Audi drives AFI screenings

Festival, car company offer free tickets

In what may be a first for a major film festival, AFI Fest and Audi have announced they will offer free tickets to all screenings at the Oct. 30-Nov. 7 event.

“Presenting the screenings compliments of AFI and Audi is our way of reaching out to film lovers in these challenging times and inviting them to see a movie on us,” said AFI prexy-CEO Bob Gazzale.

Freebie is expected to be a major promotional push for Audi, which has been working overtime in Hollywood over the past several years to refurbish the image of the luxury automaker by pairing up with high-profile entertainment events that attract an influential audience.

Audi has partnered with AFI for the past six years and has increased its efforts around the fest each year, ponying up its own marketing coin to sponsor parties, show off its newest cars to attendees and chauffeur talent.

The free tickets will include a limited number of seats at evening screenings and the opening- and closing-night galas.

“We will be selling passes to film patrons that will give priority access to screenings,” festival spokesman John Wildman said. “But other than individual tickets for the gala events — income from which will fund the ability to offer free seats at all other screenings in addition to those same galas — everything else will be free.”

The festival, which drew about 80,000 attendees last year, has offered one-off free screenings and filmmaker panels in the past. “However, I believe this is an unprecedented event for a film festival to offer free seats to every single screening,” Wildman added.

The festival will be headquartered at Mann’s Chinese Theater between Oct. 30 and Nov. 5 and then move to Santa Monica for screenings presented in association with the American Film Market.

The Hollywood Roosevelt is the festival’s host hotel. The festival will be programmed by AFI Fest artistic director Rose Kuo in partnership with film writer Robert Koehler and AFI Fest programmer Lane Kneedler.