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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

AFI offers Free Screenings at its Festival Presented by Audi

For three years the AFI has presented its annual Film Festival FREE of charge. Gala events require an entree fee, but for the most part film lovers can come out to the Chinese and Egyptian and see some great new films and five Cinema Classics, including The Killers.

A couple years ago I attended the AFI (American Film Institute) Film Festival for the first time. It happened to be the same year the festival decided to wave any sort of entry free, allowing anyone and everyone to attend screenings for free. The system seems to have been a success, because this year marks the third year running that tickets are FREE.

That’s right, it won’t cost you a dime to go to the movies. You will want to reserve your tickets ahead of time, but even if you decide to go at the last minute there will be stand by rush lines for those who didn’t plan ahead. I didn’t reserve tickets for any of the screenings I went to my first time out and was able to get into everything I wanted to see. However, the festival has been growing in popularity, so you might not want to leave anything to chance.

Of course, my favorite part of any festival are the featured Classic Films. Three years ago the fest presented the restored version of North by Northwest, complete with special guests Martin Landau and Eva Marie Saint. And everyone left with a DVD copy of the movie! I don’t expect to be as lucky this year, but I am looking forward to the inspired selections of Guest Artistic Director Pedro Almodovar (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, All About My Mother). Almodovar’s choices are well suited to his sensibilities as a filmmaker. The list includes the French heist film Le Cercle Rouge, starring Yves Montand showing on Saturday at the Egyptian. Immediately following the 1970 caper is Eyes Without A Face, a 1960 French horror film, complete with a mad scientist who spends his time abducting young women in an attempt to repair the mutilated face of his own daughter.

Come Monday screenings are split between the Egyptian and the Chinese. First, there’s the Noir classic, The Killers at 4pm at the former. The film pairs two of the most beautiful people ever to grace the silver screen, Ava Gardner and a very young Burt Lancaster in his debut screen performance. Based on an Ernest Hemingway short story, the film is told in back flash and explains why two gunmen have come to a small town to kill Lancaster. It’s a gorgeously shot film that should be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated, especially the extreme close ups of both Gardner and Lancaster. When you see the two of them blown up bigger than life you’ll understand what Norma Desmond meant in Sunset Blvd. when she refers to a time, “when stars had faces”. Later, down the street at Graumann’s Chinese Theatre, at 7pm Almodovar will be present for the presentation of one of his own early films, Law of Desire. The screening is part of a tribute to Almodovar complete with a red carpet, and special guests such as Antonio Banderas.

Finally, the classic screenings come to a finish on Wednesday at 4:30pm. The Egyptian will be showing the Tyron Power 1947 classic, Nightmare Alley. Power, one of the other great faces of the Classic Age of Cinema, stars in one of his rare Noirs. He’s his usual tough-headed self, but this time he’s a carnie trying to break into the legitimate night club scene. The cast includes the always enjoyable Joan Blondell, and Edmund Goulding directs Power for the second time just one year after one of the star’s most memorable films, The Razor’s Edge.

Aside from everything else the AFI Fest has to offer, I don’t see how anyone can pass up on free classic films at the Egyptian. You sure can’t beat the price, the venue is one of the absolute best, and the films are well worth a trip to Hollywood. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to see these films the way they were meant to be seen - projected on the big screen. And, again, it’s FREE!

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