AFI Fest is going virtual for its 34th edition on Oct. 15-22, rather than hosting glitzy premieres at its usual site at the TLC Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
The festival, an early stop on the awards season circuit, has opted to dispense with physical events, a spokesperson said. Upcoming fall festivals at Venice, Toronto and New York are offering a hybrid of physical and virtual events to deal with the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, while organizers of the Telluride Film Festival recently pulled the plug on this year’s event, which usually took place over Labor Day weekend.
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AFI already produced a virtual AFI Docs festival with ticketed events over June 17-21, which included live Q&As with filmmakers and events with industry leaders and activists. The festival’s audience award for best feature went to “Transhood,” directed by Sharon Liese.
AFI plans to announce its lineup in September with a possible slight decline from last year, when it screened more than 140 films. AFI had announced the switch to the October dates last year, shifting the festival forward from its usual November opening in order to be closer to the Toronto festival and be “more competitive.”
The 2019 AFI Fest opened with “Queen and Slim,” directed by AFI alumna and two-time Grammy winner Melina Matsoukas, and closed with Netflix’s “Marriage Story,” a late replacement after Apple pulled “The Banker” out of the festival. The 2018 AFI Fest opened with legal drama “On the Basis of Sex,” starring Felicity Jones as a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and closed with “Mary Queen of Scots.”
The news about the AFI Fest going virtual was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
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