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A Rundown of AFI Fest 2012: 10 Films We Want to See

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The American Film Institute's AFI Fest 2012 begins today in Hollywood with screenings at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Chinese 6 Theatres and the Egyptian Theatre through Nov. 8. In addition to the big films book-ending the festival—the world premiere of Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock with Anthony Hopkins is being held tonight and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln with Daniel Day-Lewis closes the fest—there are a number of notable feature and short films sandwiched in between.

Here’s a quick rundown of the 10 films (and a couple of shorts) we’re most looking forward to seeing (and why):

  • Life of Pi in 3D: It’s an epic adventure movie with a Bengal tiger directed by Ang Lee—in 3D.
  • On the Road: It’s Jack Kerouac, plus there’s the K-stew factor. And despite all the drama, we did like her in the film The Runaways.
  • Silver Linings Playbook is directed by David O. Russell, and, yes, we're being shallow here, but it stars a mega-hot Bradley Cooper. Let’s hope this one’s better than his last lead turn in The Words.
  • Ken Burns' The Central Park Five is a documentary about the five Black and Latino teens whose lives changed forever in 1989 when a white woman jogger was found raped in Central Park. After they spent between 6 to 13 years in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime.
  • Holy Motors features a lead character who has nine mysterious "assignments" to fulfill. The film promises a mix of monster movie, film noir, romantic drama, musical, crime thriller and anime. We don’t know quite what to expect and that intrigues us even more.
  • Quartet marks Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut about retired opera singers, an annual concert and old rivalries.
  • Room 237 is director Rodney Ascher’s deconstruction of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, decoding the film’s messages and mysteries.
  • A Royal Affair is an epic romance set in the Age of Enlightenment between the Queen of Sweden and the doctor attending to her mentally ill husband, who happens to be king.
  • ABCs of Death: If we can muster the courage, we’ll try and watch this film. Each of the directors were assigned a letter of the alphabet and instructed to make a short film in his/her signature style and come up with “something deadly, horrific or just downright disturbing.”
  • John Dies at the End, based on the cult classic novel, comes to the big screen. After taking “Soy Sauce,” the two heroes can see formerly hidden monsters and demons that have invaded our dimension. “Like a pair of low-rent Ghostbusters, they do battle with the supernatural. “

And we can’t forget about the six shorts programs, which two titles that really piqued our interest: HowardCantour.com directed by Shia LaBeouf (11 min)—yes, we’re curious— and Bradley Manning Had Secrets directed by Adam Butcher (6 mins).

Best of all, most of the screenings offer free tickets (with registration). Festival attendees can avoid rush lines and gain priority entry to regular screenings by purchasing passes.