Closing down this year’s American Film Institutes Film Festival (AFI FEST) presented by Audi on Thursday, November 17th, it’s not so difficult to imagine what might have been had it not been for extraordinary efforts of first-responders, law enforcement and investigators alike in Boston, Mass. Patriots Day, the closing night film, brought to the big screen the story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings from several different angles and drew an at-capacity crowd at the TCL Chinese Theatre.
Afterwards, Director Peter Berg and star actor Mark Wahlberg called several of the film’s real life heroes down on stage for a rousing standing ovation. They included one of the civilian victims of the bombings, Patrick Downes; Dun Meng, the young Chinese man who escaped his captors and alerted police to the whereabouts of the bombers; Boston Police Department Commissioner Ed Davis (played in the film by John Goodman); FBI Special Agent In Charge Richard DesLauriers (played by Kevin Bacon); and Watertown Police Sgt. Jeffrey Puglisese (played by J.K. Simmons).
The night before lead actress Annette Bening sat with director Lisa Cholodenko on the TCL Chinese Theater for a warm and heartfelt conversation before the screening of Writer/Director Mike Mills’ dramedy, 20th Century Women, a story of three women and a make-shift extended family in Santa Barbara during the late 1970’s.
I can honestly say I didn’t see a bad film at AFI FEST 2016 presented by Audi.
Divines , from Houda Benyamina, carted off several winner awards, including the Breakthrough Audience Award, New Auteurs Audience Award, and New Auteurs Special Jury Mention for Acting, Oulaya Amamra. Other favorite films reviewed by HollywoodGlee included Fraud, Jackie, Mifune: The Last Samurai, and Citizen Kane.
Interestingly, this year’s festival opened wide the gates for virtual reality (VR) filmmaking. In addition to several presentations and an extended display of short films complete with VR technology, Anthony Blatt, Co-Founder of Wevr, kicked off the State of the Art Technology Showcase Presented by Google Spotlight Stories as the Keynote Speaker with his enthusiastic remarks on the world of virtual reality in present time.
All in all, this 30th edition of the AFI Film Festival – Hollywood program included a whopping 118 films (79 features, 39 shorts) representing 46 countries, including 33 films directed/co-directed by women, 11 documentaries and 12 animated short films.
Until next year, I’ll see you at the movies!