Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Arts and Entertainment

10 Films We Want To See At This Year's AFI FEST

LAist relies on your reader support, not paywalls.
Freely accessible local news is vital. Please power our reporters and help keep us independent with a donation today.


AFI FEST is just around the corner, which means Angelenos will have the opportunity to catch the most exciting films to come from Hollywood, American independent filmmakers, and the world festival circuit. And the best part? Tickets are free!AFI Fest opens on November 5 with the world premiere of the new Brangelina drama, By The Sea. The festival continues to run for a week in the heart of Hollywood—with screenings at the TCL Chinese Theatres, Egyptian Theatre, and the El Capitan—and closes out with the premiere of the latest from Anchorman director Adam McKay, The Big Short. It's the films in between these two heavyweights that we're most interested in.

Here are ten movies that caught our attention when the final lineup was announced. Don't forget to check out the shorts programs, too! Let us know which films you are most excited for in the comments.

A clip from Mountains May Depart

Support for LAist comes from

Mountains May Depart (directed by Jia Zhang-ke)

There is no greater director working out of Mainland China right now than Jia Zhang-ke, whose career of almost 20 years has chronicled the breakneck speed at which Chinese society has changed—and the lives of the people it leaves behind. Mountains May Depart seems to be somewhat of a return to form for Jia, who made a violent digression with his last feature, A Touch Of Sin. Instead, Mountains is a melancholic triptych of a Chinese family across three timeframes—1999, 2014, and in the near-future of 2025—and the effects the nation's economic boom have on tradition and the family unit.

Carol (directed by Todd Haynes)

We've been excited about this one for a while. Todd Haynes' elegant romantic drama, about the forbidden love between two women (Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) in the 1950s earned raves at Cannes, where Rooney Mara split the prize for Best Actress. If you miss it at AFI FEST, don't worry. Carol is set to be released in theaters on November 20.

Support for LAist comes from

Right Now, Wrong Then (directed by Hong Sang-soo)

The works of Hong Sang-soo all follow the same pattern: soju-fueled conversations between men and women about love (both desired and lost) that get repeated like jazz riffs, only to have slight digressions that sends what initially seems like identical scenarios into wildly different conclusions. It's a simple conceit, but one that he has mastered over a prolific career of over 15 films, winning the top prize at this year's Locarno Film Festival for Right Now, Wrong Then. Despite the fact he practically makes a new movie every year, Hong's films rarely find their way into Los Angeles—too modest to go alongside the mainstream Korean films at CGV Cinemas in K-Town, and too idiosyncratic for our independent theaters.

The Lobster (directed by Yorgos Lanthimos)

Support for LAist comes from

Earning the Jury Prize at this year's Cannes, sci-fi comedy The Lobster, by the director of the cult-favorite Dogtooth, tells a surreal story about a very modern romance set in a dystopian future where people have to fall in love within 45 days or they turn into animals. The film touts a star-studded cast with Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and John C. Reilly. And as you might have guessed, a lobster is involved. —Jean Trinh

A clip from No Home Movie

No Home Movie (directed by Chantal Akerman)

Cinema lost one of its titans earlier this month when the feminist, avant-garde pioneer Chantal Akerman sadly took her own life. Her work lives on, including her last, No Home Movie, an intimate observational piece about the domestic life of her late mother, an Auschwitz survivor. Also worth mentioning here: Cinefamily is screening her masterpiece Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles on November 2.

Support for LAist comes from

45 Years (directed by Andrew Haigh)

In this British drama, from director Andrew Haigh (Weekend, HBO's Looking) we get a weeklong glimpse into the longtime marriage between Geoff (Tom Courtenay) and his wife Kate (Charlotte Rampling), who are about to celebrate their titular 45th wedding anniversary with a party. However, after Geoff receives a letter that uproots his past and reveals a long-kept secret, their strong relationship takes a dramatic turn, with Kate questioning everything. Courtenay and Rampling's riveting performances earned them the Best Actor and Actress awards at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year. —Jean Trinh

Chevalier (directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari)

Athina Rachel Tsangari's Attenberg was one of the biggest surprises out of 2011's AFI FEST—an unassuming, intelligent original work about ritual and the cycle of life. Tsangari explores human behavior again with her follow-up, Chevalier, an absurdist farce about six men at sea, skewering macho pecking orders showing how the competitive urge in humans can descend into chaos. Chevalier won Best Film at the London Film Festival.

Field Niggas (directed by Khalik Allah)

First immortalized in the Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting For The Man," the intersection of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in East Harlem gets another poetic treatment in the debut feature (a short one, at 60 minutes) of Khalik Allah. Instead of glossing over numerous societal ills that have besieged this street corner, Allah focuses on the individuals he encounters and uses their own voices for the soundtrack, making the provocatively-titled Field Niggas a montage of portraits than a typical, superficial documentary.

The Forbidden Room (directed by Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson)

Part exploration of the human subconscious, part tribute to cinema of the past, and all head-trip, the latest from Canadian director Guy Maddin (The Saddest Music In The World, My Winnipeg) will be unlike anything else you see at AFI FEST this year. Co-directed with Evan Johnson, The Forbidden Room will be followed up soon with the interactive website Séances, which uses footage from old and lost films to immerse the user into a "séance" with the cinema of the past. While the two projects were done in conjunction with each other, neither will share any footage.

The Kickstarter campaign video for Anomalisa

Anomalisa (directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson)

Charlie Kaufman is back! The brilliant scribe, who penned Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind has finally completed his stop-motion animated film, which was funded with the help of fans via a Kickstarter campaign. Without the backing of a studio, Kaufman was allowed complete creative control over this work. While working on a much smaller scale than his last film, Synecdoche, New York, Kaufman once again creates his own self-contained world in order to make a deep dive into the psyche of our own. If you miss it at AFI FEST, Anomalisa is set to be released in theaters in December.

AFI FEST runs from November 5-12 in Hollywood, with screenings taking place in the TCL Chinese Theatres, Egyptian Theatre, and El Capitan. All individual tickets are free, while passes can be purchased to get priority admission. Click here to get information on how to get tickets.