Post(s) tagged with "AFI FEST NOW"



ELECTRICK CHILDREN (AFI FEST 2012) is now playing in theaters. Learn more about the movie at our site.

Now Playing - THE ABCs OF DEATH (AFI FEST 2012)

THE ABC’S OF DEATH opens today in theaters. The film was part of the AFI FEST 2012 lineup. Read more about it here.


The American Film Institute Celebrates the Year in Global Cinema

and Continues Unprecedented Offer of Free Tickets To All Screenings

LOS ANGELES, CA, March 5, 2013 – AFI FEST 2013 presented by Audi officially announced its dates and call for entries today. The American Film Institute’s annual celebration of artistic excellence brings the audience and the entertainment community together to explore the year in global cinema through the new works of film masters, moving image icons and breakthrough talents, and is the only film festival of its stature that is free to the public. This year AFI FEST will take place November 7 through 14 in Hollywood, California, the movie capital of the world, at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly known as Grauman’s Chinese), the Chinese 6 Theatres at the Hollywood & Highland Center, the Egyptian Theatre of the American Cinematheque and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

AFI FEST mixes nightly red carpet galas of Hollywood films with award-winning and highly anticipated new auteur works from filmmakers around the world. Emerging in 1987 as a program of the American Film Institute, the festival has paid tribute to numerous influential filmmakers and artists over the years, including Pedro Almodóvar, Bernardo Bertolucci and David Lynch as Guest Artistic Directors, as well as top film talent such as Darren Aronofsky, Danny Boyle, Marion Cotillard, Catherine Deneuve, Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep, to name a few. In addition, AFI FEST has showcased scores of films that have produced wins at the Oscars® in recent years, including A SEPARATION, AMOUR, THE ARTIST, BLACK SWAN, THE KING’S SPEECH, LIFE OF PI, LINCOLN, PRECIOUS and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

"AFI FEST is where the films of talented emerging filmmakers have the opportunity to screen alongside the current works of masters of the art form," said Jacqueline Lyanga, Director, AFI FEST. "Last year’s festival included many extraordinary films from across the globe, from the World Premiere of Steven Spielberg’s LINCOLN and Ang Lee’s LIFE OF PI to first-time feature filmmaker Tosh Gitonga’s NAIROBI HALF LIFE, whose film was AFI FEST’s Audience Award Breakthrough winner and Kenya’s first-ever Foreign Language Film Oscar® submission.”

The 2012 festival featured the World Premieres of HITCHCOCK from Sacha Gervasi and the previously mentioned LINCOLN from Steven Spielberg, as well as the Secret Screening of SKYFALL from Sam Mendes, and brought over 200 filmmakers from all over the world to Los Angeles to present their films to the city’s audience of film-lovers, including new films from established filmmakers such as Léos Carax, Matteo Garrone, Michael Haneke, Kim Ki-duk, Cristian Mungiu, Sally Potter, Walter Salles and Hong Sang-soo, among many others.

Submissions are now open and filmmakers are invited to submit narrative, documentary, experimental, animated and short films at through The final submission deadline for short films (under 30 minutes) is August 2, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes AFI FEST as a qualifying festival for the Short Films category of the annual Academy Awards®. The final submission deadline for feature-length films is August 16. Films found solely through the submissions process are presented in the festival’s Breakthrough section, providing an opportunity for new filmmakers to share their vision with the world and receive a $5,000 cash prize.

"Festivals are a place of great discovery, and every year we look forward to finding new films and filmmakers through our submissions-based Breakthrough section and in our Oscars®-qualifying Short Film program,” said Lane Kneedler, Associate Director of Programming, AFI FEST.

Filmmakers can e-mail or call 866.AFI.FEST for more information about the submissions process.


Producer Ginger Wilson, director David Tosh Gitonga and Sarika Hemi Lakhani - AFI FEST 2012 Audience Award Breakthrough winner - NAIROBI HALF LIFE.


A still from AFI FEST 2012 Audience Award Breakthrough winner - NAIROBI HALF LIFE.

Bob Byington talks about his film SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME (AFI FEST 2012) in release this month

You presented your new film SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME at AFI FEST last year.  Do you have a favorite moment that you can share from that experience?

The Q and A that I did with Nick Offerman was really great. The audience had responded to the film in a way that felt tonally right, and we had a blast talking about it with them. It was convivial and one of the highlights of my entire festival experience with the film.

How did you assemble such a great cast?

I have worked with Nick Offerman on five movies now, and I wrote the film withhim in mind for one of the leads, and the other lead with Keith Poulson in mind – I’ve done three movies with Keith.  I just imagined the two of them as friends, and a lot followed from there.  Jess Weixler and Stephanie Hunt are two tremendous actresses I met while we were casting – both were really right for the world we created.  We got lucky with some of the other folks, including Marshall Bell, a great character actor, and Jonathan Togo, who was a friend of a friend – nobody who’s in the movie auditioned.

And now that your film is opening in theaters, can you tell us where people can see the film in March and where they can find out more about where it’s going to be playing during its release.

It’s going to open at the Music Box in Chicago on March 8 and then go to the CineFamily in Los Angeles on March 15, and it’s going to be available on iTunes beginning March 12.

Links are so much more useful in this case, and the best thing to do is “like” the movie on Facebook, where all of the info is kept up to date.  We are playing in all of the major markets in March, which is a first for me. Here is the link for more information:

Can you tell us about your next project? What are you writing?

I’m writing a script called BUTTERFINGERS with fellow AFI FEST Alumnus Alex Ross Perry (THE COLOR WHEEL), who was the one who told me AFI FEST was the best film festival in Los Angeles, and that I’d be foolish to play the film elsewhere. 

imageBob Byington (L) and Nick Offerman (R) at AFI FEST 2012

Adult Violence, Childlike Love

11/04/12 - Chinese 1, 3:45 p.m.
11/06/12 - Chinese 6, 1:45 p.m. 

By Andrew Johnson

It would be easy for a film about child soldiers to crumble under the weight of its dour and depressing subject matter, but WAR WITCH sidesteps this problem by being a character-driven film rather than an issue-driven one. Kim Nguyen’s latest offering follows Komona, a young African girl abducted from her village at the age of 12 after being forced to shoot her parents. In the hands of a les assured filmmaker this premise might become an excuse for a laborious exercise in “poverty porn,” but Nguyen treats his subject matter with greater respect, choosing to depict suffering through the eyes of a child rather than the desensitized gaze of an adult—are not the young often more capable of processing horror than the old?

Nguyen inserts elements of magical realism into the proceedings, giving them an eerie and otherworldly atmosphere while also accentuating the thematic subtext. Komona has visions of the dead standing motionless around her, caked in white ash. Her parents are her most frequent visitors, and their presence is a constant reminder of her sins. She may have killed them in order to survive, but they weren’t given a proper burial, and until their souls are laid to rest hers never will be.

The second act plays more like a coming-of-age tale, a MOONRISE KINGDOM-esque romance set against the backdrop of poverty and war-torn Africa. The key difference is that these two youngsters are just old enough to act on their hormonal impulses, something which strikes me as just a bit too subversive for a filmmaker like Anderson, and perhaps for mainstream Western audiences. I usually consider myself pretty open-minded when it comes to sex and gender issues, but when confronted with the prospect of Komona having sex with a fellow soldier (they’re so young!), I found myself forced to grapple with my own assumptions and preferences regarding appropriate sexual behavior. I wondered, were they ready for such intimacy? Was this really the best thing for them right now? Couldn’t it bring more trouble than it was worth?

In retrospect, it seems so silly of me to think so. I had fallen prey to the common cultural myth perpetuated by Hollywood that violence is a more acceptable element of youth than sex. Watching children murder their elders was horrible enough, but it was the idea of teenage sexuality that upset me the most! The brilliance of Nguyen’s screenplay is that it acknowledges common Western perceptions of sexuality in Africa as a tragic act inextricably linked to rape and HIV and gradually turns them on its head.

Here, teenage sexuality isn’t a cause for concern, it’s a cause for celebration, a relieving respite from the oppressive and manipulative sex of adulthood. Komona’s body may be a tool to satiate adult (blood)lust, but it never ceases to be hers, and when she becomes empowered to use it to act on her own desires, she reclaims her innocence rather than losing it. In the haze of young love her sins are momentarily washed away, and the endless possibilities of childhood are instantly possible again.

It’s a small miracle that WAR WITCH didn’t turn out completely unwatchable. Nguyen takes several diverse genres — war film, coming-of-age romance, and supernatural horror allegory, to name a few — and combines them all into something beautiful. The film stands as a haunting reminder that we must take care not to delve too deeply into the darkness of others, lest we be blinded from confronting the darkness in ourselves. As Kamona puts it at one point, “I won’t tell you what happened … you won’t listen anymore.” Nguyen wisely takes the eroticism out of violence and places it back where it belongs, in the space between two people. In doing so, he keeps WAR WITCH from coming another gratuitous look at African suffering and allows his images to retain their power, enabling us to better identify the evil around us.

Andrew Johnson is a freelance journalist and the founder of Film Geek Radio, a network of film-and-TV-themed podcasts.

A Conversation with Antonio Campos

By Joey Ally, AFI FEST Now

Before anything else, in the interest of journalistic integrity I should admit to the following: I am absolutely Antonio Campos’s #1 fanboy (or, in this case, girl). I first became aware of Campos’s work five years ago when — still a New Yorker and still (kinda/sorta/sometimes on Wednesdays) trying to make acting my main jam — my scene study teacher was plucked for a role in AFTERSCHOOL (AFI FEST 2008). The work since produced by his film company — Borderline Films, comprised of Campos (writer/director: AFTERSCHOOL, SIMON KILLER), Sean Durkin (writer/director: MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE), and Josh Mond (producer of all three, in addition to numerous others), who met during their time in undergrad film school at NYU — has been nothing short of incendiary, engendering discourse and (gasp!) even agreement throughout the independent film world. Everyone digs these dudes.

Yet sitting down with Campos on Tuesday in Beverly Hills, it was immediately apparent that in spite of the Hollywood-hoover-cloud swirling just above him, Campos possesses one of the most calming demeanors I’ve yet to come across this go round the sun. The lull of his voice, the minimalism of his motions, and the intention behind his eye-contact — as though saying “yes, I’m here with you” — make it apparent why he is able to command such delicately tremendous performances. Actors trust him because he’s a guy you trust, plain and simple.

For 40 minutes, we chatted about SIMON KILLER, AFTERSCHOOL, the New York from which Campos draws his inspiration, and why existentialism shakes his cage, among many other things (such as why the choice of handle for the titular character in SIMON KILLER is not, in fact, a reference to the game “Simon says”….though if you’re reading, Antonio, I maintain that the hypothesis was not totally unfounded).

Here’s some of that conversation.

AFN: First of all, I just want to say thank you for meeting with me. I’ve actually been following you, and Borderline Films, since the casting stage of AFTERSCHOOL because I was in Alexandra Neil’s scene study at the time.

AC: Oh I’m so happy to hear that — I really like Alex. I had it in my head that Alex Neil’s character was sort of connecting the AFTERSCHOOL universe and SIMON KILLER. We were gonna put Brady (Corbet, who portrays the eponymous “Simon”) in a “Brighton Academy” (the fictitious school that serves as the backdrop for AFTERSCHOOL) sweatshirt, like he was the brother to the twins that died or something, but it was too much.

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A Breakthrough Filmmaker Discusses His Craft

11/04/12 - Chinese 4, 3:30 p.m.
11/07/12 - Chinese 6, 2:00 p.m.

By Kim Luperi

AFI FEST Now had the chance to sit down with German filmmaker Jan Ole Gerster to discuss his debut feature OH BOY, which had its North American premiere at AFI FEST.

AFN: OH BOY is featured in the Breakthrough section of AFI Fest. Can you tell me how the film was selected to be included?

Jan Ole Gerster: We sat down, looked at the festivals we loved, submitted it, and it was accepted. It’s hard to believe, because there are so many great filmmakers applying here, and it’s a great honor to be here.

AFN: What was it about this idea that interested you? Was any of it based on your personal experiences?

JG: I went through the same phase as my main character when I came to Berlin in my early 20s, and, at one point, I noticed a lot of my friends went through a similar period. This is the time when a lot of people start to question their decisions when they get older — am I on the right track? will this be what I do for the rest of my life? does it make me happy? — so I thought one or two people may relate to that story.

AFN: OH BOY is your feature debut, and you are credited as the writer and director. What was the writing process like?

JG: First of all, without thinking about shooting the script or going out with it right away, I wrote it because I had to; it all came out of intuition. I wrote scripts before but in a very analytic way — how to write a script, how to create a character, how to build dramatic conflict — all these things they teach you in school, and I was a little unsatisfied with these scripts, because I felt like I was a hypocrite and I didn’t know what I was talking about. At that point, I thought it was worth having a closer look at my personal life. They also taught that in film school — stories have to be personal but not necessarily private. It’s easy to say but hard to do.

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One Maritime Step for Man

11/05/12 - Egyptian, 7:15 p.m.
11/06/12 - Grauman’s Chinese, 4:00 p.m.

By Andrew Johnson

It’s been three weeks since Felix Baumgartner stepped off a capsule 24 miles above the earth and three months since NASA successfully shot a car-sized rover onto the surface of Mars. The desire to break boundaries and explore new territory is a fundamental characteristic of humanity, which is perhaps why there’s been little display of nationalism in the aftermath — there’s a sense that when one of us attempts the seemingly impossible, we’re all in it together regardless of race, nation or creed.

KON-TIKI is based on the real-life story of another odds-defying pioneer, Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl, who sailed 4,300 miles across the Pacific in 1947 on a raft made of balsa wood. He hoped to prove that the Polynesian islands had originally been settled by people from South America rather than Southeast Asia, a theory that remains disputed despite his successful journey. Filmmakers Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg (MAX MANUS: MAN OF WAR) have now fashioned the trip into a narrative feature film, and the result is a rousing and provocative tale of survival and human achievement.

At first glance, it’s easy to imagine that KON-TIKI is Norway’s submission to the Oscars® simply because it contains so many elements Academy voters tend to reward — it’s a period piece about good-looking actors getting really dirty as they overcome nearly impossible odds. The marketing campaign might very well bill it as an “inspirational true story” about the “triumph of the human spirit” or something similarly clichéd. What makes the film so impressive is that while it is indeed both those things, it’s also much more than typical feel-good fluff. It would be easy to interpret Heyerdahl’s journey only as survivalist epic, the story of a few men versus the elements, but Roenning and Sandberg use that as a launching point to ask more complicated questions.

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11/03/12 - Egyptian, 3:30 p.m.
11/05/12 - Chinese 2, 1:15 p.m. 

By Paul Bradley

In a democratic society when a horrific crime happens, the appropriate response is to seek out the responsible party in order to bring about safe and certain justice. However, in a culture defined by class and racial divisions, democratic ideals can all too easily be perverted by paranoia and the machinations of those who profit from such divisions. In 1989 in New York City, five kids with a minority skin color and a lower economic lineage were portrayed as monsters and sacrificed to an institutional machine, robbing them of their youth.

Documentary legend Ken Burns and his daughter Sarah Burns, along with her husband David McMahon, have added an indispensable thread to the giant Burns tapestry of Americana by telling those five kids’ story in THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE. AFI FEST Now was privileged to sit in on a conversation with both Burns, McMahon and three of the five gentlemen: Yusuf Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise.

Burns, when asked exactly why he chose a contemporary story with race at the center, given the size and scope of his previous subjects, pointed out the inescapabilty of race in his work:

"Almost every film that we’ve done has touched on or come up against the question of race in America. The Civil War wouldn’t have happened without four million Americans being owned by other Americans. The finest moment in the history of baseball is when Jackie Robinson first plays on April 15, 1947. The only art form that Americans have created was created by a community that has an experience of being unfree in a supposedly free land — that’s Jazz music. I’ve done biographies of Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight champion.

We did a biography of Thomas Jefferson, the author of our racial disease, who could sit there and distill a century of enlightenment thinking into one sentence that begins, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,’ but oops, he owns more than a hundred human beings and doesn’t see the contradiction or the hypocrisy or the need to free any of them in his lifetime — and so set in motion the American narrative that’s dominated by the question of race.”

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The Rules of the Game

11/04/12 - Chinese 5, 7:30 p.m. 

By Samuel Anderson

Writer-director Hong Sang-soo gives the impression in his latest works of being capable of making films almost automatically. Such effortlessness can seem like a sign of a filmmaker going through the motions, and Hong does not exactly run from this danger, returning to similar territory with each film.

But to take this repetition as a sign of someone who has run out of ideas is to miss what makes Hong Sang-soo such a provocative, and essential, artist. It is not that he makes films simply for the sake of making films — though it seems he is never not making a film, having made five in the past four years and is apparently in post-production on another. Rather, making a film is for him an activity like eating or drinking; an activity ones takes up as a matter of living. It is not strictly an activity done for the sake of an audience, but it is a social activity, and in Hong’s films, there is an appeal to us as viewers to share in the experience in a unique way.

As his career has developed, and as he has sped up his production process by working on video, Hong has stripped his singular style down to its essential elements; to the point, precisely, where filmmaking can become something like a natural activity. This has brought out a new strand of playfulness in his work, of which IN ANOTHER COUNTRY is a prime example.

The film foregrounds its simplicity: a young woman is stuck in a small seaside town with her mother, both victims of her uncle’s unscrupulous financial dealings; she expresses her frustration by writing three short screenplays, each of which centers around a French woman visiting the town, and each of which plays out onscreen.

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