“It has all been leading up to this night,” AFI CEO and President Bob Gazzale told me at the Hollywood Roosevelt pre-screening reception for the AFI Fest closing film, the official World Premiere of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. It was actually first presented in “unfinished” form at the New York Film Festival, a fact that didn’t bother Gazzale. “We ask the studios ‘how can we help you with your movie? We were thrilled to get it as our closing’,” he said and felt this was a very big deal. It made nice bookends for the festival that opened with Hitchcock and now was closing with Lincoln.
It was indeed a big deal with virtually the entire principal cast turning out. Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones as well as Spielberg, screenwriter Tony Kushner and most of the key crew were there. DreamWorks chief Stacey Snider, Participant’s Jim Berk and Jeff Skoll and Disney’s Bob Iger also attended, along with many others.
Spielberg was excited to see the long gestating project finally premiere at the Chinese Theatre. The film, which details Lincoln’s battle with Congress to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, is ironically relevant to today’s fractured Congressional fights and the director thinks the post-election timing is perfect, especially with looming debates about several hot button issues. “I didn’t want to see this released in front of the election or see it politicized”, Spielberg told me. “I think now it can almost be a kind of cleansing for the country”. READ MORE »
The festival is doing a surprise screening of Sony/MGM’s James Bond pic Skyfall tonight at 9:15 PM PT at Grauman’s Chinese. The press screening for the film was last night, and the movie’s been around (it already is out in … Read More »
AFI Fest 2012 continued Sunday with the World Premiere of DreamWorks Animation’s holiday biggie and Oscar hopeful, Rise Of The Guardians, and if the buzz generated by this screening is any indication DWA should have a hit on … Read More »
“Good Evening,” AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said as he welcomed guests to AFI Fest 2012 with the famous salutation of Alfred Hitchcock. And it did indeed turn out to be a very good evening for both AFI and their opening-night film, Hitchcock. The last of the major fall film festivals, AFI Fest can boast just like other recent fests (Venice, Telluride, Toronto, New York) that it has put another major Oscar contender into play in the ever-increasing list of potential nominees.
With the world premiere of Hitchcock at the Chinese theatre Fox Searchlight has a solid contender in several acting categories along with some below-the-line contests and, depending how things pan out, even Best Picture. Time will tell on that: It’s never easy for showbiz stories to make the Best Picture cut because industry voters don’t always take movies about their own as seriously as loftier subjects, but on the heels of last year’s Best Pic, The Artist maybe that’s changing. And what Hitchcock really is at its core is a remarkable love story. ”Just wait until you see this one,” a smiling and confident 20th Century Fox chairman Jim Gianopulos told me as he grabbed some popcorn before the film rolled. He had reason to be happy. Read More »
A total of 136 films have made the cut for AFI Fest 2012, which opens November 1 with Hitchcock and closes November 8 with Lincoln. Here are the World Cinema, Breakthrough, Midnight and Shorts sections unveiled today:
Related: AFI Fest 2012 Sets Galas Lineup Read More »
The American Film Institute’s annual festival announced its Centerpiece Galas today, with Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi, Walter Salles’ On The Road, DreamWorks Animation’s Rise Of The Guardians and Jacques Audiard’s Rust And Bone starring Marion Cotillard landing the prime spots. AFI Fest‘s Special Screenings lineup includes Silver Linings Playbook and Amy Berg’s West Of Memphis. They join the already announced opening-night film Hitchcock and the closing film Lincoln at the festival, which runs November 1-8 in Hollywood and just tapped Bernardo Bertolucci as guest director. The full lineup comes Monday. Here’s the official list of films from the festival:
Related: Mel Brooks To Receive AFI Life Achievement Award Read More »
This makes for a pretty solid awards-season bookend for AFI Fest, which last week announced that Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln will be the closing-night film. The world premiere for Hitchcock comes ahead of the film’s November 23 wide release. The festival runs November 1-8, and the event’s full … Read More »
Organizers the American Film Institute announced today that AFI Fest 2012 Presented By Audi is set for November 1-8 at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Chinese 6 Theatres at the Hollywood & Highland Center, the Egyptian Theatre of … Read More »
With last night’s conclusion of the annual AFI Fest in Hollywood, the curtain finally fell on the 2011 fall film festival season. So the question remains, has an Oscar frontrunner emerged after two months on this circuit? AFI previously was held in the spring but smartly repositioned itself to November several years ago. The significant side benefit of that is the fest has a shot at having an impact on awards season — not to mention AFI gets the pick of the litter in terms of prolific contenders. That strategy has worked again this year: the world premiere of Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar was the opening-night film and the closing-night selection was Steven Spielberg’s CGI animation contender The Adventures of Tintin, which made its North American premiere last night at AFI. Neither of these directors is necessarily known for putting his films widely on the fest circuit, but you can’t deny that hitting the fests can be a good strategy.
The last four Best Picture winners — No Country For Old Men, Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech — were all major festival players, finding their footing on the circuit then sailing smoothly into Oscar’s heart. This year, likely best pic possibilities that began at one fest or another include The Artist, Moneyball, The Descendants, The Ides Of March, Midnight In Paris and now J. Edgar. But there is an even larger number than usual of those skipping the circuit and trying other strategies to get the Academy’s attention. That list includes The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, War Horse, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, Young Adult, The Help, The Iron Lady and In The Land Of Blood And Honey.
Stuck somewhere in the middle is Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which tried to catch the wave at the New York Film Festival by showcasing a “work in progress.” The results of the gambit ultimately were mixed opinions toward the film — at least in that form. Then, when the film was completed, Paramount skipped the opportunity to show it at AFI and decided to go in another direction (at the same time the fest was going on across town) by unveiling it almost simultaneously to L.A.-based critics, bloggers and members of the Academy. Reaction was upbeat and the film, which opens November 23, is now being talked about as a Best Picture contender, something that didn’t happen after its New York screening. Read More »
With its splashy world premiere as the opening-night film of AFI Fest on Thursday and a series of Q&As and receptions, Warner Bros’ campaign for J. Edgar — one of its big Oscar hopefuls — swung into high gear this week. In addition to the hoopla around the premiere, director Clint Eastwood did a DGA screening and discussion with Academy directing governor and fellow DGA and Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow on Tuesday night; stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Watts and Armie Hammer appeared for a Q&A in front of a packed-to-the-rafters SAG audience on Wednesday night (I moderated that one); and on Friday they all appeared for yet another screening, Q&A and reception at the LA County Art Museum. The latter was a prelude to Saturday night’s inaugural Art + Film gala, where Eastwood is being honored. Warners plans many more voter opps like these in the coming weeks.
First reviews of the film that opens next week are mixed to good depending on what you read and who you talk to (Rotten Tomatoes has it at 57% fresh, but only seven reviews are up so far). But it is done in classic and classy Eastwood style and, whatever the ultimate commercial and critical fate of the film, it is absolutely clear DiCaprio has a strong stake on a Best Actor Oscar nomination. As the complex and controversial FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, DiCaprio ages from his 20s to late 70s with seeming ease and has some heavy dramatic scenes — including one in which he dons his dead mother’s dress and another fight/kiss encounter with Hammer, who expertly plays his constant companion Clyde Tolson (and could be a Supporting Actor contender himself). Older Academy voters who remember Hoover should particularly respond to this well-crafted look at his complicated personal and professional life. Read More »
Clint Eastwood’s ‘J. Edgar’ To World Premiere As AFI Fest Opener
LOS ANGELES, CA, October 31, 2011 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today that Paramount Pictures and Columbia Pictures’ THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, directed by AFI Life Achievement Award recipient and Academy Award®-winning director Steven Spielberg, will have its North American Premiere as the Closing Night Gala of AFI FEST 2011 presented by Audi. The film is based on the internationally beloved and irrepressible characters created by Hergé and stars Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. It is produced by Academy Award® winners Spielberg, Peter Jackson and Kathleen Kennedy. From an original screenplay by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, the story follows the unquenchably curious young reporter Tintin and his fiercely loyal dog Snowy as they discover a ship carrying an explosive secret that may hold the key to vast fortune…and an ancient curse. Academy Award®-winning composer John Williams scored the film, with 2011 marking a collaboration between Spielberg and Williams that has enriched 25 of their films together.
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AFI Fest Announces Centerpiece Galas And Special Screenings
LOS ANGELES, CA, October 21, 2011 – AFI FEST presented by Audi, a showcase of the most highly anticipated films and performances of the year, today announced the remaining programs and their films that will screen in the festival’s World Cinema, Breakthrough, Midnight and Shorts programs at the 25th edition this November.
World Cinema showcases the most anticipated and prize-winning international films of the year, Breakthrough highlights works discovered only through the submissions process and Midnight’s eclectic selection presents films with provocative and unexpected ideas. Both World Cinema and Breakthrough feature a number of films making their U.S. premieres, including ALMAYER’S FOLLY, CAFÉ DU FLORE, FAUST and WITH EVERY HEARTBEAT (World Premiere).
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EXCLUSIVE: Although it was speculated that Clint Eastwood’s much-anticipated J. Edgar would show up at either the Venice, Telluride, Toronto or New York film festival this fall, it has been conspicuously absent from all of those … Read More »
Thursday night’s AFI Fest closer Black Swan fell in line with similar past fest triumphs at Venice, Telluride and Toronto earning huge applause and lots of Oscar talk, especially for star Natalie Portman whom director Darren Aronofsky introduced to the crowd before the screening along with her co-stars Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder. He particularly tried to goose the applause meter for Ryder, who makes a strong impression in a small role as a fading diva. ”Come on people, I mean it’s Winona Ryder,” he said while she tried to make the long run to the front. “I guess people in Los Angeles are used to seeing movie stars. It’s not that way in New York.” He then really got pumped when he spotted a certain action hero in the audience. “Sylvester Stallone is here tonight!” Arononfsky was also excited to have the film premiere at “the Chinese Mann, my favorite theatre” but seemed a little flustered trying to remember all the key people to thank. Until his producer Scott Frankin nudged him he completely forgot Phoenix Pictures, which had started development on the film ten years ago. Phoenix’s Mike Medavoy and Arnold Messer are among the film’s (4) producers and David Thwaites and Brad Fischer exec produced (2 of 8 credited). Afterwards Medavoy and Fischer were soaking up praise in the lobby and Fischer said he kidded Darren about the “oversight”. Fischer said it was true the movie, originally an All About Eve-ish backstage story called The Understudy, almost completely fell apart just a few weeks before production until the other credited producer Brian Oliver came in and saved the day, a fact Aronofsky did not forget in his opening remarks. Fischer said Aronofsky was originally attached right after he made his first splash with Pi but it took a decade before it came full circle back to him. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Hoping to duplicate the feat Jeff Bridges pulled off last year when he became a surprise last minute entry into the Oscar race — and winner — with Crazy Heart, Halle Berry is launching an awards season qualifying run for her indie effort Frankie & Alice. It opens December 17 in New York and Los Angeles before its regular theatrical release set for February 4 in the top 20 markets (shortly after nominations are announced). Freestyle Releasing will handle distribution with P and A reportedly provided by private funding the producers raised. Berry is also a producer on the 1970s–set psychological drama, a true story in which she plays a woman suffering with multiple personality disorder, exactly the kind of meaty role (and Oscar bait) that actors covet. Berry, an Oscar winner for Monster’s Ball (2001) has shepherded this as a “passion project” and is said to feel this is her best work since Ball — hence the awards push. I’m told 10,000 DVD screeners will go out to the entire Academy, critics groups, SAG Nominating Committee and others. As one of the more visible aspects of the campaign, Berry will be a prominent part of this year’s AFI Fest on November 9 in ”A Conversation With Halle Berry.”
The Best Actress race is already overcrowded this year with a boatload of contenders all jockeying for attention including Jennifer Lawrence, Annette Bening, Tilda Swinton, Julianne Moore, Diane Lane, Hillary Swank, Sally Hawkins, Noomi Rapace, Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman, Nicole Kidman, Lesley Manville and Michelle Williams – to name a few. Whether it might have been wiser to wait until next year remains to be seen but this is an especially tough field. The last minute stealth entry could be an effective strategy but she will also be vying for attention with Kidman’s Rabbit Hole opening on the same day, with Lionsgate employing a similar strategy for their well-reviewed Toronto Fest pickup. Like Berry, Kidman is also a producer on her film. Read More »