• [The Daily] AFI Fest 2017

    By David Hudson


    This year’s AFI Fest opens tonight in Los Angeles with Dee Rees’s Mudbound and was to have closed on November 16 with Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World—until Sony Pictures pulled it from the lineup in the wake of accusations of sexual harassment and abuse leveled against one of the film’s stars, Kevin Spacey. Scott now plans to reshoot Spacey’s scenes with Christopher Plummer in the role of J. Paul Getty “in the story about the infamous 1973 kidnapping of his grandson, sixteen-year-old John Paul Getty III,” as noted in the Hollywood Reporter. “As of now, the release date”—December 22—“remains unchanged despite the reshoots, but insiders say that if anyone can pull off reshoots and still make the holiday release date, it's Scott.”

    But back to the program at hand. “The richness of this event’s international scope—a heartening priority for the festival’s director, Jacqueline Lyanga, and her team of programmers—should not be taken for granted,” argues Justin Chang in the Los Angeles Times. “You could see it as AFI Fest’s way of keeping faith with its legacy—a throwback to the old glory days of the institute’s long-defunct Los Angeles International Film Exposition, a.k.a. Filmex, which from 1971 to 1987 was a notable local bastion of globe-trotting cinephilia. Thirty years on, the need for that kind of discerning, adventurous curation is stronger than ever.”

    “Lane Kneedler, the Director of Programming for AFI Fest, is undoubtedly one of the most enthusiastic cinephiles,” writes Kyle Turner for MovieMaker. “Rhapsodizing about Isabelle Huppert, Timothy Chalamet, Altman, and others, Kneedler gives a little insight into the best of what the festival has to offer.” An annotated list of ten films follows. And at ScreenAnarchy, Ryland Aldrich picks eight titles to spotlight.

    This year’s edition also marks the fiftieth anniversary of the American Film Institute, and so the festival is launching a retrospective. The inaugural program is dedicated to the work of Robert Altman (above), and the festival interviews Altman’s son “and frequent collaborator,” Stephen Altman.

    The festival’s also asked filmmakers with work in the current American Independents program to offer a few words on their five favorite films of the past fifty years. It’s a rich collection of lists with, for example, J. P. Sniadecki discussing Jia Zhangke, Aaron Katz on Claire Denis, Antonio Méndez Esparza on Edward Yang, Noël Wells on Kenneth Lonergan, Matt Porterfield on Robert Bresson, and more.

    Here’s a round of links to collections of reviews of films in this year’s lineup that’ve appeared either here or at Critics Round Up.

    Galas and Tributes

    James Franco’s The Disaster Artist

    Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name

    Dee Rees’s Mudbound

    Special Screenings

    Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water

    Paul McGuigan’s Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

    Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game

    Paolo Virzì’s The Leisure Seeker

    World Cinema

    Fatih Akin’s In the Fade

    Serge Bozon’s Mrs. Hyde

    Laurent Cantet’s The Workshop

    Jonas Carpignano’s A Ciambra

    Chang Chen’s Mr. Long

    Denis Côté’s A Skin So Soft

    Claire Denis’s Bright Sunshine In

    Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult

    Ildikó Enyedi’s On Body and Soul

    Valeska Grisebach’s Western

    Michael Haneke’s Happy End

    Agnieszka Holland’s Spoor

    Hong Sang-soo’s Claire’s Camera

    Hong Sang-soo’s The Day After

    Annemarie Jacir’s Wajib

    Aki Kaurismäki’s The Other Side of Hope

    Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman

    Sergei Loznitsa’s A Gentle Creature

    Samual Maoz’s Foxtrot

    Mohammad Rasoulof’s A Man of Integrity

    Mouly Surya’s Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts

    Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country

    Joachim Trier’s Thelma

    Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless

    New Auteurs

    Kantemir Balagov’s Closeness

    Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki’s El mar la mar

    Liu Jian’s Have a Nice Day

    Valérie Massadian’s Milla

    Júlia Murat’s Pendular

    Léa Mysius’s Ava

    Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not a Witch

    Hlynur Pálmason’s Winter Brothers

    American Independents

    Joseph Kahn’s Bodied

    Aaron Katz’s Gemini


    Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s Let the Corpses Tan

    Robert Altman Retrospective

    M*A*S*H (1970)

    McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

    The Long Goodbye (1973)

    California Split (1974)

    Nashville (1975)

    3 Women (1977)

    The Player (1992)

    Short Cuts (1993)

    Kansas City (1996)

    Gosford Park (2001)

    Cinema’s Legacy

    Michelangelo Antonioni’s Red Desert (1964)

    Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966)

    Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

    Eric Rohmer’s La collectionneuse (1967)

    Frederick Wiseman’s Titicut Follies (1967)

    Tony Zierra’s Filmworker

    Updates, 11/10: “AFI’s lineup is more idiosyncratic than a ‘best of the fests’ approach might suggest,” writes Andrew Barker for Variety. “The festival is of manageable size, and organized into streamlined categories—the American Independents and New Auteurs sections, which are perhaps the two the festival organizers are keenest to draw attention to, are each limited to a lean nine films. Other sections have even fewer. ‘We feel like these are filmmakers that you’re gonna know about five or ten years down the road and be excited that you first saw their work at AFI,’ Kneedler says. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that tickets to the films are free.”

    “None of these movies will fill the Chinese Theatre to capacity, which might be for the best,” writes Michael Nordine for IndieWire. “If right now seems an odd, even inappropriate time to focus on movie stars and red carpets in the heart of Hollywood, it’s also the perfect moment to shine a spotlight on filmmakers emerging from other corners of the globe.”

    The festival’s asked filmmakers with work in the lineup to talk about their favorite Robert Altman films.

    Update, 11/11: The final version of Dan Gilroy’s Roman J. Israel, Esq. starring Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, and Carmen Ejogo has been added as a Special Screening. “Washington tops himself as the title character,” writes Michael Sragow for Film Comment. “With understated brilliance and apparently effortless empathy, he portrays a legal genius, visionary reformer, and social misfit who has masterminded briefs and courtroom strategies while his renowned partner, a hero of the Civil Rights movement, argues every case and gives public voice to their progressive ideals. The movie tells what happens when the death of this flashy co-founder (whom we never see) propels Israel from his cozy back room into the scalding light of high-powered L.A. Law. Determined to carry on by himself, Israel tries to pursue ongoing cases. We soon learn why he’s rarely faced a judge. . . . It’s not a ‘you’ll laugh, you’ll cry’ kind of movie. Here we laugh and cry simultaneously.”

    Update, 11/12: The festival’s announced that Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, Molly’s Game, will close this year’s edition. For reviews, see Critics Round Up.

    Update, 11/18: The festival’s announced the winners of its audience and jury awards.

    • Audience Award, World Cinema: Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult
    • Audience Award, New Auteurs: Iram Haq’s What Will People Say
    • Audience Award, American Independents: Joseph Kahn’s Bodied
    • Grand Jury Award for Live Action Short: Farnoosh Samadi’s Gaze
    • Grand Jury Award for Animated Short: Niki Lindroth von Bahr’s The Burden
    • Special Jury Mention: Pia Borg’s Silica

    For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.

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