AFI Fest 2014 To Run November 6-13

By | Wednesday March 12, 2014 @ 10:00am PDT

AFI-Fest-LogoThe American Film Institute said today that its 28th annual AFI Fest will be held November 6-13 in Hollywood. Early submissions for narrative, documentary, experimental, animated and short films are being accepted through June 27, with a final deadline … Read More »

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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

By | Sunday November 17, 2013 @ 4:54pm PST

Catch up with the best of this week’s film stories on Deadline:

JFK Assassination 50th AnniversaryThe Day JFK Was Shot: 50 Years Later, Hollywood Remembers
By Dominic Patten - In remembrance of the 35th president, I asked some of the industry’s most notable and insightful individuals — a few of whom had seen JFK just before his death — where they were when they heard the news of the shooting and what they experienced that day. Here’s what they told me…

AFM: Schlock Still Rocks In Santa Monica
By Dominic Patten – Allow me to butcher a Mark Twain quote and say that rumors of schlock’s demise have been greatly exaggerated…

Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Partner Jack Giarraputo Plots Retirement
By Mike Fleming Jr.EXCLUSIVE: This week, Jack Giarraputo has been telling associates at studios like Sony and Paramount that he will retire after he finishes producing the Warner Bros. comedy Blended, and after that the Chris Columbus-directed Pixels for Sony.

Facts Be Damned! How Traffic Trumped Factual Reporting On Tom Cruise-Mark Wahlberg Non-Story
By Mike Fleming Jr. – The digital age has made entertainment industry coverage more exciting, but the race to post and the hunger for eyeballs leads to increasingly shameful reporting of innuendo and flat-out falsehoods. Read More »

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AFI Fest Unveils Audience And Jury Award Winners

By | Thursday November 14, 2013 @ 12:47pm PST

LOS ANGELES, CA, November 14 – AFI FEST 2013 presented by Audi today announced the features and short films receiving this year’s Audience and Jury Awards. Select award-winning films will screen again today at the Chinese 6 Theatres. Admission is available to AFI FEST 2013 pass holders and the general public via the Rush Line, which begins forming one hour before each film’s scheduled screening start time.

GRAND JURY AWARDS, LIVE ACTION AND ANIMATED SHORT

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes AFI FEST Grand Jury Award winners in the Live Action and Animated Shorts categories as qualifiers for the annual Academy Awards® Short Film category. The Shorts jury featured Alejandro De Leon (producer), Kitao Sakurai (filmmaker), Jordan Vogt-Roberts (filmmaker) and Heidi Zwicker (shorts programmer).

Live Action Short Film
BUTTER LAMP
“The Grand Jury prize for Live Auction caught us by surprise with its spellbinding and poetic simplicity. Traversing hundreds of miles of geography and spanning generations of time without leaving one central location, this film functions as a profound mediation on the practice and effects of image making,” stated the jury.

Animated Short
THE PLACES WHERE WE LIVED
“This was an exceptionally difficult choice to make. While many of the animations showcase incredible depth and artistry, one film shined through its idiosyncratic use of multiple mediums and humor to provide insight into the filmmaker’s heart,” stated the jury.

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AFI Fest: ‘Lone Survivor’s Mark Wahlberg Launches Oscar Bid With Emotional Salvo

By | Wednesday November 13, 2013 @ 11:38am PST

A visibly pensive Mark Wahlberg threw his hat into the Best Actor race Tuesday night at AFI Fest, where the star of Peter Berg’s intense military drama Lone Survivor took the stage reluctant to go through the usual actorly rigamarole. Wahlberg plays Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the only member of SEAL Team 10 to make it home from the failed 2005 Operation Red Wings mission in Afghanistan in which 19 soldiers died. “For us to talk about what we went through up on that mountain is just so fake and so false considering what these guys did and what they went through,” he told moderator/AFI Fest Director Jacqueline Lyanga after the film’s TLC Chinese Theatre premiere where he, Berg, and Luttrell sat for an emotional Q&A. “Seeing the movie again tonight reminded me of what Marcus went through. Having a family and having a wife that I love more than anything, and having four kids I’d do anything to protect — or in my case, provide for — it hit me, the fact that those guys will never see their families again. For actors to sit there and say, ‘Oh, I went to SEAL training’ … I don’t give a fuck what you did. You don’t do what these guys do. For somebody to sit there and say my job is as difficult as somebody in the military – how fucking dare you?”

A more cynical Oscar-watcher might read Wahlberg’s declaration as self-serious awards-season posturing. But the AFI Fest audience — including servicemen, Luttrell’s own team members, family, and friends mixed in with the usual industry crowd — applauded the sentiment. Luttrell’s Texas charm and dashes of levity certainly helped raise the mood. He shared his initial apprehension at any filmmaker Hollywoodizing his 2007 bestseller Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account Of Operation Redwing And The Lost Heroes Of SEAL Team 10 and recalled how he and Berg first met on the set of the director’s Hancock. Read More »

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George Clooney, ‘Hunger Games’, ‘Mary Poppins’ And More On A Dizzying Awards Season Friday Night

Pete Hammond

Any doubt that awards season has not kicked into full gear even though it’s only early November were firmly erased Friday night as I kept running into the same Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Academy members as we dashed from an AFI Fest pre-party for The Weinstein Co.‘s August Osage County premiere in Hollywood, to a Lionsgate holiday (!) celebration at Spago, to Disney‘s Mary Poppins sing-a-long for Saving Mr. Banks at the Beverly Hills Hotel. And that doesn’t even count Sony‘s  tribute to their American Hustle David O. Russell for the AFI Fest at the Egyptian. When the picture isn’t ready to show why not just throw a tribute with clips instead? (they sneaked the first six minutes).  Deadline’s Jen Yamato was there and reports Jane Fonda and his Oscar winning Silver Linings Playbook star Jennifer Lawrence showed up for the pre-reception. Just down the street at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Gravity star Sandra Bullock was holding court doing a Q&A for SAG nominating committee members after a screening of the film (Warner Bros. had a separate Gravity press cocktail reception Wednesday night in West Hollywood which drew director Alfonso Cuaron and son, co-writer Jonas, along with producer David Heyman).

At Hollywood and Highland’s The Grill, August Osage County co-producer George Clooney was clearly the star attraction taking photo after photo with excited (mostly female) members of the HFPA who swarmed around him at the intimate, but crowded event before the North American premiere of the film at the Chinese. If anyone knows how to work a room like this, it is Clooney. When I managed to catch his eye he told me the film has been reworked a bit since I saw it at its Toronto Fest debut in September and that, after the balancing act of getting the adaptation of a 3 1/2 hour play down to a tight – and funny – two hours (it’s entered in the Golden Globes as a comedy),  both Harvey Weinstein and director John Wells are happy with it, as Wells also confirmed. The director said he worked on honing the script for over two years with Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Tracy Letts (also at the reception).  As Clooney explained they had to take a rather insular play and open it up a bit which wasn’t easy, but the film I saw played like gangbusters in Toronto and was well-received at AFI, I am told by some who saw it last night for the first time.  Co-stars Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Dermot Mulroney and Chris Cooper who has a couple of scenes that stop the show were also at the reception before hitting the red carpet (stars Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep were absent). Read More »

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AFI Fest: A “Practically Perfect” U.S. Premiere For Disney’s ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ Steps Up Oscar Talk

By | Friday November 8, 2013 @ 9:53am PST
Pete Hammond

The 2013 AFI Fest opening night at Hollywood’s famed, newly IMAX’d Chinese Theatre was as AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said “practically perfect in every way” — thanks in no small part to nabbing the North American premiere of Disney’s surefire Oscar contender Saving Mr. Banks. It was a no-brainer on AFI and Disney’s part to launch this holiday release (it opens domestically December 13) which chronicles the turbulent relationship of Walt Disney and Mary Poppins creator P.L. Travers during the the making of that 1964 musical classic which had its premiere at the very same theatre a half century ago. Director John Lee Hancock noted that in his opening remarks: “My life just keeps folding around. Just like in Mary Poppins it seems what happened has happened before. Fifty years ago there was a premiere here for Mary Poppins. About a year ago we were here filming the re-creation of that premiere, and now here we are again so it all just feels right,” he said. By the way, Poppins itself returns to the Chinese when AFI Fest hosts a red-carpet screening Saturday with stars Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice and Oscar-winning composer Richard Sherman attending.

Related: ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ World Premieres In London – Can It Be Heading For Oscar Night?

Disney chair Alan Horn was taking congrats for the film he actually inherited when he came to the studio, and production president Sean Bailey was also singled out for praise in making this happen. Of course stars Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson were there, but both skipped the Hollywood Roosevelt after-party where Sherman was the main attraction. I told Horn this is a word-of-mouth movie if ever there was one and should be a big hit for the studio. How it fares in the Oscar race will be interesting considering the last three Best Picture winners — Argo, The Artist and The King’s Speech — all seem to be films that make audiences feel good about themselves with the former two having a special Hollywood connection just like this one. Banks seems to fit the same bill that Oscar voters have been responding to recently, effortlessly blending laughs, tears, comedy, drama and emotion. This was my second viewing in three weeks (I saw it at a small screening shortly before it had its world premiere at the London Film Festival) and it holds up. Hanks and Thompson are slam-dunk nominees here and the film has many possibilities — but it is facing weightier fare in frontrunners 12 Years A Slave, Gravity and Captain Phillips (another film with Hanks, which could make him a double nominee this year). Read More »

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David O. Russell Gets Tribute Treatment At AFI Fest

By | Thursday October 31, 2013 @ 3:00pm PDT

LOS ANGELES, CA, October 31, 2013 – AFI FEST 2013 presented by Audi, a program of the American Film Institute, today announced a Special Tribute to David O. Russell on Friday, November 8. AFI FEST will take place November 7 through 14 at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre, the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, the Egyptian Theatre and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

For the fifth consecutive year, AFI FEST will offer free tickets to all screenings. Free individual tickets to AFI FEST screenings and galas will be available to the general public online and at the AFI FEST AT&T Box Office at The Hollywood & Highland Center starting on November 2. The American Film Institute honors excellence in film artistry annually through AFI FEST, which brings icons, emerging artists and audiences together to experience global cinema in the movie capital of the world.

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AFI Fest Announces New Galas And Screenings Including ‘Lone Survivor’ World Premiere

By | Thursday October 17, 2013 @ 6:00am PDT
Pete Hammond

The AFI Fest has rounded out its list of Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings with an impressive list of awards contenders that will include one more big get: Universal’s world premiere November 12th of the gritty and gripping Afghanistan war film Lone Survivor directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Walhberg in the true story. The film gets a qualifying run in December before going wide January 10th. Getting the prime Friday night slot that was originally announced for the world premiere of Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher before that film was pushed later into 2014, is the Los Angeles premiere of  The Weinstein Company’s anticipated August: Osage County, which had a raucous World Premiere screening at the Toronto Film Festival. Finally, the 1987 Best Picture winner, Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor, gets unveiled as another Centerpiece Gala in its new 3D version (do we really need that, Bernardo? I liked it the way it was). Additionally refugees from other fall fests — including Spike Jonze’s Her, Ralph Fiennes’ The Invisible Woman, Jordorowsky’s Dune, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, The Past, Philomena and the Donald Rumsfeld docu from Errol Morris, The Unknown Known – will be presented as Special Screenings. The AFI Fest takes place mainly at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood and runs Nov 7-14 when it closes with Inside Llewyn Davis. Opening night should be special: Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks with its North American premiere in the same theatre where the subject of the film, Mary Poppins, debuted in 1964 and is featured prominently at the end of the movie. Here’s the official release about this morning’s additions: Read More »

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AFI Fest Adds World Premiere Of ‘Out Of The Furnace’, Slots ‘Nebraska’ And ‘Walter Mitty’

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 10:16am PDT

Related: OSCARS: ‘Foxcatcher’ Latest Film To Drop Out Of Race

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, September 30, 2013 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today additional red carpet Centerpiece Galas at AFI FEST presented by Audi, including the World Premiere of Scott Cooper’s OUT OF THE FURNACE; Alexander Payne’s NEBRASKA, accompanied by a Tribute to Bruce Dern; and THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, directed by and starring Ben Stiller and produced by AFI Conservatory alumnus Stuart Cornfeld, recipient of the Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal at the AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony held last June. All galas will be presented in the historic TCL Theatre.

As previously announced, the North American Premiere of SAVING MR. BANKS (DIR John Lee Hancock) is the Opening Night Gala and INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (DIR Ethan Coen, Joel Coen) is the Closing Night Gala. The Guest Artistic Director is Agnès Varda. The previously announced FOXCATCHER Premiere is no longer part of the AFI FEST program, due to the shift of the film’s release date to 2014.

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AFI Fest Selects Disney’s ‘Saving Mr Banks’, Bennett Miller’s ‘Foxcatcher’ For Opening Slots

By | Wednesday September 4, 2013 @ 6:00am PDT
Pete Hammond

With Telluride over, Venice wrapping up and Toronto about to begin, it’s never too early for another film festival to make some noise. So here comes the AFI Fest announcing their opening-night film November 7th will be a Disney awards-season biggie: the North American premiere of Saving Mr Banks starring Emma Thompson as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks in a supporting role as Walt Disney. It is said to be warm and funny and a potential Oscar contender, not only for Thompson and Hanks  but also Best Picture. It is also a no-brainer opener for the AFI. It has a movie theme (Disney tries to convince the stubborn author to sell him rights to make Mary Poppins) and also is partially set at the Chinese theatre, where AFI Fest is headquartered. What could be more perfect? Hate to say I TOLDJA! — but I did. AFI announced they will also be showing 1964′s Mary Poppins itself in honor of its 50th anniversary. It’s actually only 49 years but hey, who’s counting? In a move that indicates filmmakers LOVE to have that opening-night slot , AFI also announced Sony Pictures Classics’ new Bennett Miller drama Foxcatcher will be the cleverly titled “Opening Weekend” Gala on November 8, a World Premiere. SPC’s co-president Michael Barker is very high on this one and told me over the weekend in Telluride that the company expects it to be one of their top awards contenders including for star Steve Carell’s transformative performance in which he is virtually unrecognizable. Barker indicated the film will start early press screenings in mid-October. Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum co-star. That Best Actor race promises to be more crowded than ever. The Coen brothers’ Cannes hit, Inside Llewyn Davis which just played Telluride and will also hit the New York Film Festival, was previously announced as the Closing Night film on November 14. Here’s this morning’s full release: Read More »

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‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ To Be AFI Fest Closer

By | Thursday August 22, 2013 @ 2:10pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: We are just about done with the jockeying that places Oscar-bait films in prime slots at prestige festivals. Here’s one to keep an eye on: I’m hearing that the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis will be the AFI Fest‘s Closing Night Gala on Thursday, November 14. The movie, which stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, and Justin Timberlake, won the Grand Prix when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival back in May. The film was also just set for a slot at the New York Film Festival before CBS Films releases it starting December 6. It follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. I saw it at Cannes and like the best Coen Brothers efforts, it is funny and moving in the most unexpected places and is a real breakout vehicle for Isaac as the folk singer hoping he’s good enough to be a leading voice in a burgeoning musical movement. The music is rich, and it’s the fourth collaboration that Coens have had with Oscar-winning music producer T Bone Burnett.

Related: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Folk Concert Set

Here’s the most recent trailer: Read More »

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Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ Closes AFI Fest, Marches Into Oscar Season

Pete Hammond

“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 »

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‘Skyfall’ Is AFI Fest’s Secret Screening Tonight

By | Wednesday November 7, 2012 @ 3:29pm PST

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 »

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AFI Fest: ‘Rise Of The Guardians’ Tries To Stake Its Claim In Oscar Race And At Holiday Box Office

Pete Hammond

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 »

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‘Hitchcock’ Opens AFI Fest, Starts Oscar Talk

By | Friday November 2, 2012 @ 12:21pm PDT
Pete Hammond

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 »

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AFI Fest 2012 Announces Remaining Slate

By | Monday October 15, 2012 @ 11:05am PDT

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 »

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AFI Fest 2012 Sets Galas Lineup

By | Thursday October 11, 2012 @ 8:45am PDT

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 »

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‘Hitchcock’ To Open AFI Fest On Nov. 1

By | Thursday September 27, 2012 @ 10:17am PDT

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 »

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AFI Fest 2012 Sets Dates: Nov. 1-8

By | Thursday March 29, 2012 @ 1:01pm PDT

AFI Fest 2012Organizers 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 »

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