‘Fish Tank,’ ‘Woman Without Piano,’ ‘Ajami’ honored at AFI

Posted by · 10:39 am · November 6th, 2009

AjamiLife came calling earlier this week, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to as many AFI Fest screenings and events as I had hoped.  I did catch Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” however (a bizarre, confusing misstep with a wonderful performance from Heath Ledger) and “Everybody’s Fine” (D.O.A.).

I also caught the tribute to Christopher Plummer, who makes it known that he doesn’t want to discuss “The Sound of Music” in interviews, but given the tribute setting, poor Scott Foundas had to bring it up, right?  After some mumbling, Plummer finally shouted, with an uncomfortable smile, “Why did you ask me that?!”  I thought said tribute could have run a little longer than 20 minutes, but it was a modest event plugged in just before the festival screening of “The Last Station.”

Anyway, the festival has announced this year’s New Lights Competition award winners, a designation that “was created to acknowledge and honor vital, groundbreaking films by first and second time feature filmmakers from around the world,” according to AFI. Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank” and Javier Rebello’s “Woman Without Piano” shared the honor.

I caught “Fish Tank” early on in the fest, and I have to say, it didn’t fully work for me.  Make no mistake, Katie Jarvis’s performance is a stunner, award-worthy, beautifully natural.  And Michael Fassbender is making good on his potential, to say the least.  But the narrative feels slightly dishonest to me, particularly in the third act.  I have a lot of respect for Arnold as a filmmaker, though, and I certainly look forward to what she has in store in the future.

New Lights Competition jury members included Angela Bassett, Julie Delpy, Bill Krohn, Sergio Wolf and Yonfan.

A Special Jury Mention went to Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani’s “Ajami,” the Israeli submission for the foreign language film race.  I have not yet seen the film but I hope to get around to it over the weekend.

There was also a tribute to Viggo Mortensen tucked into the fest somewhere.  Here is an interview with the actor from the red carpet discussing his work in “The Road,” courtesy of AFI:




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8 responses so far

  • 1 11-06-2009 at 11:40 am

    Andy said...

    Any word yet on how ‘A Single Man’ played with the crowd, Kris? A friend who got in last night said she still thinks Firth is the one to beat for Best Actor. Thoughts on whether he can survive a Bridges blitz?

  • 2 11-06-2009 at 1:01 pm

    Luke said...

    I agree with you on the third act of Fish Tank. I really enjoyed the rest of it though.

    I was also at the Christopher Plummer tribute. He seems like a cool guy, but don’t mention The Sound of Music around him.

  • 3 11-06-2009 at 2:10 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    I don’t really get Plummer’s snootiness about “The Sound of Music.” It may not be high art, but it’s a cultural landmark that has brought joy to millions of filmgoers over the decades. I’d be proud to be associated with it.

  • 4 11-06-2009 at 4:20 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    “Fish Tank” has been scoring at essentially every film festival where it’s appeared. If this avalanche of accolades continues, perhaps Jarvis and Arnold (for screenplay) could find themselves as prime contenders for nominations next year, in a “The Hurt Locker”-one-year-later sort of way.

    I’m hoping so, at least.

  • 5 11-06-2009 at 5:12 pm

    Muni said...

    Regarding Ajami: I have seen it and was very affected by it. I think it’s very deep and emotional, and also smart. Definitely my favorite film this year.
    I do feel however, that this is not a film a non-Israeli can truly appreciate. It’s too specific. Too gentle. As an Israeli myself, I think A Prophet is more cosmopolitan and would be a better pick for any international award.

  • 6 11-07-2009 at 2:29 am

    Glenn said...

    “Fish Tank” was stunning. Loved that movie and Jarvis/Fassbender in it, for that matter.

  • 7 11-07-2009 at 3:10 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Muni: I’m not Israeli, and I thought “Ajami” was very powerful, as did most critics I spoke to afterwards. I don’t think you’re giving the film enough credit.

  • 8 11-07-2009 at 9:11 am

    Simone said...

    Unfortunately, IFC is going to release Fish Tank on Jan 15, 2010. Mere weeks too late for it to participate in possible Oscar contention. Sucks so bad.