AFI ends on defiant note

Zwick's 'Defiance' closes film festival

It was a week of redemption, romance and “Defiance” as the AFI Fest closed its 2008 edition.

Two years ago, helmer Darren Aronofsky stood at the same spot in Grauman’s Chinese Theater before “The Fountain” unspooled, imploring fest auds to “please go support this film.”

On Thursday, a more confident Aronofsky came back to the fest, rejuvenated by the response to his heavily lauded film “The Wrestler.” After introducing co-stars Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei, Aronofsky brought out Mickey Rourke, who is clearly basking in his budding comeback. 

Recalling the all-night bidding war for the pic at Toronto, Fox Searchlight topper Peter Rice said, “We just had to have this film.”

On Saturday, Overture head Chris McGurk beamed over the stars — Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson — of his pic “Last Chance Harvey” at the film’s pre-party at Citrus.

“Defiance” closed out the fest on Sunday, with stars Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell filling in for an absent Daniel Craig. Paramount’s John Lesher embraced helmer Edward Zwick, who looked positively relieved: “It took 12 years to make this movie.  I couldn’t be happier about where it landed.”

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