AFI Fest Review - Free Admission for Everyone

AFI Fest 2009 was a great hit and had some big changes this year.  The Festival was FREE to attend!  How wonderful is that?!?  It was the first time that a film festival in Los Angeles has been offered to the public to attend for free. 

The Festival was headquartered at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. All screenings from October 30–November 5 took place at the Grauman’s Chinese and Mann 6 theaters in Hollywood with the final two days of the Festival (November 6-7) screening at the Laemmle’s Monica 4-plex in Santa Monica.  I think the location change of the Festival this year was great!  I enjoyed the feel of it right in the heart of where all of the action takes place.

While the Stars walked the red carpet, and others picked up their tickets at will call, many awaited in the Rush Line, wishing to receive a ticket to see the films that were being screened.  This line was formed across the street from the Grauman’s Chinese and was a hot line to be in.  Security and AFI organizers kept everything together and offered a fair chance to get into the theatre.  They were extremely accommodating to everyone and did their best to get everyone in to each film.  I believe that just about every night, everyone waiting in the lines received a ticket to attend.

The Rush Line

What a treat to see a film for free and also have the chance to see the stars from the films in attendance.  Many stars graced the red carpet, including, Christopher Plummer, Viggo Mortenson, Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Verne Tilroy, Oprah, Mariah Carey, Lily Cole and many more.

AFI Fest 2009’s overall lineup showcased 67 features (54 narrative, 13 documentary) and 26 shorts for a total of 93 films from 32 countries.
The breakdown by section is Galas/Tributes (7), New Lights Competition (11), Special Presentations (3), Documentary (13), World Cinema (27), Alt_Cinema (6) and Shorts (26).

Inside the Grauman's Chinese Theatre

The Weinstein Company’s A Single Man was selected as the AF I Fest Closing Night Gala presentation.  "It is exciting to champion a talented artist like Tom Ford as he moves beyond the boundaries of one medium into another. In A Single Man, he delivers an elegant and beautiful personal story that will resonate with all audience members,” said AFI Fest Artistic Director Rose Kuo

Sony Pictures Classics’ The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was selected as AFI Fest’s Centerpiece Screening Gala presentation.  "The mind-altering, looking-glass world that Terry Gilliam creates in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," notes Director of Programming Robert Koehler, "is like a model for his ideal cinema, in which anything can happen and all rules are broken. If audiences thought that The Dark Knight was their last glimpse of Heath Ledger, then what Ledger brings to Gilliam's fantasy-adventure will surprise them."

Director Terry Gilliam and the cast of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

AFI Fest selected actors Christopher Plummer and Viggo Mortensen to receive tributes at the Festival this year. Sponsored by the Skirball Cultural Center, Plummer’s tribute took place preceding the screening of his film The Last Station. Mortensen’s tribute preceded the US Premiere of the film The Road. Both Tributes took place at Grauman’s Chinese.  “ Viggo Mortensen and Christopher Plummer are two actors and film artists of the highest order,” said Kuo. “They share that rare trait of being looked up to by audiences and film fans around the world as well as being greatly respected by their peers.” 

AFI Fest presented by Audi

Just about every day, there was an Entertainment Weekly lounge open for attendees with the pass to get in.  Audi also sponsored the Skylounge at the Roosevelt Hotel.  Complimentary beer from Stella Artois, cocktails from Absolut Vodka and wine from Little Black Dress were offered to those in attendance.  The lounge was open from 11 in the morning until midnight. 

Stella Artois was one of the sponsors

The location of the lounge was very convenient to AFI attendees.  Located directly across the street from the theatres, it was a place to relax, discuss the films and also network in the industry that Hollywood is known for.   Parking was also convenient and located in the Hollywood and Highland Complex.

Information available for all of the attendees

AFI is a national institute providing leadership in screen education and the recognition and celebration of excellence in the art of film, television and digital media. AFI is currently in it’s 23rd year.  AFI Fest offers a wide range of exposure to the entertainment community, while providing appreciative audiences with a festive atmosphere and the very best of world film, right in the center of the film capital of the world.
The American Film Market (AFM), November 4-11, 2009, is the market partner of AFI Fest. Together, AFI Fest and AFM provide the only concurrent festival/market event in North America. AFI Fest is the only FIAPF-accredited film festival in the United States. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes AFI Fest as a qualifying festival for the Short Films category for the annual Academy Awards®.

Little Black Dress - one of the sponsors

AFI Fest 2009 presented by Audi is sponsored in part by American Airlines; Absolut Vodka; Little Black Dress Wines; Stella Artois; Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel; Mann Theatres; RR Donnelly; the Los Angeles Times; American Film Market (AFM); the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; the Department of Cultural Affairs; and the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency. AFI FEST is made possible in part by a grant from the Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is proud to continue its collaborative partnership with the Skirball Cultural Center. Entertainment Weekly was the Presenting Media Sponsor.

Absolut Vodka

I can’t wait to see what next years AFI Festival has to offer!  Additional information about AFI Fest is available at

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