Last week, CWB interviewed Jacqueline Lyanga, the Director of the American Film Institute’s annual film festival, to find out more information for our readers on the 2010 AFI FEST.
Bijan Tehrani: Please tell us about your involvement at the festival and what we should expect to see this year at the event.
Jacqueline Lyanga: This year at AFI fest presented by Audi, we have a really fantastic line-up! There will be a lot of similarities to the program in the past, namely because both myself and the executive of programming have been here for the past five years, so there isn’t a lot that we have changed. Returning from last year, you will see our free ticket initiative, and free tickets are available to the public as we speak, so you just have to go online to do it. One thing that we have changed in that process compared to last year is that last minute tickets will be available so there will be tickets released on the actual day of the screening. Therefore, you can get tickets before the screening on our website at afi.com/afifest and the day of the screening at the box office; of course if you still don’t have tickets, you can always go to the rush line and we have really been able to accommodate people in our rush line for probably around 80% of the screenings. So there is a chance that if you want to see something this year, then you will have multiple chances to see it. In terms of the programming, we’re doing a gala every night again so we’ll be in the Chinese Theatre for eight nights. We are opening with Ed Zwick’s Love And other Drugs and Darren Arronofsky’s Black Swan and between those we have centerpiece galas that include Blue Valentine, Barney’s Version, Casino Jack, and The Company Men; we will also be doing a tribute to the ensemble of The King’s Speech on Friday November 5th. We’ll also have special presentations throughout the program that we will be announcing the day before the festival starts.
BT: Can you describe the presence of international cinema at the festival this year?
JL: International cinema is at the core of AFI Fest; AFI Fest is actually the longest running international film festival in Los Angeles, and our world cinema program is the section with the most films in it. It has been a really exciting year in international cinema and we are going to be showing films from a number of master filmmakers; we have Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage and we have Jean Luc Godard’s Film Socialism. We have the new Fernando Truebo film Chico and Rita, and we have Hong Tsang Tsu, a double bill where we are going to be showing two films of his that he made this year which are Ha Ha Ha and Oki’s Movie. We have the film Curancho, which I am really excited about. We also have Lee Chang Dong’s film, Poetry, which was the screenwriting prize winner in Cannes this year. I’d also like to make note of some some international films in our short festival. Specifically, we will be featuring the new short film from the director of Offside, Jafar Panahi. His latest short, The Accordion, will be screening at the festival.
BT: Are there going to be any international guests attending the festival this year?
JL: Yes, we will have some international filmmakers at the festival this year. Hong Tsang Tsu will be coming, as well as Guillermo Del Toro—who co-produced Julia’s Eyes, which will be playing in our midnight showing. We will have guests from Spain, from Ireland, and South Korea, amongst other nations. We will also be showing the film Heartbeat, which is the second film from a twenty-one-year-old Canadian director. We also have a number of international titles in our new authors section. This is the section that was formerly called new lights, which is our new filmmaker competition. The awards in this section are Audience awards. And that’s the focus of that section: young, international filmmakers.
BT: Are there any other activities besides the screenings that will be happening at the festival?
JL: There are! The L.A. Times is going to be putting on a young Hollywood panel; Carey Mulligan and Jesse Eisenberg will be participating. We are also going to have a 3D boot camp; Werner Herzog will be bringing his new 3D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams to the festival and, early in the day, we are going to have Bud Hayes giving a lesson on the history of 3D storytelling. We will also have more announcements the day before the festival begins. If viewers visit our website, they will be able to see the full list of activities.
BT: Where will the festival be held?
JL: The festival will be in Hollywood at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and we have our festival headquarters across the street from the theatre at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
BT: How can people go about getting tickets?
JL: They can go online to afi.com/afifest to get tickets online and we will also release tickets the day before the screening and the day of the screening at the theater box office. For those that really want to be a patron and support the free festival, they should purchase patron packets which will get them guaranteed seating and access to the Galas.
BT: Will there be student discounts?
JL: Students have access to the free online tickets. We do offer priority access for AFI Members.
BT: Thank you so much for your time; we are eagerly anticipating your outstanding film festival!