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AFI day 7

Day 7 featured what AFI FEST does best: Present an extraordinary spectrum of films, while giving fest-goers the opportunity to converse and meet with the filmmakers who made them. Within one evening, films from all eight sections were screened, in addition to a line-up of shorts and the Centerpiece Gala of the World Premiere of Norman Jewison's THE STATEMENT, starring Tilda Swinton.

The evening began with a bolt of lightning and the US Premiere of Natasha Arthy's OLD, NEW, BORROWED AND BLUE, an impressive Danish film that asks the question, "Can Dogme and a love story co-exist?" Judging from the audience's response, the answer is a resounding "Yes." "I don't even know what Dogme is," said one woman in the audience. "And I don't care. This is a great film. Period." Another audience member demanded "Why doesn't this film have a US distributor?" Neither Arthy nor producer Birgitte Skov could respond to that question, other than to encourage others to come to the next screening tomorrow, Friday, November 14.

Then, at around 9:30 p.m., two films started that had absolutely nothing in common, except that their filmmakers are uniquely committed to rooting out the truth and presenting it in films that engage and transport us. In Theater 14, Peter Jones and Mark Catalena of SUNSET JUNCTION discussed the huge challenges they faced while making their film about an annual fair in Silverlake. "We worked everyday for five months leading up to the Festival. And then at the Festival, we hired four crews of four people to cover everything," said Jones. "We wanted to show that there is something bigger that's happening there than what might at first appear," added Catalena, referring to Michael McKinley, the Festival's organizer, who is also a father figure to his workers, some of whom are former gang members seeking a fresh start. At that point, the filmmakers introduced McKinley, along with three of the young workers featured in the film.

A few minutes later. celebrated German director Margarethe von Trotta took the microphone to field questions about her extraordinary film ROSENSTRASSE, which is making its US Premiere at AFI FEST. Despite the late hour (the film ended after midnight), virtually everyone stayed glued to their seats to hear von Trotta talk about her investigation of the film's subject-Hitler and Goebbels' treatment of mixed marriages between Jewish men and Aryan women in Berlin during World War II. "If everyone is guilty, then no one is guilty," said von Trotta about the film and the experience of unearthing history's heroes and victims.


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