New York and San Francisco may have (arguably) larger numbers who turn out consistently for obscure specialty fare, but, as a former resident of both Los Angeles and New York, I think LA sometimes gets a bad rap for not supporting world and independent cinema. Indeed, Los Angeles is jam-packed with special screenings, private screenings, press screenings, big premieres, retrospective series, and film festivals devoted to every cinematic flavor under the sun. Programming for any festival is carefully scrutinized by hardcore cinephiles and harshly condemned if it does not live up to sky high personal or critical expectations.

AFI FEST (aka AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival) named Rose Kuo as their new Artistic Director this summer, so that should invite close comparisons with past programming decisions. (Full disclosure: I worked as a programming intern / general slave at the fest in 2003 and 2004.) For now, Lions for Lambs has been announced as the Opening Night Gala on November 1. It will be the film's North American Premiere and it looks like a solid choice. Cinematical's Chris Ullrich wrote about Tom Cruise's decision to join the project last November, noting that it was "the first film to go into production for United Artists since Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner took over the studio."

As Chris summarized: "Lions for Lambs features three interconnecting stories about a congressman (played by Cruise) who's pursued by a reporter (played by Meryl Streep), an idealistic professor (played by Redford) who attempts to inspire a wealthy student to action, and a pair of American soldiers wounded in the Gulf war." It sounds like the most overtly political film of Redford's directorial career, and it should be interesting to hear what kind of reaction Cruise elicits in his first film since all that bad publicity last year. (Why not check out the trailer?) AFI FEST runs from November 1-11; I'll be very interested to see what else will be shown.

[ Via Variety ]
categories Cinematical