Thisyear's AFI FEST in Los Angeles will open on Nov 7 with the gala screeningof the psychological drama Antwone Fisher, the long awaited directorial debut of Denzel Washington, whichpremiered at the weekend in Toronto. The festival will also screen the USpremiere of Atom Egoyan's Araratas its Centerpiece Gala on Nov 12 and will close on Nov 17 with PedroAlmodovar's Talk To Her.

Theevent, which is now in its 16th year, is a unit of the American FilmInstitute (AFI) and is one of two major film festivals now firmly establishingthemselves in Los Angeles, the other being the Los Angeles Film Festival inJune. Director of AFI FEST isChristian Gaynes.

AntwoneFisher is being handled by FoxSearchlight and stars Washington as a naval psychiatrist who helps a disturbedsailor (newcomer Derek Luke). Ararat, which is a Miramax release in the US, is an intricately plotted familymystery that stars Charles Aznavour, Elias Koteas and Christopher Plummer. Meanwhile Almodovar's latestfilm Talk To Her will bepresented by Sony Pictures Classics. It explores the friendship between two menwhose lovers are both in a coma. Dario Grandinetti, Rosario Flores,Javier Cámara and Leonor Watling star.

Allthree screenings will take place at the Cinerama Dome at ArcLight Hollywood.The Opening Night Gala is sponsored by the Hollywood Sign Trust and Absolut,while the Closing Night Gala is sponsored by the Hollywood Celebrity Diet andAbsolut.

In addition tothe three Galas, AFI FEST 2002 will feature an international competition offeatures, documentaries and shorts; as well as regional showcases ofinternational cinema, including Asian New Classics, European Film Showcase,Latin Cinema Series, American Directions and the Made In Germany series.