November 8-15, 2018 / Hollywood, CA / afi.com
There’s a point at which something is described as a “best kept secret” for so long, and in so many circles, that it can’t possibly ring true anymore. Regardless, those that attend AFI Fest each year are a committed bunch, and you know it has achieved the status of top-tier when many of the conversations surrounding the fest are devoted to how this year’s programming stands in relation to last year’s, or three years ago, and so forth. Often feeling like a roundup of the best films of the year, AFI’s top notch programming affords attendees the ability to put all their marbles in whichever films are available in a given slot, synopses be damned. A panelists adds, “They treat the filmmakers well—the people who made a 30,000 Euro film from Albania get the same treatment as the ones who made a big co-production with movie stars.” Viewers often gravitate toward the “Albanian” films, recognizing that the best of the fest are often the titles that never secure distribution. In a city where most cool things are decidedly not free, the “coolest” aspect of AFI is that all of their screenings (including the big ticket Galas and Centerpiece films) are free.