The American Film Institute (AFI) holds a film festival in Los Angeles each year to showcase movies that often turn out to be Academy Award nominees. The festival also brings together movie-industry movers and shakers to make deals and cultivate financing. Best of all, most of the events are completely free to the public on a first come, first served basis.
The festival (officially called AFI FEST Presented by Audi) will open this year on Nov. 3 with the world premiere of Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” and lots of stars on the Red Carpet at the historic Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd. It will end on Nov. 10 with a closing night gala featuring Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin” at the same theater. In between, filmmakers and pass-holders can mingle at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in the Pepsi Cinema Lounge daily from 12 p.m. to midnight.
During the week, over seventy movies will screen at four venues around Los Angeles including the original Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Chinese 6 and on two screens at American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre. All venues are located on Hollywood Blvd. in the center of town near Hollywood and Highland. Contact information and addresses are available through the AFI website.
The festival of movies is divided into ten sections featuring movies from the U.S. and nations around the world: Galas & Tributes, Special Screenings, World Cinema, New Auteurs, Young Americans, Midnight, Breakthrough, Shorts, a Spotlight series, and a series of films celebrating Guest Artistic Director Pedro Almodovar.
Virtually every country in the world will be represented. Nations presenting their official Foreign Oscar entry include Israel, Turkey, Iran, Hungary, Greece, Belgium, Germany and Mexico. International films will also be presented from France, the UK, Poland, Spain, Canada, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Luxembourg, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, Finland, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Brazil, Romania, Chile, Portugal, Argentina, Austria, Norway, Singapore, South Korea and Australia.
Also on the agenda this week are three Conversations and Presentations: The “Los Angeles Times Roundtable – Young Hollywood” with stars Kirstin Dunst, Arnie Hammer, Evan Rachel Wood and Anton Yelchin; “Two Visions of the West” exploring films by “prolific yet unjustly forgotten filmmakers William Beaudine and Allan Dwan,” and 3) a “Sony 3D Technology Center” boot camp on how to create modern 3D cinema.
To get free tickets, one must register online at AFI.com or in person at the AFI Box Office at the Hollywood and Highland Center from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. There is a limit of 2 tickets maximum per screening, and 8 tickets total per person. Rush lines for screenings begin one hour before the start times.
Also available are Cinepasses and Special Screenings Passes that grant admission to all regular screenings or showings of Special Screenings without a ticket as well as access to the Cinema Lounge at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Prices are $100 to $250 with a 10% discount for AFI members.
Even more elite are Patron Packages which guarantee tickets to all the Galas and screenings, access to the Cinema Lounge, early admissions, official recognition as an AFI contributor, and invitations to official festival parties and the AFI FEST Awards Brunch on Nov. 10. Prices run from $500 to $5000 for these special packages to this year’s AFI FEST.