We've known it was coming. We've driven by the huge AFI FEST 2008 banners for weeks. And now that this major cinephile celebration is opening today, it is clear we need a bit of direction on how to even begin to backstroke through such a deep, beautiful pool of choices. Watching the trailers has been a pleasure, we've enjoyed reading early reviews and critical takes, but we remain unsure about where to begin and how to maximize our viewing time.
So as they do in the movies, let's cut to the chase (cue the guys carrying the plate glass window and the fruit cart ready to be overturned by the speeding Camaro) and cover the big stats.
Dates: Thursday, October 30-Sunday, November 9
Venues: Arclight Hollywood is the principal location, but some films are showing elsewhere. (Check the official site.)
Countries Represented: 38
Price: $11 regular screening (prices range from $7 for weekday matinees to $125 for the opening night shindig)
What to See? "Doubt" by John Patrick Shanley is getting lots of attention, as is Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler" (Mickey Rourke is receiving much critical praise). We're charmed by the thought of "Mr. Mustache," a short from Norway that's a love letter to facial hair. And the Tilda Swinton tribute also appeals, in part because we went through a major "Orlando" phase that we never quite left.
While it is always advisable to dive into a film festival as massive as AFI FEST with an in-the-know friend or at the very least a game plan, one of the joys is arriving way early for your chosen movie (or planning to stay long after), buying a ticket for whatever is next, slipping into a seat and savoring something you knew absolutely nothing about ten minutes earlier. Add popcorn and that's a little slice of perfect.
Main location: Arclight Cinemas
6360 W. Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood