AFI AIMS TO BE BEST OF THE FESTS FILMMAKERS COMPETE FOR EARLY AWARDS BUZZ.Byline: Bob Strauss Film Critic
Of the dozens upon dozens of film festivals that unspool in the Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. area each year, the American Film Institute's November shindig shin·dig
1. A festive party, often with dancing. Also called shindy.
2. See shindy.
[Probably alteration of shindy. , centered at the ArcLight theater complex in Hollywood, strives to remain the class act of the bunch.
The organizers of AFI AFI American Film Institute
AFI Awaiting Further Instructions
AFI Armed Forces Insurance
AFI A Fire Inside (band)
AFI Air Force Instruction
AFI Australian Film Institute
AFI Agencia Federal de Investigación Fest 2005 Presented by Audi, as it's officially called, have done all they can to continue that tradition.
The effort is spearheaded by a batch of high-profile, awards-season hopefuls, starting with Thursday's sold-out, opening-night gala presentation of the Johnny Cash Noun 1. Johnny Cash - United States country music singer and songwriter (1932-2003)
John Cash, Cash biopic bi·o·pic
A film or television biography, often with fictionalized episodes.
Informal a film based on the life of a famous person [bio(graphical) + pic(ture)] ``Walk the Line,'' starring Joaquin Phoenix Joaquín Rafael Phoenix (pronounced IPA: [hwakiːn / ra.fa.ˈe̞l / fiːnɪks]; born October 28, 1974), formerly credited as Leaf Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.
Over the ensuing 10 days, AFI will screen such other prize-seekers as ``Transamerica'' (Sunday), with desperate housewife Felicity Huffman Felicity Huffman (born December 9, 1962) is an Academy Award nominated American actress. She is well known for her role as Lynette Scavo, the hectic busy Super-Mom on the ABC hit show Desperate Housewives which debuted in 2004, and for which Huffman won an Emmy Award. going for a sex-change operation Noun 1. sex-change operation - surgical procedures and hormonal treatments designed to alter a person's sexual characteristics so that the resemble those of the opposite sex
transsexual surgery ; ``The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada'' (Monday), Tommy Lee This article is about the American drummer Tommy Lee. For other uses, see Tommy.
Tommy Lee (born Thomas Lee Bass on October 3, 1962), is a Greek American rock musician. Jones' Cannes Film Festival Cannes Film Festival
Film festival held annually in Cannes, France. First held in 1946 for the recognition of artistic achievement, the festival came to provide a rendezvous for those interested in the art and influence of the movies. award- winning contemporary Western; ``The World's Fastest Indian'' (Tuesday), starring Anthony Hopkins Noun 1. Anthony Hopkins - Welsh film actor (born in 1937)
Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir Anthony Philip Hopkins, Hopkins as a record-setting motorcycle racer; ``The Libertine'' (Nov. 11), starring Johnny Depp John Christopher Depp II (born June 9 1963) is an American actor. Biography
Depp was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, to John Christopher Depp Sr., a city engineer, and Betty Sue (Wells), a waitress. , as part of an in-person tribute to the actor; Neil (``The Crying Game'') Jordan's latest gender bender, ``Breakfast on Pluto'' (Nov. 12), starring ``Batman Begins'' and ``Red Eye'' villain Cillian Murphy; ``Mrs. Henderson Presents'' (Nov. 12), in which Judi Dench opens a strip club; and the swashbuckler ``Casanova'' (Nov. 13), with Heath Ledger and Sienna Miller.
Those films, of course, are just the festival's commercial tip. Feature films from 44 countries, including 10 nations' official entries for this year's foreign language Academy Award, are included among the 92 features scheduled. There are also slates of documentaries, American independent productions, short films and both international feature and documentary competitions.
The feature contest highlights the work of first- or second-time filmmakers who, according to AFI's director of programming, Nancy J. Collet, ``have a vision. Where you're like, 'Who is that person who made that film?' specifically, more than just, 'What a great cast or script, but a real visionary.' We look for people who are going to go on to great things in the future.''
Among other operations designed to help newer filmmakers interact with veterans, distributors and producers, AFI Fest 2005 continues the alliance begun last year with the overlapping American Film Market in Santa Monica, providing shuttles between the two venues, access to screenings, etc.
As for the general public, AFI director of festivals Christian Gaines promises more of the same old, same old - which, to him, means the best of the best.
``What I like the most about the festival is what remains the same about it from year to year,'' Gaines says. ``One of the things that really helps an L.A. film festival along is to maintain consistency and constancy con·stan·cy
1. Steadfastness, as in purpose or affection; faithfulness.
2. The condition or quality of being constant; changelessness.
Noun 1. in terms of location, programmatic focus, dates and, of course, film quality. We hope that the audience will just step back into the experience every year - and bring a friend.''
That said, fest goers at the ArcLight complex will be treated to a spectacular new reception area high above Sunset Boulevard.
``The biggest innovation this year is our rooftop village,'' Gaines notes. ``Necessity being the mother of invention, we found ourselves in need of thousands of square feet of staging space for the festival. In the past, we've used vacant retail space right across from the ArcLight. Thankfully, all of that space has now been rented, so we've moved to the seventh floor roof of the adjacent ArcLight parking structure.
``We have about 20,000 square feet that we're putting under roof, plus a courtyard. That is our box office and production space, as well as our registration desks, check-in, will-call, our Cinema Lounge hospitality area for badge- and pass-holders, media suites and the Loft, our big reception space. And it commands stunning views of downtown Los Angeles Downtown Los Angeles is the central business district of Los Angeles, California, located close to the geographic center of the metropolitan area. The sprawling, multi-centered megacity is such that its downtown core is often considered just another district like Hollywood or to the south and the Hollywood Hills to the north.''
The parking space the rooftop village covers will be compensated for in a structure directly across the street at Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street.
Sounds so Hollywood, doesn't it? But this festival is actually so cosmopolitan that it's devoting a good chunk of Nov. 12 to discussions about war movies, and an interview with George Clooney, presented by writers and critics from The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times.
Which, on the surface of it, sounds kind of weird for L.A.'s signature festival.
``I don't think so,'' Gaines counters. ``This Times Talks program is a branded program that they do in many places.''
Asked what really distinguishes AFI from all the other film festivals in town, Gaines responds that it's careful planning of every aspect.
``We think through and rehearse it from beginning to end,'' Gaines says. ``We care very deeply about the entire experience, and I think that's how we differentiate ourselves. More programmatically, we think that we're the festival of record for the best in international film at a great time of the year. We're able to be both a launchpad for the awards season, while also being a real discovery program for U.S. and world premieres and first- and second-time filmmakers.
``It's an infrastructure beyond just showing movies,'' he adds. ``Everything from the volunteer corps to putting on special events to bringing in hundreds of filmmakers from around the world to our transportation department - it takes all year long to create this village for 10 days. I don't think any other film festival in L.A. creates the centralized excitement that we do.''
Bob Strauss, (818) 713-3670
AFI FEST 2005
What: Filmmakers from the U.S. and around the world screen 92 features in a preview of sorts for the movie awards season.
Where: ArcLight theater complex, 6360 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood.
When: Thursday (a sold-out screening of ``Walk the Line'') through Nov. 13.
Tickets: For information, a full schedule and to buy tickets and festival passes, go to www.AFI.com, call (866) 234-3378 (11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily), or visit the box office at the rooftop village, seventh floor of the ArcLight Cinemas parking structure, just south of the theaters at 6360 Sunset Blvd. (Box office hours office hours,
n.pl See business hours. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Nov. 12, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 13.)
(1 -- cover -- color) `Walk the Line'
(2 -- cover -- color) `World's Fastest Indian'
(3 -- cover -- color) `The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada'
(4 -- cover -- color) `Casanova'
(5) Johnny Depp will be honored Nov. 11 at the AFI Fest screening of his new film, ``The Libertine lib·er·tine
1. One who acts without moral restraint; a dissolute person.
2. One who defies established religious precepts; a freethinker.
Morally unrestrained; dissolute. .''