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AFI Has Lights, Camera, Stars and Action

AFI American Film Institute 2003 Festival is playing to appreciative audience this week in Los Angeles, California. The Festival opened with the U.S. Premiere of Nigel Cole's CALENDAR GIRLS. Nigel walked the red carpet to celebrate the start of AFI FEST 2003 and the stars of the film were there as well to add to the glamour.

Kevin Costner was a crowd favorite as he swaggered down the red carpet while wearing pale snakeskin cowboy boots and jeans.

This past weekend at the Roosevelt Hotel, they have had receptions and parties till early in the morning. The room has the total LA look with beds making up for seating arrangements. Filmmakers and guest lounging across king-sized beds while others sample the food and drinks and talk movie talk. Many guests were interested in viewing Clark Gable’s favorite suite at the Roosevelt Hotel, where he and Carole Lombard once had many tryst in the past.
Filmmakers and stars who have been spotted so far at the fest include: Sundance’s Robert Redford was on hand to support his son James Redford new film SPIN, Ron Mann, director of GO FURTHER, Mann's documentry film's GO FURTHER, follows the travels of Woody Harrelson and friends on a hemp-fueled bus, Jim Sheridan director of IN AMERICA, shared anecdotes about working with children, finding the film's title, and Hamlet. Charlize Theron was on hand at the screening of the documentry AILEEN: LIFE AND DEATH OF A SERIAL KILLER by Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill. Theron new film MONSTER is based on this true story that took place in Florida of the US first women serial killer. Jack Black has been viewing various films with his wife Laura Kightlinger a budding filmmaker herself.

Notable films screened so far was the World Premiere of HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG directed by Vadim Perelman. Sir Ben Kingsley joined other stars from the film, including Frances Fisher and Ron Eldard, in addition to Thora Birch, Joey Lauren Adams and Jon Favreau to enjoy the Premiere. Vince Vaughn showed up too, but he slipped through the side entrance to wait for Favreau to finish chatting up the press. Jennifer Connelly was also seen enjoying the Perelman’s premiere.

Meanwhile, fest-goers lined up to see the Los Angeles premiere of Denys Arcand’s THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS, the new film from the celebrated director of JESUS OF MONTREAL and LOVE AND HUMAN REMAINS. In a thoughtful, revealing Q & A following the screening, Arcand spoke about his inspirations for the film—growing old, the loss of parents, teacher and friends, and, particularly, the wave of threats that rattle the gates of our own security and faith in humankind. After the Q & A, the audience rose and gave Arcand and the film a standing ovation.

One of the films this year at the Festival that has people buzzing is John Deery's CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE, which explores celibacy, Catholicism, and modern priesthood. Provocative and passionate, Deery's film attracted a diverse crowd that included several members of the clergy. An intense discussion followed, featuring Deery, leads Fintan McKeown and Jason Barry, and a brave guest spot by Catholic priest Father Bob. As the debate gathered momentum, an articulate admirer, with just a trace of a lilting Irish accent, raised his hand to offer Deery his most-sincere compliment: "If you had done this film 15 years ago, you would have been burned at the stake." Father Bob, for his part, applauded Deery's conviction, but added: "The honesty and courage portrayed in this film are also part of the Catholic Church."

AFI Film Festival continues at the Arch light in Los Angeles till the 16th of November.

Keiko Beatie

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