AFI Fest 2019 kicks off tonight

If we haven’t said it before, Fall is Reel 360’s favorite time of year because of all the interesting events happening around Hollywood. Hot off the American Film Market, we are now lucky enough to bring you AFI Fest 2019 presented by Audi.

And with films including Queen & Slim, The Two Popes, Richard Jewell and countless other indie films and filmmakers, we could not be more excited to cover. With last year’s grounding of the LA Film Festival, the annual AFI Fest has officially taken the belt as Los Angeles’ heavyweight local festival

The fest begins tonight with the premiere of the Queen & Slim.  The racially-charged romantic drama comes from two-time Grammy award winning director Melina Matsoukas, the visionary filmmaker behind this generation’s most powerful pop-culture experiences, including HBO’s Insecure, the Emmy award-winning “Thanksgiving” episode of Netflix’s Master of None, and Beyonce’s Formation, and from trailblazing, Emmy-winning writer Lena Waithe (The Chi).

The plot sounds all too familiar. While on a forgettable first date together in Ohio, a black man (Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya) and a black woman (Jodie Turner-Smith, in her first starring feature-film role), are pulled over for a minor traffic infraction.

The situation escalates, with sudden and tragic results, when the man kills the police officer in self-defense. Terrified and in fear for their lives, the man, a retail employee, and the woman, a criminal defense lawyer, are forced to go on the run. But the incident is captured on video and goes viral, and the couple unwittingly become a symbol of trauma, terror, grief and pain for people across the country. Watch the gripping trailer below:

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Audi Returns for 16th Year as Sponsor

Luxury car manufacturer, Audi returns for the 16th year as the exclusive Presenting Sponsor of AFI FEST, enabling the festival to host the very best of world cinema. Audi and their visionary support reflect a continuing commitment to create opportunities for equality in film and television.

Audi also supports AFI through the Audi Fellowship for Women, a full-tuition scholarship program that supports promising female directors entering the AFI Conservatory.

This Fellowship is part of the Audi commitment to drive progress and a landmark investment in the future of the storytelling community.

Through their #DriveProgress initiative, Audi will launch their “Changing the Chairs” campaign at AFI FEST which celebrates, embraces and recognizes the change happening now within the industry with more women directing big budget films, more women in leadership positions and more opportunities for women to share their perspectives.

This year, Audi worked with artist Kate Raudenbush to create a large-scale art installation that illuminates the success made by female directors, honors those who helped pave the way and advocates that more stories need to be told by women.

The installation will be stationed at the TCL Chinese Theatre beginning opening night with companion pieces in the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters lobby and The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel lobby.

In addition, Natalie Camou, the first Audi Fellow, directed a video content piece for the initiative that will coincide with the installation and the launch of the campaign at this year’s AFI Fest. Watch below:

Among one of the biggest changes to this year’s festival Reel 360 has noticed is the lack of free tickets. Since 2009, the festival had offered tickets for free, which allowed the public the chance to see some of the best cinema out there and, quite frankly, separated AFI from other festivals.

According to new director Michael Lumpkin, the shift was motivated more by process and organization than finances, and there will still be a handful of free events he told the Los Angeles Times.

AFI Fest will go through November 21 in Hollywood, CA, at the TCL Chinese Theatre, the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters and The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Stay tuned to Reel 360 to bring you all the scoop from our favorite fest.