A Look Back at AFI FEST 2007

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With its global showcases, the AFI Film Festival is one of the most influential film festivals in North America. The AFI Festival is held for 10 days each fall in the film capital of the world: Los Angeles, California. Some of the festival’s most important premiers in the past have included: “Annie Hall”, “Cat People”, “Le Cousin Jules”, “House of Sand and Fog”, “Monster”, “Monster’s ball”….

AFI programs includes but are not limited to:
1. A feature competition limited to first and second-time filmmakers.
2. A Documentary competition.
3. And an international shorts competition that embraces documentary, experimental, animated and narrative films.

In addition, the festival also comprises a wide selection of world cinema showcasing Latin, African and American films.

This year the festival was extremely well received, and almost all the screenings were packed with audiences. The festival opened with Robert Redford’s’ “The Lions for Lambs”, a film starring Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise and Michael Pena. The film is a politically charge drama with the topic of war in its veins, and it touches on issues regarding today’s politics, politicians and the media.

There were several films this year that received accolades and attentions. Such as “Noise” starring Tim Robbins as an aggravated New Yorker who is fighting against the noise pollution of car alarms. From director Henry Bean, the film is based on man vs. man-made environment.

“Atenco, a crime of state” is a documentary directed by Klamve Colectivo. It captures the people’s struggle on May 3 and 4th in 2006 defends of their land in New Mexico City.
A compelling documentary about human struggle to fight injustice.

“Goddess of the Waters” is directed by Salif Traore. With beautiful shots of African landscape, the film is about a journey of an engineer who returns to his birthplace in the village of Mali to learn the identity of his father. With its amazing shots, the film takes you on a journey of discovery.

“Afghan Muscles” is a film by Andreas Mol Dalsgaard. This very entertaining and amusing documentary captures the most popular sport in Afghanistan: a male bodybuilding competition. The film follows young men in a country almost destroyed by war and repression on their way to find out about their dreams of honor and muscle.

“Munyurangabo” is directed by: Lee Isaac Chung. The film follows the lives of two young Rwandan natives and their journey through Rwanda’s countryside to find a killer of one of the boy’s fathers after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Beautifully shot with strong sense of feeling through out the film, directory Lee Chung with his artistic point of view displays his knowledge of cinematic technique, poetry and longing to be truthful to his African environment and subjects.

But the highlight of this year’s festival was the screening of “Persepolis”, an intelligent and beautifully illustrated animated picture based on the graphic novel of the same title.
This “poetic style” of animation follows the life of Marjane, a smart and adorable young Iranian girl who grows up in Iran during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The story demonstrates how a fundamentalist ideology makes for a totalitarianism state. It further illustrates the disappointment of the people who wanted a free nation but instead were forced to face the taking over of their country by fundamentalists. The fundamentalists brought changes that resulted in forcing women to become second-citizens and imprisoning thousands of people for stating their opinions and demanding their God given freedoms. Through wonderful illustrations, an understanding tone, a humorous perspective and a rich story line, the film captures a sorrow of a country and gives an understanding as why so many Iranian choose to live outside of their homeland, and why those people still living in the country will always be in a state of exile as well.

“Persepolis”

Directed by Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Original Music by Olivier Bernet
Editing by Stéphane Roche
Genre: Animation / Drama
Runtime: France: 95 min
Language: French / English / Persian / German

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Margaret Madrilejos

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