Dazzling Galas will attract the likes of megastars George Clooney and Robert DeNiro; industry-insiders will hail seasoned actors in Tributes that shine the spotlight on film great Chrisopher Plummer and popular actor Vitto Mortensen, and - of course - the paparazzi will lap up all the titillating goings-on at the edge of the red carpet as directors, producers , and A-list stars tout their film biz stuff at AFI Fest 2009.
Yes, once again, the American Film Institute holds court at two main venues - the Arclight and the richly-appointed Chinese Mann Theatre (Kodak complex) in the throbbing heart of the dream factory to every would-be actor in Tinsel Town.
The overall lineup at AFI consists of a showcase of 67 features (54 narratives & 13 documentaries) and 27 shorts (totalling 94 films from 32 countries).
To help digest the smorgasbord of delightful offerings, fest organizers wisely sectioned off the film events into a simple straightforward breakdown consisting of 3 main categories:
*New Lights Competition
Last fall, I hailed the AFI Fest 2009 as the highlight of the year.
Once this year's well-rounded posse of projects start streaming off the screen on October 30th, and the week begins to exciedly unfold, it should be evident that this year may just top it!
After all, there is quite an impressive bill-of-fare (packed with a huge dollop of sensory overload) to take in.
And, there will be something for everyone, even the most discerning film buff.
For example, a bevy of lush high-budget Hollywood-style films are slated to screen, amidst a select collection of insightful documentaries, world premiere screenings, chic lively par-tays (!), and sizzling scintillating short films pining for approval under the floodlights.
Here is a brief run-down, so you can mark your calendar and plan your wardrobe, for the high-profile celebrity-studded week blasting off - not only the AFI headquarters (Roosevelt Hotel) - but a couple of other inviting venues that reach out to the community from the center of the Festival hub sponsored by AUDI.
On Friday (October 30th), Fantastic Mr. Fox premieres with a lot of fanfare.
The release (expected to sell-out) boasts a stellar cast and includes voice-over performances by charismatic George Clooney and Academy-Award winner Meryl Streep (in the two lead roles).
This is Wes Anderson’s first animated film which uses classic handmade stop motion techniques to tell the story of the best-selling children’s book of the same title by Roald Dahl (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and James & the Giant Peach).
In their press notices, the producers have offered up a teaser that may just lure filmgoers in the door.
"Mr. and Mrs. Fox live an idyllic home life with their son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) and visiting young nephew Kristofferson (Eric Anderson). But after 12 years, the bucolic existence proves too much for Mr. Fox’s wild animal instincts. Soon he slips back into his old ways as a sneaky chicken thief and in doing so, endangers not only his beloved family, but the whole animal community. Trapped underground and with not enough food to go around, the animals band together to fight against the evil Farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean - who are determined to capture the audacious fantastic Mr. Fox - at any cost."
With voice performances by Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe and Michael Gambon.
Closing night, the Weinsteins take the stage - front and center - with their screening of the highly-touted feature- "A Single Man" - sure to end this year's festival with a big bravo bang.
Fashion designer Tom Ford stepped behind the camera for the first time to direct his scripted adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s acclaimed novel.
"The film follows a day in the life of a gay British college professor in Los Angeles as he attempts to cope with the death of his partner."
Both Ford and Colin Firth (who tackles the lead role) have received critical acclaim following screenings at the Venice and Toronto film festivals.
Julianne Moore, MatthewGoode and Ginnifer Goodwin also star in the film.
Ford, Firth and Moore are scheduled to attend.
The centerpiece Gala is also rustling up a lot of scuttlebutt, too.
"The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" (US Premiere) stars Christopher Plummer,Tom Waits, Heath Ledger (in his final role), Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell.
"IMAGINARIUM" follows the leader of a traveling theater troupe who, having made a deal with the devil, takes audience members through a magical mirror to explore their imaginations.
The Director of Programming noted that the mind-altering world that Terry Gilliam creates is like a model for the Director's ideal cinema, in which anything can happen and all the rules are broken."
Can't wait to catch it!
Gilliam and Plummer are scheduled to attend.
By the way, AFI FEST has selected actors Christopher Plummer and Viggo Mortensen to be tribute honorees at this year’s Fest.
Plummer’s "Tribute" (sponsored by Skirball Cultural Center) will precede the screening of his featuer film "THE LAST STATION" on Tuesday, November 3.
Mortensen’s "Tribute" will precede the US Premiere of "THE ROAD" (November 4th).
I am personally looking forward to catching a glimpse of Robert DeNiro at the Gala for the feature he stars in titled "Everybody's Fine" (World Premiere) if he puts in appearance on the red carpet or backstage.
Drew Barrymore,Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, and Melissa Leo also star in this USA project directed by Kirk Jones and Produced by Vittorio Cecchi Gori, Ted Field, Glynnis Murray, and Gianni Nunnari.
The Cast consists of Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Sheri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz.
Lee Daniels took on the directing honors.
Executive Producers: Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Lisa Cortes, Tom Heller.
"The Road" is another Gala presentation discerning filmgoers may not want to miss!
The U.S. world premiere release stars Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, and Robert Duvall.
PROD: Paula Mae Schwartz, Steve Schwartz, Nick Wechsler
EXEC PROD: Marc Butan, Mark Cuban, Rudd Simmons, Todd Wagner.
A showcase honoring film history and its filmmakers feature the following highly-regarded projects:
NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)
Hitchcock at the top of his game!
Cast: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, and Martin Landau
SOMETHING’S GONNA LIVE (World Premiere) (USA)
Robert “Bob” Boyle, Haskell Wexler, Conrad Hall, Henry Bumstead, Harold Michelson.
DIR: Daniel Raim
PROD: Daniel Raim
WAKE IN FRIGHT (Australia)
Cast: Gary Bond, Donald Pleasence, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Ka Jack Thompson
DIR: Ted Kotcheff
PROD: George Willoughby,
EXEC PROD: Bill Harmon, Howard G. Barnes
NEW LIGHT COMPETITION
The eclectic segment showcases and honors groundbreaking films from filmmakers around the globe.
Cast: Fouad Habash, Nisrine Rihan, Elias Saba, Youssef Sahwani
DIR: Scandar Copti, Yaron Shani
PROD: Moshe Danon, Thanassis Karathanos
EXEC PROD: James
EASIER WITH PRACTICE (USA)
Cast: Brian Geraghty, Marguerite Moreau, Jeanette Brox, Jenna Gavigan.
DIR: Kyle Patrick Alvarez
PROD: Cookie Carosella
EVERYONE ELSE (ALLE ANDEREN/Germany)
Cast: Birgit Minichmayr, Lars Eidinger, Hans-Jochen Wagner, Nicole Marischka
DIR: Maren Ade
PROD: Maren Ade, Dirk G. Engelhardt, Janine Jackowski
FIRST OF ALL, FELICIA (FELICIA INAINTE DE TOATE/Croatia)
Cast: Ozana Oancea, Vasile Mentzel, Ileana Cernat, Adina Andrei
DIR: Razvan Radulescu.
PROD: Ada Solomon
FISH TANK (UK)
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Harry Treadaway, Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing
DIR: Andrea Arnold
PROD: Kees Kasander
EXEC PROD: Christine Langan, David M. Thompson, Paul Trijbits
I KILLED MY MOTHER (Canada)
Cast: Anne Dorval, Xavier Dolan, François Arnaud, Suzanne Clément
DIR: Xavier Dolan PROD: Xavier Dolan
EXEC PROD: Carole Mondello
THE MESSENGER (USA)
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, Ben Foster, Jena Malone
DIR: Oren Moverman
PROD: Benjamin Goldhirsh, Mark Gordon, Lawrence Inglee, Zach Miller
EXEC PROD: Steffen Aumueller, Nathaniel Bolotin, Christopher Mapp, Shaun Redick
THE MILK OF SORROW (LA TETA ASUSTADA/Spain/Peru)
Cast: Magaly Solier, Susi Sánchez, Efrain Solis, Marino Ballón
DIR: Claudia Llosa
PROD: Antonio Chavarrías, Claudia Llosa, José María Morales
Cast: Harold Torres, Alicia Laguna, Sonia Couoh, Luis Cárdenas
DIR: Rigoberto Perezcano
PROD: Edgar San Juan
EXEC PROD: Sergio Castro, Hector Hernandez-Pons.
POLICE, ADJECTIVE (Romania)
Cast: Dragos Bucur, Vlad Ivanov, Irina Saulescu, Ion Stoica
DIR: Corneliu Porumboiu
PROD: Corneliu Porumboiu
WOMAN WITHOUT PIANO (LA MUJER SIN PIANO/Spain/France)
Cast: Jan Budar, Esperanza De la Vega, Tomás del Estal, Nadia de Santiago
DIR: Javier Rebello
EXEC PROD: DamiánParis, Stefan Schmitz, María Zamora
New works by many of the world’s most renowned filmmakers.
ABOUT ELLY (Iran)
Cast: Taraneh Alidoosti, Golshifteh Farahani, Shahab Hosseini, Mani Haghighi, Merila Zarei..
DIR: Asghar Farhadi
PROD: Asghar Farhadi
Cast: Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci, Justin Long
DIR: Agnieska Wojtowi Vosloo
PROD: Brad Michael Gilbert, Bill Perkins, Celine Rattray
EXEC PROD: Pamela Hirsch, Edwin L. Marshall, Galt Niederhoffer.
THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL, NEW ORLEANS (USA)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Eve Mendez, Val Kilmer
DIR: Werner Herzog
PROD: Edward Pressman, John Thompson, Alan Polsky, Gabe Polsky.
EXEC PROD: Avi Lerner, Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson..
Cast: Gerard Depardieu
DIR: Claude Chabrol
PROD: Edward Pressman John Thompson, Alan Polsky, Gabe Polsky.
EXEC PROD: Avi Lerner, Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson..
Cast: Edgardo Castro, Julia Martínez Rubio, Alberto Suárez, Carla Crespo.
DIR: Alejo Moguillansky PROD: Mariano Llinás, Laura Citarella
EXEC PROD: Eduardo Costantini
CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH (China/Hong Kong)
Cast: Liu Ye, Gao Yuanyuan, Hideo Nakaizumi, Fan Wei, Jiang Yiyan
DIR: Lu Chuan
PROD: Han Sanping, Steffen Wild
THE HOLE (USA)
Cast: Chris Massoglia, Haley Bennett, Nathan Gamble, Teri Polo, Bruce Dern
DIR: Joe Dante
PROD: Robert Skotak
EXEC PROD: Gary Michael Waters, Chris Bender, J.C. Spink
IN THE ATTIC (Czech Republic/Slovakia/Japan)
Cast: Barbora Hrzánová, Boris Hybner, Vladimír Javorsky
DIR: Jiri Barta
PROD: Milos Smídmajer
Cast: Matsuda Ryuhei, Nishijima Hidetoshi, Kora Kongo, Arai Hirfumi, Emoto Tokio.
PROD: UtagawaYasushi, Mameoka Ryosuke, Tanabe Keigo
EXEC PROD Takahito Kashino
A LAKE (North American Premiere) (France)
Cast: Dmitry Kubasov, Natalie Rehorova, Alexe Solonchev, Simona Hülsemann.
DIR: Philippe Grandrieux
PROD: Catherine Jacques
LONDON RIVER (Algeria/France/UK)
Cast: Brenda Blethyn, Sotigui Kouyate
DIR: Rachid Bouchareb
PROD: Rachid Bouchareb, Jean Bréhat, Mattieu de Braconier.
LOOKING FOR ERIC (UK)
Cast: Steve Evets, Eric Cantona, John Henshaw, Stephanie Bishop
DIR: Ken Loach
PROD: Tim Cole
EXEC PROD: Rebecca O’Brien
Cast: Kim Hye-ja, Won Bin, Park Eun-kyo
DIR: Bong Joon-ho
PROD: Choi Jae-won, Seo Woo-sik
EXEC PROD: Miky Lee, Katharine Kim, Yang-kwon Moon South
NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT PERSIAN CATS (Iran)
Cast: Negar Shaghaghi, Askan Koshanejad, Hamed Behdad
DIR: Bahman Ghobadi
PROD: Bahman Ghobadi EXEC
EXEC PROD: Roxana Saberi
PERPETUUM MOBILE (Mexico/Canada)
Cast: Gabino Rodríguez, Teresa Sánchez, Francisco Barreiro
DIR: Nicolás Pereda
PROD: Nicolás Pereda, Catarina Coyoacan
A PROPHET (France/Italy)
Cast: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif, Reda Kateb, Hichem Yacoub
DIR: Jacques Audiard
PROD: Martine Cassinelli, Antonin Dedet
RED RIDING TRILOGY (1974, 1980, 1983) (UK)
Cast: Sean Bean, Andrew Garfield, David Morrissey, John Henshaw, Anthony Flanagan.
DIR: Julian Jarrold, James Marsh, Anand Tucker
PROD: Andrew Eaton, Anita Overland, Wendy Brazington
EXEC PROD: Liza Marshall, Hugo Heppell, Norman Merry
ROOM AND A HALF (Russia)
Cast: Alisa Freindlich, Sergei Yursky, Grigory Dityatkovsky, Artem Smola
DIR: Andrey Khrzhanovsky
PROD: Artem Vassiliev, Andrey Khrzhanovsky
THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (Argentina/Spain)
Cast: Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago,Javier Godino.
DIR: Juan José Campanella
PROD: Gerardo Herrero, Mariela Besuievsky, Juan José Campanella
THE SILENT ARMY (The Netherlands/France)
Cast: Marco Borsato, Andrew Kintu, Abby Mukiibi Nkaaga, Thekla Reuten
DIR: Jean van de Velde
PROD: Chris Brouwer, Richard Claus, Paul Brinks
SWEET RUSH (Poland)
Cast: Krystyna Janda, Pawel Szajda, Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieslak, JulPietrucha, Jan Englert
DIR: Andrzej Wajda
PROD: Waldemar Dabrowski, Slawomir Jozwik, Michal Kwiecinski.
EXEC PROD: KatarzyFukacz-Cebula
TO DIE LIKE A MAN (Portugal/France)
Cast: Fernando Santos, Alexander David, Goncalo Ferreira de Almeida.
DIR: Joao Pedro Rodrigues
PROD: Maria João Sigalho, Judith Nora
A TOWN CALLED PANIC (Belgium/France/Luxembourg)
Cast: Stéphane Aubier, Jeanne Balibar, Veronique Dumont, Bruce Ellison, Frederic Jannin
DIR: Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar
PROD: Philippe Kauffmann, Vincent Tavier
Cast: Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Filippo Timi, Fausto Russo Alesi, Michela Cescon.
DIR: Marco Bellocchio
PROD: Mario Gianani
EXEC PROD: Olivia Sleiter
YOUTH IN REVOLT (USA)
Cast: Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Jean Smart, Mary Kay Place.
DIR: Miguel Arleta
EXEC PROD: Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Nan Morales
The best & brightest, challenging, thrilling documenties from around the globe.
THE ART OF THE STEAL (USA)
DIR: Don Argott
PROD: Sheena M. Joyce
EXEC PROD: Lenny Feinberg
BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO (USA/Japan)
DIR: Jessica Oreck
PROD: Jessica Oreck
LOS HEREDEROS (Mexico)
DIR: Eugenio Polgovsky
PROD: Camille Tauss
ICONS AMONG US (USA)
Subjects: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding.
DIR: Michael Rivoira/Lars Larson/Peter J. Vogt
PROD: John W. Comerford, Theo N. Ianuly
LA DANSE: THE PARIS OPERA BALLET (France/USA)
DIR: Frederick Wiseman
PROD: Pierre-Oliver Bardet, Frederick Wiseman, Francoise Gazio
DIR: Eduardo Coutinho
PROD: Beth Pessoa
EXEC PROD: João Moreira Salles, Mauricio Andrade Ramos.
NE CHANGE RIEN (France)
With: Jeanne Balibar
DIR: Pedro Costa
PROD: Francisco Villa-Lobos
NEIL YOUNG TRUNK SHOW (USA)
Subject: Neil Young
DIR: Jonathan Demme
PROD: Jonathan Demme, Elizabeth Hayes, Mark Kamine
EXEC PROD: L.A. Johnson
DIR: Zhao Liang
PROD: Sylvie Blum
With: Nicholas D. Kristof
DIR: Eric Daniel Metzgar
PROD: Mikaela Beardsley, Steven Cantor
EXEC PROD: Ben Affleck
DIR: Lucien Castaing-Taylor/Ilisa Barbash
PROD: Ilisa Barbash
TRANSCENDENT MAN (USA)
DIR: Robert Barry Ptolemy
PROD: Barry Ptolemy, Felicia Ptolemy
EXEC PROD: Joe DiSanto, John Ramsay, Wren Waters, Doobie White.
THE TWO HORSES OF GENGHIS KHAN (Germany Mongolia)
DIR: Byambasuren Davaa
PROD Byambasuren Davaa, Beatrix Wesle
Alternative filmmaking for filmmakers who push the boundaries of culture & cinema.
THE ANCHORAGE (USA/Sweden)
Cast: Ulla Edström, Marcus Harrling, Elin Hamren, Bengt Ohlsson
DIR: C.W. Winter/Anders Edström
PROD: C.W. Winter, Anders Edström
BEST WORST MOVIE (USA)
DIR: Michael Paul Stephenson
PROD: Lindsay RowlesStephenson, Michael Paul Stephenson, Brad Klopman.
EXEC PROD: Alan Hunter, Hugh Hunter
GUY AND MADELINE ON A PARK BENCH (USA)
Cast: Bernard Chazelle, Desiree Garcia, Jason Palmer, Frank Garvin.
DIR: Damien Chazelle
PROD: Jasmine McGlade
EXEC PROD: W.A.W. Parker
THE LOVED ONES (Australia)
Cast: Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, John Brumpton, Victori Thaine.
DIR: Sean Byrne
PROD: Mark Lazarus, Michael Boughen
EXEC PROD: Christopher Mapp, Matthew Street, David Whealy.
MODUS OPERANDI (USA)
Cast: Randy Russell, Danny Trejo, Mark Borchardt, Michael Sottile.
DIR: Frankie Latina
PROD: Shalyse Dominique, Laurie Foote,Mark Foote.
EXEC PROD: Bobby Ciraldo
TRASH HUMPERS (USA/UK)
Cast: Rachel Korine, Brian Kotzue, Travis Nicholson, Harmony Korine
DIR: Harmony Korine
PROD: Charles-Marie Anthonioz, Amina Dasmal, Robin Fox
EXEC PROD: Amina Dasmal, Robin Fox
A wide-ranging selection of shorts including some from the Lunchfilms series.
ALL DAY ALL NIGHT (USA)
DIR: Sarah Soquel Morhai
DIR: David Fenster/David Nordstrom
CHINESE BOX (USA)
DIR: Nick McCarthy
CLEAR GLASSES (USA)
DIR: Sam Green
DIR: James Graham
GOLDTHWAIT FAMILY HOME MOVIES (ANNIVERSARY EDITION)
DIR: Bobcat Goldthwait
HOME MOVIE (USA)
DIR: Braden King
DIR: Kelly Sears
LETTERS REAL/NAMES NOT (USA)
DIR: Azazel Jacobs
OFFSHORE BANK (USA)
DIR: Tom Barndt
TIN WOODMAN'S HOME MOVIE #2 (USA)
DIR: Naomi Uman/Lee Lynch
WEIRD CAROLERS (USA)
DIR: Brent Green
DIR: Randy Walker/Jennifer Shainin
A LETTER TO UNCLE BOONMEE (Thailand/UK/Germany)
DIR: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
THE CITIZENS/LEAD/THE SIMPLE ANTENNAE (USA)
DIR: Kevin Everson
DICK CHENEY IN A COLD, DARK CELL (USA)
DIR: Jim Finn
THE HISTORY OF AVIATION (Hungary/France)
DIR: Balint Kenyeres
I AM SO PROUD OF YOU (USA)
DIR: Don Hertzfeldt
JOHN WAYNE HATED HORSES (USA)
DIR: Andrew T. Betzer
OIL CHANGE (USA)
DIR: Todd Luoto
SEND ME TO THE ´LECTRIC CHAIR (Canada)
DIR: Guy Maddin, Isabella Rossellini
SHORT TERM 12 (USA)
DIR: Destin Daniel Cretton
I've ticked off my picks. How 'bout you?
See 'ya on the Red Carpet next week!
Takes on role of Executive Producer