The iconic Italian has chosen four features for his special sidebar: Lloyd Bacon’s 42nd Street, Jean Renoir’s La Regle Du Jeu, F W Murnau’s Sunrise and Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre Ca Vie.

Festival organisers have programmed Electric Chair, a behind-the-scenes film about the making of Bertolucci’s latest work, Me And You.

Bertolucci’s credits include Last Tango In Paris, The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky and Little Buddha.

He won the best directing and screenplay Oscars for The Last Emperor and received an honourary Palme D’Or in Cannes in 2011. In December he will collect the European Film Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award. 

“I am very excited and honoured to be the guest artistic director of AFI FEST this year,” Bertolucci said in a statement.

“Bernardo Bertolucci is an artist of uncompromising vision,” American Film Institute president and CEO Bob Gazzale said. “He’s an inspiration to emerging filmmakers at the AFI Conservatory, where he gave his first Master Seminar in 1974, and he continues to inspire artists and audiences around the world.”

Last year’s guest artistic director was Pedro Almodóvar and David Lynch held the post in 2010. AFI FEST 2012 is scheduled to run from Nov 1-8.