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AFI Film Festival Opens with Beyond the Sea

By Keiko Beatie

AFI (American Film Institute) Film Festival presented by Audi is in the mist of their 2004 presentation.   The eleven day 2004 Festival is in its 18th year and the dates are November 4 -14, 2004 in Hollywood, California.   This Festival is the longest running festival in the Los Angeles area and one of the most respected.  AFI is referred to as one of the Top Ten Film Festivals held within the United Sates. 

Opening with BEYOND THE SEA the Festival has many other Premieres In addition to the six red-carpet Galas and the Tribute to Pedro  Almodovar.  The other Gala Presentations are HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, directed by Zhang Yimou, and the North American Premiere of A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.  internationally acclaimed filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar will be presented as well as Gala Presentation of BAD EDUCATION.  The Centerpiece Gala will be THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, directed by Michael Radford, which made its North American at the Toronto Film Festival this past September.   The Festival's Closing Night Gala on November 14, 2004, will be the US Premiere of THE SEA INSIDE, directed by Alejandro Amenábar.

LES CHOURIES "THE CHORUS" by Miramax is sure to mentioned at the upcoming Oscar Nomination as a contender for Best Foreign Film.  Directed by newcomer Christophe Barratier star the very French classic actor Gerard Jugnot shares the heartwarming story of young students at a boarding school where a tyrannical headmaster daily breaks down the lives of the boys.  Along comes a replacement teacher who just happens to be a music lover and sees the needs of the students and he creates a chorus.  With that effort he gives hope, strength and joy to their lives.  Beautify filmed and well told this was a box office hit in France and will be released in early 2005!

Other film highlights set for the Festival  are 135 FILMS FROM 42 COUNTRIES, 24 WORLD PREMIERES, 11 NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERES and 28 US PREMIERES
Here is a listing of other fine features and documentary being brought to you by AFI Film Festival: 

THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON-Sean Penn is mesmerizing as a salesman who slowly becomes unhinged in Richard Nixon's America.  Also Starring Naomi Watts, Don Cheadle and Jack Thompson. (DIR Niels Mueller, SCR Niels Mueller, Kevin Kennedy, PROD Alfonso Cuarón, Jorge  Vergara, USA, 2004, 35 mm) *Director Niels  Mueller and actor Don Cheadle expected to attend.  This title is set for release by the end of the year.

MY TINY UNIVERSE, starring John Heard, Is a fantastic story of the powerful (and powerless) in Hollywood (imagine what happens when an influential producer with Bobby (John Heard) suffers through a personal hell in the wickedly dark comedy My Tiny Universe, when a suicidal actor recovers Bobby¹s lost cell phone and promptly threatens to reveal all of Bobby¹s philandering and connections.  Director/Screenwriters Lucy Phillips and Glen Scantlebury, cast members Debi Mazar, John Heard and Lesley Ann Warren are all in the cast and will be in attendance.

THE BIG QUESTION Documentary which was filmed while on the set of THE PASSION OF CHRIST, where two Italian directors ask The Big  Question, and, luckily for us, they decided to film it, posing direct questions to people regarding their own intimate perception of the divine. The Big Question comes from an idea that is very simple. Francesco Cabras and Alberto Molinari, The Big Question achieves a rich visual and spiritual  sensibility unparale on the way to inner peace and understanding of the divine.  

The World Premiere of "SEOUL TRAIN" at AFI is the premiere of a new documentary by filmmakers Jim Butterworth, Lisa Sleeth and Aaron Lubarsky. SEOUL TRAIN, a riveting non-fiction feature film that literally goes where no film has gone before: Inside the dark, secretive world of North Korea and North Korean refugees in China. Filmed under the ever-watchful eyes of Chinese security forces, the filmmakers bring a face to the faceless North Korean citizens estimated at a quarter of a million living day to day and unsure of their fate.   The filmmakers document the harrowing journeys some undergo in an effort to find freedom and the tragic aftermath of acts of desperation.   This film is garnering a lot of attention and is sure to be acquired for distribution most likely by the end of the year.

DOWNTOWN: A STREET TALE is a compelling drama about New York City street kids that distinguishes itself with an exceptional script by co-star Joey Dedio, and Oscar-nominee Genevieve Bujold

The AFI FEST village will be located in the  ArchLight courtyard, directly across from the
entrance to all Festival theaters. The AFI FEST village will feature the AFI FEST Box Office providing tickets, updates, Festival service and hospitality counters; the intimate, ultra-hip Cinema Lounge and adaptable party space The Loft, where Festival attendees will meet, mingle and relax between screenings at dozens of meetings, receptions and other special events; the Kodak CONNECT program, where Festival filmmakers will
access film professionals directly in hundreds of one-on-one meetings, and the production offices of AFI FEST Daily News, delivered each morning to AFI FEST and AFM locations, offering daily updates on AFI FEST films, people, places and
events of the last 24 hours with the latest pictures, news articles and interviews.

Headquartered once again at ArchLight Hollywood, the entertainment complex will host much of the international Festival's activity during the  10-day span. Five state-of-the-art theaters on  ArchLight's upper floor will present Festival  selections all day, while five previously announced red-carpet galas will take over the  Cinerama Dome, with a sixth at Grauman's Chinese Theater.  The Archlight is located at : 6360 West Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, CA  90028   The AFI Fest 2004 presented by AUDI will have much more in store for film lovers this coming eleven days.  For more information visit the website at  or call 1-866-AFI-FEST

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