AFI Film Festival Presented by Audi Officially Opens - Take a Moment and Escape

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The American Film Festival presented by Audi is officially open with over one hundred films, offered free to all, over the next seven days in the annual movie marathon that is the precursor to the upcoming film awards season.  

With all the fall out in the past year, shocking revelations, the movies are an escape. The AFI Film Festival presented by Audi is not without controversy as the Ridley Scott's Closing Gala screening of the "All The Money in the World" was pulled and not replaced amid the growing sexual allegations against Kevin Spacey, who played J. Paul Getty.

Speaking to the house before to officially open the 2017 American Film Festival presented by Audi, the CEO, Mr. Bob Gazzale, spoke a few words that seemed to echo throughout the house and even further, to the soul of a weary nation struggling each day with the assault of social media, news, hatred, and innocence lost.

"I'm tired," he said. "Tired of North Korea, Tired of Tweets, Tired of news," and while not saying specifically, it was understood he was tired of the monthly horrors of a nation that refused to address the epidemic of gun violence.

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He then spoke on the escape of the movies and the storied history the theater held. He also mentioned Audi's commitment to the American Film Institute and Festival thanking them for signing on as the signature sponsor for another four years as well as creating a Women's Directing Scholarship at the American Film Institute.

With that he turned the podium over to the American Film Festival Director Jacqueline Lyanga, who also spoke on the collection of films available and the opening night screening for which we had all gathered.

Introducing the award winning Director of Mudbound, Dee Rees, who spoke briefly on the number of women it took to make this film and then introduced the cast of her third film which stars Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, Garrett Hedlund, Rob Morgan and Jonathan Banks.

With that the AFI Film Festival 2017 was officially opened.

Upcoming AFI Gala's Include Call Me By Your Name, with Armie Hammer and Michael Stahlberg, The Disaster Artists, with James Franco, Hostiles with Director Scott Cooper and Wormwood with filmmaker Errol Morris attending.

Over the next week the AFI Festival will play host to The Leisure Seekers, with Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, Molly's Game, with Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba and Kevin Costner, Film Stars  Don't Die in Liverpool, with Annette Bening, Jamie Bell and Vanessa Redgrave.

The Shape of Water with Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Shannon; I, Tonya with Margot Robbie and Allison Janney; Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring A Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention Of Tony Clifton with Jim Carey, and Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me.

With these studio big budget films anchoring the festival there are nearly one hundred others, from around the world, including the South Korean entry, V.I.P, from the world class filmdirector Park Hoon-jung. This will be a stand out in the World Cinema offerings.

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In The Fade, with American actress Diane Kruger, who gives a tour de force performance as a grief stricken widow, may be a spoiler throughout Awards season and is also Germany's official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.

And from Chile, A Fantastic Women, directed by Sebastian Lelio, starring transgender actress Daniela Vega, and presented by Sony Picture Classics, is also Chile's official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film  at the 90th Academy Awards.

So let the movies begin! Tickets may still be available for many films on the American Film Institute website: Presented free for all; Take a moment, breathe, and escape.

Images courtesy of American Film Institue.


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