The reconfigured AFI Fest has become something of a window into global cinema and buzz-worthy new Hollywood titles. L.A.'s annual film festival, which runs Nov. 1-8, had already announced its top-shelf, star-studded selections: the world premieres of Sacha Gervasi’s “Hitchcock” with Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson, as well as Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” with Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones. (Though that “Lincoln” event has perhaps been undercut slightly by a series of not-so-secret sneak previews of the film.)
Add in gala screenings of Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi,” Walter Salles’ “On the Road” and Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” alongside special screenings of Ken Burns’ “The Central Park Five,” Sally Potter’s “Ginger and Rosa,” Léos Carax’s “Holy Motors,” Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Impossible,” Rodney Ascher’s “Room 237,” David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” and Amy Berg’s “West of Memphis,” and that's a pretty impressive lineup. Throw in the fact that tickets are free, and that should be festival enough for any cinephile.
Today though, with the release of its World Cinema, Breakthrough and Midnight programs, to go with the Young Americans and New Auteurs selections already announced, the picture of this year’s festival has become complete. While there are a few scattered titles that have been orphaned by the selection, this is an extremely strong group of films and features, more than just a few essential titles.
Having their premiere Los Angeles screenings are Michael Haneke’s “Amour,” Nicolaj Arcel’s “A Royal Affair,” Christian Petzold’s “Barbara,” Cristian Mungiu’s “Beyond the Hills,” Lucian Castaing-Taylor’s “Leviathan,” Ulrich Seidl’s “Paradise: Faith” and “Paradise: Love,” Olivier Assayas’ “Something in the Air,” Miguel Gomes’ “Tabu” and Wayne Blair's "The Sapphires," and also the U.S. premieres of Xavier Dolan’s “Laurence Anyways,” Kim Ki-duk’s “Pieta” and Pablo Trapero’s “White Elephant.”