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Arts and Entertainment

AFI Fest 2006 Tix Go On Sale Tomorrow

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Tickets go on sale tomorrow, Friday the 13th, for the 2006 installment of AFI Fest, Los Angeles' valiant (read: sometimes comical, sometimes desperate) attempt to mount a world-class film festival, something this city deserves but sorely lacks. This year AFI Fest will screen 147 feature films and 36 shorts including several special screenings and premieres.

The festival will host the U.S. premiere of Bobby, the Emilio Estevez-directed drama about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. The cast is a bizarre and massive hodgepodge that includes everybody from Laurence Fishburne, William H. Macy, Sharon Stone, Harry Belafonte, Anthony Hopkins, Martin Sheen, Christian Slater and Demi Moore to Ashton Kutcher, Helen Hunt, Lindsay Lohan, Nick Cannon, Heather Graham and Elijah Wood.

As one of its Centerpiece Galas, AFI Fest will showcase Pedro Almodovar's latest film, Volver, which stars Carmen Maura as the ghost of a recently deceased woman who returns to her hometown of La Mancha to comfort her two surviving daughters (played by Penelope Cruz and Lola Dueñas) and unravel the mysterious death of her sister. Volver has already played at Puertollano, Cannes, Moscow, Cambridge, Iceland and Telluride (emphasizing how truly secondary AFI Fest is in the scheme of global film releasing), and it's received almost universal acclaim. Expect Almodovar's trademark mixture of outlandish comedy and high melodrama tempered with an emotionalism that seems to be deepening as he ages.

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The festival's second Centerpiece Gala is David Lynch's latest film, Inland Empire, another story-within-a-story-within-a-story opus. Laura Dern and Justin Theroux play actors who are working on a film about another film that was never finished because both stars were murdered. Reality and fantasy blur as the actors spark up an affair and start living out the drama of the characters they are playing. The film, which has already shown at both the Venice and New York film festivals, has received mixed reviews, with some critics praising its intricate, imaginative structure and others criticizing its obtuse surrealism. I think that these days most critics are unable to critically examine Lynch's film on their own merits. For critics and viewers it comes down to this: If you enjoy Lynchian narrative abstraction you will probably dig Inland Empire. If that bores or frustrates you, you probably won't.

The festival's final Centerpiece Gala is the U.S. premiere of Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain, a time-travel epic about the search for the fountain of youth. The film spans a thousand years, and stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz in "a story of love, death, spirituality, and the fragility of our existence in this world." I have no idea what the hell that means, but the trailer for The Fountain looks awesome. Too bad the film has received such dreadful reviews. It was literally booed at its Venice Film Festival premiere, and The Hollywood Reporter compared it to Zardoz (probably the only movie you'll ever get to see where Sean Connery wears a diaper). But everybody knows you can't trust film critics. We don't know shit.

Closing the 2006 AFI Fest is Zhang Yimou's Curse of the Golden Flower, which was recently announced as China's official selection to the 79th Oscar® Best Foreign Film category. This historical epic begins on the eve of the Chrysanthemum Festival when the Emperor (Chow Yun Fat) returns unexpectedly with one of his sons to visit the ailing Empress (Gong Li). Aside from fairy tales you can't have a palace without political intrigue, so the royal family's secrets begin to untangle against the grandeur of the festival.

AFI Fest 2006 runs run November 1-12 at the ArcLight. Tickets for regular screenings, which go on sale on October 13, can be bought over the phone or online. Beginning October 27, tickets can also be purchased in person at the AFI FEST box office, which is located in the Rooftop Village on the 7th floor of the ArcLight parking structure. BE AWARE: tickets to the opening night ($75), closing night ($75), centerpiece ($25) and tribute screenings ($25) will NOT be available for pre-sale. Tickets to these events will be sold via a rush line, in-person, on the day of the screening, on a first come, first serve, space available basis, and you will have to pay for them in cash. Rush lines will begin forming approximately two hours before the start of the screening in the ArcLight courtyard.

Otherwise, tickets will cost $12 ($11 if you're an AFI or ArcLight member) for regular screenings and $8 for weekday matinee screenings. There will be a $2 handling fee per order placed online or a $4 handling fee per order placed by phone.

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