AFI Announces Festival Tributes to Sofia Coppola, Kirby Dick, Rita Moreno and Mira Nair

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Passes go on sale Sept. 28.

AFI FEST 2020 presented by Audi has announced four Tributes at this year’s reimagined virtual festival. Sofia Coppola, Kirby Dick, Rita Moreno, and Mira Nair will each be honored with an evening of conversation celebrating their distinguished careers with and will stream live online during the festival, Oct. 15-22. Mark your calendars now!

Sofia Coppola exploded onto the festival scene with her directorial debut, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES (1999) which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. With her second film, LOST IN TRANSLATION, Coppola earned more accolades, including the Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay and nominations for Best Director and Best Picture. In 2017, she made history as only the second woman to win Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival with her film THE BEGUILED. Coppola returns to the screen this autumn with the release of ON THE ROCKS, the first co-production between Apple and A24 starring Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, and Marlon Wayans.

Kirby Dick (AFI Conservatory Class of 1983) is a two-time Academy Award® nominated and  Emmy® award-winning investigative filmmaker behind some of the most groundbreaking documentaries today with his creative partner Amy Ziering. His most recent projects directly impacted American politics and culture, resulting in real-world change. THE INVISIBLE WAR (2012) exposed the epidemic of rape in the US military leading to multiple congressional hearings and dozens of policy reforms in Congress. THE HUNTING GROUND (2015) created a national discussion of sexual assault on college campuses and sweeping reform policies at hundreds of institutions. THE BLEEDING EDGE (2018) unearthed the fast-growing medical device industry’s corruption and malfeasance, catalyzing devices removed from shelves. With the release earlier this year of his latest documentary, ON THE RECORD, Dick presented the haunting story of music executive Drew Dixon as she struggles with her decision to be the first woman of color to come forward within the #MeToo movement. Past films of Dick’s include TWIST OF FAITH, THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED, SICK and OUTRAGE.

Mira Nair’s accomplished filmmaking has earned her accolades around the world. With her directorial debut, SALAAM BOMBAY! (1988), Nair won the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and later went on to earn an Academy Award® nomination for Best Foreign Language film. Since then she has become a modern cinema master with films such as MISSISSIPPI MASALA (1991), MONSOON WEDDING (2001) and THE NAMESAKE (2006).  AFI FEST salutes director and activist Mira Nair this year with a special conversation followed by the US premiere screening of the six-hour series A SUITABLE BOY, based on Vikram Seth’s classic novel.

Rita Moreno’s career began with a Broadway debut at 13 years old. Since then she has won all four of the most prestigious awards in show business – an Oscar®, a Tony®, two Emmys®, and a Grammy® – as well as a Peabody Award and a Kennedy Center Honor. Moreno has also been recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. Moreno received an Honorary Degree from the AFI Conservatory in 2016. Her latest work includes co-starring and serving as Executive Producer in the Steven Spielberg remake of WEST SIDE STORY, scheduled for release summer of 2021, and starring in the popular Latino remake of Norman Lear’s classic sitcom, ONE DAY AT A TIME.

Learn more about the festival here:

Larry dreaming

*From AFI news release

AFI Alum Unjoo Moon on Directing the New Helen Reddy Biopic I AM WOMAN

Posted by Larry Gleeson

It seems at every film festival, there is always the one that got away for a variety of sundry reasons. At AFI FEST 2019, that one film was I AM WOMAN. I fondly recalled in 1972, Mrs. Mary Newton’s 7th Grade Class at Holy Angels Grade School in East St. Louis, having to not only listen to Helen Reddy’s feminist-leaning anthem of the same title but actually write about what the song meant! And probably just as memorable, my cousin, M Walsh Keeley, a burly and bearded redheaded Irishman, performed the song “I Am Woman” in karaoke at Hennessey’s Pub located in the Soulard Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri to a raucous standing ovation! Without further ado, I’m happy to share with you the AFI Interview with the filmmaker Unjoo Moon.

Premiering in the U.S. at AFI FEST in 2019, Unjoo Moon’s I AM WOMAN depicts the life of singer and feminist icon Helen Reddy who wrote and sang the song “I Am Woman,” which became the anthem for the women’s movement in the 1970s. The film marks the narrative feature directorial debut of Moon (AFI Class of 1998) whose previous credits include the feature documentary THE ZEN OF BENNETT and THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY, a PSA on gun violence which she collaborated on with spoken word artist In-Q. Moon was also the recipient of the prestigious Franklin J. Schaffner Directing Award during her time at the AFI Conservatory.

AFI spoke with her about her journey in developing I AM WOMAN, why she felt it was important to release the film in the current climate and what her experience was like as a Directing Fellow at the Conservatory.

AFI: How did you first become involved with the project and connect with screenwriter Emma Jensen?

Unjoo: I had just finished a documentary that I’d made with Tony Bennett, and I had it in my mind that I was not going to do another music film. I attended the G’Day Australia Ball – which is an annual event that celebrates Australia achievements in Los Angeles. I went to my table and I saw a woman sitting there. I thought “I know who this woman is,” but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. When I realized it was Helen Reddy, I just remembered growing up on the Northshore of Sydney and the way her music had impacted my mother and her friends. I talked with Helen so I could understand and ask her how she felt about the impact she’d had. By the end of our conversation, I was convinced her story was already a movie.

Later, I watched all her videos – from THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW, and THE HELEN REDDY SHOW to her concerts in Las Vegas. I couldn’t believe that no one had ever made a feature about her. I spent time with Helen to convince her that this could be a movie, and it was a year before I brought on a writer. It was hard to find someone when I already had a very clear vision for what the movie should be. In the end, I knew I needed someone who not only understood how to write a biopic – Emma had previously written 2017’s MARY SHELLEY adaptation – but also was a great collaborator. I pitched Emma the story, read her material, and really felt like she was the right person to go on this journey with together.

AFI: How did you go about casting the lead role? What was it about Tilda Cobham-Hervey that you knew she was right for the part and had the capability to play Helen at various stages of her life?

Unjoo: As with any movie, there’s always pressure to cast a star or someone who is marketable. I needed to know that the actor could fully embrace the role, but also that the person had some quality about them that would remind people of the real Helen Reddy. I started to realize casting a star in the role would mean that it wouldn’t be as easy for audiences to invest in the character, rather than just thinking of that person playing Helen Reddy.

Tilda wasn’t on any of the casting lists I’d seen. I just happened to see a photo of her standing in the street, and her posture made me think of Helen. I found out she was Australian and that she’d already had an amazing film career at her young age. I realized Tilda had a lot of qualities that she could draw on that would help her embrace this character. Helen grew up in a Vaudeville family and had a very unconventional life. So did Tilda – her mother was a ballet dancer, her dad was a theater lighting director. She’d traveled all around the world – putting on shows from a young age – and she had just moved to the U.S. and was starting her American career at that stage. There were a lot of parallels.

Once Tilda was cast, we did aging tests to see if she could pull that off since she was 22 at the time. The makeup and clothes certainly helped, but so much of it is about her performance and the way you’re telling the story to get people invested in the character’s emotional journey.

AFI: You shot most of the film in Sydney. Can you talk about the challenges you faced during a short production shoot to transform Sydney into New York City and LA and how you managed to create the specific time periods?

Unjoo: The whole movie was shot in Sydney except two and a half days that we shot in Los Angeles for exteriors. What really helped to create that authenticity was that Dion [I AM WOMAN cinematographer and Moon’s husband] and I have lived in America for so long now that we knew exactly what we were recreating. We know New York really well too, and I also went to the Women’s March in D.C. I stood there and looked at all those people in the same place that Helen did at the Lincoln Memorial.

Our production designer, Michael Turner, actually has a background as an architect. We knew that in Sydney we didn’t have the budget to be rebuilding a lot of places. It just meant that a lot of the architectural choices we were making on location had to really reflect the cities we were replicating. I think between Michael, Dion, and I, we had a very clear idea of how each of those cities needed to look.

AFI: You use the Equal Rights Amendment as a significant backdrop throughout the film. With the 2020 election approaching in November, what do you hope viewers take away from the film?

Unjoo: That was a very important part of the message of this movie. We were all set to roll out this spring, but then, of course, the pandemic hit, and we had to shut down cinemas. Everybody kept waiting thinking that cinemas would reopen, and then it reached the stage where we thought “ok, we’ll put the film out next year.” But I just felt really strongly that, considering the message of the movie and that it’s an uplifting story, we should release it now. I hope it’s a movie that inspires peoples, especially women, to want to make a change – maybe for themselves, or something bigger than themselves.

Right now, there are so many important decisions being made about the world and, especially with the upcoming election, I was really happy that all my distributors agreed that this was a film that should come out now. The movie was made for the big screen – we used these incredible 6K cameras that were designed for creating beautiful images in a cinema – but if it meant people had to watch it safely at home, at least they get to see it in this moment.

AFI: What did you learn at AFI that you still carry with you in your career?

Unjoo: I had such a great two years at AFI, and that time was really dear in my life. I learned how to live and work in LA going to AFI. The way the program is structured, you just really learn to understand the city and the industry. When I was there, there was no handholding, and it was really about motivating yourself and relying on your instincts and what you need to do to make something. I found that incredibly invaluable because, moving to Los Angeles, I realized that you are the driver, you are the person creating your destiny. On a more specific scale, the storytelling exercises gave me the freedom to explore and really look for the kind of stories I wanted to tell. It allowed me the space to try different things and that’s a real gift as a filmmaker.

I was so glad to screen I AM WOMAN at AFI FEST last year. I have such good memories at AFI and, the fact that I could celebrate the movie there, it was just so special. Helen has a big fan base of people who remember her so clearly, but there’s a whole new generation who hasn’t heard of her. I’m really glad not only that I was able to tell her story, and also tell what happened with the women’s movement and the Equal Rights Amendment. I am excited that we were able to give Helen a legacy for her career.

I AM WOMAN is available to watch on VOD and in virtual theaters currently.

*From AFI News


Posted by Larry Gleeson

Passes available September 28th!

The 34th edition of AFI FEST presented by Audi will close with the World Premiere of SHOWTIME® Documentary Films’ MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY. The film is directed by Academy Award®-winning director Errol Morris and explores the dark side of the Timothy Leary saga, and how his doomed relationship with Joanna Harcourt-Smith put the final nail in the coffin of the 1960s counterculture. And,  did the High Priest of LSD, become a narc in 1974 seemingly abandoning the millions he urged to turn on, tune in and drop out. Was his “perfect love” Joanna Harcourt-Smith a government pawn, as suggested by Allen Ginsberg? Or was she simply a rich, beautiful, young woman out for the adventure of a lifetime? Morris and Harcourt-Smith reexamine this chaotic period of her life and explore the mystery of the Leary saga: his period of exile, reimprisonment, and subsequent cooperation with the authorities. The film is inspired by Harcourt-Smith’s memoir, TRIPPING THE BARDO WITH TIMOTHY LEARY: MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY.

The World Premieres of PINK SKIES AHEAD, THE REAGANS and REALLY LOVE, in addition to THE FATHER, FIREBALL and A SUITABLE BOY will screen as Special Presentations at this year’s festival. Celebrate the diversity of great cinematic storytelling in our Special Presentations and experience new stories and new voices at this year’s AFI FEST. From first-time directors and established masters to fiction and nonfiction to series, these outstanding projects films affirm the vitality and creativity of our resilient film community.



Special Presentations

THE FATHER – Living alone in London and nearing 80 years old, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) has refused another nurse that his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) has set up for him. Exuberant and independent, Anthony has struggled with his memory beginning to slip away. Anne announces she is moving to Paris with a new boyfriend, but later in the living room Anthony sees a stranger claiming to be Anne’s husband. Who is this man? Confusion sets in. Academy Award®-winner Hopkins delivers a brilliant performance of a man with dementia, creating a powerful cinematic experience of memory and loss. Based on his award-winning play, Florian Zeller has crafted a moving and insightful portrait of a cruel disease and the heartbreak it brings.

FIREBALL – Leave it to Werner Herzog to interrupt a world-renowned planetary scientist who has just made the simple yet astonishing statement that, “We are all stardust. Every element in our body was synthesized in other stars before it got here.” Herzog waves his hand in front of the camera. The scientist looks momentarily perplexed and then Herzog blurts out: “I think I am not stardust. I am Bavarian!” After a pregnant pause, the scientist bursts into laughter. It is a quintessentially Herzogian moment. In this fascinating and delightful scientific, cultural and philosophical treasure hunt, Herzog and his co-director, the volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer, crisscross the globe, seeking answers to the great mysteries locked inside the flaming balls of interplanetary debris that have hurled themselves at our defenseless planet for billions of years.

PINK SKIES AHEAD – Los Angeles, 1998. After dropping out of college and moving back home to live with her parents, Winona is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Skeptical of her doctor’s opinion — she hasn’t had a panic attack after all —Winona carries on with her wild lifestyle. Only when things begin to truly unravel around her, does she reluctantly decide to see a therapist and face her truths. Jessica Barden gives a magnetic performance as the passionate and struggling Winona. The directorial debut film of Kelly Oxford, based on her essay “No Real Danger,” PINK SKIES AHEAD is a powerful and empathetic portrait of mental health often hidden beneath the surface.

REALLY LOVE – Set in a gentrifying Washington, DC, a rising Black artist, Isaiah (Kofi Siriboe), spends most of his days pouring his heart into his paintings but still struggles to find his place in the prestigious and competitive art world. At a gallery show, Stevie (Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing), an impressive and intelligent law student, catches his eye. A chance encounter is one thing, but the stars align and they meet again, leading to a whirlwind romance. When both Isaiah and Stevie hit crossroads in their careers, they are forced to consider if their relationship is a love for a season or a love for a lifetime. In director Angel Kristi Williams’s debut feature, she delivers a poignant look at the sacrifices we make for careers and life-changing relationships. This well-crafted script by Felicia Pride and Williams is complemented by an impeccable soundtrack and incredible art.

THE REAGANS – Directed by Matt Tyrnauer, this four-part Showtime series focuses on the rise and reign of America’s ultimate power couple: Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Chock full of evocative archival footage and illuminating contemporary interviews, THE REAGANS asserts Nancy’s central role in her husband’s career, shines a light on the darker aspects of the Reagans’ climb to power and provides a revelatory perspective on how the political tactics used in the ‘60s and ‘70s are a progenitor of our current national politics.

A SUITABLE BOY – 1951. In a newly independent India, passionate literature student Lata Mehra defies tradition, and her meddling mother’s wish to choose her a husband. Torn between family duty and the excitement of romance, Lata embarks on a journey of love and heartache as three very different men try to win her heart. Also threatening to break with tradition is the charming but directionless Maan Kapoor, whose romantic entanglements begin to jeopardize his father’s political career. As Lata and Maan attempt to shape their futures, India too is coming of age. Only a few years after independence from British colonial rule, tensions are high as its people prepare to campaign and vote in their first democratic general election. A Lookout Point production for the BBC, internationally distributed by BBC Studios.

Stay tuned for more on this year’s AFI FEST sponsored by Audi films!

Until next time, I’m looking forward to seeing you at the movies.

Larry dreaming


*News release from AFI



AFI Movie Club Pick of the Day: 42

Posted by Larry Gleeson

In 42, screen icon Chadwick Boseman steps into the shoes of Jackie Robinson in this incredible story of the baseball legend who became the first black player in the Major League. Chadwick Boseman was directing an off-Broadway play in New York City but happened to be visiting Los Angeles when auditions were held for 42. According to writer/director Brian Helgeland, Chadwick Boseman was only the second person to read for the part – and immediately set the bar. Helgeland has since said that no one could have played the part better than Boseman – and that no matter if the story is remade 100 times, no one ever will.

Filmmakers collaborated with Jackie Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, on the making of 42. The production wanted to ensure the authenticity of her late husband’s story. According to Chadwick Boseman, Jackie Robinson’s widow challenged him to bring his best to the part and not take the role lightly. He said she told him that, “if we had made this movie when I wanted to make this movie, Sidney Poitier would have played your role. And then Denzel [Washington] was supposed to play it. And now we have you. Who are you?” Boseman responded that he would put his entire self into the role. Chadwick Boseman trained for 42 for almost five months – working with coaches from college and the Major Leagues. According to Boseman, practices would be taped every few weeks so that he could compare his own batting, fielding, and base running with Jackie Robinson’s, in order to perfect Robinson’s techniques. AFI Life Achievement Award recipient Harrison Ford co-stars as Brooklyn Dodgers’ owner Branch Rickey in this triumphant tour de force.

Most of the baseball action in 42 was filmed in Engel Stadium in Chattanooga, TN. Production designers added a 40-foot-high, 1,200-foot-long green screen around the field’s outfield and foul areas. The giant green screen allowed filmmakers to bring the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Ebbets field back to life. The production also filmed at Rickwood Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama – which was built in 1910 and is the oldest professional baseball park in the United States.

Jackie Robinson first became a Major League ballplayer on April 15, 1947. Jackie Robinson won Rookie of the Year in 1947 and Most Valuable Player in 1949. He not only stole a home base in Game One of the 1955 World Series, which the Dodgers won but also was a six-time All-Star and was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. In 2004 with the help of Jackie Robinson’s daughter Sharon and wife Rachel, Major League Baseball honored the date by naming it Jackie Robinson Day. On that day, there’s an annual celebration at every Major League ballpark and every player, coach, manager, and umpire wear Jackie’s #42 to honor the legend for his accomplishments on and off the field. In 1997, Major League Baseball retired Jackie Robinson’s jersey #42 from all teams. Those players that were wearing the number at the time were allowed to continue to wear it, but by 2014 the last player wearing the number – Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera – had retired.

Jackie Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson started The Jackie Robinson Foundation in 1973, the year after her husband died. Originally operated out of her kitchen, it has since grown into a powerful arm of Jackie’s legacy, administering four-year college scholarships to disadvantaged students of color.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits:

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-Why is Jackie Robinson’s legacy important not only to the history of baseball but also to today’s society?

-Why does Branch Rickey choose Jackie to break the color barrier in baseball?

-What characteristics of Jackie helped him get through the blatant racism that occurred on and off the field?

-Branch Rickey asked Jackie Robinson to have the guts not to fight. Why do you think Rickey would ask that of Jackie?

-The moment where teammate Pee Wee Reese ran over to Jackie Robinson and put his arm around him in front of the crowd was commemorated with a statue in Brooklyn, NY. Why was this moment so important?

-In memory of actor Chadwick Boseman, who the world lost way too early – what is a moment in his career that has inspired you, made you smile, or brought a moment of positivity into your life.

-How would you rate 42?

About AFI Movie Club

I hope the AFI Movie Club brings some inspiration and entertainment during this uncertain time. AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies where each day’s film – announced by a special guest – is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points, and material from the AFI Archive to bring the viewing experience to life. As a non-profit, AFI Movie Club is a member-powered organization, dependent upon the support of its movie fans. To support AFI Movie Club please consider becoming a member or donating.

AFI Movie Club is a newly launched free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together – even while we are apart. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day, with special guests announcing the Movie of the Day. Audiences can “gather” at to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. The daily film selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points, and exclusive material from the AFI Archive to enrich the viewing experience.


(Source: AFI News Release)


Posted by Larry Gleeson

Los Angeles, CA – September 17, 2020 – The American Film Market announced today that RightsTrade, the film and TV industry’s online sales platform, has signed on as a Premier Sponsor of AFM 2020 Online. This year’s market will take place wholly online over five days, Monday, November 9 – Friday, November 13.

RightsTrade’s presence at AFM 2020 Online is designed to further expand its footprint and give back to the industry. The company will offer a complimentary trial subscription for the market’s sales and production company exhibitors providing them the opportunity to use the RightsTrade platform and its tools for AFM 2020 and through the end of the year.

The trial gives companies the ability to experience RightsTrade’s core set of functionality including integrated video conferencing with video asset streaming within calls, calendaring, messaging, and a self-serve content hub where each seller can list and manage their market titles including metadata, key art, video assets and more.

In addition, the main exhibit hub for sales companies on the AFM 2020 Online platform will be called the Industry Offices presented by RightsTrade. It will showcase the online booths for hundreds of sales, production and distribution companies, and international organizations.

Bill Lischak, recently appointed CEO of RightsTrade said,

“The AFM is one of the crown jewels of film markets and we couldn’t be more pleased to support the industry at this year’s event. In 2020, we’ve turned our focus towards expanding our online platform capabilities to serve an ever-growing need for online markets and to give back to those in the content business. We look forward to further expanding our reach and unique offering via the AFM.”


Jonathan Wolf, AFM Managing Director said, “We look forward to connecting the world’s sales companies with the RightsTrade platform as a valuable resource for further enhancing their sales and efforts.”

For online registration and information, visit

About RightsTrade

RightsTrade is the industry’s leading online marketplace for film, television and digital media distribution rights. By connecting distributors with content owners, RightsTrade’s global marketplace makes it easier, faster and more cost-efficient for buyers and sellers to license content rights, Studios, content owners, distributors and sales agents already trust RightsTrade to promote, screen and sell 6,000+ titles to a growing community of 30,000+ industry executives in over 125 countries.

RightsTrade’s leadership team focuses on developing commercial and backend solutions for leading film and television companies, with decades of experience implementing back-end and front-end solutions for more than 50 leading media and entertainment companies. RightsTrade has recently been providing “virtual market” functionality to the industry, including having built and powered FILMART Online’s market platform, along with meeting and screening tools for the NATPE International Budapest market.

About the American Film Market® (AFM®)

AFM is the most efficient film acquisition, development, and networking event in the world. More than US$1 billion in production and distribution deals are closed every year — on both completed films and those in every stage of development and production. Over five days in November, 7,000+ professionals from 70+ countries access the entire global catalog of available films and projects, attend world-class conferences, and connect with decision-makers. The AFM is produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance.

*Press release provided by Jennifer Garnick, VP Communications




Posted by Larry Gleeson

MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is an epic drama that follows a young woman who must navigate the social terrain as a geisha in pre-World War II Japan. The film was produced by AFI Life Achievement Award winner and AFI Board of Trustees member Steven Spielberg – with a score composed by AFI Life Achievement Award recipient John Williams. MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA won three of its six Oscar® nominations – Best Art Direction, Cinematography and Costume Design.

MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA marked costume designer Colleen Atwood’s sixth Academy Award® nomination and her second win. She has a staggering total of 12 Oscar® nominations to date. Atwood worked with director Rob Marshall one time prior – on CHICAGO (2002) – which resulted in her first Oscar® win.

MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is based on a 1997 novel of the same name by Arthur Golden. Its screen rights were optioned not long after publication for $1 million. After the publication of Arthur Golden’s “Memoirs of a Geisha” in Japan, he was sued by one of the women he interviewed for the novel. By naming her in the book’s acknowledgments, Golden violated the traditional geisha code of silence and anonymity. The informant, Mineko Iwasaki, later went on to tell her own story in an autobiography that contradicted Golden’s account. While the three main female characters are Japanese in the movie, they were cast with Chinese actresses – Ziyi Zhang, Gong Li and Michelle Yeoh – prompting criticism from the Asian community. Due to hostilities between the two countries, China withheld the film from its initial release and Japanese audiences were lukewarm in their reception, leading to average box-office receipts in the country where the film was set.

Steven Spielberg originally planned to direct MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA as a follow-up to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. However, when his involvement was postponed by other production commitments, Rob Marshall stepped in to direct while Spielberg still maintained a producer credit. MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA cinematographer Dion Beebe had his work cut out for him, depicting delicate lighting of Japanese seasons while filming in Southern California. To achieve the right effect, he hung a massive layer of silk over an entire five-block “town,” and created controls to change the amount of light let in. For this extraordinary feat, he won the Best Cinematography Oscar®.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA tackles the controversial subject of geishas – “comfort women” or prostitutes who were sold into human trafficking. Can you empathize with the characters, and do you feel their struggle is relatable to other types of life challenges? Does it make sense that MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA is also a romance, when the women do not possess ownership of their own sexuality? 

-MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA follows the story of young Japanese women who are sold into sexual servitude to support their impoverished families. However, the filmmakers were predominantly white, male and American. Do you think this impacts the authenticity of the film? Why or why not? 

-MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA received objections from critics for casting Chinese actresses (Ziyi Zhang, Gong Lu and Michelle Yeoh) in the roles of Japanese women. Do you believe it is important to represent characters onscreen with performers that share a similar ethnicity or cultural background as the roles they play? Why do you think the filmmakers chose women from China to play Japanese characters? Were you conscious of this issue in representation when you were watching the movie? 

-MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA was hailed for its heightened design and visual appeal, but it was also scrutinized for its representation of Asian culture by Western artists that evokes stereotypes and colonialism. How did you interpret the visual experience of watching MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA? Did you find the imagery seductive and intoxicating, or did it appear cliched? Do you think the filmmakers created an authentic or fantastical image of Japanese society, and how does this impact your impression of the story? 

-How would you rate MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA? 

About AFI Movie Club

I hope the AFI Movie Club brings some inspiration and entertainment during this uncertain time. AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies where each day’s film – announced by a special guest – is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to bring the viewing experience to life. As a non-profit, AFI Movie Club is a member-powered organization, dependent upon the support of its movie fans. To support AFI Movie Club please consider becoming a member or donating.

AFI Movie Club is a newly launched free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together – even while we are apart. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day, with special guests announcing the Movie of the Day. Audiences can “gather” at to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. The daily film selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points and exclusive material from the AFI Archive to enrich the viewing experience.


(Source: AFI News Release)


Posted by Larry Gleeson



LOS ANGELES, CA – September 15, 2020 – The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) announced today the launch of LALIFF’s Inclusion Fellowship Series. This newly established program will focus on building a more inclusive and equitable industry for all members of the Latinx community. Each year, the fellowship will champion an underrepresented group from within the Latinx community.

For its inaugural year, Netflix is sponsoring the program for five visionary directors who identify as Afro Latino to create a short film that will have its world premiere at LALIFF 2021.

Academy Award®-nominated actor and co-founder of LALIFF and the Latino Film Institute, Edward James Olmos says, “For Latino representation in Hollywood to change, we need to create funding and distribution opportunities for our storytellers. The LALIFF Inclusion Fellowship is exactly that. For our first fellowship, we are proud to highlight Afro Latino voices because Black lives are Latino lives.”

Each filmmaker will receive individualized mentorship from an established filmmaker, one-on-one meetings with industry leaders from production to distribution and various networking opportunities. The completed films will premiere as part of a special program during the 2021 version of LALIFF, where the fellows will also have the opportunity to participate in the festival’s Industry Week, to further develop their careers and gain industry access needed to succeed as working artists. Netflix will also offer support to the selected group of fellows throughout the development of their films.

“Neflix is excited to partner with LALIFF in helping to foster the next generation of Latino talent,” said Pete Corona, Manager of Original Series at Netflix. “Discovering new voices behind the camera will lead to bringing fresh and diverse perspectives in front of the camera, and we can’t wait to see what these new filmmakers will create.”

LALIFF’s Inclusion Fellowship series will award a $20,000 grant to each of the five selected fellows for the production of a short. For the full requirements, please visit: The call for submissions is now open and the deadline is October 14, 2020. The selected filmmakers will work with their mentors and partnered organizations from November 16 through April 16, 2021.


The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) is a premiere international event dedicated to showcasing the entirety of human experience from the Latino perspective, whether through film, television, digital, music, art, or any other vehicle, regardless of platform. LALIFF is presented by the Latino Film Institute (LFI), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with the mission to showcase, strengthen, and celebrate the richness of Latino lives through the audio-visual event. LFI develops, activates, and supports artists, creators, and executives through pathways and platforms for the expression and appreciation of their work.

For more information and updates on LALIFF visit

For more information on the Youth Cinema Project visit

About Netflix

Netflix is the world’s leading streaming entertainment service with 193 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.

*Press release provided by Shari Mesulam, the Mesulam Group



AFIFEST 2020 Opening Film: I’m Your Woman





The 34th Edition of Festival to Launch Online on Thursday, October 15

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — September 14, 2020, Los Angeles, CA — Today, the American Film Institute (AFI) announced that the 34th edition of AFI FEST presented by Audi will open with the World Premiere of the Amazon Original film  I’M YOUR WOMAN.  Directed by Julia Hart and written by Hart and Academy Award® nominee Jordan Horowitz, the 1970s set crime drama follows a woman who is forced to go on the run after her husband betrays his partners, sending her and her baby on a dangerous journey. The film stars Golden Globe® and Emmy® winner Rachel Brosnahan, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Arinzé Kene, James McMenamin, Marceline Hugot, Frankie Faison and Bill Heck. Horowitz and Brosnahan produced the film.

Michael Lumpkin, Director of AFI Festivals

“Now more than ever it is important for film festivals to create a platform for audiences to discover great films,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director of AFI Festivals, “and I’M YOUR WOMAN is cinematic storytelling at its best. With a captivating and complex narrative of a woman on the run, director and writer Julia Hart takes us on unexpected journey that speaks directly to the current state of our world and the real meaning of friendship, love and family.”

About The Film

Suburban housewife Jean (Rachel Brosnahan) lives a seemingly easy life, supported by husband Eddie’s (Bill Heck) career as a thief. But when Eddie betrays his partners, Jean and her baby are forced to go on the run, and Eddie’s old friend Cal (Arinzé Kene) is tasked with the job of keeping them safe. After Cal mysteriously disappears, Jean befriends Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake), and the two women set out on a perilous journey into the heart of Eddie’s criminal underworld. A decidedly female take on crime dramas of the 1970s, I’M YOUR WOMAN is a tale of love, betrayal, motherhood, family and what it takes to claim your life as your own.

Rachel Brosnahan plays a 1970’s suburban housewife dealing with love, betrayal, motherhood, and family in the 2020 AFIFEST Opening Night Film, I’M YOUR WOMAN. (Photo courtesy of AFI News/Shari Mesulam, the Mesulam Group)


AFI FEST 2020 will take place online October 15-22, 2020.  The full festival lineup and schedule will be unveiled in October.

Audi returns for the 17th year as the exclusive Presenting Sponsor of AFI FEST, enabling the festival to host the very best of world cinema. Audi and their visionary support reflect a continuing commitment to create opportunities for equality in film and television. Audi also supports AFI through the Audi Fellowship for Women, a full-tuition scholarship created in 2017 to support promising female directors entering the AFI Conservatory. This Fellowship is part of the Audi commitment to drive progress and a landmark investment in the future of the storytelling community.

Audi is the exclusive presenting sponsor of AFI FEST 2020.  Additional top sponsors include AT&T and APPLE. 

Passes will be available at on September 28. Individual tickets will be available for purchase for AFI members and for the general public on October 7.

About the American Film Institute (AFI)

Established in 1967, the American Film Institute is the nation’s non-profit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring artists and audiences through initiatives that champion the past, present and future of the moving image. AFI’s pioneering programs include filmmaker training at the AFI Conservatory; year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center and at AFI Festivals across the nation; workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community; honoring today’s masters through the AFI Life Achievement Award and AFI AWARDS; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films that uphold film history for future generations.  Read about all of these programs and more at and follow us on social media at,, Film and

About AFI FEST presented by Audi 
Now in its 34th year, AFI FEST presented by Audi is a world-class event, showcasing the best films from across the globe. With an innovative slate of programming, the eight-day festival historically presents screenings, panels and conversations, featuring both master filmmakers and new voices to enthusiastic audiences in Los Angeles. This year’s edition takes place online October 15-22, 2020, and is a diverse program of cinematic excellence that drives progress in filmmaking and film viewing. The festival includes Special Presentations consisting of appointment viewings of high-profile films with live virtual Q&As featuring the films’ cast and crew and a robust lineup of fiction and nonfiction features and shorts presented in established AFI FEST sections. Additional information

about AFI FEST is available at Connect with AFI FEST at and

About Audi of America
Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands, delivering about 1.845 million vehicles globally in 2019. In the U.S., Audi of America sold just over 224,000 vehicles in 2019 and launched the brand’s first fully electric vehicle, the Audi e-tron – one of four fully electric models coming to the U.S. market in the next two years. Globally, the brand aims to be CO2 neutral by 2050. Visit or for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.

Press release provided by AFI News/Shari Mesulam, the Mesulam Group

AFI Movie Club : ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE – a modern romantic comedy starring Ali Wong and Randall Park

This was such an unexpected treat. I was quite familiar with Randall Park’s work – Ali Wong’s not so much. After watching ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE, a modern romantic comedy with an hysterical cameo by Keanu Reeves as his own alter ego, I became very familiar with Wong’s body of work – very sharp and poignant.

Here’s what American Film Institute has to say:

In addition to vast and varied roles on film and television – appearing in character and as herself – ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE co-writer, producer and star Ali Wong is also an acclaimed stand-up comedian, known for her two Netflix stand-up specials, BABY COBRA and HARD KNOCK WIFE.

ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE is currently streaming on Netflix and I wholeheartedly recommend it. Wong and Park play off each other so well…and then there’s Reeves’ performance to not miss.

But wait there’s more……

According to Ali Wong, the casting of Keanu Reeves was aspirational, though she didn’t think that the production would be able to secure a cameo by the A-list star. The production sent him the script – and were shocked when Reeves agreed to meet with Wong and director Nahnatchka Khan. At the meeting, he said that he was a fan of Wong’s stand-up special BABY COBRA.

DID YOU KNOW? Randall Park previously starred on FRESH OFF THE BOAT, a groundbreaking ABC sitcom developed from the autobiography of celebrity chef Eddie Huang. The series was created and developed for television by ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE director Nahnatchka Khan – and ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE co-writer, producer and star Ali Wong has served as a story editor and writer. 

DID YOU KNOW? ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE co-stars Ali Wong and Randall Park both provided voices for THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE in 2017. 

DID YOU KNOW? According to Ali Wong, the casting of Keanu Reeves was aspirational, though she didn’t think that the production would be able to secure a cameo by the A-list star. The production sent him the script – and were shocked when Reeves agreed to meet with Wong and director Nahnatchka Khan. At the meeting, he said that he was a fan of Wong’s stand-up special BABY COBRA. 

DID YOU KNOW? AFI Conservatory graduate and ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE cinematographer, Tim Suhrstedt, had previously worked with Keanu Reeves on the star’s 1989 breakout hit, BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, three decades prior to reuniting on ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE. 

DID YOU KNOW? In ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE, Randall Park’s character performs in the hip-hop band, Hello Peril – which was inspired by Park’s own real-life musical experience rapping in a group called Ill Again.

Stay tuned for more!