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Jefferson Root Written by Jefferson Root
Oct. 31, 2011 | 11:01 PM

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2011 AFI Fest Preview: World Showcase and Young Americans

The 2011 AFI Film Festival Presented by Audi kicks off this Thursday with the World Premiere of Clint Eastwood’s J. EDGAR. In addition to Eastwood’s film, the festival will also feature advance looks at the latest works from Lars Von Trier (MELANCHOLIA), Wim Wenders (PINA), Lynne Ramsay (WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN) and the Dardenne Brothers (THE KID WITH THE BIKE).

Most of the films in the festivals gala and special screening sections will open theatrically in Los Angeles in the next few weeks. While there’s no denying the appeal of being among the first to see dynamic new works from established masters, true festival buffs know that the real advantage of events like AFI fest is the opportunity to see films that would otherwise never play on the big screen in local theatres. For those festival treasure seekers, this year’s World Showcase and Young Americans sections offer a wide cross-section of outstanding works. Here are five from each section that shouldn’t be missed.



Director Yorgos Lanthimos created a sensation last year with the genuinely bizarre, unsettling DOGTOOTH, and his latest seems equally compelling and strange. Perhaps taking advantage of Greece’s struggling economy, a group offers a unique service: fulfilling the role of the deceased for grieving families.


It’s been seven years since Joshua Marston’s assured debut feature MARIA FULL OF GRACE, which garnered an Oscar nomination for Catalina Sandino Moreno His sophomore effort focuses on a modern Albanian teenager who becomes embroiled in his family’s ancient blood feud.


While you may not think you need to see a film about the competitive world of Talmudic scholarship, director Joseph Cedar’s dramatic tale of Father/Son rivalry got raves at the recently concluded New York Film Festival


A sensation at Cannes last spring, the title of Jafar Panari’s portrait belies his struggles as a filmmaker under the current Iranian regime. Banned from filmmaking for twenty years and threatened with imprisonment, Panari perservered and has delivered a gripping study of an artist at the crossroads.


Hungarian master Bela Tarr, director of such seminal works as SATANTANGO and the WERCKMEISTER HARMONIES, bids farewell to cinema with a harsh apocalyptic vision of peasants struggling against unmerciful terrain.



Chicago filmmaker Joe Swanberg is spotlighted in this section with a special screening of his new Full Moon trilogy. Love him or hate him, Swanberg is nothing if not prolific. With over a dozen directing credits since 2005, the director has emerged at the forefront of 21st century DIY filmmmaking.


In the first film of the trilogy, Swanberg begins to explore the collision of art and reality. The cast includes Kate Lynn Sheil, who can also be seen in Young Americans selections THE COLOR WHEEL and GREEN.


In the trilogy’s middle chapter, Swanberg contines to blur the lines as he plays a filmmaker directing his wife (played by Kris Swanberg) in a film within the film.


The trilogy concludes with Swanberg continuing to chip away at the fourth wall that separates artist from audience. The cast includes Sophia Takal from Young Americans selection GREEN.


“Going Green” has become so synonymous with environmental causes that it’s easy to forget the term can also have more sinister connotations. Written and directed by Sopha Takal, the film is a bold, unsettling look at female relationships, with special emphasis on the green monster that lurks just below the surface.


In an experiment worthy of its inspiration, filmmaker Bill Morrison creates a beast of his own as he retells the story of Frankenstein using a vast archive of repurposed found footage.

The 2011 AFI Fest presented by Audi runs from November 3rd-11th in Hollywood. For tickets, venues and showtimes, visit

NOTE: At press time, online tickets for many screenings have sold out. AFI will release additional tickets online the day before each screening, and additional same day tickets will be released to the AFI box office at Hollywood and Highland.

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