AFI Fest Announces Full Festival Lineup Including World Premieres of ‘Freud’s Last Session’ and ‘Albert Brooks: Defending My Life’ – Film News in Brief

The American Film Institute (AFI) has announced the full lineup for their 2023 festival, which will run in person from Oct. 25 to Oct. 29. The festival will feature the world premiere of Rob Reiner’s “Albert Brooks: Defending My Life” and the world premiere of Matthew Brown’s “Freud’s Last Session,” starring Anthony Hopkins and Matthew Goode.

Other titles include Andrew Haigh’s “All of Us Strangers,” Cord Jefferson’s “American Fiction,” Jeff Nichols’ “The Bikeriders,” Mahalia Belo’s “The End We Start From,” Christos Nikou’s “Fingernails,” Michel Franco’s “Memory,” Jessica Yu’s “Quiz Lady” and J.A. Bayona’s “Society of the Snow.”

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AFI previously announced that Sam Esmail’s “Leave the World Behind,” starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali and Ethan Hawke, will open the festival on Oct. 25. The Leonard Bernstein biopic “Maestro,” directed by and starring Bradley Cooper, will close the festival. “Maxine’s Baby: The Tyler Perry Story” is the Centerpiece film.

AFI Fest’s complete program includes 141 titles hailing from 49 different countries. Passes to the festival can be purchased at

AAFCA Goes to Broadway Honorees to Include LaChanze, Kenny Leon and Jeffrey Richards

The African American Film Critics Association will host its second edition of AAFCA Goes to Broadway on Oct. 2 to honor LaChanze, Kenny Leon, Jeffrey Richards and Toni-Leslie James.

“Everything starts on Broadway, the original training ground for above and below-the-line talent in film and television. Broadway is where these individuals tirelessly hone their craft and deserve its superlative reputation as the ultimate talent pipeline,” said Gil Robertson IV, president and co-founder of AAFCA, in a statement.

LaChanze won the Tony for her lead role in the musical “The Color Purple” and has since won two more Tonys in 2023 for her work as a producer. Leon is a director, producer, actor and author, who earned a Tony for directing the play “A Raisin in the Sun.” Richards has won eight Tonys as lead producer on various plays and musicals. James is an Obie Award-winning costume designer, whose work was featured in the Netflix film “Rustin.”

“The work of these talented players illustrates how Broadway has served as a crucial training ground for numerous iconic figures. Their success offers a beacon of possibility for aspiring artists,” Robertson said in the statement.

The inaugural AAFCA Goes to Broadway in 2022 honored LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Wendell Pierce, Irene Gandy, Jordan Cooper and the creative team behind the reboot of the play “Top Dog/Underdog.”

Turtle and the Hare Productions produce AAFCA Goes to Broadway, with support from Morgan Stanley Sports and Entertainment Wealth and Comcast/Xfinity’s The Black Experience.

Indie Film ‘Starstruck,’ Starring Neal McDonough and Cory Hardrict, Gets SAG-AFTRA Interim Agreement

Manny Halley Production has been granted a SAG-AFTRA Interim Agreement and a California Tax Credit to start production for the independent film “Starstruck.”

“Starstruck” centers around a record label’s search for a new star; the label ultimately find themselves assembling a boy band instead. The group experiences a meteoric rise to fame and the film tracks their ups and downs in the spotlight. Neal McDonough, Cory Hardrict, Iyana Halley, Jordan L. Jones, and Jazlyn Martin star.

Jamal Hill wrote and directed “Starstruck.” Manny Halley serves as executive producer and Yolanda Halley and Rodney Turner of Faith Media Distribution serve as producers.

The Black-owned Manny Halley Production is a subdivision of Imani Media Group.

Visual Effects Society Announces Special 2023 Honorees

The Visual Effects Society announced its newest fellows, who will be celebrated at an October event with the other honorees. The new fellows — Jeff Barnes, Toni Pace Carstensen, Bob Coleman, Chuck Finance, Shannon Gans, Tim McGovern and Ray McMillan — will be bestowed with post-nominal letters “VES.”

Barnes serves as executive vice president of creative development at Light Field Lab. He has also co-founded and led several entertainment and visual effects companies. His studios have provided award-winning imagery for several films, including “Armageddon,” “The Aviator,” “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Iron Man.”

Carstensen is a founding member of VES, where she served as the Society’s first treasurer among several other roles. She serves as longtime chair of the vision committee, and her feature credits include VFX producer/digital production manager on “Avatar,” “Minority Report” and “Fantasia 2000.”

Coleman is president and founder of the Digital Artists Agency, which hosts a roster of talent including Academy Award, VES Award and Emmy Award-wining artisans. He has worked in film production, visual effects and post production, holding leadership positions at companies such as Victor Duncan Inc., Optimus Inc., Editel Chicago and Lucas Arts.

Finance is known for producing and directing science films for prodction companies such as the American Geological Institute, National Science Foundation and Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He co-founded Perpetual Motion Pictures and oversaw production of visual effects, titles and opticals for films such as “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” “Leviathan” and “Mom and Dad Save the World.”

Gans is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of New Deal Studios, which has produced award-winning sequences on more than 200 films and commercials, including “Interstellar” and “The Aviator.” She is also on the Apple team behind the new mixed-reality headset, as well as an executive producer on an animated series for Jon Stewart at HBO.

McGovern began his career at the inception of computer visual effects and has since won an Academy Award for Digital Visual Effects. He was also a founding member of Sony Pictures Imageworks, where he held different leadership positions. McGovern currently works at DNEG Mumbai, in addition to serving as chief creative officer at Whisper Pictures.

McMillan is a visual effects supervisor/producer, director and director of photography, known for his work on films including “The Day After Tomorrow,” “The Incredible Hulk” and “X-Men.” He has won more than 40 awards for his work and has recently worked as VFX supervisor on the Apple TV+ series Jane.

“Our VES honorees represent a group of exceptional artists, innovators and professionals who have had a profound impact on the field of visual effects and in service to our global Society,” said VES Board Chair Lisa Cooke in a statement. “We are proud to recognize those who helped shape our shared legacy and our worldwide VFX community, and continue to inspire future generations of VFX practitioners.”

Montclair Film Festival Announces Full 2023 Lineup

The Montclair Film Festival, which will run from Oct. 20-29 in New Jersey, has announced their full lineup of programming.

Films will compete in the categories of Fiction, Non-Fiction, New Jersey Films, Future/Now and Short Film.

Non-competition titles include Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “About Dry Glasses,” Andrew Haigh’s “All of Us Strangers,” Wim Wenders’ “Anselm” in 3D, Aki Kaurismaki’s “Fallen Leaves,” Christos Nikou’s “Fingernails,” Bob Byington’s “Lousy Carter,” Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s “NYAD” and Wim Wenders’ “Perfect Days,” among many other titles.

Montclair Film Festival has also announced their 2023 Filmmaker Tribute to Martin Scorsese, hosted by Stephen Colbert at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on Oct. 27 at 8:00 p.m. The two will sit down for a conversation celebrating Scorsese’s iconic career.

Tickets go on sale on Monday, Oct. 2 at 10:00 am for Montclair Film Members and Friday, Oct. 6 at 10:00 am for the public. Tickets can be purchased at

‘Moana’ Producer Osnat Shurer Joins Baobab Studios as Co-Chief Creative Officer

Osnat Shurer, the Academy Award nominated producer of “Moana,” has joined Baobab Studios as co-chief creative officer alongside chief creative officer Eric Darnell.

Shurer will be working on Baobab’s “Momoguro” franchise as well as the Disney+ series “Intercats” and “Witchverse.” “Momoguro” is a multi-platform franchise consisting of a digital collectibles game, a forthcoming Roblox game as well as a television series in development.

“Intercats” is an animated workplace comedy based on the Baobab graphic novel series of the same name. “The Witchverse” is an animated fantasy adventure event series based on Baobab’s short film and VR experience “Baby Yaga.” It stars an all-female ensemble including Kate Winslet, Jennifer Hudson, Daisy Ridley and Glenn Close.

Shurer has worked in animation for over 30 years, having produced Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” in addition to “Moana.”

“I’m honored to join Baobab Studios,” Shurer said. “Throughout my career, I’ve been at the forefront of shaping stories with fresh, nuanced, powerful female protagonists. You can imagine why I was immediately drawn to Baobab and this fantastic group of mavericks and the opportunity to explore the very cutting-edge of technology and games in service of telling great stories.”

Shurer has previously served as vice president of development for Walt Disney Feature Animation and as the executive producer for Pixar’s short films group.

Naples International Film Festival Unveils Slate, Including ‘E.T.’ as Closing Night Presentation

R.J. Daniel Hanna’s cycling drama “Hard Miles” will open Florida’s Naples International Film Festival while Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” will serve as its closing night presentation.

Both films join the lineup for NIFF’s 15th annual festival that will run between Oct. 26-29. A slate of 57 films (12 narrative features, 10 documentary features and 35 short films) from eight countries are joining its programming, with a variety of post-screening filmmaker Q&A conversations.

Christian Cicerone’s musical feature “Duelers” will make its world premiere while Arabella Burfitt-Dons’ drama “Grey Matter” makes its U.S. premiere and Gilles Legardinier’s “Mr. Blake At Your Service!” and Ido Mizrahy’s “The Longest Goodbye” make their East Coast premieres.

“We are thrilled to unveil this exceptional lineup of films that promises to captivate and inspire our audiences during the 15th anniversary of the Naples International Film Festival. These offerings are a testament to our unwavering commitment to the art of independent film and to the community,” said Artis—Naples CEO/president Kathleen van Bergen.

Films part of the competition bracket will battle for a $10,000 prize in categories including audience awards for best narrative feature, best documentary feature and best short.

The narrative feature juried competition includes Haroula Rose’s “All Happy Families,” Shaun Dozier’s “The Problem of the Hero” and Vivian Kerr’s “Scrap” while the documentary feature sector is comprised of Miranda Yousef’s “Art for Everybody,” Josh Berman’s “Full Circle” and Maggie Contreras’ “Maestra.”

American Cinema Editors (ACE) Announces Annual Election Results

American Cinema Editors (ACE) has announced the winners of its annual election. Vice president Sabrina Plisco will serve another two-year term in addition to treasurer Andrew Seklir. They will serve on the leadership team with president Kevin Trent and secretary Lillian Benson.

The ACE board of directors includes Kate Amend, Richard Chew, Dana E. Glauberman, Dorian Harris, Maysie Hoy, Nancy Richardson, Tatiana S. Riegel, Stephen Rivkin, Kate Sanford and Terilyn A. Shropshire. Associate board members include Ben Bulatao, Mark Helfrich, Susan Vaill and John Venzon.

“On behalf of American Cinema Editors, we are proud to welcome our newly elected Board Members to the ACE leadership team,” said ACE President Kevin Tent. “As ACE continues to grow globally and continue our mission of illuminating and celebrating the craft of film editing, we remain profoundly grateful to all who serve the organization and make it possible to continue our work.”

‘The Killer’ Joins NYFF’s Spotlight Selection

David Fincher’s graphic thriller “The Killer” has joined the New York Film Festival as a spotlight selection with two separate screenings.

Its first screening will take place on Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Paris Theater with the second on Oct. 15 at 8:45 p.m. at the Walter Reade Theater. The NYFF will run between Sept. 29 to Oct. 15.

“The Killer” is based on Alexis “Matz” Nolent and Luc Jacamon’s novel series of the same name in which a fateful near-miss assassin battles his employers, and himself, on an international manhunt he insists isn’t personal. Michael Fassbender, Charles Parnell, Arliss Howard, Sophie Charlotte and Tilda Swinton make up the films cast.

Andrew Kevin Walker developed the screenplay while Ceán Chaffin produced and Fincher directed.

‘Spirit Halloween: The Movie’ to Stream on Shudder

It’s time to take a trip back to everyone’s favorite Halloween store.

AMC Network has officially licensed the rights for David Poag’s “Spirit Halloween: The Movie” to stream on its streaming service Shudder. The film will creep its way onto the streamer on Oct. 2 just in time for spooky season.

“Spirit Halloween” follows the story of three young friends — Jake (Donovan Colan), Carson (Dylan Martin Frankel) and Bo (Jaiden Smith) — who make a trip to a Halloween store in a deserted strip mall. Believing that they’ve outgrown their childhood days of trick or treating, they venture into the Spirit Halloween store on a mission to spend a night locked inside. However, their “spook-filled fun” night quickly shifts into “outlandish survival” as they’re haunted by Alec Windsor (Christopher Lloyd), a deceased man whose spirit has possessed the Spirit Halloween store.

“Spirit Halloween” stars Lloyd Colan, Frankel, Smith and Rachael Leigh Cook who joins as one of the boys’ mom, Sue, who remarried after her husband passed. It originally debuted on demand in October of 2022

Notably, Dazzler Media, out of the U.K., will also release the film in select theaters on Oct. 13 and on DVD from Oct. 16.

Production took place from the end of 2019 to November 2021, on location at an abandoned Toys R Us location in Georgia. The film was directed by Poag with a screenplay by Billie Bates. Hideout Pictures, Strike Back Studios, Particular Crowd and Film Mode Entertainment produced the film.

‘Gay Old Life’ from the ‘Dicks: The Musical’ Soundtrack Available to Stream

The song “Gay Old Life,” from A24’s upcoming film “Dicks: The Musical” has been released. Nathan Lane who stars in the film, leads the musical number which includes a refrain by co-star Megan Mulally of “Will and Grace.” A lyric video has been also been released which features scenes from the film and introduces two characters known as The Sewer Boys.

“Gay Old Life” is written by co-composer Karl Saint Lucy and produced by Marius de Vries; the lyrics are penned by the film’s writers and stars Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson.

The soundtrack for “Dicks: The Musical” is presented by A24 and Chernin Entertainment. In addition to Sharp, Jackson and Lane, the film also stars Megan Thee Stallion, Bowen Yang, Nick Offerman, Tom Kenny and more. The “Parent Trap”-esque plot follows two business rivals who realize they are identical twins and switch places in an attempt to reunite their divorced parents.

“Dicks: The Musical” is set to be released on Oct. 6 in theaters. “Gay Old Life” is available to stream now.

AMWU Approves New Contract with Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

The Academy Museum Workers United (AMWU), AFSCME Local 126, has approved a contract with the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures that includes a minimum of 3% annual wage increases.

Approved on Sept. 22, the contract garnered a 98.6% vote with a variety of gains for workers. Said benefits include a minimum starting rate of $20 per hour, step increases based on the number of years employed and wage increases for the 170+ members of the bargaining unit over the course of the contract’s three-year term.

Front-line staff who work in the museum’s visitor experience, retail, theater operations and facilities departments, who make up the majority of its bargaining unit, will see great raises ranging between 19.1% and 21.3% over the duration of the contract.

International Production Design Week Announces Full Programming Lineup

The programming for International Production Design Week (IPDW), running from Oct. 20-29, has been announced by the Production Designers Collective.

IPDW will consist of master classes, screenings, panels and exhibitions in its celebration of the art of production design. Events will take place both in person and online in more than 20 countries, open to filmmakers, industry collaborators, students and the public.

In Los Angeles, Rick Carter, who worked on “Jurassic Park,” will moderate a conversation with industry peers Jack Fisk (“Badlands”), Jim Bissle (“E.T.”), Jeannine Oppewall (“LA Confidential”) and K.K. Barrett (“Being John Malkovich”). In New York, Patrizia Von Brandenstein (“Amadeus”), Stuart Wurtzel (“Hannah and her Sisters”), Kristi Zea (“Goodfellas”), Wynn Thomas (“Malcolm X”) and David Gropman (“Life of Pi”) will talk about their shared history through filmmaking.

There will be masterclasses in several countries spotlighting the work of prominent designers, including a two-day event in Copenhagen for James Chinlund (“Batman”) and Maria Djurkovic (“Ferrari”), and masterclasses by Patrice Vernette (“Dune”) in Canada, among many others across the world.

Directors including Luc Dardenne, Sam Esmail and Susanna Fogel will also participate in IPDW to celebrate the contributions of production designers.

The week of programming also includes special screenings featuring production designers, film festival collaborations, set tours, and documentaries and interviews. Visit for the full lineup of events.

39th Boston Film Festival Announces Award Winners

The 39th Boston Film Festival has announced the winners of the awards for their live event program, with “American Outlaws” standing out with 5 total wins.

The festival honored actor Dermot Mulroney with the Film Excellence Award, which he accepted in person. Mulroney has starred in films like “Breakwater” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” The late actor Treat Williams was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, which his son Gil Williams accepted on his behalf.

The award for Best Film went to Sean McEwen’s “American Outlaws,” which also won the award for Best Screenplay and Best Director. McEwen penned the film in addition to directing. Dermot Mulroney won Best Actor for “Breakwater” and India Eisley won Best Actress for “American Outlaws.” “Breakwater,” directed by James Rowe, won the award for Audience Favorite Feature.

Screenings were hosted at various theaters across Boston. The festival was sponsored by Marina Studios, Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport and Sip Bar and Restaurant.

More information about the Boston Film Festival can be found here.

The NAACP Sets Image Awards Date

The 55th NAACP Image Awards will broadcast live in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 16 via BET and CBS, the NAACP announced Friday.

Official nominees will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 25. NAACP will recognize winners in non-televised Image Awards categories from March 12-14 streaming with the organization’s website. Additional winners will be acknowledged during the NAACP Image Awards Dinner on Friday, March 15 in L.A.

“We are thrilled to bring back the Image Awards along with our partner BET and CBS once again,” said Derrick Johnson, president/CEO of the NAACP. “With such a significant year in achievement among African-Americans in all areas in 2023, we know the show will celebrate and inspire our community once again.”

The 55th NAACP Image Awards celebrates achievements and performances of people of color across 80+ categories across film, television, streaming, music, literature and podcasts. Eight new submission categories — including motion picture, recording, podcast, literature and stunt — have been added to this year’s slate.

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