This year’s AFI FEST is certainly bringing festival-goers some of the year’s biggest titles, with world premieres of Hitchcock and Lincoln, not to mention favorites from this year’s festivals like Silver Linings Playbook and Amour, and yet, when I finally sat down to begin putting together my festival schedule, it seemed to be the smaller films that caught my eye and ended up on my personal must-see list.

Certainly, films I have heard about from colleagues who have caught screenings of them at other festivals are accounted for here, but my tendency to gravitate toward lesser-known titles has led me to discover some amazing little gems such as films from director Ava DuVernay (I caught her film I Will Follow at AFI FEST back in 2010 and enjoyed her latest Middle of Nowhere during the LA Film Festival this year) and, of course, my love for music-focused stories always cause those films to get top billing from me.

Check out the five films I am most looking forward to seeing during this year’s AFI FEST and let me know if you are also looking forward to any these films or if hearing about them here has piqued your interest enough to add them to your own most anticipated lists!

On The Road

On The Road AFI FEST

I am always drawn to films based on books (I was originally a book nerd who became a film/music nerd when I realized these two mediums could bring those written pages to life) and On The Road’s young cast (Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Kristen Dunst, Tom Sturridge, and Sam Riley) should be interesting to watch as they take on Jack Kerouac’s novel. Hedlund impressed me as a struggling country singer in Country Strong and I am interested to see what Riley does with his performance as the narrator of one of Kerouac’s most seminal novels.

Berberian Sound Studio

Berberian Sound Studio AFI FEST

In one of my first pieces for FSR, I explored the idea of whether it is silence or sound that give horror films their pulse-racing affect on audiences. Peter Strickland takes this idea and rather than bringing us a horror film of his own, takes audiences behind the scenes of creating the sound design for one. I have always been fascinated by the process and approach to creating the sounds that usually end up haunting our nightmares (proving they worked) which makes Berberian Sound Studio right up my alley and should pique the interest of sound design and horror fans alike.

Rust & Bone

Rust and Bone AFI FEST

As a woman with a strong personality, I am drawn to similarly mannered women which has made me a long-time fan of Marion Cotillard. Her performance in Rust & Bone sounds like it is one not to be missed as she and Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) try to navigate the aftermath of a tragic accident. One never knows how they will react when faced with great tragedy and stories that dive into those moments are not only ripe for standout performances, they are also bound to give you a new perspective on how to look at and live this fragile thing we call life.

The Sapphires

The Sapphires AFI FEST

I have always believed in the power of music and often find myself drawn to its history and influence, both of which are represented and explored in Wayne Blair‘s The Sapphires. We all know it is hard enough to make it in the music business, but to do so while also fighting racial prejudice? Now that is a story that will quickly catch my interest (and my festival schedule highlighter.) Plus Chris O’Dowd (who plays the girl’s manager, Dave) is in it, and that man is simply charming.

Antiviral

Antiviral AFI FEST

As an LA resident, I know how dangerous celebrity culture (and our obsession with it) can be, which is why Antiviral’s idea of taking this obsession to a new level (injecting oneself with the diseases of the celebrities they admire) is both terrifying and fascinating. Rather than selling illicit photos on the side as celebrities obsessives do now, Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) traffics celebrity diseases by injecting them into himself, but realizes he may have taken his side business a step too far when one of the diseases he purposely contracts turns out to be deadly.

For more AFI FEST 2012 coverage, keep it locked right here at Film School Rejects.

What are you seeing at this year’s AFI FEST? Let us know in the comments below.


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