In a few hours, I’ll set out on the long trek from Berlin to Los Angeles, where I’ll join fellow jury members tracking the New Auteurs program at this year’s AFI Fest, and hopefully (surely!), catching other films lined up in other sections as well. The festival opens tonight with Hitchcock, with Anthony Hopkins in the title role, Helen Mirren as Alma, and Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh—and already, the festival’s lively tumblr is featuring an interview with director Sacha Gervasi.
“AFI is traditionally the Los Angeles cinephile’s best chance to catch up on the cream of the concluding year’s world-class film festival crop,” writes the LA Weekly‘s Karina Longworth, “and the 2012 edition is no exception—the gems you missed at Sundance, Cannes, SXSW, Toronto and Venice are well represented…. Our critics have picked 20 films not to be missed, ranging from prospective Oscar nominees to new films from up-and-coming American indie filmmakers and international auteurs.”
Also in the LA Weekly, yet more previews, and Michael Nordine has a sort of FAQ for attendees, noting that, “for four years running now, it’s 100 percent free” (emphasis mine)—and another piece in which he takes a look at the 12 foreign-language films on the schedule that each of their respective countries are sending into the Oscar race. And Karina talks with Sean Baker about Starlet, screening in the Young Americans section.
Back on that tumblr, Nina Rao previews the classics selected by guest artistic director Bernardo Bertolucci. Indiewire has interviewed eleven directors with films in the lineup and selected ten films to watch. More selections: Film.com, Paul Sbrizzi at Hammer to Nail, Anne Thompson and Sophia Savage, and Twitch. And for the Los Angeles Times, Amy Kaufman talks with festival director Jacqueline Lyanga and Lane Kneedler, head of programming.
News updates will likely be a bit briefer and more infrequent over the coming days, so please do keep an eye on @KeyframeDaily.
Updates, 11/3: And the first reviews of Hitchcock are coming in.
Katie Datko talks with Mike Ott about Pearblossom Hwy, his “follow-up feature to his multiple award-winning indie film festival sensation LiTTLEROCK (which played at AFI FEST 2010 and won the Audience Award).” Indiewire‘s Peter Knegt interviews Ott as well (11/11).
Updates, 11/5: Nicholas Bell‘s posting a few reviews a day from the festival at Ioncinema.
For Filmmaker, Michael Nordine reviews Tobias Lindholm’s A Hijacking, “as engaging as it is docu-realistic, a triumph of both suspense and restraint,” and Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Faith: “Every composition is arresting, every bit of dialogue just revealing enough to pique our curiosity without fully satisfying it.” And he’s got a couple other pairings (11/11): Antiviral and Caesar Must Die and Electrick Children and Simon Killer. For the festival, Joey Ally reviews Simon Killer and interviews director Antonio Campos.
“Shot in color and processed in rich black-and-white, [Raúl Fuentes’s] Mexican drama Everybody’s Got Somebody… Not Me is a stylized portrait of a love affair,” writes Sheri Linden for the Hollywood Reporter. “The central duo, an emotionally cut-off lesbian and a vibrant high school student, are captured in solid performances, and the visual scheme is striking, but none of that is enough to lift the story to a more gripping level of intensity.”
Updates, 11/11: So the festival’s wrapped and I’m back home in Berlin, catching up with what critics have been writing about films that screened last week. First, though, I do have to say that deliberating with fellow jury members Dana Harris (Indiewire), Gregg Kilday (The Hollywood Reporter), and Bérénice Reynaud (Senses of Cinema) was a genuine pleasure. Within moments, we realized that each of us had come ready to go to the mat for one clear favorite from in the New Auteurs lineup—and all of us had the same film in mind, Gabriela Pichler’s Eat Sleep Die. The festival’s posted the full list of jury and audience awards as well as our citations.
For Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn, Joe Swanberg’s All the Light in the Sky “is a B-side in the prolific young director’s career, astute in various ways without aspiring to much beyond a sincere desire to represent the emotions of its conflicted protagonist.”
“A low-budget, black-and-white, alt-rock-backed tale of a misfit renegade and two woman on the road, Not in Tel Aviv seems like just another self-absorbed Amerindie except that it’s from Israel,” writes Todd McCarthy in the Hollywood Reporter. “Shot in 12 days on a miniscule budget, first-time writer-director Nony Geffen has cast himself as a disaffected school teacher whose firing prompts him to kidnap an alluring blond student, shoot his mother in a mercy killing and pick up yet another young woman he’s fancied for years while casually eluding the police. An absurdist comedy with an emphasis on the absurd, this winner of a special jury prize at the Locarno Film Festival shows a certain talent for deadpan comedy and a kind of rigorous arbitrariness about what it reveals and withholds.”
Back in THR, Sheri Linden: “With its put-upon protagonist, black-and-white cityscape and snappy soundtrack of New Orleans-style jazz, the comedy Oh Boy inescapably brings to mind vintage Woody Allen. But the feature debut of German writer-director Jan-Ole Gerster is, finally, its own droll beast. In the lead role, Tom Schilling is an exceptionally appealing idler, and a number of well-known German actors etch memorable supporting turns.” And: “A young woman’s unexpressed grief over her recently deceased father is the barely revved motor of U.S. indie The Most Fun I’ve Ever Had with My Pants On, a road trip that never gets off the ground.”
At Film.com, LoquaciousMuse lists “10 Movies We Can’t Stop Thinking About.”
Update, 11/14: Glenn Heath Jr. caught a lot of films at the festival and he’s got at least a few words for all of them at Little White Lies.
Update, 11/15: Eat Sleep Die has won the Golden Giraldillo at the the 9th Seville European Film Festival, reports Emiliano de Pablos in Variety. The film’s lead, Montenegro-born Nermina Lukac, has won best actress.