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Meryl Streep & Amy Adams + Joanna Cassidy & Benicio Del Toro: AFI FEST

Meryl Streep & Amy Adams 'Doubt' Premiere: AFI FEST

AFI FEST 2008 opening night premiere of Miramax Film's Doubt held at ArcLight Hollywood on October 30, 2008

Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, John Patrick Shanley
Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, John Patrick Shanley

Meryl Streep at AFI FEST 2008
Meryl Streep

Amy Adams
Amy Adams

Amy Adams, Meryl Streep
Amy Adams, Meryl Streep

Photos: Kevin Winter / 2008 Getty Images

The images below are from arrivals at AFI Fest 2008 held at Arclight Hollywood on November 3.

Photos: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for AFI

Joanna Cassidy at AFI FEST 2008
Joanna Cassidy

Anthony Fabian at AFI FEST 2008
Director Anthony Fabian, whose Skin was screened at AFI FEST 2008

Roberto Berliner, Rodrigo Leiter at AFI FEST 2008
Director Roberto Berliner and producer Rodrigo Letier of Pindorama - The True Story of Seven Dwarves

Mark Ruffalo, Rian Johnson at AFI FEST 2008
Director Rian Johnson, actor Mark Ruffalo of The Brothers Bloom

Benicio Del Toro, Steven Soderbergh at CHE Screening: AFI FEST

The AFI FEST 2008 Centerpiece Gala screening of Steven Soderbergh's Che took place at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 1, 2008 in Hollywood.

Photos: Frazer Harrison (del Toro), Kevin Winter (all other images) / 2008 Getty Images

Benicio Del Toro; Steven Soderbergh; Laura Bickford
Benicio Del Toro; Steven Soderbergh; Laura Bickford

Benicio Del Toro
Benicio Del Toro

Julia Ormond, Steven Soderbergh
Julia Ormond, Steven Soderbergh

Sam Bottoms; Laura Bickford; Lou Diamond Phillips; Timothy Bottoms
Sam Bottoms; Laura Bickford; Lou Diamond Phillips; Timothy Bottoms

Below are a few choices tonight, November 5, at AFI FEST 2008, held at ArcLight Hollywood. (Note: The Lion's Den screening will take place at the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.)

Schedule and synopses from the AFI FEST 2008 website.

Poundcake by Rafael Montserrate

7:00 p.m.

Poundcake

Directed by: Rafael Monserrate. Written by: Troy Hall, Kevin Logie

Cast: Jay O. Sanders, Kathleen Quinlan, Troy D. Hall, Deshja Driggs-Hall, Kevin Logie, Rob Bogue, Marisa Coughlan

This dysfunctional family comedy with heart stars Academy Award nominee Kathleen Quinlan and Jay O. Sanders and takes place in Buffalo, N.Y., in the late '80s. On the night before Thanksgiving, Cliff and Carol Morgan gather their three grown children—Robby, a late-night radio DJ, his hypochondriac younger brother Charlie and their adopted sister Brooke—at their favorite Chinese restaurant, the Golden Buddha, to announce that, after 30 years, they'll be getting a divorce. Can they spend their last Thanksgiving together in a civilized manner? A fiercely original script, written by actors Troy Hall and Kevin Logie (who portray the adult brothers), is the root of this dark, outrageous, hilarious exploration how one impending divorce can affect every element of family life. POUNDCAKE pushes the family reunion film into a hysterical, emotional free-fall. Director Rafael Monserrate lets the action play out like the finale of an insane symphony, controlling the underlying fever pitch with just the right amount of restraint. The performances of the ensemble cast help make this a mesmerizing, at times disturbing comedy. Shaz Bennett

Juliette Binoche, Jeremie Renier, Charles Berling in Summer Hours

7:00 p.m.

L'Heure d'été / Summer Hours

Written and directed by: Olivier Assayas

Cast: Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling, Jeremie Renier, Edith Scob

Hélène (Edith Scob) gathers her children and grandchildren at her French country estate to celebrate her 75th birthday. Their gift of a tricky-to-use mobile phone, however, seems to symbolize the 21st-century pressures that are closing in on her precious way of life. The growing sense the exquisite Hélène—the niece of a famous artist—has of her own mortality leads her to bequeath her most valuable artwork and furniture to her closest family: her eldest son Frédéric (Charles Berling), daughter Adrienne (Juliette Binoche) and brother Jérémie (Jérémie Renier). Director Olivier Assayass' gently beautiful meditation on connection and loss traces the journey of one family's treasures from their home to their final resting place in glass cases, where they receive only the passing consideration of museumgoers (like Hou Hsiao-hsien's FLIGHT OF THE RED BALLOON [AFI FEST '07], SUMMER HOURS was commissioned by the Musée d'Orsay to celebrate its 20th anniversary). As he did in his LATE AUGUST, EARLY SEPTEMBER, Assayas uses elliptical jumps in time and unexpected shifts in perspective to tell an ensemble story in oblique, multilayered fashion. Gradually, carefully, Assayas shows how family ties, even in decent and affectionate families, inevitably erode over time. The haunting late-afternoon melancholy is well served by Eric Gautier's fluid camera and, combined with Assayass' confident, inventive storytelling, makes SUMMER HOURS a bittersweet elegy about love and memory and the ways in which we hold them.

Tilda Swinton

8:00 p.m.

Tilda Swinton Tribute

90 minutes

Tilda Swinton began her film career with writer/director Derek Jarman, one of England's most provocative filmmakers. Jarman was known for his sharp attacks on Thatcher-era English culture and bold and aggressive advocacy of gay liberation, and Swinton became his muse, celebrated as an independent, courageous actor willing to go anywhere. That reputation was solidified with the release of ORLANDO, Sally Potter's meditative essay on impermanence, love, power, and politics. Playing Virginia Woolf's aristocrat granted three centuries of life, the striking Swinton embodied both male and female identities. In the 15 years since, Swinton has moved fluidly between daring independent and quality mainstream films, where she usually plays larger-than-life mythic characters: the head of a futuristic corporation in VANILLA SKY, the White Witch Jadis in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, and a corrupt Angel Gabriel in CONSTANTINE. And with her role as a working-class wife in Tim Roth's WAR ZONE, and as a conflicted mother in the excellent thriller THE DEEP END (for which she received a Golden Globe nomination), Swinton demonstrated her talent for realistic psychological nuance as well. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as an obsessively ambitious corporate lawyer in MICHAEL CLAYTON. This year she stars in three films: the Coen brothers' BURN AFTER READING, David Fincher's THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON and Eric Zonca's JULIA. This program includes a generous selection of clips from her outstanding filmography followed by an on-stage interview with David Poland.

Lion's Den by Pablo Trapero

9:30 p.m. – Mann Chinese 3

Leonera / Lion's Den

Directed by: Pablo Trapero. Written by: Pablo Trapero, Alejandro Fadel, Martin Maurequi, Santiago Mitre.

Director-screenwriter Pablo Trapero (ROLLING FAMILY, EL BONAERENSE) returns to AFI FEST with this redemptive story of a young pregnant woman trying to survive in prison. This film follows the ill-fated and beautiful Julia who, after killing her lover, gives birth to a son, Tomas, in prison. Helped through her early days in prison by her fellow prisoner Marta (Laura Garcia), Julia is allowed to raise Tomas in a ward for mothers. Then, Julia's own mother Sophia (Ellie Medieros), returns to her life, and, behind her back, begins pulling strings to gain custody of Tomas. Furious and broken, Julia tries to rebel: “My child is all I have!” But is proximity to a mother enough reason for a child to grow up in prison? The intense Martina Guzman offers a ferocious depiction of a mother fighting against odds to stay with her son, and Trapero offers a thoughtful depiction of prison life, showing us both the endearing and the bleak, the innocent and the contemptible. Shot on location, and featuring richly drawn characters, LION'S DEN gives us an entirely new, energized, poetic and sensitive take on the women-behind-bars film. Shaz Bennett

Tulpan by Sergei Dvortsevoy

9:40 p.m.

Tulpan

Directed by: Sergei Dvortsevoy. Written by: Sergei Dvortsevoy, Gennady Ostrovskiy

Cast: Askhat Kuchinchirekov, Samal Yeslyamova, Ondasyn Besikbasov, Tulepbergen Baisakalov, Bereke Turganbayev

One of the most delightful works to come out of the Cannes and Toronto film festivals this year, Sergey Dvortsevoy's tale centers on Asa, a Kazakh sailor who returns home and dreams of life as a shepherd on the windswept and remote plains of the Kazakh steppe. Complications ensue when Asa's stoic brother-in-law holds back on giving him his own flock until Asa finds a wife. However, there is only one girl of marrying age in the village, and she rejects him. The elusive Tulpan, Asa's titular beloved, will not be swayed, either by his boastful tales of battling octopi, nor by gentle persuasion. Like many rural Kazakhs, the girl has dreams of the big city. TULPAN is filled with breathtaking scenes—the birth of a lamb, a mother camel tormenting a veterinarian—all captured beautifully by the mostly hand-held camera. The film also features many memorable characters, including Asa's best friend, a truck driver with a penchant for pornography and Russian pop, and Asa's devoted sister and her precocious children (all remarkable performances by mostly nonprofessional actors). For his first narrative feature, Dvortsevoy, known for his award-winning documentaries, has crafted an exceptionally charming, funny and thoroughly engaging portrait of life in rural Kazakhstan. Mimi Brody

Idiots and Angels by Bill Plympton

9:40 p.m.

Idiots and Angels

Directed and Written by: Bill Plympton

Following a career spanning decades, animation icon Bill Plympton thrusts his most sublimely provocative vision to date upon the world. His latest feature-length endeavor, a darkly comic fantasia without words, focuses on a vicious and dastardly fellow who haunts seedy locales. Perhaps due to his amoral intentions, he slowly is wasting away. One morning, he awakes to discover angel wings growing on his back—wings he's unable to remove. And our savage protagonist, against his will, finds himself compelled to perform acts of kindness. Can he be weaned off of his animalistic, self-satisfying and parasitic human traits? And as our cretin is separated from his base desires, how will others respond to the wings? Will they feel a gnawing jealousy? Will they try to destroy this enlightened one and reap the Holy benefits for their own selfish gains? Utilizing the character designs and pencil drawings that have become his signature, Plympton conjures a setting of twisted magic for this visually dazzling, wonderfully irreverent and imaginatively violent cautionary tale, in which morality clashes with opportunity. Offering the viewer a mishmash of philosophical pretense and inventive imagery, Plympton unfurls a distinctive, engaging fairytale that is joyous to behold. Landon Zakheim

Shhh by Ben Slotover

9:45 p.m.

Shorts 2 – Adults Only Cartoon Show

Program Running Time is 73 min

THE HIDDEN LIFE OF THE BURROWING OWL
Directed By: Mike Roush
USA, 2008, 6 min
Through the lens of a wildlife documentary, we meet an owl who recently lost his mate to a large predator. Can he survive in this dangerous wilderness alone?

A DAY AT THE BEACH
Directed By: Veronique Courtois
USA, 2008, 3 min
An animated look at the complexity of modern love.

SHHH (photo)
Directed By: Ben Slotover
United Kingdom, 2007, 5 min
After Heinz begins hearing strange noises coming from his walls, he unwisely enlists his friend Jim to investigate. Chaos ensues

PASSAGES
Directed By: Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre
Canada, 2008, 25 min
A woman awaiting the arrival of her first child doesn't foresee the hardships that lie ahead.

KANIZSA HILL
Directed By: Evelyn Lee
USA, 2008, 8 min
After being shot, a head and a body learn to exist independently from one another while seeking reunification.

RUN
Directed By: Melanie Mandl
USA, 2008, 5 min
Using puppets and stop motion animation, director Melanie Mandl creates a magical world that explores space, time and loneliness. Inspired by the song “Run” by the French duo Air, this film of the same name was created in painstaking detail using miniature sets and puppets to tell the story of a couple separated by a vast distance.

CUTECUTECUTE
Directed By: Clemens Kogler
Austria, 2008, 2 min
Oh hai! X thx bai!

TEAT BEAT OF SEX: Episodes 8,9,10,11
Directed By: Signe Baumane
United States, Italy, 2007, 7 min
It is a take on first kiss, first make out session, first jealousy, first sex exclusively from a girl's point of view.

RGB XYZ
2008, 13 min
A random discovery, an eager filmmaker and the Internet combine to create the most enigmatic piece of animation ever to leave a computer.

AFI FEST Nov. 6

Below are a few choices tonight, November 6, at AFI FEST 2008, held at ArcLight Hollywood. (Note: The A Quiet Little Wedding screening will take place at the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.)

Schedule and synopses from the AFI FEST 2008 website.

7:00 p.m.

45 minutes

Danny Boyle's career has been marked by the remarkable variety of themes, locations and genres he has tackled and his extraordinary eye for discovering talent. After several provocative made-for-BBC films, his first theatrical feature, the riveting dark-comedy thriller SHALLOW GRAVE, introduced Ewan McGregor and won the BAFTA award for best British film. TRAINSPOTTING, an inventive adaptation of Irvine Welsh's gritty, scabrous novel about heroin addicts on the street of Glasgow, established Boyle as a major talent worldwide. In addition to making McGregor a movie star, the film introduced audiences to future stars Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner and Kelly McDonald. Boyle's low-budget zombie update 28 DAYS LATER featured two extraordinary actors, Cillian Murphy and Naomi Harris, and some of most innovative use of digital video yet. His space opera SUNSHINE, island thriller THE BEACH and offbeat family film MILLIONS further demonstrated his range. Boyle latest, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, is his most ravishing film to date, an astonishingly vivid comic-drama about the rags-to-riches story, set mainly in the slums of Mumbai, of a boy who conquers Indias biggest game show. Told with sensual speed and grace, it leaves audiences in a state of bliss.

7:00 p.m.

Waltz with Bashir

Written and directed by: Ari Folman

Cast: Ari Folman, Ori Sivan, Roni Dayg, Shmuel Frenkel

Beginning with unnerving images of a pack of dogs racing through the streets of Tel Aviv—an emblem of tormented conscience—writer-director and former Israeli soldier Ari Folman offers the most powerful statement yet about the agony of years of Middle East violence. Using at times otherworldly, atmospheric animation, Folman reconstructs a notorious atrocity that occurred in Palestinian refugee camps during the 1984 invasion of Lebanon, one that he witnessed but, for reasons he cant understand, cannot remember. Folman proves adept both as an investigative journalist and as a visual poet, delivering his story through the expressive, painterly animated frames. Dreams and black comedy gracefully enrich the facts he rigorously gathers, including eyewitness testimony from both his friends and comrades in arms and from military and political leaders. This documentary-style narration serves as a powerful counterpoint to the surreal, magical, insistently subjective drawn images: a man floating through the ocean nestled between the breasts of a naked woman, soldiers playing heavy-metal air guitar with their weapons as bullets fly past. WALTZ WITH BASHIR's hybrid form becomes more than a skilled reconstruction of a tragedy. It is, like the masterpieces of Alan Resnais and Chris Marker, a universal meditation on the interaction of historical and personal memory. –Larry Gross, Telluride Film Festival

7: 15 p.m.

Acne

Written and directed by: Federico Veiroj

Cast: Alejandro Tocar, Julia Catala, Gustavo Melnik, Belen Pouchan

Few films capture the pitfalls of growing up as simply and effectively as Federico Veiroj's heartfelt, beautifully crafted debut. A teenage rite-of-passage drama infused with comedy and raging hormones, ACNE vividly captures the tangled confusion of adolescence and ripeness of puberty. At 13, Rafa Bregman (Alejandro Tocar) is going through hard times: His bad skin, divorcing parents and the difficulties he has talking to girls are making growing up feel like an impossible task. He and his well-off family are part of the close-knit and at times suffocating Jewish community in Montevideo, Uruguay. Unlike most protagonists in teen comedies, Rafael has no trouble finding sex; in fact, he and his young friends already frequent the local brothel. But what Rafael desires most in the world money cannot buy—he wants romance and to finally kiss a girl. What makes ACNE special is its carefully crafted and utterly credible realization of place and character. Veiroj's skillfully woven narrative communicates with tremendous honesty the process of growing up, articulating with finesse the comical banter, shifting allegiances and cloying interdependence of its young characters. And he allows his young performers to simmer and marinate on screen, creating a bittersweet and at times excruciatingly real evocation of adolescence. Shaz Bennett

9:30 p.m.

3 Women

Directed by: Manijeh Hekmat. Written by: Naghmeh Samini,Manijeh Hekmat

Cast: Niki Karimi, Pegah Ahangarani, Babak Hamidian, Maryam Bubani, Reza Kianian, Atila Pesiani, Saber Abar, Shahrokh Forutanian, Nazanin Ahmadi

Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Manijeh Hekmat unfurls a beautifully paced, visually rich and emotionally insightful story about a family of three women. On a day that should be ordinary, Minoo, a museum rug conservator, sets out with her aging, senile mother to visit the doctor. Already distracted and fretting over her daughter Pegah, who's simply dropped out of college and stopped taking calls, Minoo's day completely deteriorates when she becomes embroiled in a professional battle over an antique rug. In the chaos, she loses both her mother and the rug. Minoo frantically searches Tehran for her family and the carpet, not knowing that Pegah has embarked on her own journey, camera in hand, through the Iranian countryside. Meanwhile, Minoo's mother, clinging tightly to the precious rug, chases down her own past. Anchored by Niki Karimi's stunning performance as Minoo, a lonely single mother struggling to balance familial responsibility, career and her own search for meaning, Hekmat's film is part road movie, part fable and part family drama. Touched with sublime beauty, humor and heartbreaking tenderness, her vision of Iran as a place of fiercely independent women and unfathomable depths is stirring and inspiring. Maggie Mackay

9:30 p.m.

Gomorrah

Directed by: Matteo Garrone. Written by: Ugo Chiti,Matteo Garrone,Massimo Gaudioso,Maurizio Braucci,Gianni DiGregorio,Roberto Saviano

We've seen the story on screen before: first a breakdown in loyalties among crime gangs, then a wave of unthinkable violence. But writer-director Matteo Garrone injects this tale—winner of Cannes Grand Prize—with an epic Balzacian vision. Garrone adapted Roberto Savianos sensational best-selling investigative account of Naples' organized crime organizations (a book that made author Saviano both an international figure and a target of an ongoing Mob hit), and he directs with considerable, at times gut-wrenching, verve and poise. GOMORRAH presents six stories, each of which presents us with rich characters in fresh situations. Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato) is an exhausted, frightened bagman whose job is buying Mob control over fear-paralyzed slum dwellers. The tailor Pasquale (Salvatore Cantalupo) hopes to get his designs out of a Mob-owned factory. And the entrepreneurial Franco (Toni Servillo) trades in garbage and toxic waste; his smooth philosophical grin seems to be the very symbol of the terrifying, inescapable weight of corruption. Vivid, fast-paced and unsettling, GOMORRAH is the most ambitious vision of the consequences of the Mob yet put to film. –Larry Gross, Telluride Film Festival

9:30 p.m. - at the Chinese Theatre

A Quiet Little Marriage

Directed by: Mo Perkins. Written by: Mo Perkins,Mary Elizabeth Ellis,Cy Carter

Cast: Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Cy Carter, Jimmi Simpson, Charlie Day, Melanie Lynskey, Michael O'Neill, Lucy Devito, Rita Taggart

Things begin to fall apart for Dax and Olive, a loving young couple who gradually realize they have different thoughts about the fundamental nature of their relationship. This conflict begets a series of secrets and lies, which slowly begin to unravel the world around them. Very few films come with such emotional honesty as this portrait of a marriage, whose title speaks volumes about its central themes. First-time director Mo Perkins tells a story about the spiraling disasters that can happen to relationships that lack adequate communication, describing, in vivid, poignant detail, the pain that can be birthed across the chasm of silence. The silences in this film speak volumes about what is breaking this young couple apart and why they are facing such a crisis. A small story with big performances from Cy Carter, as Dax, and Mary Elizabeth Ellis, as Olive, and a gifted supporting cast, this film announces the arrival of several new young talents on the independent film scene. Lane Kneedler


         
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