AFIFEST is around the corner and to learn more about what international film fans should expect at 2011 festival we had an interview with Jacqueline Lyanga, director of AFIFEST.
Bijan Tehrani: Please tell us about AFIFEST 2011 and what we can expect to see this year.
Jacqueline Lyanga: This year at AFI FEST you can expect to see some of the most highly anticipated films from the festival circuit; films that have won awards at Berlin, Cannes, and Venice, a number of Foreign-Language Oscar submissions, Hollywood awards season contenders and innovative works from emerging international filmmakers.
BT: Can you tell us about some of the Foreign Oscar entries among the international films that will be screened at the festival?
JL: The Foreign-Language Oscar entries that we are showing this year include PINA (Germany), MISS BALA (Mexico), A SEPARATION (Iran), FOOTNOTE (Israel), BULLHEAD (Belgium), ATTENBERG (Greece), ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA (Turkey) and Béla Tarr’s enigmatic THE TURIN HORSE (Hungary). Miss Bala is a film that is directed by an AFI Conservatory alum that we first saw in Cannes, and ATTENBERG is part of a new wave of Greek cinema that is emerging; the director Athina Tsangari, was also a producer on Yorgos Lanthimos’ ALPS (which we are also playing at AFI FEST), and Lanthimos is one of the actors in ATTENBERG. Matthias Schoenaerts gives a breakthrough performance in BULLHEAD, and the screenwriting in A SEPARATION and FOOTNOTE is exceptional. And the cinematography of THE TURIN HORSE and ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA was crafted with a grandeur and scope that deserves to be seen on a big screen.
BT: AFIFEST has always been a great place to meet international filmmakers, please tell us about 2011 festival guests from World Cinema.
JL: We have 150 filmmakers coming to the festival this year; this year’s international festival guests include Pedro Almodóvar, Luc Besson, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Fassbender, Cristian Jimenez, Alexandra-Therese Keining, Yorgos Lanthimos, Steve McQueen, Gerardo Naranjo, Michaël R. Roskam, Stephanie Sigman, Béla Tarr, Athina Tsangari, Joachim Trier, Jean-Marc Vallée, Nacho Vigalondo, Wim Wenders, Michelle Yeoh and Alexander Zeldovich.
BT: Are there any events at the festival that world cinema filmmakers and fans can attend and participate in?
JL: We will have Q&A’s after all of the world cinema’s screenings at which there is a member of the filmmaking team in attendance – staying for the Q&A after the film is the best way for the audience to engage with the filmmakers at the festival.
BT: Jafar Panahi’s This Is Not a Film, will be screening at AFIFEST. Will there be any events around this screening in the light of his recent jail sentence in Iran?
JL: Jafar Panahi was a guest at AFI FEST in 2006 when we presented his film OFFSIDE at the festival that year. The fact that he is able to have a voice through this film and that we are able to share it with the audience in Los Angeles is remarkable, however, at the same time, his recent sentencing is a reminder that there are artists all over the world, who are working without artistic freedom and we hope that the screening itself will be an opportunity to stir and encourage further discourse and debate within the industry and the public about the role of art in society, and the responsibility of communities to support artists in their pursuit of the truth and creative freedom.