AFI Fest presented by Audi, hands down the most anticipated film festival each year in LA, returns to Hollywood November 5-12! The festival will kick off with the world premiere of Angelina Jolie’s By the Sea, which stars her and her partner Brad Pitt, as a couple in crisis in 1970s France. All told, there are 127 films (74 features, 53 shorts), representing 45 countries, in all kinds of categories.
It’s a one-of-a-kind festival where the general public can get free tickets to attend star-studded gala screenings, catch the films everyone is buzzing about on the festival circuit, and be among the first to see the work of emerging and first-time filmmakers from around the world. Here are the top 10 films I’m excited to see:
Where to Invade Next (USA, 2015, 110min) – Don’t let the title mislead you: Michael Moore’s newest documentary since 2009’s Capitalism: A Love Story is not about US government warmongering or conspiracies but rather a much needed look at social policies in other countries and whether we can learn from them. I’ve always believed that if more Americans traveled abroad (it’s been estimated as little as only 3.5% of us do), we would see how really backward and mislead we are in not demanding better social programs that are considered basic human rights in other countries. Moore travels to different countries to see how they’ve implemented free healthcare and higher education, liberal maternity and vacation time and many other policies that are just starting to be discussed in this country. It might just be Moore’s most optimistic film yet.
Carol (UK, 2015, 118min) – This film already has me under Cate Blanchett’s spell! And the taboo relationship between her character and her younger lover played by Rooney Mara during a very conservative 1950s New York City is already having me reach for the tissue.
Ixcanul (Guatemala | France, 2015, 91min) – Debut feature from Guatelaman writer-director Jayro Bustamante, made in close collaboration with a Mayan farming community in the Guatemalan highlands. A young girl is betrothed to a village elder, but is in love with a younger boy who has dreams of escaping their isolation for the United States.
Aferim! (Romania | Bulgaria | Czech, 2015, 106min) – A Balkan Western in black-and-white set in Eastern Europe 1835 that depicts the enslavement of Romani people. Romania’s official entry for the 88th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film!
El Clan (The Clan) (Argentina | Spain, 2015, 108min) – Based on the real story of the Puccio family in post-dictatorhip Argentina. Head patriarch Arquimedes Puccio, who helped the secret service kidnap people during the dictatorship in which tens of thousands were “disappeared”, continued kidnapping wealthy people and holding them for ransom. Argentina’s highest grossing film at its opening is also its official entry for the 88th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film!
Mediterranea (Italy | France | USA | Germany, 2015, 107min) – Jonas Carpignano’s debut feature is ripped from today’s headlines. The film puts a human face on the refugee crisis in Europe through its character Ayiva, who makes the perilous journey from Burkina Faso to Italy only to face more danger as a migrant laborer.
Saul Fia (Son of Saul) (Hungary, 2015, 107min) – Hungarian writer-director Laszlo Nemes makes a striking debut, with a harrowing film set in Auschwitz towards the end of the war. The film follows one prisoner’s pursuit of redemption by giving a child a proper burial amid the horror and futility.
El Abrazo de la Serpiente (Embrace of the Serpent) – (Colombia | Venezuela | Argentina, 2015, 122min) – This black and white epic 2 hour masterpiece is a critique on the destruction and genocide colonialism has dealt the indigenous peoples of the Amazon.
Mustang (France | Germany | Turkey, 2015, 94min) – Turkish writer-director-actress Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s debut feature follows five headstrong sisters, played with great chemistry by first-time actors, who fight back against the rigid conservatism and patriarchy of their community.
Anomalisa (USA, 2015, 90min) – Charlie Kaufman, the brilliant mind behind Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, has made his 1st film in 7 years, his 1st stop motion movie, funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Huge buzz on this one!