Jan Brugge. ”As an alumnus of the AFI Conservatory, it’s always a thrill to partake in the wonderful festival AFI puts on,” said Darren Aronofsky. “The fact that we get to show at my favorite theater in the world, the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, adds to the honor.” The creative ensemble of “Black Swan” also features other alumni of the AFI Conservatory, including cinematographer Matthew Libatique and executive Producer Jon Avnet.
Zwick’s broad comedy “Love & Other Drugs” features Jake Gyllenhaal as a sex obsessed Viagra salesman. Anne Hathaway plays his love interest. Hank Azaria and Oliver Platt add to the madness. “Black Swan” features Natalie Portman as Nina, an ambitious ballerina in competition with anew dancer Lily (Mila Kunis). Aronofsky blends “All About Eve” and Horror film tropes in an over the top psychological-horror far from the measured world of “The Red Shoes.”
Other GALA recommendations:
Diego Luna’s directorial debut “Abel”, about a troubled little boy, features a strong ensemble cast. Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech”, starring Colin Firth as the stuttering King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as his Australian speech therapist, won the People’s Choice Award at Toronto. Richard J. Lewis’s adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s novel may be the most effective adaptation of the Canadian novelist’s work
featuring performances by the buoyant Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman and Rosamund Pike. Richler wrote “Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” and “Jacob Two-Two.” Giamatti brings the eccentric Barney Panofsky to life in a story that surveys decades
The WORLD CINEMA section offers a strong selection of twenty-one films from renounced international directors. Recommended: Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s “A Screaming Man,” is a wide-screen drama of a poolman who looses his beloved job to his son. An unforgettable tragedy of intimate betrayal set against the regional war. Winner Prix de jury, Cannes 2010.
Takashi Miike’s handsome “12 Assassins” is more an homage to Samurai films than a remake of Kurosawa’s original. Koji Yakusho (“Memoirs of a Geisha”, “Babel.” plays one of the last traditional samurais Shinzaemon.
Fernando Trueba’s “Chico & Rita” is a love story set in the jazz world of Cuba (and New York) before and after the revolution. Legendary Cuban pianist, composer Bebo Valdés contributes an original soundtrack. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” blends the langorous observational style of ” Blissfully Happy” with the mysterious flourishes of his “Tropical Malady.” Apichatpong described the film to Mark Peranson and Kong Rithdee’s of Cinema Scope as “a lamentation… for celluloid… I think Uncle Boonmee will be one of the last films that will be shot on film, as everything is moving to the Red or Sony or whatever…Each reel of the film has a different style—acting style, lighting style, or cinematic references.” Winner Palme d’Or, Cannes 2010.
Other World Cinema recommendations: jean-Luc Godard’s “Film Socialism;” Bertrand Tavernier’s period piece “The Princess Of Montpensier”, “The Human Resources Manager” a tragic-comic road movie (Israel’s Foreign Oscar entry); Israeli Shlomi Eldar’s provocative documentary “Precious Life.” Ken Wardrop’s tart documentary “His and Hers” features seventy women from Britain’s midlands sharing their thoughts on the men in their lives- fathers, boyfriends, husbands and sons.
As a part of the World Cinema Section, AFI is presenting a slate of 6 films from Korea. Korea’s masterful director Hong Sang-soo (featured in a five-film weekend at LACMA in September) is known for his unforced, introspective comedy of manners, detailing the travails of the twenty-something generation. The rhythms of his naturalistic dialogue and seemingly artless camera moves capture profound nuances, shifts of one and the ambiguities of the human heart. In “Hahaha” (Summer Summer Summer) two young men recount their romantic adventures, unaware that their stories overlap. Hong Sang-soo establishes a strong sense of place, counter-pointing the comings and goings of the small port town, Tongyeong, with the existential dilemma of its young protagonists. Winner of the top prize Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2010. Hong Sang-soo’s “Oki’s Story” follows the intersecting lives of a young filmmaker, his professor and the woman they both love. His gentle self -deprecating humor, awkward moments and melancholic moods essay the dilemma of romantic jealousy.
Lee Chang-dong’s “Poetry” is a portrait of an elderly female caregiver Mija (Yun Jung-lee ) who turns to the solace of poetry when her grandson is involved in a scandalous gang rape and suicide. Grappling with her recently diagnosed Alzheimer’s and the pressure from the parents of the other miscreants who are trying to raise a $30 million, Mija’s obsession with language becomes a spiritual journey. Special Mention- the Cannes Ecumenical Jury.
Hong Sang-soo’s minimalist “Oki’s Movie” is the tale of a young film student and the two men she dated. Using footage of her winter visits to Acha mountain with each man, she contrasts the two experiences. It is the titular section of four interlocking stories involving filmmaker Oki, now successful filmmaker Jingu and their teacher Professor Song, Didactic, formalistic and self-referential, Hong Sang soo’s video is full of his trademark humanists insight.
Kim Ki-young’s classic Noir “The Housemaid” (1960), is a harrowing, claustrophobic domestic melodrama. Guilt-ridden Mr. Kim, succumbs to his housemaid’s wiles, destroying his marital comfort and setting his children on a destructive course. The housekeeper in the first version plays like a female version of the seductive Terence Stamp character in Pasolini’s “Teorama,” Recently digitally restored by the Korean Film Archive (KOFA) with the support of the World Cinema Foundation. Plays in a double bill with Im Sang-soo’s recent remake. The slick, sexy remake is both elegant and cruel. Naive divorcee Lee Euny is hired from the kitchen of a low-rent restaurant where to work for the ultra-wealthy Hoon family. Jeon Do-yeon, who won the 2007 best actress award at Cannes for “Secret Sunshine”, plays the passive fetching housemaid. Lee joins the amoral industrialist Hoon (Lee Jung-jae) in bed once his very pregnant wife Hera (Seo Woo). can no longer please him. Im Sang-soo regular (Youn Yuh-jung-“The President’s Last Bang”) plays the Mrs. Danvers-esque housekeeper who hires her. Unlike the original version, Im Sang-soo builds sympathy for the housemaid victimized by the entitled, elite Hoon.
The ALT/ART section feature films about artists and the artistic struggle for freedom of expression; All three films are recommended: Georgia Sugimura, Kristin Armfield’s “Barbershop Punk” portrays average-joe Robb Topolski who takes on Comcast over Net Neutrality issues. Topolski tried to share Public Domain turn-of-the-century barbershop music using a free P2P File Sharing program. He discovered that Comcast was surreptitiously “throttling” his speed ( a form of de facto content blocking.) Talking heads Janeane Garofalo, Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye and Damian Kulash (lead singer of the band OK Go flesh) out this issue, which will ultimately affect all of our lives.
Documentary Celine Danhier’s “Blank City” portrays New York No Wave filmmakers circa 1977-87. Talking head interviews and Super 8 and 16mm footage feature John Lurie, Steve Buscemi, and Lydia Lunch, Anne Magnusen, Lydia Lunch, Amos Poe, James Nares, Lizzie Borden, Jim Jarmusch, Charlie Ahearn, Nick Zedd and many others, not to mention a kicking soundtrack.
French film activist Pip Chodorov’s “Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film” is a tribute some of the leading figures of 20th century experimental film. Combining clips, short films and archival Super-8 and 16 mm footage, Chodorov presents conversations with such luminaries as Hans Richter, Robert Breer, Michael Snow, Peter Kubelka and Stan Brakhage in his final recorded interview. Andy Warhol, Nam June Paik, Maurice Lemaître, John Mhiripiri. M.M. Serra and Ken Jacobs also appear. Experimental Film which languished, unprotected in a no-mans land between commercial film making and the Art World, was largely rescued by the work of visionary filmmaker and archivist Jonas Mekas and the organizations he founded – Film-Makers’ Cooperative and the Anthology Film Archive. Mekas, Serra and Jacobs were honored at the recent Counter Culture, Counter Cinema: An Avant-Garde Film Festival presented by MOCA and Charles S. Cohen at the Pacific Design Center,
Recommendations for the very strong NEW AUTEURS section: Michelangelo Frammartino’s non-dialogued, non-directional “Le Quattro Volte”; Hungarian Agnes Kocsis’s “Pal Adrienn”, winner of the FIPRESCI award for best film in Un Certain Regard, Cannes, 2010, Mikkel Munch-Fals’ “Nothing’s All Bad, Belgian Alex Stockman’s brilliant internet psychological thriller “Pulsar.” ” Xavier Dolan’s “Heartbeats”, a follow-up to his festival darling “I Killed My Mother.” Dolan’s film seems part homage to Jacques Demy, part Scorcese, and entirely his own.
Special Screenings include John Cameron Mitchell’s bleak domestic drama “Rabbit Hole”, starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, Werner Herzog’s 3D “Cave Of Forgotten Dreams”, John Sayles’s Phillipine American war drama “Amigo.” Nigel Cole’s boisterous, crowd-pleasing 60’s Union pic “Made in Dagenham” about the feisty women machinists at Dagenham’s Ford Motor Factory who took on the bosses and the Government in 1968 to win equal pay for women workers. (We have still to achieve that in the US.) Starring Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson and Sally Hawkins (“Happy Ever Afters”,)
BREAKTHROUGH section recommendation: Dutch writer-director Jaap van Heusden’s wry stock-market comedy “Win/Win.”
YOUNG AMERICANS section: Mike Ott’s “LittleRock” follows a Japanese pair stranded in a desert town. Matt McCormick’s Portland based ” Some Days Are Better Than Others.”
AFI FEST partners with AFM (The American Film Market) to provide the only concurrent festival/market event in North America.
The American Film Institute is the nation’s pre-eminent, public-supported institution dedicated to preserving America’s Film heritage through education, special programs, the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, an authoritative record of American films from 1893 to the present, and the AFI Archives, which contains rare footage from across the history of the moving image. It’s its world-renowned AFI Conservatory, offering a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. For 38 years, the Annual AFI Life Achievement Award remains one of Hollywood’s highest honors. AFI events include AFI Fest presented by Audi, AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs, and year-round programming at the AFI SilverTheatre in the Washington, D.C. area. The Short Films will be judged by a Jury. This year, Feature Film awards will be decided by the audience, who will select one film in each of the five sections.
Free tickets to AFI FEST were offered to AFI members on October 27, and to the general public on Oct 28. All available tickets were sold out one hour after the box-office opened on Oct 28, however festivalgoers will be able to get last-minute tickets at AFI.com/AFIFEST the day before the screening or at the festival box office the day of the screening. Rush Lines for screenings will begin forming one hour before the scheduled screening start times. Becoming a patron of the festival and purchasing a Patron Package or one of the other festival passes-including the New Auteurs Pass, the Special Screening Pass and the Gala Pass-secures reserved seats and other festival benefits. Additional information is available at AFI.com/AFIFEST, 1.888.AFI FEST and on-site at the AFI FEST box office at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood. AFI FEST 2010 presented by Audi will take place in Hollywood, California at the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Mann Chinese 6 theatres, the Egyptian Theatre and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel from November 4-11, 2010. Access Exclusive Content on the Free AFI FEST 2010 presented by Audi iPhone App