AFI Fest: An Unforgettable Experience

Power team: Raymond Santana (left to right), director Ken Burns, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, directors Sarah Burns and David McMahon at the 2012 AFI Fest screening of "The Central Park Five."

 

Power team: Raymond Santana (left to right), director Ken Burns, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, directors Sarah Burns and David McMahon at the 2012 AFI Fest screening of “The Central Park Five.”

HOLLYWOOD-Attending the American Film Institute’s annual celebration of theater is one of the best events you could hope to attend. The AFI Fest, which showcases spectacular international films, movie shorts and many top-line documentaries, is a week of movie madness at its best. It’s chaotic. It’s fun.

It can be a bit confusing at times trying to find the right theater for the movie you want to watch, but the AFI Fest is an experience of niche filmmaking you wouldn’t want to miss.

This was my first year attending the prestigious film festival, which is a global draw because of the numerous international films shown every year. I must say that I have been incredibly impressed, walking with the awe-wonder of a young boy looking around in a candy store.

When you walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard, observing the numerous people taking part in the festival, waiting in long lines to catch one of the films, you kind of get a feel of that Hollywood electricity going on.

I found out that I have been missing out on something great. It’s not great because of all of the gala red carpet screenings the festival offers. It is a lot more than the celebrities who headline these events. Believe or not, the AFI Fest is bigger than the thousands of film watchers it caters to. The AFI Fest is more like a very cool fashion statement that comes around every year at the right time with the right things to say.

The film lineup entries during the AFT Fest is sure to produce more than a few awards with landmark movies such as Hitchcock (starring Anthony Hopkins), Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis), The Life of PI and The Rise of the Guardians creating buzz all over the place.

Those films are the only ones getting people’s attention at the film festival. The Central Park Five, a haunting and particularly well-made documentary by the father and son tandem of Sarah Burns and Ken Burns, along with David McMahon, is an eye-catching narrative that is representative of what the AFI Fest is all about.

The Central Park Five tells the unforgettable reach of injustice to five black and Latino teenagers sent to prison for being falsely accused of allegedly raping and beating a white woman while she jogged in the park one evening in 1989. The film’s powerful portrayal of race and criminal justice system to those five teenagers who had their convictions tossed out in 2002 after serving their time behind bars,  illustrates the type strong filmmaking being displayed during the AFI Fest.

The AFI Fest blasts out several major holiday films that align with the stars and the honor roll called awards season for the Hollywood crowd.  Just watching the film and observing the reaction of those standing and clapping in the audience when three members of The Central Park Five made their way to the podium after the film screening to show up for a quick questions and answers session, demonstrates the thirst of good old-fashion movie-making people want.  The AFI Fest delivers that and then some.

 

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1057 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.