History And Evolution Of The AFI Festival

The roots of AFI FEST 2004 presented by Audi stretch back more than 30 years to the very first film festival in Los Angeles.

 The First Los Angeles International Film Exposition, a.k.a. Filmex, debuted on November 4, 1971, at Grauman's Chinese Theatre with the premiere of THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. Created just four years earlier, the American Film Institute was among the organizations that lent their support to the Festival, which intended to broaden appreciation for the work of "filmmakers from around the world."

 Over the next dozen years, the Festival developed a leading-edge reputation. AFI debuted a special section called "AFI Critics Choice" as part of the Festival in 1977, and another special section titled "Treasures from AFI" in 1981.

 AFI adopted Filmex and the first AFI FEST opened on March 11, 1987, at the Beverly Hills Music Hall with a Tribute to Hal Wallis. Many stars, including Lizabeth Scott, Charlton Heston, and Bette Davis appeared. The next year, cinematic spotlights were focused on Sweden, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Fourteen international premieres of the latest works by master filmmakers, such as Olmi, Oshima, Chabrol, Wajda, Antonioni, and Resnais, were held. During the next decade, a sky full of stars received tributes, included Leonard Nimoy, Ruby Keeler, Cyd Charisse, Alec Guiness, Dennis Hopper, Holly Hunter, Nicolas Cage, Christopher Walken, Jessica Lange, and Donald Sutherland.

 A wide selection of filmmakers were also honored, notably Jim Henson, Franklin J. Schaffner, David Wolper, Walter Lantz, Stanley Donen, Krsysztof Kieslowski, Stanley Kramer, Andrzej Wajda, Dusan Makavejev, Ingmar Bergman, Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton. The Festival maintained its focus on international cinema, with special sections highlighting films from Britain, Canada, Eastern Europe, Hong Kong, and Hungary. In more recent editions of AFI FEST, the Official Competition was introduced in 1997, the European Film Showcase in 1998, the Latin Cinema Series in 1999, and Asian New Classics in 2000. The Export- Union of German Cinema merged their annual Made in Germany showcase with the Festival in 2002.

 June 2003 saw the announcement of AFI FEST's strategic alliance with the American Film Market (AFM) beginning in 2004, creating the first festival/market event in North America. Last year's Festival hosted the world premieres of HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG and MONSTER and presented Omar Sharif with a Tribute.

 This year, AFI FEST will again host a multitude of World, North American, and United States Premieres, as well as Gala Presentations, a Tribute, and regional showcases.

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