‘Doubt’ opens AFI Festival

Meryl Streep attends special screening

While the AFI Fest’s scheduled opener had been “The Soloist,” “Doubt” filled in at the festival’s Thursday night ArcLight launch with star Meryl Streep in attendance.

“If this is the consolation prize,” said artistic director Rose Kuo, “we need to have more movies cancel.”

Miramax topper Daniel Battsek said the decision to show the just-about-finished film he called “still wet behind the ears” came when they were “knuckle-down working on it and we thought: ‘Let’s give it some light and air to breathe.’ We believed in it and tonight confirms that.”

Two nights later the revolution hit the red carpet as Steven Soderbergh’s “Che” had its AFI Fest screening at the Mann Chinese Theater.

“As I was chauffeured here in a new Audi,” mused Soderbergh before his communist revolutionary pic unspooled, “I thought, ‘How am I like Che?’ ”

Others making the limo ride were pic’s Benicio Del Toro and producer Laura Bickford as well as Joaquin Phoenix who was on hand to promote his pic, “Two Lovers,” which preemed that same night. The recently retired thesp brandished a message written on his two fists — “Good Bye!”

At the “Che” Social Hollywood after-party, one film exec, looking around the opulent space, noted that Che would be nowhere near this crowd, “He’d be in the back, talking to the staff.”

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