Category Archives: American Film Institute

AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE NAMES SYREETA N. GREENE NEW DIRECTOR OF DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION

Posted by Larry Gleeson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 17, 2020, Los Angeles, CA — The American Film Institute (AFI) has appointed Syreeta N. Greene, Ed.D. as its new Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Greene holds a Doctor of Education with an emphasis in educational psychology and a Master of Social Work with an emphasis in community organizing, planning, and administration, both from the University of Southern California. Her previous roles include Director of the MOSAIC Cross-Cultural Center at Midwestern State University and Assistant Director at USC’s Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs. Greene will oversee diversity and inclusion for all of AFI’s programs.

Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO

“AFI’s community grows with the stellar addition of Syreeta Greene,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO. “As a person and as a professional, she embodies the culture we have been working toward and will catalyze change for an even stronger AFI.”

“I am excited about this unique opportunity and look forward to collaborating with the entire AFI community to develop a place and space for all who belong to the AFI family,” said Greene.

Syreeta Greene

Greene is a higher education professional with 20 years of experience. She is committed to removing barriers to educational and career opportunities, as well as improving the overall engagement, success, and experiences of underrepresented and historically marginalized student populations. As a diversity, equity, and inclusion educator, she has designed research-based curriculums on a range of diversity, equity, and inclusion topics; produced guides, accompanying audio-visual aids, and participant materials; and developed organization-wide assessment tools to engage stakeholders concerning organizational climate, experience, and observations. Most recently, Greene was Dean, Division of Student Affairs at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU). Founded in 1966, CDU is a minority-serving institution and a Historically Black Graduate Institute located in South Los Angeles with a student population of 900. Prior to CDU, Greene served as the Director of MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center (formerly Office of Equity, Inclusion & Multicultural Affairs) at Midwestern State University, Assistant Director for the Transfer and Veteran Student Program at University of Southern California (USC), and Assistant Director at USC’s Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs. Greene has been a member of the National Association of Diversity Officers of Higher Education (NADOHE) since 2016.

About the American Film Institute (AFI)

Established in 1967, the American Film Institute is the nation’s nonprofit 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 AFI.com and follow us on social media
at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, YouTube.com/AFI, Twitter.com/AmericanFilm and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

About the AFI Conservatory

The AFI Conservatory opened its doors in 1969 to an inaugural class that included Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel, and Paul Schrader. Today, the Conservatory offers a two-year MFA degree in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design, and Screenwriting. In a collaborative production environment, AFI Fellows learn to master the art of storytelling, collectively creating up to 175 films a year. Fellows actively participate in the entire life cycle of a film, from development through production and exhibition.

Alumni of this elite program, ranging from modern masters to bold new voices defining the state of the art form, including Andrea Arnold, Darren Aronofsky, Ari Aster, Sam Esmail, Brad Falchuk, Liz Hannah, Patty Jenkins, Janusz Kamiński, Matthew Libatique, David Lynch, Melina Matsoukas, Polly Morgan, Rachel Morrison, and Wally Pfister, among others.

Final Thoughts on ‘The Mostly Virtual’ AFI FEST 2020

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI FEST 2020 presented by Audi attracted the largest national audience in its 34-year history.

Michael Lumpkin, Director AFI Festivals

“With an audience of more than double from last year, we welcomed over 200 filmmakers and guests from around the world for Q&As and panels,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director AFI Festivals. “This year’s festival was truly a celebration of film across the country with festival-goers joining us online from all 50 states.”

I concur. Thank you to Michael and the entire AFI FEST team for making this year’s ‘mostly virtual’ festival top-notch!

Sofia Coppola shares a photo during her 2020 AFI FEST Tribute

Highlights of the 2020 festival included a Centerpiece Drive-in screening of ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI… (DIR Regina King) at the Rose Bowl; the World Premieres of I’M YOUR WOMAN (DIR Julia Hart), PINK SKIES AHEAD (DIR Kelly Oxford) and REALLY LOVE (DIR Angel Kristi Williams); screenings of highly anticipated films including COLLECTIVE (COLLECTIV) (DIR Alexander Nanau), THE FATHER (DIR Florian Zeller), I CARRY YOU WITH ME (Heidi Ewing), MY LITTLE SISTER (DIR Stéphanie Chuat, Véronique Reymond), NEW ORDER (NUEVO ORDEN) (DIR Michel Franco), NINE DAYS (DIR Edson Oda) and WOLFWALKERS (DIR Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart); a conversation with Dr. Stacy Smith on the portrayal of characters with mental health conditions in film and television; a discussion with the director and cast of SOUND OF METAL with the Deaf community; a conversation with Academy Award® nominee, producer, director and writer Ava DuVernay about elevating and supporting BIPOC filmmakers; the Indie Contenders and Doc Roundtables; and Tributes to Sofia Coppola, Kirby Dirk, Mira Nair and Rita Moreno.

Additional Highlights

A few of my favorite additional highlights included Elle, an AFI Conservatory Showcase selection. Elle is a coming-of-age story and character-driven drama that explores themes such as self-discovery, unrequited love, and the ambivalence and intimacy that exists within female friendships. In the Director’s Statement, AFI Conservatory Alumna, Nicole Vanden Broeck writes,

Nicole Vanden Broeck

“I have always believed in the power of cinema to comfort us, to tell us that we are not alone, that others have felt what we’ve felt, that we share our struggles and our heartbreaks, that there is someone out there that understands.”

 

Elle

Technically and artistically, Elle hits all the marks. Strong cinematography by Guido Raimondo. Warm and intimate production design from Evan Welch. Seamless editing (Chris Tenzis, Editor). Believable and highly naturalistic acting with Sarah Sawyer as Elle and Ron Dadon as Sam. And, an emotionally rewarding narrative written by Vanden Broeck and Asher Jelinsky and a beautiful mise-en-scene to match. Gabrielle Cordero produced Elle. Highly recommended with a runtime of twenty-one minutes and a team to keep an eye on!

At the Virtual Industry and Filmmaker Mixer, I had the pleasure of connecting with Matt Yoka, director of Whirlybird, his feature documentary on the pioneering and groundbreaking TV aerial news reporting team of Bob Tur and Marika Gerard. Yoka crafts his work from 2,000 hours of recorded flight tape, direct interviews, news archives, still photos, and more. The result is a dynamic visual history of the biggest Los Angeles news events in the last 30 years including the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 and the pursuant, criminal assault of truck driver, Reginald Denny, at Florence and Normandy after the Rodney King beating verdict and subsequent acquittal of the four white police officers charged. And, if that wasn’t enough the duo broke and captured the infamous O.J. Simpson ‘White Bronco’ car chase which became “the apex of live news coverage” with approximately 80 million viewers tuning in. A must-see!

Whirlybird

While I didn’t get an opportunity to connect with Sean Penn during the mixer, I did view Citizen Penn. I’ve long been a fan of Sean Penn as an actor beginning with his Mick O’Brien role in the 1983 Bad Boys and I was semi-aware of his Haiti relief efforts in 2010. As an Army Reservist, my battalion was on alert for deployment. In the documentary, Director Don Hardy, sometimes eloquently and sometimes pragmatically, reveals Sean Penn has diligently changed his image through Penn’s extensive efforts to aid assistance to his fellow ‘man’ in war-torn, disaster-laden, disaffected countries beginning in 2002 with the war in Iraq right up to the current COVID-19-infected United States.

Citizen Penn

Utilizing a plethora of photographs, direct interviews, and archival news footage, documenting the devastation and suffering along with footage from one camera operated by a Haitian police officer who accompanied Penn at all times following the country’s 2010 earthquake. Penn was adamant about his efforts not being used for overt publicity but allowed the official to have and operate a camera at his own discretion. Penn stayed on the ground for several months returning often guiding not only relief efforts but also debris and gravel removal. More recently, Penn began hosting an annual gala raising several million dollars from a limited guest list as his efforts are taking root. Highly recommended and quite compelling. A must-see!

Left to right, Meet The Press’s Chuck Todd, and The Reagans Director, Matt Tyrnauer.

THE REAGANS (DIR Matt Tyrnauer), presented by Meet the Press and Chuck Todd,  screened Parts 1 and 2 of this compelling and extremely timely re-examination of President and Mrs. 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. The screening was followed by an in-depth conversation between Chuck Todd and Tyrnauer as they discuss the subjects, several of the Reagan biographies, and Tyrnauer’s previous documentary, Where’s My Roy Cohn.

Belushi

Belushi, from Showtime Documentary Films, directed by award-winning, filmmaker R.J. Cutler, reveals the complicated, singular, and too-short life of a beloved American icon who helped change American culture and comedy, John Belushi, a once-in-a-generation talent who captured the hearts and funny-bones of audiences around the world. From his early years growing up in Wheaton, Illinois, Belushi showed an extraordinary talent for comedy and music. But, it was a visit to the Second City theater in Chicago where Belushi established himself and from that moment on he became an unstoppable and pioneering force in the comedy world. His audacious rendition of Joe Cocker singing the Beatles “With A Little Help From My Friends,” proved to be the star shot launching pad. Cutler utilizes still photos, archival footage, home videos, animation, and telling letters from John to his high school sweetheart girlfriend and later wife, Judy, that paint a picture of Belushi’s passion, love, and humanly struggles.

Belushi’s insatiable drive for success and fame kept the candle burning at both ends. When his acting attempts in 1941, Neighbors, and Continental Divide failed to provide him the accolades of The Blues Brothers and Animal House, Belushi sought consolation and creativity in dark habits as he continually pushed himself for greatness. As a performer, John Belushi grasped the importance of developing and recreating himself on stage and felt a high degree of compulsion to do this on the big screen. Belushi’s ambitious drive and need for approval reached its limits on March 5, 1982, at the hotel Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood. Belushi was found alone, not breathing, and unresponsive. The coroner’s report stated the cause of death was “acute cocaine and heroin intoxication.”

Cutler captures what John Belushi was as a performer and scratches the surface of who Belushi was as a person. Told linearly using previously unheard audiotapes, the film also examines Belushi’s life in the words of his collaborators, friends, and family, including Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Penny Marshall, Lorne Michaels, Carrie Fisher, Chevy Chase, Harold Ramis, Jane Curtin, Ivan Reitman and his wife, Judy Belushi. As much as I enjoyed experiencing his comedic genius again, there is more to John Belushi than what appears in this screening of Belushi.  Yet, Cutler does an excellent job of creating a framework of understanding some of the comedic legend’s motivation and unmet needs with a well-researched and documented biographical treatment. Belushi is scheduled to launch on November 22, 2020, on Showtime. Highly recommended.

Wander Darkly

Thriller/Drama Wander Darkly,  is as good a film as I’ve seen this year. Written and directed by Tara Miele, and starring Sienna Miller as Adrienne and Diego Luna as Matteo,  Wander Darkly is a surreal journey into conflict resolution between a young couple following a traumatic car accident. On its most basic level, Wander Darkly is a relationship film challenging boundaries while seeking the answer for continuity. In a very non-linear approach, the couple relives the past through the duality of their shared moments including fond memories from the initial courtship through the truths of the present as they attempt to rediscover the love that binds them together as they face an uncertain future. Miller in a tour de force performance crushes it as Adrienne pulling out all the emotional stops exploring grief, joy, and love. Wander Darkly is scheduled to be in select theaters, on digital, and on-demand on December 11th. Check it out! You’ll be glad you did!

Uncle Frank

Uncle Frank, an Amazon Original Film, starring Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi, Steve Zahn, and Stephen Root (Office Space), and directed by Alan Ball, tells the story of a young, rural South Carolinian woman, Beth, (Sophia Lillis) a precocious spirit with a connection to her rarely seen Uncle Frank.

When a death in the family occurs, Beth and Uncle Frank embark on a road trip back to South Carolina delving into deep interpersonal dialogue on sexuality and death before being unexpectedly joined by Wally. Along the rest of the way, Beth is exposed to bigotry, homophobia, and a warm, loving relationship. Once she and Uncle Frank are back in small-town, rural Creekville, South Carolina, the past reveals itself, and moments for self-reflection and overcoming imposed beliefs come to pass.

Uncle Frank, a character-driven drama, is quite entertaining and could easily pass for a period piece, much like Green Book, with its costuming by Megan Stark Evans,  production design by Darcy C Scanlan, its superb cinematography by Khalid Mohtaseb, and with the layered narrative (screenwriting, Alan Ball) dealing with family, remorse, death, loss, same-sex relationships, religion, as well as social norms and beliefs in the Deep South.

Seeing Bettany cast had a lot to do with my viewing selection of Uncle Frank. And, he doesn’t disappoint as he carries the heaviness, the emotional weight, of Uncle Frank. My hat’s off to Casting Director, Avy Kaufman (Brokeback Mountain). Bravo! Uncle Frank is scheduled for a U.S. release (internet) on November 25th, 2020, and is a beautiful, entertaining film. Very warmly recommended viewing!

MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY

The Closing Night Presentation was the World Premiere of MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY (DIR Errol Morris), followed by an interesting conversation between Indiewire’s Ann Thompson and Morris (available along with 69 other conversations here.)  In MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY, Morris delivers a tell-all story of Johanna Harcourt-Smith, a once young, Swiis born, Paris-raised, jet-setting, an aristocratic, Jewish woman who cavorted with the high priest of LSD, Timothy Leary. My Psychedelic Love Story is the story of Harcourt-Smith and O’Leary as they circumvent extradition and indulge themselves in daily acid trips for a two-month period before Leary is extradited back to the US, incarcerated, and eventually released. At the time there was much speculation Harcourt-Smith was a CIA plant – a Mata Hari of sorts. MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY will be airing on Showtime!

Wolfwalkers, an Apple Original Film from Cartoon Saloon, the Kilkenny, Ireland, the animation studio that previously produced The Secret of Kells (2009)  and Song of the Sea (2014) completes an Irish folklore animated trilogy spanning slightly more than ten years.

Wolfwalkers is set in 17th-century Ireland, a time of great change with successive transfers of land from catholic to protestant ownership and where administrative and political power passed into the hands of a new English minority (Irish Historical Studies, Vol. 15, No. 60, Sep 1967, pgs. 366-375).  Literary references to the Arthurian Camelot myth and to historical figure Oliver Cromwell are smoothly incorporated as well. Moore and Stewart encapsulate this situation in a magical friendship that develops between two young girls, Robyn and Mebh.

Wolfwalkers, steeped in historical significance, is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful films I have had the pleasure of viewing and experiencing and it’s a film the whole family can watch! Wolfwalkers is set to be released theatrically on October 30, 2020, by WildCard in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and on November 13, 2020, by GKIDS before debuting on Apple TV+ on December 11, 2020.

Stay tuned for the upcoming holiday film guide!

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

AFI FEST 2020 FILM REVIEW: Whirlybird (Matt Yoka, 2020)

Posted and reviewed by Larry Gleeson during the virtual 2020 AFI FEST presented by Audi.

Filmmaker Matt Yoka, who I had the distinct pleasure of connecting with at the AFI FEST Industry and Filmmaker mixer, brings home Whirlybird, a fascinating, real-world tale of Los Angeles-based reporters, Bob Tur and Marika Gerrard, who revolutionized real-time news reporting from the air. Yoka crafts his work from 2,000 hours of recorded flight tape, direct interviews, news archives, still photos, and more.

The result is a dynamic visual history of the biggest Los Angeles news events in the last 30 years including the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 and the pursuant, criminal assault of truck driver, Reginald Denny, at Florence and Normandy after the Rodney King beating verdict and subsequent acquittal of the four white police officers charged. And, if that wasn’t enough the duo broke and captured the infamous O.J. Simpson ‘White bronco’ car chase which became “the apex of live news coverage” with approximately 80 million viewers tuning in.

Prior to these two major national news events, Bob had also previously rescued 54 people from a crumbling rooftop at the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, Calif. during a winter storm with winds up to 50 miles per hour. The hotel was surrounded by water and was being pummeled by massive, crashing waves.  As what can only be described as a herculean effort, Tur managed to whisk away the stranded guests to higher ground in fourteen separate takeoffs and landings. The rescue made news headlines and jumpstarted his and Marika’s network career with KCOP.

By itself, any one of these events would make for a great story. And they are. Interestingly, Yoka goes on to explore the interpersonal and intrapersonal dynamics between Bob and Marika primarily with footage from their aerial reporting. What emerges is a strong working relationship with Bob’s perfectionism and Marika’s “go along to get along attitude.” The pair produced footage unmatched with Bob’s aggressive piloting and Marika’s willingness to hang outside and keep a steady camera rolling under less than optimal conditions including live rounds being fired at them during their three-day virtually non-stop coverage of the 1992 rioting.

Unexpectedly included in present-day time is MSNBC journalist, and Bob and Marika’s daughter, Katy Tur, an MSNBC journalist and author of the 2017 “Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History,” as she reflects on the rise and fall of her parent’s helicopter reporting empire, the current state of, and decline of, major network broadcast news reporting, and her parent’s marital relationship. Yoka includes this section as Katy and Marika are seen in casual conversation.

With Whirlybird Yoka manages to distill a 15 plus year time span into a 1:43 film run time. With a focus on the newsgathering, Yoka delivers a very informative segment before introducing and exploring a surprising and deeply personal human-interest twist reminiscent of Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner as Zoey Tur comes to terms with who she is as a person and explains why she performed so aggressively and behaved so inappropriately as Bob.

A seminal piece on the newsgathering industry in Los Angeles coupled with a timely human-interest story involving transgenderism and news reporting at the highest national level, Whirlybird is highly recommended viewing.

 

AFI FEST FILM REVIEW: Wander Darkly (Tara Miele, 2020)

Posted and reviewed by Larry Gleeson during the virtual 2020 AFI FEST presented by Audi.

Thriller/Drama Wander Darkly, a Lionsgate production, written and directed by Tara Miele, and starring Sienna Miller as Adrienne and Diego Luna as Matteo, is a surreal journey into conflict resolution between a young couple following a traumatic car accident. In a very non-linear approach, the couple relives the past through the duality of their shared moments including fond memories from the initial courtship through the truths of the present as they attempt to rediscover the love that binds them together as they face an uncertain future.

The film opens with solemn non-diegetic music as introductory titles roll. An aerial tracking “god shot”  follows a car traveling down a nightscape city street that could pass for West Los Angeles. An interior shot of the moving vehicle reveals a young couple with a newborn in a heated exchange. Tension is in the air. Dominance and control. Neon lights flash giving an illusion of a video game. Mention of splitting up. Then a massive collision.

From here mise-en-scene and cinematography get very interesting as time becomes fluid with death and out-of-body astral planing. Carolina Costas creates this fluid time continuum effect through various camera angles, movements, and lens choices. Imagine Christopher Nolan’s Inception cinematography and mise-en-scene where up is down and down is up as our lead characters are passing in and out of linear time going forward and back revisiting critical moments in their relationship trying to explain to one another what each was experiencing in those moments. I’m thinking Ghost (1990) meets Before Sunrise.

In the Q & A following the film led by AFI Programmer Claudia Puig,  Miele revealed the impetus for the film came from her life experience of being in a traumatic car accident with her husband. The experience changed her perspective on mortality and the adrenaline-fueled lifestyle she led. Sienna Miller also participated and shared Adrienne was one of her most challenging roles as an actor due to numerous emotional arcs, beats, and emotional u-turns. Miller and Miele seemed to both agree on the success of the film hinged on how surreal her character could be. In addition, Wander Darkly was shot in Los Angeles and Miele really wanted the story to be an LA story about an interracial couple. Producer Monica Levinson brought some of her surreal magic to the production set with the inclusion of dolphins!

On its most basic level, Wander Darkly is a relationship film challenging boundaries while seeking the answer for continuity. Miller in a tour de force performance crushes it as Adrienne pulling out all the emotional stops exploring grief, joy, and love. Luna is no slouch as Matteo either. Steadfast and earnest as he explains his flighty behavior with axioms of “for better or worse,” and “you have to take the good with the bad.” As contentious as the relationship is/was, watching the two come to a resolution was emotionally moving and deeply satisfying to watch. The sound design by Frank Gates and the music by Alex Weston was more than complementary. They were an integral part of the film’s narrative as were the dolphins.

Wander Darkly is as good a film as I’ve seen this year and is scheduled to be in select theaters, on digital, and on-demand on December 11th. Check it out! You’ll be glad you did!

AFI FEST FILM REVIEW: Belushi (R.J. Cutler, 2020)

Posted and reviewed by Larry Gleeson during the virtual 2020 AFI FEST presented by Audi.

Belushi, from Showtime Documentary Films, directed by award-winning, filmmaker R.J. Cutler, reveals the complicated, singular, and too-short life of a beloved American icon who helped change American culture and comedy, John Belushi, a once-in-a-generation talent who captured the hearts and funny-bones of audiences around the world. From his early years growing up in Wheaton, Illinois, Belushi showed an extraordinary talent for comedy and music. But, it was a visit to the Second City theater in Chicago where Belushi established himself and from that moment on he became an unstoppable and pioneering force in the comedy world. His audacious rendition of Joe Cocker singing the Beatles “With A Little Help From My Friends,” proved to be the star shot launching pad. Cutler utilizes still photos, archival footage, home videos, animation, and telling letters from John to his high school sweetheart girlfriend and later wife, Judy, that paint a picture of Belushi’s passion, love and humanly struggles.

Never one to take a back seat, Belushi found himself behind the fame and popularity of Chevy Chase and SNL’s Weekend Update. Belushi pushed boundaries and raised the ire of SNL creator and producer Lorne Michaels in advocating for his performance routines. At SNL Belushi created some of the most-talked-about and memorable characters of all time. His Olympic gold-medal-winning breakfast of champions – coffee, cigarettes, and mini chocolate donuts – and his spot-on imitation of Hall of Fame Rock and Roll icon, Joe Cocker.  Seemingly, everyone was caught by surprise when Cocker was the musical guest on SNL and Belushi came on stage and the two performed a stunning rendition of “Feelin’ alright.”

 

While remaining a cast member of SNL, Belushi participated in the filming of Animal House as the lovable, disrupter “Bluto,” and managed to form a stellar band, The Blues Brothers.  To say John Belushi had arrived would be an understatement as was on the #1 television show (SNL), had the #1 comedy in movie history (Animal House), and the #1 record album (Blues Brothers Soundtrack) in the world. In addition, Belushi seemed to demand respect for his work and he also seemed to covet respect as a person. He and fellow SNL cast member, Dan Ackroyd, would eventually leave SNL and create two Blues Brothers films together. The Blues Brothers (1980) has become a cult classic.

Belushi’s insatiable drive for success and fame kept the candle burning at both ends. When his acting attempts in 1941, Neighbors, and Continental Divide failed to provide him the accolades of The Blues Brothers and Animal House, Belushi sought consolation and creativity in dark habits as he continually pushed himself for greatness. As a performer, John Belushi grasped the importance of developing and recreating himself on stage and felt a high degree of compulsion to do this on the big screen. Belushi’s ambitious drive and need for approval reached its limits on March 5, 1982, at the hotel Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood. Belushi was found alone, not breathing, and unresponsive. The coroner’s report stated the cause of death was “acute cocaine and heroin intoxication.”

Cutler captures what John Belushi was as a performer and scratches the surface of who Belushi was as a person. Told linearly using previously unheard audiotapes, the film also examines Belushi’s life in the words of his collaborators, friends, and family, including Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Penny Marshall, Lorne Michaels, Carrie Fisher, Chevy Chase, Harold Ramis, Jane Curtin, Ivan Reitman and his wife, Judy Belushi. As much as I enjoyed experiencing his comedic genius again, there is more to John Belushi than what appears in this screening of Belushi.  Yet, Cutler does an excellent job of creating a framework of understanding some of the comedic legend’s motivation and unmet needs with a well-researched and documented biographical treatment. Belushi is scheduled to launch on November 22, 2020, on Showtime. Highly recommended.

AFI FEST 2020 CAPSULE REVIEW: Uncle Frank (Alan Ball, 2020)

Posted and viewed by Larry Gleeson during AFI FEST 2020 presented by AUDI.

Uncle Frank, an Amazon Original Film, starring Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi, Steve Zahn, and Stephen Root (Office Space), and directed by Alan Ball, tells the story of a young, rural South Carolinian woman, Beth, (Sophia Lillis) a precocious spirit with a connection to her rarely seen Uncle Frank (Bettany).

Uncle Frank, Frank Bledsoe, portrayed by Paul Bettany, is a dashing figure seemingly dismissed at home and who lives and teaches Literature (18th Century Women Poets) at New York University (NYU). When it comes time for Beth to go to college, she receives a scholarship to attend NYU. While there she learns of her Uncle Frank’s worldly ways (he’s a sober pot smoker) including his relationship with a gay Saudi man, “Wally” Walid.

When a death in the family occurs, Beth and Uncle Frank embark on a road trip back to South Carolina delving into deep interpersonal dialogue on sexuality and death before being unexpectedly joined by Wally. Along the rest of the way, Beth is exposed to bigotry, homophobia, and a warm, loving relationship. Once she and Uncle Frank are back in small-town, rural Creekville, South Carolina, the past reveals itself, and moments for self-reflection and overcoming imposed beliefs come to pass.

Uncle Frank, a character-driven drama, is quite entertaining and could easily pass for a period piece, much like Green Book, with its costuming by Megan Stark Evans,  production design by Darcy C Scanlan, its superb cinematography by Khalid Mohtaseb, and with the layered narrative (screenwriting, Alan Ball) dealing with family, remorse, death, loss, same-sex relationships, religion, as well as social norms and beliefs in the Deep South.

But it was the cast, in my opinion, that brought the film’s narrative and its characters to life allowing for the suspension of disbelief. Steve Zahn played Uncle Frank’s respectful and admiring younger brother convincingly. He accepts his older brother’s way of life. Stephen Root delivers a powerful, domineering performance as the family’s unequivocal patriarch with the staunchest of beliefs, Daddy Mac. Peter Macdissi delivers a warm, loving, and heartfelt performance as Uncle Frank’s partner, “Wally” Walid, a Saudi man risking everything to be in a relationship with Frank but not willing to give up everything when Frank drinks again. In addition, Macdissi provides excellent timing with comedic relief at several pivotal moments. Sophia Lillis shines as Beth in an understated performance ala in a Ryan Gosling way. Lillis delivers an emphatically as small-town, ridiculed, Beth who blossoms into a smart, intelligent, beautiful woman standing boldly in her truth. And, Paul Bettany brings a much-needed gravitas to the role of “Uncle Frank” Frank Bledsoe.

Seeing Bettany cast had a lot to do with my viewing selection of Uncle Frank. And, he doesn’t disappoint as he carries the heaviness, the emotional weight, of Uncle Frank. My hat’s off to Casting Director, Avy Kaufman (Brokeback Mountain). Bravo! Uncle Frank is scheduled for a U.S. release (internet) on November 25th, 2020, and is a beautiful, entertaining film. Very warmly recommended viewing!

 

 

AFI FEST PRESENTED BY AUDI WRAPS WITH AWARDS ANNOUNCEMENTS

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Festival Attracts Largest National Audience In Its 34-Year History

With Attendees From All 50 States

Announces Audience And Jury Award Winners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, October 23, 2020 — AFI FEST 2020 presented by Audi announced today the films that received this year’s Jury and Audience 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 Shorts jury was comprised of film critic Carlos Aguilar, filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison and Film Festival Alliance Executive Director Lela Meadow-Conner.

Highlights of the 2020 festival, which was mostly virtual this year, included a Centerpiece Drive-in screening of ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI… (DIR Regina King) at the Rose Bowl; the World Premieres of I’M YOUR WOMAN (DIR Julia Hart), PINK SKIES AHEAD (DIR Kelly Oxford) and REALLY LOVE (DIR Angel Kristi Williams); screenings of highly anticipated films including COLLECTIVE (COLLECTIV) (DIR Alexander Nanau), THE FATHER (DIR Florian Zeller), I CARRY YOU WITH ME (Heidi Ewing), MY LITTLE SISTER (DIR Stéphanie Chuat, Véronique Reymond), NEW ORDER (NUEVO ORDEN) (DIR Michel Franco), NINE DAYS (DIR Edson Oda) and WOLFWALKERS (DIR Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart); a conversation with Dr. Stacy Smith on the portrayal of characters with mental health conditions in film and television; a discussion with the director and cast of SOUND OF METAL with the Deaf community; a conversation with Academy Award® nominee, producer, director and writer Ava DuVernay about elevating and supporting BIPOC filmmakers; the Indie Contenders and Doc Roundtables; and Tributes to Sofia Coppola, Kirby Dirk, Mira Nair and Rita Moreno.

“With an audience of more than double from last year, we welcomed over 200 filmmakers and guests from around the world for Q&As and panels,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director AFI Festivals.

“This year’s festival was truly a celebration of film across the country with festival goers joining us online from all 50 states.”

Audience Award – Narrative Feature

WOLFWALKERS (DIR Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart)

Robyn befriends wild girl Mebh while exploring the magical forest outside an Irish town’s walls and undergoes a transformation in this adventurous animated film from THE SECRET OF KELLS creators, Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart.

Audience Award – Documentary Feature

76 DAYS (DIR Hao Wu, Weixi Chen, Anonymous)

January 23, 2020: Wuhan, China, a city of 11 million, goes on complete lockdown to combat COVID-19. Filming inside Wuhan’s hospitals, 76 DAYS provides an unforgettable look at a city’s fight for survival.

Audience Award – Short Film

LONELY BLUE NIGHT (DIR Johnson Cheng)
The consequences of a mother’s decision to leave her daughter in the care of an American homestay family are unearthed when they reunite for a dinner on one lonely blue night.

 Grand Jury Prize – Animation

TIGER AND OX (호랑이와 소) (DIR Seunghee Kim)
Jury Statement:  “With its economical, yet powerful use of the animated medium, this film tells a tender intergenerational story of the layered relationship between a mother and a daughter and invites us to engage in necessary conversations around gender and trauma.”

What does divorce mean to women in Korean patriarchal society? Is a fatherless family a failure? In order to find the answer to these questions, a single mother and her daughter start a conversation.

Grand Jury Prize – Live Action

PILLARS (DIR Haley Elizabeth Anderson)
Jury Statement:  “The filmmaker navigates the coming-of-age terrain with a mesmerizing point of view anchored in stunning performances by its young cast. The nuanced showcased in explored Black girlhood in today’s America resonated strongly with us.”

One Sunday at church, 12-year-old Amber experiences her first kiss, a moment of innocence that triggers a series of awakenings: sexual, emotional, and religious. 

Special Mention

BLACK GOAT (DIR Yi Tang)

Jury Statement:  “Gifted with an original cinematic voice, the filmmaker reclaims the often-taboo transformation of a young girl’s body in a singular context. Harnessing magical realism to enhance this journey from shame to acceptance, this film both enchants and empowers.”

Pasang, a new girl at a nunnery, has her first period after hearing a late-night ghost story. She keeps it secret until she bleeds at a prayer session. She believes that she has been cursed and needs to sacrifice a black goat to avoid further misfortune.

Special Mention

MAALBEEK (DIR Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis)

Jury Statement:  “Departing from a tragic event, the director created a hybrid piece that is as immersive as it is moving and haunting. The reconstruction of a traumatic memory, both the personal and the collective, come to life in vibrant form.”

Sabine is looking for a missing image: a day that has left its mark forever and that everyone remembers but her. But maybe this absence is what allows her to move on with her life?
Special Mention

UMBILICAL (DIR Danski Tang)

Jury Statement: “Poignant and eye-popping, this animated vision speaks to the importance of understanding one’s family history and the inextricable connection between a mother and a daughter. Through beautifully abstract animation, the filmmaker expresses these complex themes in an affecting manner.”

An animated documentary exploring how the filmmaker’s mother’s abusive relationship with her father shaped her own experiences in a boarding school in China.

This year’s festival showcased the best in global cinema due to the visionary support of Audi — now in its 17th consecutive year as Presenting Sponsor of the festival.

The complete AFI FEST program included 125 titles (55 features, 3 episodic, 33 shorts, 19 Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST shorts, and 15 AFI Conservatory Showcase shorts) of which 53% were directed by women, 39% were directed by BIPOC and 17% were directed by LGBTQ+. This year’s program represented 35 countries and included 7 World Premieres. The total film breakdown by section was: Special Presentations (8), Centerpiece Drive-in (1), Tributes (4), World Cinema (16) New Auteurs (14), Documentary (15), Cinema’s Legacy (4), Short Film Competition (33), Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST (19) and AFI Conservatory Showcase (15).

Additional highlights of the festival included the World Premieres of MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY (DIR Errol Morris), THE REAGANS (DIR Matt Tyrnauer), SHE PARADISE (DIR Maya Cozier), and SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS (DIR Lisa Rovner); an encore screening of I’M YOUR WOMAN (Julia Hart); the Indie Contenders Roundtable with Riz Ahmed (SOUND OF METAL), Rachel Brosnahan (I’M YOUR WOMAN), Winston Duke (NINE DAYS), Julia Garner (THE ASSISTANT), Vanessa Kirby (PIECES OF A WOMAN), Elisabeth Moss (THE INVISIBLE MAN and SHIRLEY), Carey Mulligan (PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN) and Andy Samberg (PALM SPRINGS); the Doc Roundtable with Ramona S. Diaz (A THOUSAND CUTS), David France (WELCOME TO CHECHNYA), Liz Garbus (ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY), Ron Howard (REBUILDING PARADISE), Kirsten Johnson (DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD), Bao Nguyen (BE WATER), Dawn Porter (THE WAY I SEE IT) and Elyse Steinberg (THE FIGHT).

Additional guests included: Marisa Abela, Jennifer Abbott, Indira Andrewin, Joel Bakan, Alberto Balazs, Alan Ball, Jessica Barden, Angela Bassett, Zazie Beetz, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Paul Bettany,

Devon Bostick, Moran Cerf, Olivia Colman, Maya Cozier, R.J. Cutler, David P. Davis, Ezra Dewey, Mickey Down, Zeina Durra, Jessica Earnshaw, Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri, Armando Espitia, Heidi Ewing, Michel Franco, Dr. Racquel Gates, Marika Gerrard, Dieudo Hamadi, Myha’la Herrold, Werner Herzog, Aldis Hodge, Anthony Hopkins, Nina Hoss, Hallie Jackson, Barry Jenkins, Konrad Kay, Jo Ling Kent, Regina King, Tony Kushner, Jayme Lawson, Roseanne Liang, Sophia Lillis, Amos Mac, Peter Macdissi, Darius Marder, Nora Martirosyan, Cynthia McFadden, Noémie Merlant, Natalia Meta, Tara Miele, Sienna Miller, Andrea Mitchell, Chloë Grace Moretz, Tomm Moore, Errol Morris, Ekwa Msangi, Onessa Nestor, Christos Nikou, Miwa Nishikawa, Jeanette Nordahl, Edson Oda, Leslie Odom Jr., Yulene Olaizola, Tommy Oliver, Clive Oppenheimer, Kelly Oxford, Sean Penn, Judy Belushi Pisano, Justin Powell, Paul Raci, Morgan Radford, Mohammad Rasoulof, Andrea Risenborough, Érica Rivas, Gianfranco Rossi, Lisa Rovner, Odeya Rush, Kofi Siriboe, Morgan Spector, Ross Stewart, Chuck Todd, Katy Tur, Matt Tyrnauer, Blair Underwood, Pacho Velez, Caroline Vignal, Marquise Vilson, Angel Kristi Williams, Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing, Hao Wu, Matt Yoka and Florian Zeller.

Audi returned 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.

Additional top sponsors included Apple and AT&T.

 View more than 70 AFI FEST Conversations here

 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 AFI.com and follow us on social media at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, youtube.com/AFI, twitter.com/American Film and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

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 FEST.AFI.com. Connect with AFI FEST at Facebook.com/AFIFESTTwitter.com/AFIFESTInstagram/AmericanFilmInstitute and YouTube.com/AFI.

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 audiusa.com or media.audiusa.com for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.

Press contact:         Shari Mesulam

smesulam@afi.com    310.663-0056

 

AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH AMC NETWORKS ANNOUNCES THE BLACK PRODUCTION FUND

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Fund Supports Thesis Productions By Black Fellows At AFI Conservatory

AFI Alumni Award Winners Revealed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Los Angeles, CA, October 16, 2020 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today the establishment of the Black Production Fund in partnership with AMC Networks. The fund will provide grants for thesis productions by Black Fellows in their second year at the AFI Conservatory. The Black Production Fund, along with the recently announced Thomas P. Pollock Endowed Scholarship for promising diverse AFI Producing Fellows, is part of AFI’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiatives dedicated to increasing Black voices in storytelling.

“At this pivotal moment in America’s history, the revolutionary power of visual storytelling to inspire change has never been more critical – and there is no better way to support underrepresented voices than to help fund the films they make to tell their own stories,” said Susan Ruskin, Dean of the AFI Conservatory and EVP of the American Film Institute. “This support for our Fellows with their thesis films is transformational. We want to thank AMC Networks for their leadership in creating opportunities for Black storytellers.”

Beyond the fund, AMC Networks has committed to distributing select AFI Conservatory films on UMC, AMC Networks’ streaming VOD platform exclusively dedicated to showcasing Black film and television, beginning with THE FIRST STONE, directed by Kaisan Rei (AFI Class of 2016); GUMMI BEAR, directed by RJ Dawson (AFI Class of 2019); and YELLOW GIRL AND ME, directed and written by Isabella Issa (AFI Class of 2019).

“AMC Networks is proud to support the Black Production Fund – a vehicle to break down barriers for Black artists to tell stories that build a more inclusive culture,” said Josh Sapan, CEO of AMC Networks. “With UMC, we are also proud to provide a home to showcase some of these outstanding projects.”

In its continuing efforts to honor excellence in the art of the moving image, AFI also awarded the AFI Alumni Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in directing and screenwriting, to members of the Class of 2019 during a private virtual alumni reception at this year’s AFI FEST presented by Audi.

The William J. Fadiman Award for Screenwriting ($15,000) went to Christina Kingsleigh Licud for her screenplay “The Daughters.” The Richard P. Rogers Spirit of Excellence Award ($10,000) was awarded to Isabella Issa for her thesis film YELLOW GIRL AND ME; and The Franklin J. Schaffner Fellow Award for Directing ($20,000) went to Haohao Yan for her thesis film THE SPEECH. The first Thomas P. Pollock Fellows, Haley Beasley (Producing, Class of 2022) and Nagee Brown (Producing, Class of 2022), were also feted at the reception.

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 AFI.com and follow us on social media
at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, YouTube.com/AFI, Twitter.com/AmericanFilm, and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

About the AFI Conservatory

The AFI Conservatory opened its doors in 1969 to an inaugural class that included Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel and Paul Schrader. Today, the Conservatory offers a two-year MFA degree in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design, and Screenwriting. In a collaborative production environment, AFI Fellows learn to master the art of storytelling, collectively creating up to 175 films a year. Fellows actively participate in the entire life cycle of a film, from development through production and exhibition.

Alumni of this elite program, ranging from modern masters to bold new voices defining the state of the art form, including Andrea Arnold, Darren Aronofsky, Ari Aster, Sam Esmail, Brad Falchuk, Liz Hannah, Patty Jenkins, Janusz Kamiński, Matthew Libatique, David Lynch, Melina Matsoukas, Polly Morgan, Rachel Morrison, and Wally Pfister, among others.

About the AFI Alumni Awards

The William J. Fadiman Award recognizes outstanding achievement in screenwriting in honor of the distinguished story editor and AFI Conservatory faculty member, William J. Fadiman (THE LAST FRONTIER).

The Richard P. Rogers Spirit of Excellence Award is given annually to directors whose performance at AFI embodies the independent filmmaking spirit of celebrated documentarian Richard P. Rogers (PICTURES FROM A REVOLUTION), filmmaker, teacher, mentor and friend who passed away on July 14, 2001 at the age of 57. The William J. Fadiman Award and the Richard P. Rogers Spirit of Excellence Award were established by an alumnus who has chosen to give back to AFI in honor of those who have inspired generations of AFI Conservatory Fellows.

The Franklin J. Schaffner Fellow Award is presented to an exceptional Directing alum in memory of Franklin J. Schaffner (PATTON, PLANET OF THE APES), a longtime champion of AFI and former chair of the AFI Conservatory Advisory Committee. The Schaffner Fellow Award was established in 1991 by Jean Schaffner to celebrate her husband’s creative legacy and dedication to fostering new talent. This award is funded by the Franklin and Jean Schaffner Foundation.

About AMC Networks

Known for its groundbreaking and celebrated original content, AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) is the company behind the award-winning brands AMC, BBC AMERICA, IFC, SundanceTV, WE tv, and IFC Films. Its diverse line-up of popular and critically-acclaimed series and independent films include Killing EveBetter Call Saul and The Walking Dead, which has been the #1 show on ad-supported cable television for ten consecutive years, as well as Documentary Now!BrockmireLove After Lockup, and the films BoyhoodDeath of Stalin, and many more. Its original series Mad Men and Breaking Bad are widely recognized as being among the most influential and acclaimed shows in the history of TV. The Company also operates AMC Studios, its production business; AMC Networks International, its international programming business; the subscription streaming services Acorn TV, Shudder, Sundance Now, and UMC; RLJE Films; and Levity Entertainment Group, the Company’s production services and comedy venues business. For more information, visit http://www.amcnetworks.com.

(Source: AFI Press release)

AFI FEST PRESENTED BY AUDI ANNOUNCES FILMMAKER FOCUS FEATURING EXTENDED CLIPS FROM THREE OF THE YEAR’S MOST ANTICIPATED TITLES

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Exclusive Clips and In-Depth Conversations with Filmmakers From Netflix and HBO Max

Tickets and Passes to All Screenings and Events are Available Online

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Los Angeles, CA, October 15, 2020 — The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today that AFI FEST 2020 presented by Audi will feature extended clips and in-depth conversations with filmmakers from three of the year’s most anticipated titles.  This year’s festival will take online on October 15-22, 2020.  Visit FEST.AFI.com to view this year’s lineup.

HILLBILLY ELEGY: A Conversation with Ron Howard, Amy Adams, and Glenn Close

An exclusive conversation with director Ron Howard, Amy Adams, and Glenn Close of HILLBILLY ELEGY presented by Netflix. Based on the bestselling memoir by J.D. Vance, HILLBILLY ELEGY is a modern exploration of the American Dream and three generations of an Appalachian family as told by its youngest member, a Yale Law student forced to return to his hometown.

THE WHITE TIGER: A Conversation with Ramin Bahrani, Moderated by Werner Herzog

An exclusive conversation and sneak preview of THE WHITE TIGER, written, directed, and produced by Ramin Bahrani presented by Netflix. THE WHITE TIGER is the epic journey of a poor Indian driver who must use his wit and cunning to break free from servitude to his rich masters and rise to the top of the heap. Based on the New York Times bestseller and 2008 Man Booker Prize-winning novel.

THE WITCHES: A Conversation with Director Robert Zemeckis, producer Jack Rapke and co-producer Derek Hogue, and cast members including Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer.

An exclusive conversation with filmmakers and cast of THE WITCHES presented by HBO Max. Reimagining Roald Dahl’s beloved story for a modern audience, THE WITCHES is a visually innovative film telling the darkly humorous and heartwarming tale of a young orphaned boy who, in late 1967, goes to live with his loving Grandma in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis.

AS PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED

AFI FEST 2020 will take place online October 15-22, 2020, and will open with the World Premiere of I’M YOUR WOMAN (DIR Julia Hart) and close with the World Premiere of MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY (DIR Errol Morris).  The complete program includes 125 titles (55 features, 3 episodic, 33 shorts, 19 Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST shorts and 15 AFI Conservatory Showcase shorts) of which 53% are directed by women, 39% are directed by BIPOC and 17% are directed by LBGTQ+. This year’s program represents 35 countries and includes 7 World Premieres. The total film breakdown by section is Special Presentations (8), Centerpiece Drive-in (1), Tributes (4), World Cinema (16) New Auteurs (14), Documentary (15), Cinema’s Legacy (4), Short Films (33),  Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST (19) and AFI Conservatory Showcase (15).

The full line-up can be found here.

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 and tickets are now available at FEST.AFI.com.

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 AFI.com and follow us on social media at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, youtube.com/AFI, twitter.com/American Film and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

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 FEST.AFI.com. Connect with AFI FEST at Facebook.com/AFIFESTTwitter.com/AFIFESTInstagram/AmericanFilmInstitute and YouTube.com/AFI.

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 audiusa.com or media.audiusa.com for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.

(Source: AFI Press Release)

AFI FEST 2020 PRESENTED BY AUDI ANNOUNCES SPONSORS AND CULTURAL PARTNERS

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Tickets and Passes to Screenings Available Online

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Los Angeles, CA, October 13, 2020 — The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today the sponsors and cultural supporters for AFI FEST 2020 presented by Audi, which will take place online October 15-22. Visit FEST.AFI.com to view this year’s lineup.

Audi returns for the 17th year as the exclusive Presenting Sponsor of AFI FEST, allowing the festival to continue to put the spotlight on new voices and new stories, and highlighting Audi’s commitment to inclusivity amid global and industry-wide challenges. Audi welcomes guests to this year’s festival with the Opening Night World Premiere presentation of I’M YOUR WOMAN and is also sponsoring the festival’s Centerpiece event – a Drive-In screening of Academy Award® winner Regina King’s feature film directorial debut, ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI.

Audi is also investing in the future at the AFI Conservatory with its Audi Fellowship for Women program, which supports promising female directors with full-tuition scholarships. This year’s Audi Fellow Nicole Mejia will take over AFI’s Instagram account to host the Audi DriveProgress IG Live Series, where she’ll interview festival filmmakers and AFI Summit panelists about their latest work and perspectives on a variety of issues facing the entertainment community.

In addition, Audi is providing festival audiences with a viewing guide to all of the films directed by women screening at this year’s festival.

AT&T, returning as a Premium Sponsor, continues its commitment to all filmmakers at this year’s virtual festival and will be providing a platform for AFI FEST’s filmmakers to connect, share and celebrate each other’s work. AT&T is sponsoring two Special Presentations: REALLY LOVE and A SUITABLE BOY. In addition, AT&T is supporting the festival’s HOW TO FEST guide on the AFI FEST platform. HOW TO FEST Powered by AT&T will serve as a central hub for festival audiences to navigate the film festival and learn more about this year’s films and filmmakers with film highlights, filmmaker clips, and additional content.

AT&T is inviting AFI FEST filmmakers and industry insiders to a Virtual Equality Lounge – a series of conversations hosted by The Female Quotient. The series will explore the most pressing topics of today through an equality lens. Industry leaders and influencers will be joined by rising stars and diverse talent in film and television.

Apple Original Films returns as a Premium Sponsor of the festival for the second year.

Festival sponsors include Netflix and Amazon Studios.

Sustaining sponsors include ESPN Films, with director Bao Nguyen from the ESPN film BE WATER joining the DOC Roundtable and The National Endowment for the Arts supporting the Cinema’s Legacy section.

Festival underwriters, whose generous philanthropy supports the festival and the limitless power of the moving image, include Anne Dougherty and David Dobrikin, Mike Gonzalez, K Period Media, Joseph Kaufman and John Wendell and Mark Okun.

Los Angeles Times is the Primary Media Partner. Wall Street Journal, Meet the Press, Variety, Deadline and Entertainment Weekly are the Official Media Partners. LA Weekly, KCRW, The Wrap, LAist + KPCC, IndieWire, IDA and LA Confidential are the Affiliate Media Partners. The Hollywood Reporter is the Media Partner of the Indie Contenders Roundtable, Meet the Press is the Media Partner of THE REAGANS, WHIRLYBIRD and the Meet the Press Film Festival. Variety is the Media Partner of the AFI Conservatory Showcase.

This year’s cultural sponsors include the Farhang Foundation and SAGindie. The festival’s cultural partners include the Consulate General of Switzerland, the Consulate General of France, European Languages and Movies in America (ELMA), Istituto Italiano di Cultura (IIC), Luce Cinecittà and the Polish Film Institute.

AS PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED

AFI FEST 2020 will take place online October 15-22, 2020, and will open with the World Premiere of I’M YOUR WOMAN (DIR Julia Hart) and close with the World Premiere of MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY (DIR Errol Morris).  The complete program includes 125 titles (55 features, 3 episodic, 33 shorts, 19 Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST shorts and 15 AFI Conservatory Showcase shorts) of which 53% are directed by women, 39% are directed by BIPOC and 17% are directed by LBGTQ+. This year’s program represents 35 countries and includes 7 World Premieres. The total film breakdown by section is: Special Presentations (8), Centerpiece Drive-in (1), Tributes (4), World Cinema (16) New Auteurs (14), Documentary (15), Cinema’s Legacy (4), Short Films (33),  Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST (19) and AFI Conservatory Showcase (15).

The full line-up can be found here.  Passes and tickets are now available at FEST.AFI.com.

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 AFI.com and follow us on social media at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, youtube.com/AFI, twitter.com/American Film and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

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 FEST.AFI.com. Connect with AFI FEST at Facebook.com/AFIFESTTwitter.com/AFIFESTInstagram/AmericanFilmInstitute and YouTube.com/AFI.

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 audiusa.com or media.audiusa.com for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.

(Source: AFI Press Release)