The festival director talks about a few of the anticipated highlights at this year’s feast of global film, including a certain picture that is finally coming home after it was originally set to play the festival in 2013.
Besides a programme that features A Most Violent Year, Inherent Vice, Alleluia, Two Days, One Night and ’71, the festival is staging the inaugural tech showcase, State Of The Art – Innovation, Storytelling And Technology.
AFI FEST is scheduled to run from November 6-13.
Tell us about this technology showcase State Of The Art – Innovation, Storytelling And Technology, which runs from November 10-12.
This is brand new. We have a partnership with Dolby. Technicolor is also on board. We’ve been looking at our programme and there’s so much exciting technology happening. We always try to look at films that are markets of the past year, so though we’re in LA and have a great opportunity to look back at great innovation in technology and the craft of movie-making. We’ve started with a small showcase with presentations from our sponsors and two curated presentations: one from Weta Digital that looks at the evolution of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes as a case study. We will also present a look at some of the new tools at DreamWorks Animation and their Apollo platform on How To Train Your Dragon 2.
What strikes you about the overall line-up?
One of the unique things about this programme is our focus on American independents. We have two great films that bookend the festival. We’re opening with J C Chandor’s A Most Violent Year and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. Really strong performances and visual style from both of the directors. To have these key films is really significant and we also have The Homesman, The Gambler and Inherent Vice – we have some really good filmmakers.
The New Auteurs section looks lively and worldly
It’s a competition section [eligible for the grand jury award.] It’s not based on premiere status but the fact that a first or second-time filmmaker has a made a highly original, inventive film. There’s also great diversity in the countries [represented]. There’s The Tribe from Ukraine, Viktoria from Bulgaria and Run from the Ivory Coast are also fantastic.
There are a few masters in the mix, although perhaps not as we’d expect to see them
We have a number of films where filmmakers have mentored emerging artists. We have Spike Lee who was executive producer on Manos Sucias, we have Wim Wenders co-writing and co-directing The Salt Of The Earth, Pedro Almodovar was producer on Wild Tales and Bong Joon Ho co-writing and producing Haemoo.
You’ve finally got Foxcatcher after they pulled it from the festival last year because it needed more time. How does that feel?
We were always supportive of the filmmaker. From the beginning we were supportive of their desire to make the best possible film. We saw the finished version of it in Cannes. It’s the perfect closing night film for us. We’re happy to be able to present it and celebrate it. I congratulated them in Cannes after the screening and then Bennett Miller won the best directing prize. It feels really great.
What highlights can we expected from the Special screenings strand?
The Dardenne Brothers are returning to showcase Two Days, One Night and Marion Cotillard will also come to the festival, so that’s going to be spectacular. We have Olivier Assayas’ Clouds Of Sils Maria. We have Xavier Dolan’s Mommy. We have shown all his film and this is the first time he is coming. We have Timothy Spall for Mr. Turner. Julianne Moore from Still Alice will be there and that’s another great performance from Kristen Stewart. Tales Of The Grim Sleeper is a very LA story and Nick Broomfield will be coming.
What’s catching your eye in the World Cinema section?
It’s very rich, the filmmakers are who are coming are very exciting. There are political films like ’71 and films exploring sexuality like Breathe and Girlhood from France. We’re also seeing this influence of genre films like Goodnight Mommy, Alleluia and The Duke Of Burgundy. Peter Strickland is such an interesting director. Visually it’s spectacular. We also show Jauja and are hoping Viggo Mortensen will be there, there are three films from Russia: Leviathan, The Fool and Red Army and they are all critical of the system there.
We have a film from India that’s really interesting, Titli. It’s part of the new independent Indian cinema. There’s an Italian theme. We’re doing the tribute to Sophia Loren and we’re celebrating Cinema Paradiso. Giuseppe Tornatore will be coming. We’re screening it on the anniversary [year] of its foreign-language Oscar win. It’s a restoration funded by Dolce & Gabbana.