Tom Hanks' 'Saving Mr. Banks' to Open AFI Fest

"Saving Mr. Banks"
"Saving Mr. Banks"
 François Duhamel/Disney Enterprises, Inc

Saving Mr. Banks, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, will have its North American premiere as the opening night film at AFI Fest on Nov. 7.

The world premiere of Foxcatcher, starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, will have a gala world premiere on Nov. 8 as its launches a slate of indie films that will screen at the fest, which takes place in Hollywood. The Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis will screen as the closing night film on Nov. 14.

Director Agnes Varda, who is considered “the mother of French New Wave cinema,” will serve as guest artistic director of the festival, which is organized by the American Film Institute and presented by Audi.

“The American Film Institute honors the past, the present and the future of the motion picture arts. Now in its 27th year, AFI Fest remains the place to experience Hollywood now -- a place that lives in the mythology of the movies, but also the dynamic global stories of today,” AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said in announcing the festival’s key films on Wednesday.

“Having Agnes Varda as guest artistic director was a conscious decision to recognize the global influence of an icon of the French New Wave,” said festival director Jacqueline Lyanga. “The blending of studio, independent, foreign and auteur films and the artists who made them is the embodiment of AFI Fest.”

Banks, which Disney will release on Dec. 13, stars Hanks as Walt Disney and Thompson as P.L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books, and recounts Disney’s efforts to win her approval to bring her character to the big screen. John Lee Hancock directs from a screenplay by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. The cast also includes stars Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, Annie Rose Buckley, Ruth Wilson, B.J. Novak, Rachel Griffiths, Kathy Baker and Colin Farrell. The festival will also screen Mary Poppins during its opening weekend.

Directed by Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher is a based-on-a-true-story psychological drama starring Carell as eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont, Tatum as Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz and Mark Ruffalo as Schultz’s brother Dave. The film, which Sony Pictures Classics will release on Dec. 20, was written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman and also stars Vanessa Redgrave and Sienna Miller.

Davis, written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and produced by the Coens and Scott Rudin, stars Oscar Isaac as an aspiring folk singer along with Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund and Justin Timberlake. It will be released by CBS Films on Dec. 6.  

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