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By Film Threat Staff | September 3, 2008

AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival has announced 15 films that will screen at this year’s Festival (October 30-November 9) including the World Premiere of the documentary, PLAYING COLUMBINE, as well as the North American Premieres of THE DESERT WITHIN, GOGOL BORDELLO NON-STOP and LAKE TAHOE.

Danny Ledonne’s PLAYING COLUMBINE takes a look at the history and controversy created by the video game “Super Columbine Massacre RPG!” from its creation through the 2006 shooting at Dawson College in which the game was singled out by the media as an influence on the shooter. The game’s removal from the Slamdance 2007 Guerrilla Gamemaker Competition resulted in half of the competition’s entries, as well as a sponsor, pulling out of the festival in protest. The screening will mark the highly anticipated film’s World Premiere.

Making their North American Premieres at AFI FEST this year are two Mexican films, THE DESERT WITHIN and LAKE TAHOE. Directed by Rodrigo Pla, THE DESERT WITHIN is a drama which follows the downward spiral (and resulting influence on his children) of a father convinced that he has received a vision from God telling him that he must take his family to the desert to build a church and forge a new life. Fernando Eimbcke’s LAKE TAHOE is a minimalist comic-drama about a young man who meets a handful of bizarre and off beat characters in a Yucatan one-horse town as he seeks replacement parts for the car he just crashed.

Also making its North American Premiere will be Margarita Jimeno’s GOGOL BORDELLO NON-STOP. The documentary is a behind-the-scenes look at the gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello and their charismatic leader and front man, Eugene Hütz.

AFI FEST also announced 10 films currently playing at the Toronto International Film Festival that will screen for Los Angeles audiences for the first time at AFI FEST this fall.

“These films represent remarkably unique views of our world from newer artists like Matteo Garrone, Ari Folman, Kelly Reichardt and Lisandro Alonso to the more established voices such as Arnaud Desplechin and Paul Schrader. They are films that have either already been celebrated and talked about at film festivals, internationally, or are sure to inspire enthusiastic discussion and debate at ours,” said Rose Kuo, AFI FEST Artistic Director.

Those films include:

Director: Paul Schrader
Based on the novel by Yoram Kaniuk, the film by AFI alum Schrader (D ‘69) is about a former circus clown who was spared the gas chamber so that he might entertain thousands of Jews as they marched to their deaths. Years later, he becomes the ringleader at an asylum in the Negev desert populated solely by Holocaust survivors. The film stars Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe.

A CHRISTMAS TALE (Un conte de Noël) (France)
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
A drama focusing on a tense Christmas reunion of a family fractured by a past tragedy and forced to reconcile despite their dysfunction due to the onset of another crisis. The film stars Mathieu Almaric and Catherine Deneuve.

Director: Matteo Garrone
Based on Roberto Saviano’s expose’ of Italy’s Neapolitan Camorra crime organization, the film traces the day-to-day lives of various people touched by the syndicate and the ever-simmering betrayal, violence and often tragic results of its influence.

Director: Kim Jee Woon
Set in the 30s, the film is a reinvention of the Spaghetti western, featuring three men embodying the title descriptions who each meet on a train in the middle of the lawless Manchurian desert and face off against each other – as well as the Japanese army and hordes of bandits.

LION’S DEN (Argentina/South Korea/Brazil)
Director: Pablo Trapero
The film is a profile of a woman jailed for a murder she may or may not have committed, who discovers she is pregnant and now must raise her child behind bars.

LIVERPOOL (Argentina/France/The Netherlands/Germany/Spain)
Director: Lisandro Alonso
The film follows the journey of an alcoholic ship worker who takes leave of his job to make an unwelcome return to his small hometown and visit his dying mother and developmentally challenged daughter.

Director: Yulene Olaizola
This documentary uses the recollections of the director’s grandmother to explore her relationship with a former lodger and his possible connection to a series of murders in Mexico City.

SKIN (UK/South Africa)
Director: Anthony Fabian
Set in 1955 and based on a true story, the film looks at the social and personal impact on two white Afikaner parents and their daughter in rural South Africa, after the girl is born with dark skin. The film stars Sophie Okonedo, Sam Neill and Alice Krige.

WALTZ WITH BASHIR (Israel/Germany/France)
Director: Ari Folman
The animated documentary investigates the involvement of an Israeli army brigade in the wholesale slaughter of a Lebanese refugee camp by Christian Phalangist militiamen.

Director: Kelly Reichardt
Michelle Williams stars as a young woman, broke and out of options, who sets out on a dramatic journey to find a better life with her dog. The cast also includes Will Patton, Larry Fessenden, and Will Oldham.

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