With its 2008 line-up unveiled yesterday, AFI FEST has become the preeminent film festival for world cinema in Los Angeles. This is a dramatic improvement over past years, when the Palm Springs or Los Angeles festivals seemed destined to carry the torch for movies common to the critical dialogue from major festivals around the world. In addition to titles I’ve already highlighted, a brief glance at the 2008 schedule promises a lot of noteworthy films, including:
• Not only Albert Serra’s Birdsong but Mark Peranson’s documentary on the making of the film, Waiting for Sancho. (This will only be the second time–after the Vancouver festival–that they will be screened together.)
• Paradise, a new documentary by the always interesting Michael Almereyda.
• Steve McQueen’s Hunger, the winner of the Toronto fest’s Discovery Award.
• Götz Spielmann’s acclaimed Revanche.
• Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Sugar, from the makers of Half Nelson (2006).
• Animator Bill Plympton’s feature length Idiots and Angels.
Speaking of animation, one of the few disappointments here is the lack of an animated shorts section, one of the highlights of last year’s festival.