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Lesbian Romance & Teen Pregnancy, Vanessa Paradis & Jafar Panahi: AFI FEST

Jafar Panahi, This Is Not a Film
This Is Not a Film: Jafar Panahi

AFI FEST has announced the list of movies screening in the festival's 2011 World Cinema, Breakthrough, Midnight and Shorts programs. Both World Cinema and Breakthrough feature numerous films having their U.S. premieres, including Chantal Akerman's Almayer's Folly, Jean-Marc Vallée's Café du Flore, Alexander Sokurov's Faust, in addition to the North American premiere of Alexandra-Therese Keining's (lesbian) romantic drama With Every Heartbeat. [Listed as a “World Premiere” in the AFI FEST 2011 press release, With Every Heartbeat was actually shown in Sweden last July.]

Also of note are Joseph Cedar's Footnote, Israel's submission for the 2012 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award and the winner of the Best Screenplay Award at this year's Cannes Film Festival; Asghar Farhadi's Berlin Film Festival winner A Separation, Iran's submission for the 2012 Oscar; and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Jafar Panahi's This Is Not a Film, in which Panahi is shown at home while awaiting a ruling on his appeal against a six-year prison sentence. (A Tehran appeals court has recently upheld the sentence. I should add that in order to evade seizure by the Iranian authorities, This Is Not a Film was sneaked out of the country in a cake.)

The films in the World Cinema, Breakthrough, and previously announced New Auteurs and Young Americans sections are eligible for their respective section's Audience Award. The Shorts program and New Auteurs also feature jury prizes.

This year's Shorts jury consists of filmmakers Barry Jenkins and Gerardo Naranjo, and festival programmer Kim Yutani. The New Auteurs Critics Prize jury is comprised exclusively of film critics: Justin Chang, Mike Goodridge, Mark Olsen and Jean Oppenheimer.

The 2011 edition of the AFI FEST will screen 110 films (70 features, 40 shorts) selected from over 3,000 submissions across 36 countries, with France (11), Belgium (9) and Canada (5) topping the international selections. The breakdown by section is: Galas/Tributes (8), Special Screenings (11), Young Americans (6), New Auteurs (9), World Cinema (21), Midnight (3), Spotlight (3), Breakthrough (4) and Short Films (39). Eight official foreign-language Oscar submissions are part of the program.

AFI FEST 2011 will take place November 3-10 at the Chinese Theatre, the Chinese 6 Theatres, the Egyptian Theatre and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Additional information is available at AFI.com/AFIFEST

With Every Heartbeat, Ruth Vega Fernandez, Liv Mjones
Liv Mjönes, Ruth Vega Fernandez, With Every Heartbeat

BREAKTHROUGH SELECTIONS

EXPECTING: In Chile, a young girl and her boyfriend wait for a black-market drug to take effect in this tense and insightful examination of teen pregnancy. DIR/SCR Francisca Fuenzalida. Chile. U.S. Premiere.

LIGHT OF MINE: Rapidly going blind, photographer Owen and his wife Laura take a life-changing trip to Yellowstone National Park where they experience a beauty that rivals their tragedy. DIR Brett Eichenberger. SCR Jill Remensnyder. USA.

THREE AND A HALF: Three women risk everything and travel to the northwest Iranian border in hopes of escaping prison and reuniting with their comrades. DIR/SCR Naghi Nemati. CAST Samaneh Vafaiezadeh, Shooka Karimi, Negar Hassanzadeh, Mehdi Poormoosa. Iran. U.S. Premiere.

WITH EVERY HEARTBEAT: In this Swedish romantic drama, uptight Mia attends her father's engagement party and not only gains a stepmother, but also a new lover, Frida. DIR/SCR Alexandra-Therese Keining. CAST Ruth Vega Fernandez, Liv Mjönes, Lena Endre, Krister Henriksson. Sweden. World Premiere.

 

MIDNIGHT SELECTIONS

BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW: An intense and hallucinogenic sci-fi film set in 1983, director Panos Cosmatos' BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW is a one-of-a-kind film experience. DIR/SCR Panos Cosmatos. CAST Michael Rogers, Eva Allan, Scott Hylands, Marilyn Norry, Rondel Reynoldsen. USA.

HEADHUNTERS: In this thriller, corporate headhunter by day, art thief by night Roger will do anything to keep his gorgeous wife happy, even stealing from the wrong adversary. DIR Morten Tyldum. SCR Lars Gudmestad, Ulf Ryberg. CAST Aksel Hennie, Synnøve Macody Lund, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Norway.

KILL LIST: As bills stack up and pressures at home mount, an unemployed dad realizes it's time to get back on the horse and kill some people. DIR Ben Wheatley. SCR Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump. CAST Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, MyAnna Buring. UK.

 

SHORT FILM SELECTIONS

30,000 DAYS: DIR Stephanie Barber. USA.
ALL FLOWERS IN TIME: DIR Jonathan Caouette. USA.
ALL IN ALL: DIR Charlie Reff. USA.
ANOTHER BULLET DOGED: DIR Landon Zakheim. USA.
BABYLAND: DIR Marc Fratello. USA.
BLINK: DIR Rick Rosenthal. AFI Conservatory Directing Class of 1973. Canada.
BROKEN NIGHT: DIR Yang Hyo-Joo. Korea.
CLEAR BLUE: DIR Lindsay MacKay. AFI Conservatory Thesis Film/AFI Directing Class of 2010. USA.
DR. BREAKFAST: DIR Stephen Neary. USA.
THE EAGLEMAN STAG: DIR Michael Please. UK.
EX-SEX: DIR Michael Mohan. USA.
FROZEN STORIES: DIR Grzegorz Jaroszuk. Poland.
INFINITE MINUTES: DIR Cecilia Felmeri. Hungary/Romania.
JUAN Y LA BORREGA: DIR J. Xavier Velasco. Mexico.
LIBERTAS: DIR Kan Lume. Australia/Singapore.
LITTLE KITTEN: DIR Stephanie Barber. USA.
MASKA: DIR Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay. USA.
MEXICAN CUISINE: DIR Francisco Guijarro. USA.
NEGATIVAPEG: DIR M. Rankin. Canada.
NIGHT HUNTER: DIR Stacy Steers. USA.
ONCE IT STARTED IT COULD NOT END OTHERWISE: DIR Kelly Sears. USA.
ONE MINUTE PUBERTY: DIR Alexander Gellner. USA.
PIONEER: DIR David Lowery. USA.
PROTOPARTICLES: DIR Chema García Ibarra. Spain.
RUNAWAY: DIR Victor Carrey. Spain.
SATAN SINCE 2003: DIR Carlos Puga. USA.
SLEEP STUDY: DIR Kerri Lenoo, John Merriman. USA.
TATUM'S GHOST: DIR Stephanie Barber. USA.
THIEF: DIR Julian Higgins. AFI Conservatory Thesis Film/AFI Directing Class of 2010. USA.
TO DIE NEXT TO YOU: Dir Simon Cahn, Spike Jonze. France.
UNMANNED: DIR Casey Cooper Johnson. AFI Conservatory Thesis Film/AFI Directing Class of 2011. USA.
THE VOYAGERS: DIR Penny Lane. USA.
WE'RE LEAVING: DIR Zachary Treitz. USA.
YEARBOOK: DIR Carter Smith. USA.
ZERGUT: DIR Natasha Subramaniam, Alisa Lapidu. USA.
SHORT FILM SELECTIONS (Out of Competition)
AANTENI: DIR Todd Cole. USA.
I SAW YOUR SISTER YESTERDAY: DIR Mina Park. USA.
MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO: DIR Juliano Dornelles. Brazil.
MY BOW BREATHING: DIR Enrico Maria Artale. Italy.

With Every Heartbeat image: AFI FEST

making love underwater Cafe du Flore, Jean-Marc Vallee
Jean-Marc Vallée's Café du Flore

ARIRANG: Traumatized by a near-fatal accident during filming, director Kim Ki-duk offers a visionary self-portrait of a troubled artist reeling from an emotional breakdown. DIR Kim Ki-duk. South Korea. U.S. Premiere.

CAFÉ DU FLORE: In his follow-up to C.R.A.Z.Y., Jean Marc Vallée tells two parallel stories connected by music about a Montreal D.J. and a mother devoted to her special-needs son. DIR/SCR Jean-Marc Vallée. CAST Vanessa Paradis, Kevin Parent, Hélène Florent, Evelyne Brochu, Marin Gerrier. Canada. U.S. Premiere.

EXTRATERRESTRIAL: TIMECRIMES director Nacho Vigalondo's surprising second feature finds an alien invasion providing the backdrop for one of the most delightful romantic comedies in years. DIR/SCR Nacho Vigalondo. CAST Julian Villagran, Michelle Jenner, Raul Cimas, Carlos Areces, Miguel Noguera. Spain.

FAUST: RUSSIAN ARK director Alexander Sokurov offers a poetic meditation on Goethe's legend of the scholar who exchanges his soul for unlimited knowledge. DIR Alexander Sokurov. SCR Alexander Sokurov, Marina Koreneva. CAST Johannes Zeiler, Anton Adasinskiy, Isolda Dychauk, Georg Friedrich, Hanna Schygulla. Russia. U.S. Premiere.

THE INVADER: THE INVADER tells the riveting story of an African immigrant who flees near-enslavement and fights for survival in a European city where he does not belong. DIR Nicolas Provost. SCR Nicolas Provost, Giordano Gederlini, François Pirot. CAST Issaka Sawadogo, Stefania Rocca, Serge Riaboukine, Dieudonné Kabongo, Tibo Vandenborre, Hannelore Knuts. Belgium. U.S. Premiere.

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI: With stunning cinematography and a score by Philip Glass, David Gelb's documentary about renowned 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono is a complete feast for the senses. DIR David Gelb. CAST Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono, Masuhiro Yamamoto, Takashi Ono, Hachiro Mizutani. USA.

KINYARWANDA: Set in 1994, KINYARWANDA interweaves six true tales into one epic narrative about the Rwandan genocide. DIR/SCR Alrick Brown. CAST Cassandra Freeman, Edouard Bamporiki, Cleophas Kabasita. USA.

MAMA AFRICA: A documentary film about the late Miriam Makeba, the charismatic South African singer and anti-apartheid activist who became the voice and the hope of Africa. DIR Mika Kaurismäki. Germany/South Africa/Finland.

A SEPARATION: Winner of the Golden Bear in Berlin, this drama is a complex portrait of an Iranian family torn apart by a divorce and an escalating feud. DIR/SCR Asghar Farhadi. CAST Leila Hatami, Peyman Moadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Babak Karimi, Merila Zarei. Iran.

Chantal Akerman, Almayer's Folly
Chantal Akerman (center), Almayer's Folly

WORLD CINEMA SELECTIONS

ALMAYER'S FOLLY: Chantal Akerman loosely adapts Joseph Conrad's novel set in Malaysia, the tragic tale of a failed European trader and his “mixed blood” daughter. DIR Chantal Akerman. CAST Stanislas Merhar, Marc Barbé, Aurora Marion, Zac Andrianasolo. Belgium/France. U.S. Premiere.

ALPS: DOGTOOTH director Yorgos Lanthimos returns with a tale of a group offering an unusual service for grieving families: They inhabit the role of the recently deceased. DIR Yorgos Lanthimos. SCR Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou. CAST Aggeliki Papoulia, Aris Servetalis, Ariane Labed, Johnny Vekris. Greece/France. U.S. Premiere.

CARRÉ BLANC: One of the strongest debuts in years, CARRÉ BLANC is a dystopian sci-fi vision of a world with limited resources and limitless cruelty. DIR/SCR Jean-Baptiste Léonetti. CAST Sami Bouajila, Julie Gayet, Jean-Pierre Andreani, Fejria Deliba, Valerie Bodson. France/Luxembourg/Russia/Belgium/Switzerland.

THE DAY HE ARRIVES: In director Hong Sang-soo's sublime black-and-white vision of Seoul in winter, a filmmaker's visit to an old friend reverberates with déjà vu-inducing parallels and repetitions. DIR/SCR Hong Sang-Soo. CAST Yu Jun-sang, Kim Sang-joong, Song Sun-mi, Kim Bok-yung. South Korea. U.S. Premiere.

FOOTNOTE: With wit and pathos, Joseph Cedar tells the story of a rivalry between father and son, both professors in the competitive world of Talmudic scholarship. DIR/SCR Joseph Cedar. CAST Shlomo Bar Aba, Lior Ashkenazi, Alisa Rosen, Alma Zak, Daniel Markovich, Micah Lewesohn, Yuval Scharf, Nevo Kimchi. Israel.

THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD: In MARIA FULL OF GRACE director Joshua Marston's assured second feature, a modern Albanian teenager finds himself ensnared in his family's ancient blood feud. DIR Joshua Marston. SCR Joshua Marston, Andamion Murataj. CAST Tristan Halilaj, Sindi Laçej, Refet Abazi, Ilire Vinca Çelaj, Çun Lajçi. USA/Albania/Denmark/Italy.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA: A confessed killer leads detectives to his victim's body in this slow-burning and far from routine police procedural from Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan. DIR: Nuri Bilge Ceylan. SCR: Ercan Kesal, Ebru Ceylan, Nuri Bilge Ceylan. CAST Muhammet Uzuner, Yilmaz Erdogan, Taner Birsel, A. Mumtaz Taylan, Ercan Kesal. Turkey/Bosnia/Herzegovina.

PLAY: Based on actual events, PLAY follows a group of kids lured from an enclosed mall into remote woods by another group with possibly nefarious intentions. DIR/SCR Ruben Östlund. CAST Anas Abdirahman, Sebastian Blyckert, Yannick Diakité, Sebastian Hegmar, Abdiaziz Hilowle. Sweden/France/Denmark.

THE SILVER CLIFF: Abandoned with shocking cruelty by her husband, Violeta embarks on a heartbroken 24-hour odyssey through the bustling and beautiful cityscape of Rio de Janeiro. DIR Karim Aïnouz. SCR Beatriz Brachner, Karim Aïnouz. CAST Alessandra Negrini, Thiago Martins, Gabi Pereira, Otto Jr., Carla Ribas. Brazil.

TARGET: In this flamboyant and ambitious Russian science fiction drama, a wealthy couple from Moscow search for the source of eternal youth. DIR Alexander Zeldovich. SCR Vladimir Sorokin, Alexander Zeldovich. CAST Maksim Sukhanov, Justine Waddell, Danila Kozlovsky, Daniela
Stoyanovich. Russia.

THIS IS NOT A FILM: Banned by Iran from filmmaking for 20 years and threatened with imprisonment, Jafar Panahi offers a remarkable portrait of an artist at the crossroads. DIR/SCR Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Jafar Panahi. Iran.

THE TURIN HORSE: An apocalyptic vision of the harsh lives of peasants in a pitiless landscape, this enigmatic and beautiful film marks Hungarian master Béla Tarr's farewell to cinema. DIR Béla Tarr. SCR Béla Tarr, László Krasznahorkai. CAST Erika Bók, János Derzsi, Mihály Kormos, Ricsi. Hungary.

Chantal Akerman picture via AFI FEST 2011

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