AFI Fest 2015: Mid-Festival Recap

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Chinese Theatre

We are already half-way through the festival so it’s time for short recap. Since the opening last Thursday with Angelina Jolie’s By The Sea (see picture below) which got pretty mixed reviews, AFI Fest delivered plenty of worthy content, whether it’s in terms of movies or events.

On Friday there was the odd, intriguing Colin Farell-starrer The Lobsteryou can read our Lobster review here -, Ciro Guerra’s black and white Amazonian adventure Embrace of the Serpent, a beautiful but somewhat forgettable adaptation of MacBeth featuring strong performances by Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard as well as the Argentinian crime saga The Clan.

Saturday was without a doubt the busiest day on all fronts. When it comes to movies, there was some great foreign art-house entries with César Augusto Acevedo’s naturalistic Land and Shade, Benjamin Naishtat’s experimental El MovimientoPhilippe Garrel’s quirky In the Shadow of Women, Radu Jude’s Romanian “Western” Aferim! as well as Matteo Garrone’s adaptation of grotesque tales, Tale of Tales. On the domestic front, the highlight was the premiere of Michael Moore’s new satire, Where to Invade Next, which was taking place at the Egyptian theatre, while cinephiles could get a chance at watching a mythic encounter between Alfred Hitchcock and emblematic French new wave auteur François Truffaut in the documentary Hitchcock/Truffaut. If you were in the mood for conversations, there was also a talk with Benecio Del Toro regarding his craft.

AFI Fest red carpet

AFI Fest red carpet

With some of the movies shown on early Sunday afternoon being repeats of the previous day, we will focus on first screenings, starting with the disturbing Iranian guerrilla movie Paradise. The Cannes winner Dheepan was shown in the presence of its director, French filmmaker Jacques Audiard while, at the same time, Jayro Bustamante’s Mayan story Ixcanul was being screened. If you were in the mood for bigger movies directed by accomplished auteurs, you had the choice between Queen of the Desert which stars Nicole Kidman and was helmed by one of my favorite directors, Werner Herzog. Sunday night also marked the return of independent filmmaker Todd Haynes with Carol, a lesbian story starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. When it comes to conversations, there was a pack house – at the Dolby theater – for Johnny Depp being interviewed by his Black Mass director.

With quite a lot of repeats this Monday, which we already mentioned above, The 33 seems to be a pretty popular choice. It chronicles the journey of Chilean minors trapped in a mine and stars Antonio Banderas. Our pick will however go to László Nemes’s hauting take on Auschwitz, Son of Saul which we reviewed here.

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Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt for the premiere of By the Sea, courtesy of AFI.

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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.
Fred Thom

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