Some of the most highly anticipated films and episodic series will play in the Special Screenings, Cinema’s Legacy and Midnight sections at AFI FEST 2018 presented by Audi.
Narrative features screening in the Special Screenings section are COLD WAR (DIR Paweł Pawlikowski), EVERYBODY KNOWS (DIR Asghar Farhadi), THE FAVOURITE (DIR Yorgos Lanthimos), ROMA (DIR Alfonso Cuarón), the North American Premiere of STAN & OLLIE (DIR Jon S. Baird), UNDER THE SILVER LAKE (DIR David Robert Mitchell) and VOX LUX (DIR Brady Corbet). Documentaries screening are THE COLD BLUE (DIR Erik Nelson) and DIVIDE AND CONQUER: THE STORY OF ROGER AILES (DIR Alexis Bloom). Also screening are are an episode of the docuseries ENEMIES: THE PRESIDENT, JUSTICE & THE FBI (DIR Jed Rothstein), and the World Premiere of the first episode of the limited series I AM THE NIGHT (DIR Patty Jenkins, AFI Class of 2000).
In this year’s Cinema’s Legacy program, AFI FEST highlights films directed by women. This section is a celebration of motion picture history and a special opportunity to screen recent restorations of classic and lesser-known films. The festival spotlights six independent filmmakers across subjects and genres, including two world-premiere restorations, and newly struck 16mm presentations: THE CRUZ BROTHERS AND MISS MALLOY (DIR Kathleen Collins, 1980), DRYLONGSO (DIR Cauleen Smith, 1998), THE JUNIPER TREE (DIR Nietzchka Keene, 1990), MEETINGS OF ANNA (DIR Chantal Akerman, 1978), NITRATE KISSES (DIR Barbara Hammer, 1992) and QUEEN OF DIAMONDS (DIR Nina Menkes, 1991).
The Midnight section features an international selection of macabre and provocative genre films: CAM (DIR Daniel Goldhaber), IN FABRIC (DIR Peter Strickland), KNIFE+HEART (DIR Yann Gonzalez) and PIERCING (DIR Nicolas Pesce).
THE COLD BLUE – In 1943, legendary Hollywood director William Wyler crafted MEMPHIS BELLE, a celebrated tribute to the titular WWII bomber. Using footage from the National Archives shot by Wyler and his team of cinematographers, director Erik Nelson has crafted a new film, featuring gripping narration from some of the last surviving B-17 pilots. A meditation on youth, war and stunning bravery. DIR Erik Nelson. USA. The film will be followed by Wyler’s THE MEMPHIS BELLE: A STORY OF A FLYING FORTRESS (1943). This screening in celebration of Veterans’ Day has been underwritten by the Cecil B. DeMille Foundation.
COLD WAR – Zula and Wiktor meet in a provincial talent search in a love story that traverses borders and years. In this stunning black-and-white depiction of 1950s Poland, two unlikely people find love at an almost impossible cost. DIR Paweł Pawlikowski. SCR Paweł Pawlikowski, Janusz Glowacki. CAST Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza, Cédric Kahn, Jeanne Balibar. Poland, UK, France
DIVIDE AND CONQUER: THE STORY OF ROGER AILES – This documentary explores the rise and fall of the late Roger Ailes, a Republican Party heavyweight. From his early media influence on the Nixon presidency to his controversial leadership at Fox News, director Alexis Bloom documents the creation of his media empire and how Ailes was one of the earliest giants toppled by accusations of sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement. DIR Alexis Bloom. USA
ENEMIES: THE PRESIDENT, JUSTICE & THE FBI – In this preview of the four-part documentary series inspired by Tim Weiner’s book, “Enemies: A History of the FBI,” director Jed Rothstein and executive producer Alex Gibney examine the complex history of conflict between the FBI and U.S. presidents, as well as stories of abuse of power from within the bureau. DIR Jed Rothstein. SCR Tim Weiner. USA
EVERYBODY KNOWS (TODOS LO SABEN) – Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem turn in brilliant performances as longtime friends who must come together when a brutal event sends their families into crisis. EVERYBODY KNOWS is Asghar Farhadi’s skillful suspense saga that keeps the screws turning while sacrificing none of the layered drama for which the Iranian auteur has become known. DIR Asghar Farhadi. SCR Asghar Farhadi. CAST Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Ricardo Darín, Eduard Fernández, Bárbara Lennie, Inma Cuesta, Elvira Mínguez, Ramón Barea, Carla Campra, Sara Sálamo, Roger Casamajor, José Ángel Egido. Spain, France, Italy
THE FAVOURITE – Director Yorgos Lanthimos showcases his uniquely dark humor with a royal story of intrigue, jealousy and betrayal. Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) sits on the throne in the early18th century, while her close friend, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), governs behind the curtain and tends to her capricious moods. When a new servant named Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, she charms her way into the women’s lives, discovering secrets and provoking rivalries. DIR Yorgos Lanthimos. SCR Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara. CAST Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, James Smith, Mark Gatiss, Jenny Rainsford. USA
I AM THE NIGHT – Inspired by true events, this TNT limited series tells the incredible story of Fauna Hodel, a teenage girl given away at birth, growing up outside of Reno, Nevada. Fauna has always lived with her contradictions and her mysterious origins, until she makes a discovery that leads her to question everything. As Fauna begins to investigate the secrets of her past, she meets a ruined reporter, haunted by the case that undid him. Together they follow a sinister trail that swirls ever closer to an infamous Los Angeles gynecologist, Dr. George Hodel, a man involved in some of Hollywood’s darkest debauchery, and possibly, its most infamous unsolved crime. DIR Patty Jenkins. SCR Sam Sheridan. CAST Chris Pine, India Eisley, Jefferson Mays, Dylan Smith, Leland Orser, Yul Vazquez, Justin Cornwell, Golden Brooks, Jay Paulson and Connie Nielsen. USA
ROMA – Alfonso Cuarón’s ROMA is a semi-autobiographical recounting of one year in the life of an upper-middle-class family in Mexico City in the 1970s. From the perspective of their live-in maid and nanny Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio, in an exceptionally subtle yet powerful performance), this profoundly compassionate and humanistic portrait delivers a transcendent masterwork from one of our greatest living filmmakers. DIR Alfonso Cuarón. SCR Alfonso Cuarón. CAST Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira. Mexico, USA
STAN & OLLIE – The true story of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, the world’s two biggest stars, and how they fell from grace and lost not only their fortunes but their friendship. Delightful performances from Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as the titular duo transport audiences to Hollywood’s Golden Age. DIR Jon S. Baird. SCR Jeff Pope. CAST John C. Reilly, Steve Coogan, Stephanie Hyam, Shirley Henderson. UK, Canada, USA
UNDER THE SILVER LAKE – A killer cast leads this highly anticipated noir from David Robert Mitchell, one of our most exciting directors. Hidden beneath the surface of the lives of the young and beautiful in Los Angeles lurks a sinister code to unlocking everything. DIR David Robert Mitchell. SCR David Robert Mitchell. CAST Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace, Zosia Mamet, Callie Hernandez, Patrick Fischler, Grace Van Patten. USA
VOX LUX – In Brady Corbet’s assured and razor-edged second directorial feature, Natalie Portman stars as Celeste, a jaded pop star who as a teen was a survivor of a Staten Island school shooting. Now, when Celeste’s most popular music video is the inspiration for another mass shooting, she must contend with the link between her past and present. DIR Brady Corbet. SCR Brady Corbet. CAST Natalie Portman, Jennifer Ehle, Jude Law, Stacy Martin, Raffey Cassidy. USA
THE CRUZ BROTHERS AND MISS MALLOY – This charming feature debut from recently rediscovered filmmaker Kathleen Collins (LOSING GROUND), THE CRUZ BROTHERS AND MISS MALLOY follows three Puerto Rican brothers who, under the watchful eye of their father’s ghost, are enlisted to help an eccentric elderly widow restore her home before her own anticipated death. DIR Kathleen Collins. SCR Kathleen Collins, Henry H. Roth, Jo Tavener. CAST Rae Ferguson, Sylvia Field, Cesar Gonzalez, Susan Hurst, Susan Lukas, Jose Machado. USA
DRYLONGSO – While photographing “America’s most endangered species” — the African-American male — Pica Sullivan encounters Tobi, disguised in men’s clothing to avoid her abusive boyfriend. Like its title, DRYLONGSO — an old term meaning “ordinary” — the issues addressed in Cauleen Smith’s powerful and little-seen 1998 film remain appallingly ordinary to young African-American men and women. New 16mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. DIR Cauleen Smith. SCR Salim Akil, Cauleen Smith. CAST Toby Smith, April Barnett, Will Power. USA
THE JUNIPER TREE (EINITREO) – This beautiful restoration exhumes Nietzchka Keene’s unheralded debut, a feminist interpretation of the Brothers Grimm fairytale that underscores the uncertain safety of women in a patriarchal society. Filmed in Iceland, this atmospheric fantasy features a 20-year-old Björk as Margit, who escapes with her sister Katla when their mother is killed for practicing witchcraft. DIR Nietzchka Keene. SCR Nietzchka Keene. CAST Björk Gudmundsdottir, Bryndis Petra Bragadottir, Valdimar Orn Flygenring, Gudrun S. Gisladottir, Geirlaug Sunna Pormar. Iceland
MEETINGS OF ANNA (LES RENDEZ-VOUS D’ANNA) – In Chantal Akerman’s 1978 masterwork, Anna (Aurore Clément) is a respected Belgian filmmaker on a no-frills European tour promoting her latest film. As Anna travels from city to city, she has a series of startling encounters with different men and women, all of which seem to underscore her uneasy place in an increasingly dreary and anonymous Western Europe. DIR Chantal Akerman. SCR Chantal Akerman. CAST Aurore Clément, Helmut Griem, Magali Noël. France, Belgium, West Germany
NITRATE KISSES – The debut feature from celebrated filmmaker Barbara Hammer, NITRATE KISSES is an experimental excavation of queer histories, a celebration of difference across communities and a lament for histories lost to cultural repression. New 16mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. DIR Barbara Hammer. USA
QUEEN OF DIAMONDS – A seminal work by experimental narrative filmmaker Nina Menkes, this film stars her sister and longtime collaborator Tinka Menkes as a blackjack dealer at a desert casino. The resulting film is a hypnotic trance of white bones and blue sky, the occasional oasis, the dark nights punctuated by neon. Restored in 2018 by the Academy Film Archive and the Film Foundation with funding provided by the George Lucas family. DIR Nina Menkes. SCR Nina Menkes. CAST Tinka Menkes, Emellda J. Beech. USA
CAM – Lola (Madeline Brewer of THE HANDMAID’S TALE) is a modern-day camgirl who makes her living through online private chats, but her world is about to turn upside down. Written by former camgirl Isa Mazzei, this thriller is one of the most surprising and intelligent films of the year. DIR Daniel Goldhaber. SCR Isa Mazzei, Daniel Goldhaber. CAST Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters, David Druid, Imani Hakim, Michael Dempsey. USA
IN FABRIC – A demonic dress haunts the lives of all that come into contact with it in this sexually explicit, phantasmagoric fever dream. As the garment moves from person to person, it leaves death and destruction in its wake. DIR Peter Strickland. SCR Peter Strickland. CAST Gwendoline Christie, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Hayley Squires, Leo Bill. UK
KNIFE+HEART (UN COUTEAU DANS LE COEUR) – A masked madman stalks across the world of a producer and her film company. What results is psychosexual slasher set in the world of the 1970s gay porn scene in Paris, from visionary and boundary-pushing director Yann Gonzalez. DIR Yann Gonzalez. SCR Yann Gonzalez, Cristiano Mangione. CAST Vanessa Paradis, Nicolas Maury, Kate Moran, Jonathan Genet, Khaled Alouach, Félix Maritaud, Noé Hernandez, Thibault Servière, Bastien Waultier, Bertrand Mandico, Jules Ritmanic. FRANCE
PIERCING – In Nicolas Pesce’s wicked and kinky black comedy PIERCING, Reed (Christopher Abbott) is a seemingly normal guy struggling to channel some dark urges involving an ice pick. But when he orders a call girl (Mia Wasikowska) with the secret intention of taking his violence out on her, things go disturbingly off-script. DIR Nicolas Pesce. SCR Nicolas Pesce, Ryû Murakami (novel). CAST Christopher Abbott, Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Bond, Laia Costa, Maria Dizzia, Marin Ireland, Dakota Lustick, Wendell Pierce. USA