AFI Film Festival Highlight: “La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet”

LadanseFamed documentarian, Fredrick Weisman returned to Paris to shoot the documentary feature, “La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet”. “La Danse” is one of the documentaries highlighting the 2009 AFI Film Festival.

In the film, Weisman allows us to voyeur into the world of the ballet behind the scenes. We see rehearsals in the studios and on stage, the costume making department, and the administrative offices of the artistic director. He allows the audience us to sit in on meetings with the artistic director as she meets with budgeting committee, her choreographers and her teachers. We get an even more personal view as the artistic director has a heart-to-heart or one-on-one with one of her dancers, who at over 25,  is fearful of not being able to perform the demanded jumps and plies that a performance often requires. The director assures the dancer that she would not have to participate in every dance and that reassurance seems to be just what is needed.  The realities of putting on a costly production are looked at as well, as life as a dancer is shown as well. There is a company meeting where retirement packages for a dancer in the Paris Opera Ballet is discussed and reminded that a dancer’s life ends at 40.

Lovers of all dance genres will love this look at dancing. Shot in France with English subtitles, there are beautiful aerial looks at Paris. Final performances at the end, bring the film full circle.

Running Time: 2hr 38 min Production Company: Zipporah Films, Inc./Ideale Audience
Producer: Frederick Wiseman, Pierre-Olivier Bardet
Cinematographer: John Davey
Editor: Frederick Wiseman
Sound: Frederick Wiseman

In theaters, Wednesday, November 4th

Check out the trailer for the film below:

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AFI Film Festival Hits Los Angeles October 30-November 7

"Fantastic Mr. Fox" directed Wes Anderson 20th Century Fox

"Fantastic Mr. Fox" directed Wes Anderson 20th Century Fox

“THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX”, directed by Wes Anderson and starring Jason Schwartzman is scheduled to open the AFI FEST 2009. The film is a stop-motion animated feature which will be screened at the festival’s opening night at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The film also stars the voices of  George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wally Wolodarsky, Eric Anderson, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson and Jarvis Cocker.

The Weinstein Company’s “A SINGLE MAN” has been selected as the closing night gala presentation.  Sony Pictures Classics’ “THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS” has been selected as AFI FEST’s Centerpiece Screening Gala presentation. The film will make its US Premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Monday, November 2, 2009.

“A SINGLE MAN” features the directorial debut of fashion designer Tom Ford from his script adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s acclaimed novel. The film follows a day in the life of a gay British college professor in Los Angeles as he attempts to cope with the death of his partner. Ford’s work helming the project and Colin Firth’s lead performance in the film have received critical acclaim following screenings at the Venice and Toronto film festivals. Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode and Ginnifer Goodwin also star in the film. The Weinstein Company release is due in theaters on December 11. Ford, Firth and Moore are scheduled to attend.

“It is exciting to champion a talented artist like Tom Ford as he moves beyond the boundaries of one medium into another. In “A SINGLE MAN”, he delivers an elegant and beautiful personal story that will resonate with all audience members“ said AFI FEST Artistic Director Rose Kuo.

The Centerpiece Screening Gala presentation features the latest work by director Terry Gilliam. “THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS” follows the leader of a traveling theater troupe who, having made a deal with the devil, takes audience members through a magical mirror to explore their imaginations. The film stars Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell and Heath Ledger in his final role. The Sony Pictures Classics release is due in theaters stateside on December 25. Gilliam and Plummer are scheduled to attend.
“The mind-altering, looking-glass world that Terry Gilliam creates in “IMAGINARIUM” notes Director of Programming Robert Koehler, “is like a model for his ideal cinema, in which anything can happen and all rules are broken. If audiences thought that “THE DARK KNIGHT” was their last glimpse of Heath Ledger, then what Ledger brings to Gilliam’s fantasy-adventure will surprise them.”

AFI FEST has selected actors Christopher Plummer and Viggo Mortensen to receive tributes at this year’s Festival. Sponsored by the Skirball Cultural Center, Plummer’s tribute event will precede the screening of his film THE LAST STATION on Tuesday, November 3. Mortensen’s tribute will precede the US Premiere of the film THE ROAD on Wednesday, November 4. Both Tributes will take place at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

One of the world’s most respected actors, Plummer has won two Tony Awards (for CYRANO and BARRYMORE), three Drama Desk Awards, the National Arts Club Medal and two Emmys.

“THE ROAD” is adapted from the acclaimed novel by Cormac McCarthy.  The film stars Mortensen as a father making his way with his young son across the scorched landscape of a post-apocalyptic world. Directed by John Hillcoat from a script by Joe Penhall, the film also stars Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce and Molly Parker. The Weinstein Company release is due in theaters November 25.  Mortensen, Hillcoat and Theron are scheduled to attend.

Mortensen’s career highlights include notable films roles in “THE LORD OF THE RINGS” TRILOGIES and, “EASTERN PROMISES” for which he received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations.

“Viggo Mortensen and Christopher Plummer are two actors and film artists of the highest order,” said Kuo. “They share that rare trait of being looked up to by audiences and film fans around the world as well as being greatly respected by their peers.”

Other highlights among the complete film schedule announced today include Jonathan Demme’s music documentary “NEIL YOUNG TRUNK SHOW” (with Demme and Young confirmed to attend) and the screening of two films connected by legendary art director and longtime AFI Conservatory Distinguished Lecturer Robert Boyle, who turned 100 on October 10. Those films are AFI Conservatory Alumnus Daniel Raim’s (Production Design ’99) documentary SOMETHING’S GONNA LIVE and Alfred Hitchcock’s classic NORTH BY NORTHWEST, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

On Monday, November 2, AFI FEST, in conjunction with Warner Home Video will present a special screening of Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST. The first Hitchcock film to be released on Blu-ray, the film has been restored and remastered for its 50th anniversary. As part of the Gala event, director William Friedkin will attend to moderate a Q&A with Boyle and the film’s stars Eva Marie Saint and Martin Landau.

AFI FEST continues its unique and successful association with the American Film Market with 23 of the features in official selection at AFI FEST represented by distributors at AFM, unfolding concurrently with AFI FEST from November 4–November 11.

AFI FEST 2009’s overall lineup will showcase 67 features (54 narrative, 13 documentary) and 27 shorts for a total of 94 films from 32 countries.

The Festival is headquartered at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. All screenings from October 30–November 5 will take place at the Grauman’s Chinese and Mann Chinese 6 theaters in Hollywood with the final two days of the Festival (November 6-7) screening at the Laemmle’s Monica 4-plex in Santa Monica.

A limited number of free tickets to all Festival screenings are available online at AFI.com/AFIFEST or by phone at 866-AFI-FEST . Early entry to all screenings can be secured by becoming a patron of the Festival and purchasing an AFI FEST Patron Pass. For more details, visit AFI.com.