The thirtieth Edition of AFIFEST Presented by Audi is underway. This festival is a wonderful collection of independent, foreign, and Oscar buzz films playing side by side in the middle of Hollywood. It always strikes me that on the street level of Hollywood Boulevard tourists look at the stars in the sidewalk and take selfies with various film characters, but two floors up in the Hollywood and Highland complex, some amazing films are showing for free. (That’s right. Tickets for AFI Fest screenings are free, which means that it is almost always a sold out house, so if you’re coming, check the website to get a ticket and arrive early to get a place in line.)
After picking up my pass, I chose Lion for my opening film of the festival. This Australian film is the story of Saroo, a young Indian boy who is separated from his brother at a train station and ends up over 1000 miles from home, in Calcutta where he can’t even speak the language. He faces hardships, eventually ending up in an orphanage. But then he is adopted by an Australian couple and grows up in Tasmania, along with another Indian adoptee who has some severe emotional issues. The second half of the film recounts Saroo, now an adult, becoming obsessed with finding his Indian family and letting them know he is well. The problem is he has no clue where he is really from in India. Working with Google Earth and childhood memories, he works toward a solution. In the meanwhile he discovers the meaning of home and family. The film is based on a true story. Screenwriter Luke Davies, actors Dev Patel and Nichole Kidman, and the films real-life subject Saroo Brierley were on hand for a Q&A after the screening. (Sometimes seeing stars is not limited to the ones in the sidewalk.) Lion opens later this month. Look for a more complete review then.
Photos provided by AFI Fest.