Spanish Cinema takes center stage at AFI Fest with Pedro Almodovar as a curator

Recognized as the most important movie festival taking place in Hollywood, the AFI will be celebrating its 25th edition on November 3rd through the 10th at the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Mann Chinese 6 Theatres, the Egyptian Theatre and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel showcasing the most anticipated films and performances of the year with Pedro Almodóvar serving as a Guest Artistic Director.

AFI FEST kicks off the awards’ season with presentations that showcase the work of film masters, moving image icons and breakthrough talents. Most of the casts is international, and the directors hail from across the globe.

This year’s AFI FEST will screen 110 films (70 features, 40 shorts) selected from over 3,000 submissions across 36 countries, with France (11), Belgium (9) and Canada (5) topping the international selections. The breakdown by section is: Galas/Tributes (8), Special Screenings (11), Young Americans (6), New Auteurs (9), World Cinema (21), Midnight (3), Spotlight (3), Breakthrough (4) and Short Films (39), including eight official foreign-language Oscar submissions.

The Opening Night Gala will be the World Premiere of J. EDGAR, directed by Clint Eastwood which starts Academy Award nominee Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, along with Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts, Armie Hammer and Oscar winner Judi Dench.  It is produced by Academy Award winners Eastwood and Brian Grazer and Oscar nominee Robert Lorenz.  From an original screenplay by Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black, the film explores the public and private life of one of the most powerful, controversial and enigmatic figures of the 20th century, J. Edgar Hoover, founding director of the FBI.

World Cinema showcases the most anticipated and prize-winning international films of the year. Breakthrough highlights works discovered only through the submissions process and Midnight’s eclectic selection presents films with provocative and unexpected ideas. Both World Cinema and Breakthrough feature a number of films making their U.S. premieres, including ALMAYER’S FOLLY, CAFÉ DU FLORE, FAUST and WITH EVERY HEARTBEAT (World Premiere).

Almodovar’s desires

In addition to the screening of his film LAW OF DESIRE on Monday, November 7, Almodóvar has put togheter a program of classic horror films and thrillers are EYES WITHOUT A FACE (DIR Georges Franju, 1960), LE CERCLE ROUGE (DIR Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970), NIGHTMARE ALLEY (DIR Edmund Goulding, 1947) and THE KILLERS (DIR Robert Siodmak, 1946). The Oscar winning Spanish director Almodóvar has created comprehensive notes for these curated films that will be shared with moviegoers as part of the festival’s official program guide.

He describes LAW OF DESIRE as a film that embodies his voice saying, “LAW OF DESIRE is a fundamental film in my career. Even though we made it on a very modest budget, I don’t think I’d change a single shot, and not because it’s perfect but because I recognize myself in all of them…It’s true that my palette has darkened and, in the case of the latest film, the humor has almost disappeared. Fortunately I’ve changed sufficiently so that no one can accuse me of repeating myself, but I’m still the same. LAW OF DESIRE shows that.“

He said there was a reason he chose those specific four classic films  “in some way, albeit tangentially, they have a relationship with my present.”

Almodóvar will attend the festival on Monday, November 7, joined by Antonio Banderas, who has a leading role in LAW OF DESIRE. The film was the first to be produced by El Deseo S.A., the production company responsible for Almodovar’s latest films founded by Pedro Almodóvar and his brother, Agustín.

A conversation on Almodóvar’s career and the story behind El Deseo S.A., moderated by John Hopewell, Chief International Correspondent at Variety, will precede the screening of the film.

For the third consecutive year, AFI FEST will continue its unprecedented offer of free tickets to all screenings and conversations. Purchasing a Patron Pass, which includes an allotment of gala tickets, or one of the festival’s other passes – the Cinepass and the Special Screenings pass, which provides access to regular screenings and special screenings – enables festival-goers to avoid the rush lines at the theaters and provides early access to films.

Take a look to some of the films showcased at AFI Fest 2011

Spanish film EXTRATERRESTRIAL screens as part of AFI Fest World Cinema section. TIMECRIMES director Nacho Vigalondo’s surprising second feature finds an alien invasion providing the backdrop for one of the most delightful romantic comedies in years.

Under the direction of Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the title role of “J. Edgar,” a drama that explores the public and private life of one of the most powerful, controversial and enigmatic figures of the 20th century.

Additional information is available at, 1.888.AFI.FEST