AFI fest at home in H’w’d

Fitzgerald cites attendance, need for centralization

The AFI International Film Festival announced its upcoming 1999 edition will be based exclusively in Hollywood.

Citing a 90% boost in attendance for last year’s outing and a need to centralize activities, fest director Jon Fitzgerald provided a broad outline of activities at Cannes for the 13th outing of the L.A. based showcase, set for Oct. 21-28.

AFI Fest 1999 will be headquartered at the refurbished Egyptian Theater, which relaunched in December as the home of the American Cinematheque. Additional venues will include the El Capitan, Vogue and Mann Chinese. The event’s American indie and international competitions and the European Showcase will once again play exclusively on a consistent screen. Retrospective programs and repeat screenings will run daily at the Cinematheque.

“The program will be slightly smaller in the number of films screened,” Fitzgerald said. “But we should have a bit more flexibility with our second screenings. We’re going for a tighter, high-quality program and believe that Hollywood Blvd. is emerging as the area that will represent the city and industry’s heart and soul.”

The fest is negotiating for a major studio premiere with plans for a street party on opening night. Under Fitzgerald — a founder of the Slamdance fest — the AFI fest has shifted its emphasis to international cinema with U.S. debuts of many of the Oscar foreign-language nominees, including recent winners “Life is Beautiful” and “Character.”