AFI FEST 2009 preview


I’ve championed AFI FEST the previous two years since Artistic Director Rose Kuo came on board and pushed the festival into becoming Los Angeles’ best survey of world cinema. And I’ve been even more excited this year due to the programming involvement of Robert Koehler, a bona fide cinephile, critic, and festival hound (and occasional contributor to this site).

So I’m especially pleased to announce today that I’ve been hired as the editor of the festival’s Daily News, a position that will begin in October and last through the festival itself, October 30 to November 7, 2009. (The Daily News site isn’t currently being updated, but will fire up shortly.)

AFI FEST released its first twelve titles today, and reiterated its progressive new policy of free tickets to every screening (in advance at, at the Mann Chinese Theatre on October 26, or on the day of scheduled screenings via rush lines). You can also reserve seating by becoming a patron by purchasing a pass at

The first twelve titles:

Director: Werner Herzog
Set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Nicolas Cage plays a rogue detective who is as devoted to his job as he is to scoring drugs — while playing fast and loose with the law. With the prostitute he loves, the couple descends into a world marked by desire, compulsion and conscience. The film also stars Eva Mendes and Val Kilmer.

BELLAMY (France)
Director: Claude Chabrol
A famous French detective (played by Gerard Depardieu) on vacation in Languedoc investigates a mystery man who approaches him claiming to have killed someone. The film also stars Clovis Cornillac and Jacques Gamblin.

Director: Maren Ade
Drama follows the volatile relationship resulting from the psychological and emotional ties between two young lovers.

Director: Michael Hoffman
A historical drama that illustrates Russian author Leo Tolstoy’s struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things. The film stars Helen Mirren, James McAvoy, Christopher Plummer and Paul Giamatti.

Director: Ken Loach
Eric, a football fanatic postman whose life is descending into crisis, receives some life-coaching from a poster of the famously philosophical footballer, Eric Cantona.

MOTHER (Madeo) (South Korea)
Director: Bong Joon-ho
This thriller follows the investigation of a murder by a mother desperate to find the killer who framed her son for the crime.

Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
This drama follows the impact on a young policeman’s life after he refuses to arrest another man for offering drugs to his friends.

Director: Lee Daniels
In Harlem, an overweight and illiterate teen pregnant with her second child and abused by her domineering mother is invited to enroll in an alternative school with the dream to move her life in a new direction. The film stars Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz, and introducing Gabourey Sidibe.

A PROPHET (France/Italy)
Director: Jacques Audiard
A young Arab man is sent to a French prison where he becomes a mafia kingpin.

Directors: Julian Jarrold, James Marsh, Anand Tucker
Three inter-connected films set in the years 1974, 1980 and 1983 trace the crime and corruption in West Yorkshire, England. The films star Mark Addy, Sean Bean, Paddy Considine, Andrew Garfield and Rebecca Hall.

Director: Harmony Korine
A cinema verite look at a fringe cult-freak collective with a penchant for anti-social behavior and activities.

VINCERE (Italy/France)
Director: Marco Bellocchio
This drama tells the story of Mussolini’s secret lover, Ida Dalser and their son, Albino.

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