Thursday, October 20, 2011

AFI FEST 2011 Lineup

October is nearly over which means AFI FEST is right around the corner. This year marks the 25th edition of the Festival and like previous years before the line-up is shaping up to be another incredible year of film. The full line-up has been announced and I thought it be important to share. Below I've included what films are screening in AFI FEST's Gala, Special Screening, New AuteurYoung American, World Cinema, Breakthrough, and Midnight categories including the directors as well as a brief synopsis of each film screening. Also information on a special Spotlight on director Joe Swanberg featuring his Full Moon Trilogy...


"The Artist"
Directed by Michel Hazanavicius
Silence is golden in director Michel Haznavicius’ delightful and dialogue-less black-and-white feature about Hollywood’s bumpy transition from silent films to “talkies.”

The end of silent films and the birth of talkies, sign me up! I've seen the trailer for this on the big screen and you can rest assured I will be pushing to see what looks to be a fantastic historical piece shot in stunning black and white.

Directed by Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski directs a dream cast of Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly in a razor-sharp, acidly funny comedy of ill manners.

Polanski knows how to spin a good drama and with this cast its hard to believe CARNAGE will not measure up.

"J. Edgar"
Directed by Clint Eastwood
As the face of law enforcement in America for almost fifty years, J. Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered. But behind closed doors, he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career and his life.

Usually I'm a sucker for historical pieces but something about this retrospect on J. Edgar hasn't grabbed my attention. Don't think that means I won't check it out, its Clint Eastwood, of course I'm watching it.

"The Lady"
Directed by Luc Besson
Luc Besson tackles the inspiring true story of Burmese activist, leader and political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, exquisitely portrayed by Michelle Yeoh.

This has the potential to be one the this year's best political pieces. Luc Besson hasn't blown me away in quite some time yet this just looks real special plus Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis are extraordinary actors.

"My Week with Marilyn"
Directed by Simon Curtis
Michelle Williams gives a luminous performance as Marilyn Monroe, ably supported by Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench in this intimate portrait of the tragic Hollywood icon.

Never been much of a Marilyn Monroe fan but with Michelle Williams and dame Judi Dench involved this might be worth a look.

Directed by Steve McQueen
In director Steve McQueen’s searing follow-up to HUNGER, Michael Fassbender delivers a fearless portrayal of a man spiraling out of control into sexual addiction.

Though I haven't seen HUNGER, from what I've heard, SHAME is a sight to behold. Outside of my carnal desires to see the hyped eroticism both Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan are incredible actors that I would watch in practically anything they committed to.

Special Screenings

Directed by Jim Field Smith
Jennifer Garner stars in this comedy about a Midwestern housewife who embarks on a ruthless campaign to conquer the world of competitive butter carving.

Directed by Ralph Fiennes
In his directing debut, Ralph Fiennes masterfully adapts Shakespeare’s gripping tragedy about power, politics and pride into a bracingly modern and urgent political thriller.

Ralph Fiennes adapting Shakespeare, sold.

"I Melt with You"
Directed by Mark Pellington
Four friends gather for an annual birthday celebration in Big Sur and come face to face with the hard truths of who they have become.

"Into the Abyss"
Directed by Werner Herzog
In his fascinating exploration of a triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas, master filmmaker Werner Herzog probes the human psyche to explore why people kill – and why a state kills. Like a modern IN COLD BLOOD, Herzog's investigation unveils layers of humanity, making an enlightening trip out of ominous territory.

"Jeff, Who Lives at Home"
Directed by Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass
On his way to the store to buy wood glue, Jeff looks for signs from the universe to determine his path. However, a series of comedic and unexpected events leads him to cross paths with his family in the strangest of locations and circumstances.

I have a man crush on both Jay and Mark Duplass. Everything they've put their hands on I've enjoyed and with them casting Jason Segel and Ed Helms I am thoroughly excited to see how this comedy turns out.

"The Kid with a Bike"
Directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
Awarded the Grand Prix at this year's Cannes Film Festival, this tale of redemptive love bares the Dardennes’ evocative signature style.

Directed by Lars von Trier
Denmark's most celebrated and notorious filmmaker returns with a drama about depression, severely dysfunctional families and the end of the world.

The reviews are out and while they haven't been all positive I'm ready to see Lars von Trier's latest theatrically.

"Miss Bala"
Directed by Gerardo Naranjo
Gerardo Naranjo’s haunting and elegant film tells the story of a beauty pageant hopeful swept up in the violent world of Mexico’s drug cartels.

Mexican drug cartels, beauty queens mixed together in a crime drama, not to sound too alpha male but this sounds exactly like what the doctor ordered.

Directed by Wim Wenders
Wim Wenders captures the world of choreographer Pina Bausch and her dance company in spectacular 3D with thrilling performances of many of her most famous works.

Ballet in 3D, yup, I'm there!

Directed by Oren Moverman
Woody Harrelson gives a ferocious performance as a dirty cop who is embroiled in the Los Angeles Police Department's infamous Rampart corruption scandal.

"We Need to Talk About Kevin"
Directed by Lynne Ramsay
Tilda Swinton gives a career defining performance as Eva, a reluctant mother whose contentious relationship with her evil son sheds new light on the nature vs. nurture debate.

I'm dying to see this movie. Tilda Swinton can do no wrong and based off buzz from Sundance and Fantastic Fest this is a movie not to be missed in 2011.

New Auteurs

Directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari
Awaiting her father's impending death, 23-year old Marina explores her newly awakened sexuality through lessons from her only friend Bella and with Spyros, a visiting engineer.

Directed by Cristián Jiménez
In Cristian Jimenez's wry and nostalgic tale of love and literature, struggling writer Julio revisits and revises his memories of his college romance with Emilia.

Directed by Michaël R. Roskam
BULLHEAD is a gripping portrait of Jacky (Matthias Schoenaerts), a cattle farmer whose 'juicing' has transformed him into a bull of a man.

High praise coming from Fantastic Fest puts this film near the top of my must see list at AFI FEST.

Directed by Ruslan Pak
In this gritty crime drama, Stas, a drug-addicted cop, retreats to the Uzbek Mountains to kick his habit and plot revenge for a friend's death.

"The Loneliest Planet"
Directed by Julia Loktev
Intensely in love and engaged to be married, a young couple finds their journey through the Caucasus Mountains abruptly spun off course by one crucial action.

Gael García Bernal is one of those actors that I have to see whatever he's done. Match that with a interesting synopsis and what looks to be breath-taking cinematography, THE LONELIEST PLANET is something I will be making an effort to check out.

Directed by Markus Schleinzer
In his debut film, director Markus Schleinzer crafts a superb thriller about seemingly normal Michael and his relationship with 10-year old Wolfgang.

"Oslo, August 31"
Directed by Joachim Trier
REPRISE director Joachim Trier takes us on evening's journey through the city of Oslo with Anders, a young man who is wrestling with the ghosts of the past and an uncertain future.

"Restless City"
Directed by Andrew Dosunmu
New York City is gorgeously photographed in this story of an African immigrant in love with music and a beautiful woman he cannot have.

Directed by Justin Kurzel
In his feature film debut, director Justin Kurzel brings to the screen the horrifying true story of Australia's most notorious serial killer.

Young Americans

"The Color Wheel"
Directed by Alex Ross Perry
Bickering siblings JR and Colin embark on a comedic and cathartic road trip through the diners, motels and thrift stores of the Northeast.

"The Dish and the Spoon"
Directed by Alex Ross Perry
Hellbent on revenge, rage-filled Rose seeks out her husband's lover but is derailed when she strikes up an unlikely relationship with a quiet teenage boy.

Greta Gerwig is an actor that I have my eyes set on, each new role she takes on has been charming and sophisticated. You'd think I might be less interested in THE DISH AND THE SPOON with her in yet another romantic role but you would be incorrect.

Directed by Tristan Patterson
DRAGONSLAYER captures the life and times of Josh "Skreech" Sandoval, a local skate legend and new father, as his endless summer finally collides with the future.

Directed by Sophia Takal
Genevieve, an intellectual New Yorker, moves to the rural South with her boyfriend, where a friendship with a local woman sends her spiraling into jealousy.

"Spark of Being"
Directed by Bill Morrison
Award-winning experimental film director Bill Morrison masterfully retells the classic tale of Frankenstein, using meticulously repurposed found footage.

Directed by Clay Liford
Mega-dork Mitch is a substitute teacher who finds himself forced to take a stand when his students take their ridicule too far.

This first still (pictured above) from the film along with the title WUSS have me intrigued enough to want to see this tale about a substitute teacher.

World Cinema

"Almayer's Folly"
Directed by Chantal Akerman
Chantal Akerman loosely adapts Joseph Conrad's novel set in Malaysia, the tragic tale of a failed European trader and his "mixed blood" daughter.

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
DOGTOOTH director Yorgos Lanthimos returns with a tale of a group offering an unusual service for grieving families: They inhabit the role of the recently deceased.

After DOGTOOTH director Yorgos Lanthimos has my undivided attention and this concept just sounds plain mind-boggling. Really looking forward to seeing how this twisted tale turns out.

Directed by Kim Ki-duk
Traumatized by a near-fatal accident during filming, director Kim Ki-duk offers a visionary self-portrait of a troubled artist reeling from an emotional breakdown.

"Café du Flore"
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
In his follow-up to C.R.A.Z.Y., Jean Marc Vallée tells two parallel stories connected by music about a Montreal D.J. and a mother devoted to her special-needs son.

This sounds intriguing and definitely worth a look.

"Carré Blanc"
Directed by Jean-Baptiste Léonetti
One of the strongest debuts in years, CARRÉ BLANC is a dystopian sci-fi vision of a world with limited resources and limitless cruelty.

Sci-fi, ding ding ding ding!

"The Day He Arrives"
Directed by Hong Sang-Soo
In director HongSang-soo's sublime black-and-white vision of Seoul in winter, a filmmaker's visit to an old friend reverberates with déjà vu-inducing parallels and repetitions.

I have a sneaking suspicion this may be worth a look.

Directed by Nacho Vigalondo
TIMECRIMES director Nacho Vigalondo's surprising second feature finds an alien invasion providing the backdrop for one of the most delightful romantic comedies in years.

Director Nacho Vigalondo is another young director that has my full attention. TIMECRIMES is one of my favorites and after a solid amount of buzz coming from Fantastic Fest this year you can bet your bottom dollar I will be making it a priority to see Nacho's latest film.

Directed by Alexander Sokurov
RUSSIAN ARK director Alexander Sokurov offers a poetic meditation on Goethe's legend of the scholar who exchanges his soul for unlimited knowledge.

Directed by Joseph Cedar
With wit and pathos, Joseph Cedar tells the story of a rivalry between father and son, both professors in the competitive world of Talmudic scholarship.

"The Forgiveness of Blood"
Directed by Joshua Marston
In MARIA FULL OF GRACE director Joshua Marston's assured second feature, a modern Albanian teenager finds himself ensnared in his family's ancient blood feud.

The synopsis alone has me lures me in add the fact that Joshua Marston is directing and I certain will make an effort to see this drama.

"The Invader"
Directed by Nicolas Provost
The Invader tells the riveting story of an African immigrant who flees near-enslavement and fights for survival in a European city where he does not belong.

"Jiro Dreams of Sushi"
Directed by David Gelb
With stunning cinematography and a score by Philip Glass, David Galb's documentary about renowned 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono is a complete feast for the senses.

Directed by Alrick Brown
Set in 1994, KINYARWANDA interweaves six true tales into one epic narrative about the Rwandan genocide.

"Mama Africa"
Directed by Mika Kaurismäki
A documentary film about the late Miriam Makeba, the charismatic South African singer and anti-apartheid activist who became the voice and the hope of Africa.

"Once Upon a Time in Anatolia"
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
A confessed killer leads detectives to his victim's body in this slow-burning and far from routine police procedural from Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Directed by Ruben Östlund
Based on actual events, PLAY follows a group of kids lured from an enclosed mall into remote woods by another group with possibly nefarious intentions.

"A Separation"
Directed by Asghar Farhadiv
Winner of the Golden Bear in Berlin, this drama is a complex portrait of an Iranian family torn apart by a divorce and an escalating feud.

"The Silver Cliff"
Directed by Karim Aïnouz
Abandoned with shocking cruelty by her husband, Violeta embarks on a heartbroken 24-hour odyssey through the bustling and beautiful cityscape of Rio de Janeiro.

Directed by Alexander Zeldovich
In this flamboyant and ambitious Russian science fiction drama, a wealthy couple from Moscow search for the source of eternal youth.

"This is Not a Film"
Directed by Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Jafar Panahi
Banned by Iran from filmmaking for 20 years and threatened with imprisonment, Jafar Panari offers a remarkable portrait of an artist at the crossroads.

"The Turin Horse"
Directed by Béla Tarr
An apocalyptic vision of the harsh lives of peasants in a pitiless landscape, this enigmatic and beautiful film marks Hungarian master Béla Tarr's farewell to cinema.

This is a must see! The imagery and synopsis instantly attract my attention.


Directed by Francisca Fuenzalida
In Chile, a young girl and her boyfriend wait for a black-market drug to take effect in this tense and insightful examination of teen pregnancy.

"Light of Mine"
Directed by Brett Eichenberger
Rapidly going blind, photographer Owen and his wife Laura take a life-changing trip to Yellowstone National Park where they experience a beauty that rivals their tragedy.

"Three and a Half"
Directed by Naghi Nemati
Three women risk everything and travel to the northwest Iranian border in hopes of escaping prison and reuniting with their comrades.

"With Every Heartbeat"
Directed by Alexandra-Therese Keining
In this Swedish romantic drama, uptight Mia attends her father's engagement party and not only gains a stepmother, but also a new lover, Frida.


"Beyond the Black Rainbow"
Directed by Panos Cosmatos
An intense and hallucinogenic sci-fi film set in 1983, director Panos Cosmatos' BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW is a one-of-a-kind film experience.

Highly touted at Fantastic Fest means this is a top priority at AFI FEST.

Directed by Morten Tyldum
In this thriller, corporate headhunter by day, art thief by night Roger will do anything to keep his gorgeous wife happy, even stealing from the wrong adversary.

A number of very good friends absolutely loved this movie which means I must see it so I can share in the pleasure.

"Kill List"
Directed by Ben Wheatley
As bills stack up and pressures at home mount, an unemployed dad realizes it's time to get back on the horse and kill some people.

Look at the image (pictured above), that alone is reason enough to be peeing my pants in anticipation for this film. I've heard nothing but praise about it and its been a film I've wanted to see since hearing buzz from Austin's South by Southwest Film Festival. There is nothing that will stop me from seeing this asap.

Spotlight: Joe Swanberg

"Silver Bullets"
Directed by Joe Swanberg
In the first film of his Full Moon Trilogy, director Joe Swanberg explores autobiographical issues of filmmaking, sex and the collision of art and reality.

"Art History"
Directed by Joe Swanberg
In the middle chapter of his Full Moon Trilogy, Joe Swanberg plays a filmmaker directing his wife and his friend in an intensely erotic film.

"The Zone"
Directed by Joe Swanberg
A veritable Russian doll of films nesting within films, the final chapter of Swanberg's trilogy pushes the boundaries of the fourth wall beyond reality.

Remember AFI FEST 2011 runs November 3-10 and free tickets will be made available to the general public on October 27th at 10 a.m. PDT.

Source: AFI FEST