Actors, Film Makers, and Film Fans Occupy Hollywood Boulevard for AFI FEST 2011

Greetings everyone and welcome to this months trip inside the barracks of some of Hollywoods hottest events. Today, “The Outsiders Guide To The Inside Of Hollywood” takes you on a trip on the red carpet and inside the theaters of AFI FEST 2011. For the past two years I attended the opening night film of AFI FEST as a guest. This year I originally I thought  I was going to be attending the 25th Anniversary of AFI FEST as a member of the AFI Film Institute. As I did the previous year,  I had applied for press credentials for the 2011 Festival but figured I’d end up attending as a guest again. To my pleasant surprise I  was confirmed for Opening Night Gala Screening of “J. Edgar”. During the 2011 festival I ended up covering 5 Red Carpets and attended 6 movie premiere’s. The following are some of my highlights from the festival.

AFI FEST 2011 – Opening Night Gala Screening of “J. Edgar”

As I got to the Chinese Theatre, I started to remember that the first film I ever saw there in 1997, was “Titanic”. I was really stoked to be able to cross Leonardo DiCaprio,  off my list of celebrities haven’t I photographed. Though I never was as big as a fan of his, as it was in my sisters case, I’ve always respected and admired his diverse acting roles he takes on. He truly has grown into one of our finest actors of the 30 something generation. He shows it in a memorable performance in “J.  Edgar”.

The carpet was packed body to body. I started to feel like I was back in Oakland, in the pit at last months “Foo Fighter” show. I finally found a place on the end next to the “Entertainment Tonight’s  crew. In the beginning the spot was a good one, but as the carpet got as crowded as an LA Freeway I ended up having to change what I shot. I ended up right next to the E.T. reporter and took some shots without my flash of Leo and Clint being interviewed. Leonardo, was nice enough to turn around and let me get one shot up close.

The film J. Edgar is director Clint Eastwood’s look inside the personal life of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States. Mr. Eastwood does an amazing job directing this biopic. Leonardo DiCaprio and Naomi Watts give award winning performances as they literally age right in front of you during the picture. The actor who ended up surprising me the most was 26 year old Armie Hammer who is best known as playing the double role of the Winklevoss twins in “The Social Network”. Hammer who plays Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s associate director at the FBI. He was also Hoover’s life long love. The film does an excellent job of hinting about that though only a kiss is ever shown.

AFI FEST “The Lady” Special Screening

Driving down Mullholland I saw a large black cloud hanging over Hollywood. My first thought is my camera was going to get wet and I’d be out of luck for the next several events I was covering. I parked my car and continued down the Boulevard as the rain started to come down. I bought an umbrella and used it to shield my camera. The rain was too heavy for the umbrella and it literately broke within minutes. I used what was left of the umbrella , to protect the camera. As I finally make to the shelter of the Chinese theatre to check in.

“The Lady”,  relives the story of pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi (Michelle Yeoh) and the academic and writer Michael Aris ( David Thewlls). Michelle looked truly beautiful on the carpet. From what I’ve heard she should be making a number of carpet appearances during Award Season.

Los Angeles Times Young Hollywood Roundtable with Armie Hammer, Anton Yelchin, Evan Rachel Wood and Kirsten Dunst.

After “The Lady” carpet ended, I was able to stay at the theatre and catch a photo op with Armie Hammer, Anton Yelchin, Evan Rachel Wood and Kirsten Dunst coming back from a LA Times Young Hollywood Roundtable. Armie (who I just photographed at J. Edgar) posed with a confident look. This was also my second time photographing  “Like Crazy” star Anton Yelchin, who walked the carpet and signed autographs and took some pictures with fans. Kirsten Dunst looked fabulous in a black leather dress. Evan Rachel Wood ended up being the bell of the carpet bringing,  Old School Hollywood style, went for full-on retro chic in a virgin wool dress by designer Christian Dior.

Carnage and Rampart Premiere’s at The Chinese Theatre

On November 6,  I attended my first AFI FEST screenings of the festival. The first film I saw was the new Roman Polanski film with Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet,  John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz. “Carnage “ Tells the story of two sets of parents who decide to have a cordial meeting after their sons are involved in a schoolyard brawl. The Film is based on the play God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza. The film’s acting directing, and writing made it unlike many films I’ve ever seen. It was great seeing Reily and Waltz at the introduction to the film. I was blown away by their performances along with the women.

The second movie of the night at the famous Chinese theatre was “Rampart”, a drama film released in 2011. It is being directed by Oren Moverman and stars, Woody Harrelson as Dave Brown.The film is a police drama relating to the Rampart scandal of the 1990’s. The movie is powerful and shows you not only the affect of his actions on himself but in the two separate families he had. Robin Wright also turns in an amazing performance. Both actors were in attendance for the screening.

AFI FEST 2011 – “The Artist” Special Screening – Arrivals

After a night attending the festival then covering the “Jack and Jill” Premiere, in Westwood, I was back on the carpet at the festival. Tonight’s film was one of the most talked about. “ The artist” just came off from winning festivals top prize at The Mill Valley and Hampton film festivals. I was surprised that there was only half as much press as other events. “The Artist” is a a silent film and in black-and-white. The film is from French Director, Michel Hazanavicius. French actor Jean Dujardin who won the Best Actor Award at the Cannes film festival posed with cast and even Uggie the dog from the film.  Penelope Ann Miller looked stunning in a red dress. It was also great seeing acting legends James Cromwell and Malcolm McDowell walk the red carpet. Unfortunately by the time I got off the carpet and on the line the theater was full. Like Mill Valley the AFI members all praised the film. Lucky for us it will be opening soon.

“Jeff Who Lives At Home” and Attenberg” Screenings

This was another day that I was going to be attending the festival as a guest. I’d had planned on catching two very different films I missed at The Mill Valley Film Festival. “Jeff Who Lives at Home”. and Athina Rachel Tsangari film Attenberg.

“Jeff Who Lives at Home” starring Jason Segel and Ed Helms, directed and written by Jay and Mark Duplass and co-starring Susan Sarandon. From the title and the premiss it appears to be a stoner film. The movie is everything but. The film tells the story of a disconnected family trying to find meaning and an importance in their life. I really enjoyed the film and recommend the film to all.

“Attenberg” writer director Athina Rachel Tsangari Greece’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 84th Academy Awards 2012. Tells the story of a girl coming to terns with her sexuality while her father is dying from cancer. It follows her through her relationships with her female best friend and man she randomly meets. Found the film funny at times even though the subject matter may not be. Director did am amazing job with so me difficult scenes.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” Screening – Arrivals and Q & A

I knew this would be my most difficult film to watch. I heard a lot of people talking about this film at the Mill Valley Film Festival. I had the privilege of photographing Ezra Miller, at a screening and reception, so I was really looking forward to seeing the film.

The film is based on the novel by Lionel Shriver, about a fictional school massacre. It is written from the perspective of the killer’s mother, Eva, and documents her attempt to come to terms with her son Kevin and the murders he committed. The direction is also done in the mothers perspective. The directing shows us without actually showing us the brutal images. Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, and  Ezra Miller give chilling performances. Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly, took part in a Q& A after the film. They also hung out in the lobby and said hi to friends and fans. It’s always intriguing to hear the story behind the story.

The festival closed the following night,  with the North American premiere of  “the adventures of Tintin”.  directed by Steven Spielberg. I’d like to thank Shivna Vasavada and her staff and all the volunteers that made AFI FEST 2011 such a blast to cover and attend.  Can’t wait till AFI FEST 2012!

Jonathan Scott Shensa

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About Jonathanshensa

I'm a Celebrity Event Photographer, producer and Screenwriter. I also worked with promoting bands and spent 5 years in music management. In my younger days, I was also an Actor, News reporter, DJ, and have worked at Talent, and Management companies. I love the mass media but also love to talk about everyday topics. I want to have a positive and creative impact on the entertainment business. Check out my entertainment blog, "The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood".
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