Bill Dudley’s Hollywood : AFI Fest Wrap-Up

Author: Bill Dudley

The AFI Festival has wrapped, here are some highlights:

1.  SELMA

The new documentary focusing on a painful period of social change in the Civil Rights battle of the 1960’s stars David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King. You last saw David in The Butler with Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah signed on as an executive producer of Selma, and is promoting it hard. She told a sellout house at The Egyptian Theater “I was putting my two cents in all the time, and they said, ‘Why don’t you join us as a producer?'”

Selma Alabama was the sight of the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” confrontation between 600 Civil Rights supporters marching from Selma toward the Alabama capitol of Montgomery, and state troops. They were met on the Edmund Pettus Bridge with tear gas and billy clubs authorized by then Governor George Wallace. A federal court order made it possible (on the third try) for nearly 25,000 marchers to complete the 50 mile march to Montgomery. The (long fought for) success of this march led to the passage of The Voting Rights Act of 1965, a few months later. The making of Selma was truly a labor of love, not only because of it’s historical significance, but the 100 degree weather the cast and crew endured. David and Oprah head the huge cast that also includes Cuba Gooding Jr. as Fred Gray, Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson, and Tim Roth as Gov. George Wallace.

Selma can be seen in select cities on December 25th, and opens wide in January.  Watch the film’s trailer above.

2.  SOPHIA LOREN –

AFI Fest had all the flavor of Italy on Wednesday as film legend Sophia Loren made a rare public appearance for a 45 minute interview with Rob Marshall the director of her most recent film Nine in 2009.

Sophia was gracious, and seemed somewhat amazed by the adoration of her fans. “I owe these people so much for what they have given me…I came from Naples and the war (World War 2), and terrible things including violence and hunger.”

3.  AMERICAN SNIPER – 

One of today’s biggest stars, Bradley Cooper bulked up by about 50 pounds to play the late Chris Kyle, a controversial and conflicted individual who some consider a hero, and some don’t.

American Sniper is an ambitious and violent film. It is well crafted, but  will not appeal to everyone. Clint Eastwood directs Cooper, Sienna Miller and an excellent cast. Why do war movies always open on Christmas Day?

4.  GIRLHOOD

This is a French film from director Celine Sciamma (Water Lilies, Tomboy).

Much like her previous efforts, Girlhood explores feminine identity,social ethics, and teenage taboos. The film features four young and strong black teenage girls, one of which explores the life of all the others in her own quest for identity.

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