Category Archives: #AFIFEST

AFI FEST 2022 Tickets on Sale Now

Posted by Larry Gleeson

From Special Screenings and international Oscar® submissions to captivating short films and powerful documentaries, tickets to AFI FEST 2022 will be available to purchase starting today, October 12 at 11:00 a.m. PT. Check out the film guide and full festival schedule now.

I have several films on my “must-see” list featured below. Stay tuned as the American Film Institute has combined AFI FEST and AFI DOCS this year in what is shaping up to be a spectacular showcase of film and cinema!

 

ALCARRAS

ALCARRAS – In Spain’s official Oscar® submission and the second feature from Carla Simón (SUMMER 1993, AFI FEST 2017), the close-knit Solé family, nestled in the rural village of Alcarràs, experiences an eventful summer when the livelihood of their peach orchard is threatened.

 

THE VOLCANO: RESCUE FROM WHAKAARI

 

In 2019, a volcano erupted on Whakaari in New Zealand without warning, raining down rocks and debris, and enveloping the island in a quiet, dark cloud of burning-hot steam. As the debris settled and onlookers gasped from the opposite shore, a rescue mission stirred into action; 47 tourists were trapped on the island, and another boat of tourists was just returning, having narrowly escaped. In this unbelievable new documentary from Academy Award® nominee Rory Kennedy (LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM, AFI FEST 2014), rescuers and survivors each recount their own version of the worst day of their lives, sharing what it means to cling to hope and life and to make impossible choices.

 

WOMEN TALKING

 

Adapted from Miriam Toews’ acclaimed novel and based on real events, Academy Award®-nominated director Sarah Polley (STORIES WE TELL) tells the riveting story of a tight-knit group of women who are part of an isolated religious community with an epidemic of sexual abuse. In the wake of this horrific discovery, they must decide to forgive their attackers or leave the colony forever. Shifting the lens away from the heinous crime and onto its ramifications sets the stage for a nuanced yet incisive examination of patriarchal oppression, religious imperatives, and conflicting values. Featuring a formiddable ensemble cast including Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, and Frances McDormand.

AFI FEST 2022

The complete AFI FEST program includes 125 titles (7 Red Carpet Premieres, 6 Special Screenings, 12 Discovery, 12 World Cinema, 12 Documentary, 30 Short Film Competition, 43 AFI Conservatory and 3 Guest Artistic Director Selections). Of the official selections, 53% are directed by women, 32% are directed by BIPOC filmmakers and 11% are directed by LGBTQIA+ filmmakers. This year’s program represents 31 countries and includes six International Feature Oscar® submissions, ALCARRÀS (Spain), BARDO, FALSE CHRONICLE OF A HANDFUL OF TRUTHS (Mexico), CLOSE (Belgium), EO (Poland), JOYLAND (Pakistan) and SAINT OMER (France).

 

Returning filmmakers to AFI FEST include Lucien Castaing-Taylor (DE HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA), Guillermo del Toro (GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO), Alice Diop (SAINT OMER), Quentin Dupieux (SMOKING CAUSES COUGHING/FUMER FAIT TOUSSER), Alain Gomis (REWIND & PLAY), Sam Green (32 SOUNDS), Luca Guadagnino (BONES AND ALL), Kristy Guevara-Flanagan (BODY PARTS), Mark Gustafson (GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO), Mia Hansen-Løve (ONE FINE MORNING/UN BEAU MATIN), Joanna Hogg (THE ETERNAL DAUGHTER), Alejandro González Iñárritu (BARDO, FALSE CHRONICLE OF A HANDFUL OF TRUTHS), Nikyatu Jusu (NANNY), Rory Kennedy (THE VOLCANO: RESCUE FROM WHAKAARI), Léa Mysius (THE FIVE DEVILS), Andrea Pallaoro (MONICA), Hlynur Pálmason (GODLAND/VANSKABTE LAND/VOLAÐA LAND), Jafar Panahi (NO BEARS), Verena Paravel (DE HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA), Alice Rohrwacher (LE PUPILLE), Hong Sang-soo (WALK UP), Albert Serra (PACIFICTION), Carla Simón (ALCARRÀS), Jerzy Skolimowski (EO), Chris Smith (“SR.”), Steven Spielberg (THE FABELMANS) and Florian Zeller (THE SON).

AFI FEST 2022 will take place exclusively in person in Los Angeles from November 2-6. AFI members receive discounts on passes and tickets and other exclusive benefits. To become an AFI member, visit AFI.com/join/.

The World Premiere of Apple Original Film’s SELENA GOMEZ: MY MIND AND ME will open the festival and the U.S. premiere of Universal Pictures’ and Amblin Entertainment’s THE FABELMANS, directed by AFI Life Achievement Award recipient and Academy Award®-winning director Steven Spielberg, will close AFI FEST 2022. Additional Red Carpet Premieres include BARDO, FALSE CHRONICLE OF A HANDFUL OF TRUTHS, directed by Academy Award®-winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu; the U.S. Premiere of GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S PINOCCHIO, directed by Academy Award®-winning director Guillermo del Toro and Emmy Award® winner Mark Gustafson; LIVING, directed by Oliver Hermanus; SHE SAID, directed by Emmy Award®-winning director Maria Schrader; and THE SON, directed by Academy Award® winner Florian Zeller. Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay will serve as Guest Artistic Director at AFI FEST 2022 and will be showcasing three independent films amplifying the voices of women directors including HELLION (2014), directed by Kat Candler and starring Academy Award®-nominee Juliette Lewis and Aaron Paul; MOSQUITA Y MARI (2012) directed by Aurora Guerrero and YELLING TO THE SKY (2011), directed by Victoria Mahoney and starring Academy Award®-nominee Gabourey Sidibe and Zoë Kravitz.

 

Harvey Keitel and Daphna Kastner – AFI FEST 2021 Red Carpet Premiere Screening of THE POWER OF THE DOG, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, Nov. 11, 2021 – Photo Credit: Rob Latour/AFI/Shutterstock

 

RED CARPET PREMIERES

Kirsten Dunst – AFI FEST 2021 Red Carpet Premiere Screening of THE POWER OF THE DOG, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, California, Nov. 11, 2021 – Photo Credit: Rob Latour/AFI/Shutterstock

AFI rolls out the red carpet for the most anticipated films of the festival. Sure to be an exciting celebration of the best in film, the section delivers world-class filmmakers, talented actors and artisans, and a dose of Hollywood magic that can only be found at the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre.

Stay tuned!

 

TCM Classic Film Festival – Day 1

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 13th TCM Classic Film Festival got underway with a full day of events, films, and talks. Kicking it all off was the “Meet TCM,” an event designed specifically to share staffer insight into the network, how it’s produced and what is coming up. In addition, the wildly popular, “So You Think You Know Movies,” was filled to the rafters at the Roosevelt Hotel as movie buffs and film fanatics battled it out in this fun-filled annual quiz competition headed up by Bruce Goldstein, founder of Rialto Pictures and the repertory program director of New York’s Film Forum. The Opening Night Reception this year was held poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt. And without further adieu, the 40th anniversary of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX officially opened the 2022 festival.

Check out some of the highlights!

 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 21: (L-R) President of Kids, Young Adults, and Classics for Warner Bros. Entertainment Tom Ascheim, Chairman and Chief Content Officer, U.S. Networks Group, for Warner Bros. Discovery Kathleen Finch, special guest Steven Spielberg, General Manager of Turner Classic Movies Pola Changnon, and TCM host Ben Mankiewicz attend the 40th Anniversary Screening of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” during Opening Night at the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival at the TCL Chinese Theatre on April 21, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for TCM)

 

  • Opening Night screening of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” featuring a conversation with director Steven Spielberg

 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 21: <> on April 21, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for TCM)

 

  • Film historian and author Cari Beauchamp celebrates the 90th anniversary of “The Jewel Robbery” with a sold-out screening

 

TCM host Dave Karger and special guest Topher Grace speak at the screening of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) Poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel during the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, California.

 

  • Special guest Topher Grace and TCM host Dave Karger attend the poolside screening of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”

 

Stay tuned for Day 2 including the Lily Tomlin hand and footprint ceremony!

 

Larry Gleeson attends the hand and footprint ceremony for Lily Tomlin at the TCL Chinese Theatre during Day 2 of the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival.

BRINGING UP BABY (1938) – AFI Movie Club Selection for April 8, 2022

Posted by Larry Gleeson

 

 

Today’s AFI Movie Club pick is a madcap (screwball comedy) story of a boy, a girl, and a leopard, BRINGING UP BABY (1938) features Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant – both ranked by AFI among the greatest screen legends of all time. The film  also appears on AFI’s lists of the greatest American films – both the original iteration and the 10th-anniversary edition – as well as among the greatest filmed comedies and love stories of all time.  Although not truly a remake, the 1972 film What’s Up Doc?, starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal, was inspired by Bringing Up Baby, according to interviews with its director, Peter Bogdanovich. In 2007 Bringing Up Baby was ranked 88th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies–10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, moving up from the 97th position it held on AFI’s 1997 list. Available for Screening on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, and Google Play among others such as Microsoft, Vudu, and iTunes. Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!  

 

 

About AFI Movie Club

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. 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 was launched as a free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. AFI MOVIE CLUB (Source: AFI News Release)

AFI FEST 2022 ANNOUNCES DATES AND CALL FOR ENTRIES

Posted by Larry Gleeson

36th Edition of Festival Runs November 2-6, 2022

AFI DOCS Programming Moves to the Fall as Pandemic Endures

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, February 2, 2022AFI FEST 2022 has officially announced its dates and call for entries. The 36th edition of AFI FEST will take place in Los Angeles, CA, on November 2-6, 2022. Entries open today and filmmakers are invited to submit fiction, documentary, experimental, and animated short films.

AFI also announced that because of the ongoing uncertainty due to the pandemic, AFI FEST will expand its programming with nonfiction films traditionally presented at AFI DOCS in Washington, DC.

 

Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO

AFI’s goal is to provide a safe environment for artists and audiences alike,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO. “Uniting our events this year to be held in the fall will allow us to achieve this at a standard worthy of AFI and the storytellers who devote their lives to inspire and educate.”

 

AFI FEST will have submission deadlines — early, official and final — for fiction shorts (under 40 minutes) and nonfiction shorts (under 40 minutes). The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes AFI FEST as a qualifying festival for the Live-Action and Animated Short Film categories for the annual Academy Awards®.

SHORT FILM SUBMISSION DATES
Early Deadline – Wednesday, March 2
Official Deadline – Wednesday, April 20
Final Deadline – Wednesday, June 15

Filmmakers can email Programming@AFI.com for more information about the submissions process.

For sponsorship opportunities at AFI FEST 2022, contact JL Hernandez at JHernandez@AFI.com.

Program highlights from AFI FEST 2021 include the Opening Night World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!; World Premieres of Halle Berry’s directorial debut BRUISED, SING 2 and SWAN SONG starring Mahershala Ali; Red Carpet Premieres of KING RICHARD directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and starring Will Smith, Pedro Almodóvar’s PARALLEL MOTHERS and THE POWER OF THE DOG directed by Jane Campion and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and Kodi Smit-McPhee; and the Indie Contenders roundtable featuring Caitriona Balfe (BELFAST), Nicolas Cage (PIG), Colman Domingo (ZOLA), Ann Dowd (MASS), Dakota Johnson (THE LOST DAUGHTER) and Simon Rex (RED ROCKET).

THE POWER OF THE DOG: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH as PHIL BURBANK in THE POWER OF THE DOG. (Photo credit: KIRSTY GRIFFIN/NETFLIX © 2021)

About the American Film Institute (AFI)

The American Film Institute (AFI) is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to champion the moving image as an art form. Established in 1967, AFI launched the first comprehensive history of American film and sparked the movement for film preservation in the United States. In 1969, AFI opened the doors of the AFI Conservatory, a graduate-level program to train narrative filmmakers. AFI’s enduring traditions include the AFI Life Achievement Award, which honors the masters for work that has stood the test of time; AFI AWARDS, which celebrates the creative ensembles of the most outstanding screen stories of the year; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive that preserve film history for future generations. AFI exhibition programs include AFI FESTAFI DOCS, and a year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Maryland. Other pioneering programs include workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community, including the AFI Directing Workshop for Women and the AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women. AFI’s newest program is AFI Movie Club, a daily global engagement for those who love the movies. Read about all of these programs and more at AFI.com and follow us on social media at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, YouTube.com/AFI, Twitter.com/AmericanFilm and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

About AFI FEST
Now in its 36th year, AFI FEST is a world-class event, showcasing the best films from across the globe. With an innovative slate of programming, the five-day festival historically presents screenings, panels, and conversations, featuring both master filmmakers and new cinematic voices. This year’s edition takes place November 2-6, 2022. The festival includes high-profile films with 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 FEST.AFI.com. Connect with AFI FEST at Facebook.com/AFIFEST, Twitter.com/AFIFESTInstagram/AmericanFilmInstitute and YouTube.com/AFI.

HollywoodGlee celebrating the start of the 2019 AFI FEST presented by Audi. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)

(Press release provided by American Film Institute: Shari Mesulam)

TCM to Honor Lily Tomlin with Hand and Footprint Ceremony and Leonard Maltin with Robert Osborne Award

Posted by Larry Gleeson

TCM to Honor Lily Tomlin with Hand and Footprint Ceremony and
Leonard Maltin with Robert Osborne Award

Additional Titles Announced for 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival in
Hollywood, April 21-24, 2022

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) today announced it will honor iconic actress and comedian Lily Tomlin with a hand and footprint ceremony in the courtyard of the world-famous TCL Chinese Theatre Imax® in Hollywood during the 13th TCM Classic Film Festival on Friday, April 22. In addition, the third Robert Osborne Award, recognizing an individual who has helped keep the cultural heritage of classic film alive for future generations, will be presented to one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians, Leonard Maltin. Festival passes for the annual event are currently on sale, with Early Bird pricing in place until December 10th.

In conjunction with the honors at the event, Maltin will introduce a screening of Counsellor at Law (1933) starring John Barrymore during the festival. Fans can also enjoy screenings of newly announced titles – After the Thin Man (1936), Hail the Conquering Hero (1944), Force of Evil (1948), Baby Face (1933), and The Slender Thread (1965).

“I am thrilled that the TCM Classic Film Festival will be returning to Hollywood in 2022 and that we’ll have the opportunity to celebrate these two legitimate legends in person,” said Ben Mankiewicz, TCM primetime anchor and official host of the TCM Classic Film Festival. “Lily Tomlin’s work has endured for decades because she brings a consistent joyous authenticity and richness to every character she plays. She pulls it off whether she’s performing sketch comedy on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In; working inside an ensemble cast in Robert Altman’s Nashville; trying to sneak a dead body out of a hospital with Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton in 9 to 5; reinventing herself in Grace and Frankie; or breaking new ground in her innovative one-woman show, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe,” Mankiewicz said. “And Leonard Maltin continues to be an indispensable source of film knowledge. His books were IMDB and Wikipedia in the pre-internet age. If you didn’t have a copy – or six – of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, you weren’t a serious film buff. He made information about movies accessible and compelling to millions of fans. I know because I was one.”

Tomlin, a Tony®, Grammy®, eight-time Emmy®, and two-time Peabody Award® winner, has had a remarkable career starting in the 1960s starring in cinematic classics, television staples, and on stage.  This marks the tenth year TCM has featured a hand and footprint ceremony at the legendary TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX®. In 2011, Peter O’Toole was the honoree, followed by Kim Novak in 2012, Jane Fonda in 2013, Jerry Lewis in 2014, Christopher Plummer in 2015, Francis Ford Coppola in 2016, Carl and Rob Reiner in 2017, Cicely Tyson in 2018, and Billy Crystal in 2019.

Maltin is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, as well as his 30-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and hosts the weekly podcast “Maltin on Movies” with his daughter Jessie.

The Robert Osborne Award was established at the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival in honor of the first primetime host and anchor of TCM, who helped millions of viewers discover and enter the world of classic movies, and dedicated his life to preserving and sharing the movies he loved. Past awards have been presented to Martin Scorsese and Kevin Brownlow.

Tomlin and Maltin were announced to receive these honors at the 2020 TCM Classic Film Festival, which was canceled due to the pandemic. To learn more, please visit tcm.com/festival.

Movie lovers from around the globe will descend upon Hollywood for the 13th edition of the TCM Classic Film Festival. The 2022 festival is set to take place from Thursday, April 21 – to Sunday, April 24, 2022. Over four packed days and nights, attendees will be treated to an extensive lineup of great movies, appearances by legendary stars and filmmakers, fascinating presentations and panel discussions, special events, and more.

TCM Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz will serve as the official host of the TCM Classic Film Festival. The festival’s official hotel and central gathering point will be The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which has a longstanding role in movie history and was the site of the first Academy Awards® ceremony. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel will also offer special rates for festival attendees. Screenings and events during the festival will be held at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX®, the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, the Hollywood Legion Theater at Post 43, as well as other Hollywood venues. For the latest news and information, follow us on social at #TCMFF.

This year’s theme is “All Together Now: Back to the Big Screen.” In 2022, reunite with fellow fans, the movies, the memories, the stars, and the glamour. It’s all back live and in person, just as it should be, and where it all began in Hollywood. From high school reunions to homecomings, TCM will celebrate milestones from the past as we look forward to making new memories together.

About Lily Tomlin
Lily Tomlin, one of America’s foremost comediennes, continues to venture across an ever-widening range of media, starring in television, theater, motion pictures, animation, video, and social media.  Throughout her extraordinary career, Tomlin has received numerous awards, including eight Emmys, with 25 primetime and five daytime nominations; a Tony for her one-woman Broadway show, Appearing Nitely; a second Tony for Best Actress, a Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics’ Circle Award for her one-woman performance in Jane Wagner’s The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe; a CableAce Award for Executive Producing the film adaptation of The Search; a Grammy for her comedy album, This is a Recording as well as nominations for her subsequent albums Modern Scream, And That’s the Truth,  and On Stage; and two Peabody Awards–the first for the ABC television special, Edith Ann’s Christmas (Just Say Noël), and the second for narrating and executive producing the HBO film, The Celluloid Closet.  In 2003, she received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and, in December 2014, was the recipient of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in Washington DC.

About Leonard Maltin

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, as well as his 30-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, appears regularly on Turner Classic Movies, and hosts the weekly podcast “Maltin on Movies” with his daughter Jessie. His latest book is Starstruck: My Unlikely Road to Hollywood; others include Hooked on Hollywood, The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never SeenOf Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, and The Great Movie ComediansThe Disney Films, and The Art of the Cinematographer. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He is the recipient of awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, George Eastman House, Anthology Film Archives and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
About the TCL Chinese Theatres
Since 1927, The TCL Chinese Theatre has been the home of the most important, star-powered red carpet movie premieres and special events, where Hollywood’s biggest and brightest talents have come to watch their movies.  The most famous movie theatre on the globe is world-renowned for its unique forecourt of the stars, featuring cement hands and footprints of major movie stars, from Marilyn Monroe to Brad Pitt, and numerous stars from all eras of Hollywood. In 2013, the main theatre was relaunched as the world’s largest IMAX® theatre.

FILM REVIEW: Jane Campion’s The Power Of The Dog

Posted by Larry Gleeson

THE POWER OF THE DOG: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH as PHIL BURBANK in THE POWER OF THE DOG. (Photo credit: KIRSTY GRIFFIN/NETFLIX © 2021)

 

Jane Campion’s latest work, The Power of the Dog, screened as part of a Red Carpet Premiere at the historic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood California, during the American Film Institute’s  AFI FEST 2021, on Thursday, November 11th. Campion is a New Zealand screenwriter, producer, and director. She is the second of seven women ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and the first female filmmaker to receive the Palme d’Or; both of these achievements came for The Piano (1993).

 

 

The Power of the Dog,  written and directed by Campion, is set in 1925 Montana and circles around two well-off brothers who own an influential ranching operation. The Burbank brothers, played by Jesse Plemons and Benedict Cumberbatch, come across as polar opposites. Phil Burbank, played by Cumberbatch, is an infamous Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale University who prefers the daily grind of working the ranch with the hired hands. Cumberbatch brings a deep dark presence to the character in what might be his best performance to date. Plemmons plays Gordon Burbank,  the slower, mild-mannered younger brother, embodying a ranch gentleman with grace and style. Kirsten Dunst portrays Rose Gordon, a compelling love interest as a saloon-style restaurant owner who serves dinners to the locals with her son, Peter, portrayed by Kodi Smith-McPhee in a breakout performance.

While The Power of the Dog is set in Montana, the actual film location is New Zealand – adding a surreal quality. And, Campion’s writing matches it full force. The twists and turns in the dramatic, psychological, roller-coaster ride narrative combined with Cumberbatch’s powerful, dark character portrayal set the audience on the edge of their seats and their eyes fixed on the big screen. Undoubtedly, Campion is in the mix for her second Oscar for screenwriting and appears to be in the mix for a directorial nod as well.

 

Q & A, on November 11th, 2021, following the screening of The Power of the Dog, inside Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

 

Following the screening, a fun-filled Q & A unfolded as the film’s actors, editor, cinematographer, and director sparred, cajoled, and informed under the watchful eye of moderator Hahn as she effectively marshaled the energies of The Power of the Dog conversation. The Power of the Dog, set for a December 1st, 2021, release date,  is a magnificent and majestic work tantalizing and titillating – a bonafide Oscar contender for now – in multiple categories! Highly recommended. One of the year’s best films!

 

Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Gordon in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, set for a December 1st, 2021 release. (Photo Cr. KIRSTY GRIFFIN/NETFLIX © 2021 Cross City Films Limited/Courtesy of Netflix)

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

FILM CAPSULE: Sean Baker’s RED ROCKET

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Sean Baker ( Tangerine, The Florida Project, Starlet) and A24’s Red Rocket, a dramedy, featuring Simon Rex, a standout media personality, Suzanna Son, and Bree Elrod, tells the tale of Mikey Saber, a washed up, 20 year veteran performer in the adult film industry who returns home for more of the same, screened last night at the 2021 AFI FEST.

Simon Rex as Mikey Saber in Sean Baker’s Red Rocket (Photo from fest.afi.com)

Red Rocket, follows Mikey Saber (played by a compelling Simon Rex), as he futilely careens in and out of harrowing situations in dark places never fully grasping the ramifications of his actions and choices. Bree Elrod as Lexi, and Suzanna Son as Strawberry, deliver riveting performances with exquisite line execution. Rex turns in a tour de force performance as Mikey Saber.

Red Rocket is Sean Baker at his best in this low, low-budget filmmaking. Providing a snapshot of Mikey and the socially marginalized characters that are in his orbit, Baker elevates Red Rocket with snappy dialogue, carefully executed camera work, and the trust he places in the audience. Captivating work from start to finish.

Interestingly,  the Q & A immediately following the screening led by AFI Programming Director Sarah Harris got a little saucy. Baker and Rex took exception when an audience member, who coincidentally works in the adult film industry and performs in Ninja Thyberg’s Pleasure, also screening at AFI FEST 2021, stated his displeasure hearing the audience guffawing loudly at a term thrown out by Lexi at Red Rocket’s end.

(Left to right) Sarah Harris, AFI Programming Director, Director Sean Baker, Actor Simon Rex, Actor Bree Elrod, and Actor Suzanna Son participate in a Q&A, on November 12, 2021, following the AFI FEST screening of RED ROCKET, at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGLee)

Baker shared the film had five consultants work over the script and scene work to make Red Rocket’s depiction of a former porn star as realistic as possible. Rex chimed in stating few people in the audience would recognize the industry term.

Red Rocket is Sean Baker’s strongest work to date. Not for the faint of heart. Earthy with frontal nudity. Coming to theatres December 10th. Very warmly recommended!

FILM REVIEW: KING RICHARD Serves Up An Ace @AFIFEST

Posted by Larry Gleeson

King Richard, the Will Smith-led, Warner Bros. biopic, served as the 2021 AFI FEST Closing Night Film at the historic Hollywood Chinese Theatre with a Red Carpet Premiere.

King Richard tells the story of Richard Williams, the father of women’s tennis superstar sisters, Venus and Serena Williams. With a run time of 144 minutes, King Richard seemed to reach its conclusion too quickly – a tribute to how mesmerizing the film is. Numerous times the audience erupted with applause and approval as the Williams family overcame obstacle after obstacle. Will Smith portrayed Richard Williams with fortitude and tenderness – qualities not always evident from Richard Williams’ public persona. Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton portray Venus and Serena in very compelling performances. Aunjanue Ellis portrays Oracene ‘Brandy’ Williams. Ellis and Smith play off each other remarkably well. The pair were recently announced as the recipients of the 2022 Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s (SBIFF) Outstanding Performers of the Year. Kudos to Casting Directors Rich Delia and Avy Kaufman!

In life, Richard Williams often came across in the media as brash, touting with a braggadociousness how his daughters were coming to dominate women’s tennis, the likes of which had never been seen before, would never be seen again, and there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. What he didn’t tell the public, and what King Richard tells so well, is he also wanted his daughters to have a real childhood, meaningful adolescence, and to be prepared to lead successful lives. Throughout King Richard, Richard Williams came across as a devoted husband, loving father, and dedicated coach delving into some of his formative life experiences growing up in a racist environment. Rearing his family in Compton, California, also had its challenges for Williams. But, Richard Williams had a plan – he wanted a better life for his family.

Technically speaking the film is very solid. The film’s cinematography is excellent. AFI Conservatory Alumnus, Robert Elswit utilizes some natural lighting with traditional lenses and frames for establishing shots juxtaposed with fast zoom lenses to capture the action with tight framing combined with extreme closeups of the Williams sisters, generating some major pace with their groundstrokes and capturing winning overhead smashes. Editor Pamela Martin made the shots and their complementary counterparts (returns) appear seamless with the continuity editing and helped create some riveting moments with the shots provided. In addition, non-diegetic sounds kept the film’s pace and helped match the film’s tone and the actors’ emotionality. Kris Bowers is credited with the music. Costuming, make-up, and production design are all complementary to the characters and the period covered in the film.

And, last but not least, Director Reinaldo Marcus Green, helming only his second feature film, steered King Richard to a beautiful conclusion culminating in Venus’s first professional matches and first tennis matches of any kind in three years. The excitement she (and Serena later) brought to the game of tennis encouraged an entire generation of young African-American girls that anything is possible if they are willing to put in the work. Credit to Zach Baylin for writing sharp dialogue and creating an engaging narrative.

King Richard is chock full of inspiration and hope. Ahhh…the power of film and the magic of AFI FEST – Hollywood. Talk about speaking truth to power in layers. Look for King Richard in theatres and on HBO Max Friday. Highly recommended!

Unti next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

AFI FEST 2021 Announces Award Winners

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI Announces Audience And Jury Award Winners

Congratulations to the AFI FEST 2021 award winners! This year’s hybrid festival heralded a return to theaters – and it was electric.

 

Sarah Harris, AFI FEST Programming Director (Photo courtesy of AFI)

“Bringing filmmakers and movie fans together to celebrate the moving image is at the heart of AFI FEST. The excitement of all festivalgoers to be together in the theaters, once again, was electric,” said Sarah Harris, Director of Programming, AFI Festivals. “This year’s festival has truly shown everyone the power of the art form to lift our spirits when it’s needed the most.” 

 Following are the Jury and Audience Award winners:

Audience Award – Narrative Feature

JOCKEY (DIR Clint Bentley)

An aging jockey hopes to win one last title for his longtime trainer who has acquired what appears to be a championship horse. But the years – and injuries – have taken a toll on his body, throwing into question his ability to continue his lifelong passion.

Audience Award – Documentary Feature

JUICE WRLD (DIR Tommy Oliver)

This intimate documentary explores the life and death of the young hip hop star Juice WRLD.

Audience Award – Short Film

ONLY THE MOON STANDS STILL (明月依旧) (DIR Johnson Cheng)

Three generations of Chinese women say goodbye to their family ballroom dance studio.

JURY AWARDS

The Grand Jury Award winners for Live Action and Animated Short will be eligible for the 2021 Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short Academy Awards®. The Jury was comprised of film curator and writer Kiva Reardon; Amanda Salazar, head of programming and acquisitions at Argo; and writer/director Angel Kristi Williams.

Grand Jury Prize – Animation

LOVE, DAD (MILÝ TATI) (DIR Diana Cam Van Nguyen)

Jury Statement: “For its melding of form and content that makes for a deeply vulnerable and personal viewing experience, the Jury would like to award LOVE, DAD as Best Animated Short.”

Grand Jury Prize – Live Action

AL-SIT (DIR Suzannah Mirghani)

Jury Statement: “For going beyond its central story to make a densely layered and truly cinematic experience, the Jury would like to honor AL-SIT the Best Narrative Short.”

Special Mention

BABYBANGZ ( DIR Juliana Kasumi)

Jury Statement: “The Jury would like to award BABYBANGZ with an Honorable Mention for Best Documentary Storytelling for its combination of stunning imagery, important conversations and compelling subjects.”

Special Mention

PLAY IT SAFE (DIR Mitch Kalisa)

Jury Statement: “For the bold formal choices made throughout the film, specifically in the final scene, the Jury would like to give an Honorable Mention for Direction to Mitch Kalisa, the director of PLAY IT SAFE.”

Special Mention

HER DANCE (RIKUD HASSIDI) (DIR Bar Cohen)

Jury Statement: “For a commanding performance that anchors the film, the Jury would like to give an Honorable Mention for Acting to Leeoz Levy for HER DANCE.”

The Grand Jury Award winners for Live Action and Animated Short will be eligible for the 2021 Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short Academy Awards®. The Jury was comprised of film curator and writer Kiva Reardon; Amanda Salazar, head of programming and acquisitions at Argo; and writer/director Angel Kristi Williams.

The complete AFI FEST 2021 program included 118 titles (51 features, 1 episodic, 49 shorts, including 19 Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST shorts and 17 AFI Conservatory Showcase shorts) of which 51% were directed by women, 39% were directed by BIPOC and 13% were directed by LGBTQ+. This year’s program represented 53 countries and included 7 World Premieres.

This year’s Red Carpet Premieres included the World Premieres of BRUISED (DIR Halle Berry), SING 2 (DIR Garth Jennings), SWAN SONG (DIR Benjamin Cleary) and tick, tick…BOOM! (DIR Lin-Manuel Miranda), in addition to KING RICHARD (DIR Reinaldo Marcus Green), PARALLEL MOTHERS (Pedro Almodóvar) and THE POWER OF THE DOG (DIR Jane Campion).

(Source: AFI Press Release)

Last chance to experience AFI FEST 2021!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

All good things must come to end – but not before one last day of amazing films! Tickets to today’s in-person and virtual screenings still available. VIEW SCHEDULE & BUY TICKETS

The ever-optimistic Buster Moon and his all-star cast of performers prepare to launch their most dazzling stage show yet…all in the glamorous entertainment capital of the world, Redshore City. There’s just one hitch: they first have to persuade the world’s most reclusive rock star – played by global music icon Bono – to join them. Screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre today at 2:00 p.m. BUY TICKETS

Following the screening, join us for an in-depth conversation with director Clint Bentley, Clifton Collins Jr.,  Molly Parker and more moderated by Variety’s Clayton Davis. Screening today at 2:00 p.m. BUY TICKETS

This whip-smart feature debut from Araceli Lemos is a potent and visceral tale of race, class and tradition filtered through body and social horror. Screening today at 7:30 p.m.BUY TICKETS

After escaping a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution in China, the film’s nameless hero has one goal – to watch a newsreel screening in which his daughter was briefly captured on film. On this journey, he meets a young orphan who has her own schemes for a newsreel, as well as a small village’s much-loved film projectionist named Mr. Movie. Screening in person today at 5:00 p.m.BUY TICKETS

Winner of the Best Documentary Award at Cannes, Payal Kapadia’s hypnotic feature directorial debut examines rediscovered, once lost film reels and a diary written by a student (“L”) to her absent lover at the Film & Television Institute of India. Screening in person today at 3:30 p.m.BUY TICKETSVIEW MORE FILMS

Whether you enjoy this year’s AFI FEST films in the theater or at home, make sure you vote after the screenings for the Audience Award!

(From AFI News)