That crispness to the air that you’re probably feeling right now (unless, of course, you live in the western United States, and good luck to you) doesn’t just signal the coming of autumn, it also signals the swiftly approaching fall film festival season. We’ve already plowed through Venice, Telluride, and Toronto, just wrapped Fantastic Fest, and are currently in the middle of New York’s own NYFF, but there are plenty of other festivals on the horizon. Like, oh, how about Los Angeles’ own AFI FEST? Dear to my heart (because, unlike all those other previously-listed festivals, I can actually attend this one), AFI FEST continues to make great strides in its programming with every passing year.
The festival has now announced their selections for two of their most exciting and forward-thinking sections: Young Americans (which features works by emerging U.S. filmmakers) and New Auteurs (which highlights first and second-time feature film directors from around the world). As ever, both programs are packed with films (and talent) that we’ll be talking about for years to come.
Some of the Young Americans selections include Joe Swanberg‘s All the Light in the Sky (Swanberg is a consistent AFI FEST favorite), Rebecca Thomas‘ Electrick Children, David Zellner‘s Kid-Thing, Robert Byington‘s Somebody Up There Likes Me, Sean Baker‘s Starlet, and Amy Seimetz‘s Sun Don’t Shine. Stand-outs in the New Auteurs section include Brandon Cronenberg‘s Antiviral, Tobiaas Lindholm‘s A Highjacking, and Antonio Campos‘ Simon Killer (which caused quite a stir at Sundance this year). After the break, check out full plotlines for all of the newly-announced selections, along with info on how to get your very own tickets for the festival.
YOUNG AMERICANS SELECTIONS
ALL THE LIGHT IN THE SKY: Jane Addams stars as an insomniac actress facing the waning days of her career when her niece pays a visit to her house on stilts overlooking Malibu. DIR/SCR Joe Swanberg. CAST Jane Addams, Sophia Takal, Lawrence Michael Levin, Kent Osborne, Larry Fessenden, Ti West.
APE: Trevor is the poster child for post-adolescent malaise. His sole ambition of being a famous comedian leads him to madness when he makes a deal with the devil. DIR/SCR Joel Potrykus. CAST Gary Bosek, Teri Nelson, Joshua Burge, Benjamin Riley.
ELECTRICK CHILDREN: Rachel is a 15-year-old Mormon girl who finds herself miraculously pregnant after listening to a rock song on a cassette tape. DIR/SCR Rebecca Thomas. CAST Rory Culkin, Julia Garner, Liam Aiken, Billy Zane, Bill Sage, Cynthia Watros, John Patrick Amedori.
THE INTERNATIONAL SIGN FOR CHOKING: When a commissioned filmmaker arrives in Argentina in search of a film subject, he finds the camera turning toward his own aimlessness and discontent. DIR/SCR Zach Weintraub. CAST Zach Weintraub, Sopia Takal, Roger Delahaye, Barbara Cameron, Mariano Blanco, Ximena Brun, Ezequiler Etcheverry.
KID-THING: Annie is a young girl leading a lonely existence in Austin, Texas, whose life takes a fascinating turn when she hears a plea for help coming from the bottom of a well. DIR/SCR David Zellner. CAST Sydney Aguirre, Susan Tyrrell, Nathan Zellner, David Zellner.
ONLY THE YOUNG: Best friends Garrison and Kevin are equally passionate about the gospel, their girlfriends and the half-pipe in this non-fiction look at teenage life in America. DIR Jason Tippet, Elizabeth Mims. CAST Garrison Saenz, Skye Elmore, Kevin Conway, Robin Levy, Kristen Cheriegate.
PEARBLOSSOM HWY: Friends Corey and Anna drift through life – he longs to appear on a reality TV show and she sells sex for money in order to gain her citizenship. DIR Mike Ott. SCR Mike Ott, Atsuko Okatsuka. CAST Atsuko Okatsuka, Cory Zacharia, John Brotherton.
SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME: After Max discovers his wife in bed with another man, he tries to get a grip on his life with the aid of a mysterious suitcase that might just hold back time. DIR/SCR Robert Byington. CAST Keith Poulson, Nick Offerman, Jess Weixler, Kevin Corrigan, Jonathan Togo, Stephanie Hunt, Kate Lyn Sheil, Alex Perry, Marshall Bell.
STARLET: The unlikely friendship between a young, rootless porn actress and a prickly octogenarian results in a combative, yet tender mother-daughter bond. DIR Sean Baker. SCR Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch. CAST Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Stella Maeve, James Ransone, Karren Karagulian.
SUN DON’T SHINE: Crystal and her boyfriend Leo embark on a mysterious road trip across the haunting Central Florida landscape, her disturbing past riding close behind. DIR/SCR Amy Seimetz. CAST Kate Lyn Sheil, Kentucker Audley.
TCHOUPITOULAS: This dreamlike documentary from the brothers Ross follows three young boys across the Mississippi into New Orleans’ French Quarter for a kaleidoscopic night of revelry. DIR Turner Ross, Bill Ross.
NEW AUTEURS SELECTIONS
AFTER LUCIA: After arriving in Mexico City, a girl is brutally victimized by bullies and disappears, pursued by her heartbroken father. DIR/SCR Michel Franco. CAST Tessa Ia, Hernan Mendoza, Gonzalo Vega Sisto, Tamara Yazbek Bernal, Francisco Rueda, Paloma Cervantes, Juan Carlos Berruecos, Diego Canales. Mexico.
ANTIVIRAL: When the frantic obsession with celebrity leads to the trafficking of stars’ diseases to their fans, death is sure to be waiting in the wings. DIR/SCR Brandon Cronenberg. CAST Caleb Landry Jones, Sarah Gadon, Douglas Smith, Malcolm McDowell. Canada/USA.
CLIP: Writer/Director Maja Miloš makes her directorial debut with this searing portrait of a rootless Serbian teenager who captures clips of life with her camera phone. DIR/SCR Maja Miloš. CAST Isidora Simijonovic, Vukašin Jasnic, Sanja Mikitišin, Jovo Makisc, Monja Savic. Serbia.
EAT SLEEP DIE: Raša, a Montenegrin-born factory worker, loses her job in rural Sweden, runs a gauntlet of job-seeking disappointment and bureaucracy and defies the odds. DIR/SCR Gabriela Pichler. CAST Nermina Lukac, Milan Dragišic, Peter Fält, Ružica Pichler, Jonathan Lampinen. Sweden.
HERE AND THERE: Winner of the top prize in the Critics Week section of Cannes, Antonio Mendez Esparza’s directorial debut brilliantly captures the complex homecoming of a loving father and a family’s journey to normalcy. DIR/SCR Antonio Mendez Esparza. CAST Pedro de los Santos, Teresa Ramírez Aguirre, Lorena Guadalupe Pantaleón Vázquez, Heidi Laura Solano Espinoza. Mexico/Spain/USA.
A HIJACKING: When Somali pirates seize a Danish cargo ship in the Indian Ocean, high-stakes, life-or-death negotiations commence in this work of fiction inspired by today’s headlines. DIR/SCR Tobiaas Lindholm. CAST Pilou Asbæk, Søren Malling. Denmark.
IN THE FOG: In Nazi-occupied Belarus in 1942, a man and his captors come under fire, forcing all to make radically divergent, but equally harrowing choices. DIR/SCR Segei Loznitsa. CAST Vladimir Svirski, Vlad Abashin, Sergei Kolesov, Vlad Ivanov, Julia Peresild, Nadezhda Markina. Germany/Russia/Belarus/The Netherlands/Latvia.
NOT IN TEL AVIV: A repressed high school teacher loses his job, kidnaps one of his female students, kills his invalid mother and reconnects with a former high school crush. DIR/SCR Nony Geffen. CAST Nony Geffen, Yaara Peltzig, Romi Aboulafia. Israel.
SIMON KILLER: A young college graduate travels to France where he becomes involved with a prostitute. DIR/SCR Antonio Campos. CAST Brady Corbet, Michael Abiteboul, Constance Rousseau, Lila Salet, Solo. USA.
This year’s AFI FEST will open with Hitchcock and close with Lincoln.
AFI FEST 2012 presented by Audi will take place November 1st through November 8th in Hollywood, California, with events and screenings taking place at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Chinese 6 Theatres, the Egyptian Theatre, and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. As ever, the intrepid Ms. Allison Loring and myself will again be on the ground at the festival, all the better to cover one of our favorite hometown festivals. Catch up on last year RIGHT HERE.
AFI FEST, quite notably, features free ticketing for all attendees. While paid packages are available now (and often provide the best tickets), free tickets for all films (including Hitchcock, though those nifty packages provide snazzy reserved seating for buyers) will be made available on October 25th. [Press Release]