A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


A Student Publication of Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA


Dreams come true at 2023 AFI Fest

A spectacle to behold in LaLa
Anthony Solorzano
A marquee outside the TCL Chinese Theater greeting festival goers.

The freeways of LA were jam-packed with traffic. My GPS re-routed me three different times. The congested roads dragged my anticipation into a state of anxiety. Looking for parking in LA didn’t help. The parking garage was filled with visitors seeking adventure within the grandiosity of the City of Angels.

When arriving at the AFI Film Festival with time to spare, an attitude that personified, “This is why planning ahead is important,” overtook my jittery mind. The starry lights of Hollywood Boulevard met my eyes. My dream of covering and writing about a film festival was no longer just wishful thinking.

I used to ride my scooter, with a dollar in hand, to the local video store to watch the movies that were nominated for the Oscars. Years later, I arrived in my Prius with a press pass in hand, ready to watch the potential nominations.

Watching a film at a festival is by far an experience unmatched by a casual visit to the local Cineplex. The crowds were engaged at every moment of the film. During a showing of a Japanese film called “Evil Does Not Exist,” the room was filled. Latecomers were forced to hunt for an open spot in a packed auditorium.

The film followed a community fighting back at an investor trying to build a “glamping” site on their land. The audience responded to every emotional moment in the film. They laughed at every single comedic relief. They gasped at every breathtaking shot. The audience shared an aesthetically pleasing experience as one.

Hana, Takumi’s daughter, lives in the Mizubiki Village on the outskirts of Toyko, Japan where plans for a campsite near the village offer a ‘comfortable escape”‘ to nature. (IMDB.com)

“Evil Does Not Exist” enthralled the audience from the beginning with a slow build-up that used picturesque cinematography to keep the audience hypnotized. It paid off with an ending that will make you wonder if everyone is just filled with evil.

At a later showing, the 1985 film “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” a choice hand-selected by the guest artistic director Greta Gerwig, the experience reached heights never seen before.

As soon as the Warner Brothers logo appeared, the audience clapped in excitement. Every new scene was expected by the audience, yet each bit was met with an ecstasy that felt like the first time watching it with their cheering and applause. It was a true cult classic showing.

The power of cinema that was felt through the engagement from the audience was reciprocated by the showing of the film “Copa 71.”

The documentary directed by Rachel Ramsey and James Erskine, followed a group of women from different countries discussing their experience of playing in a soccer tournament that was unofficially called the World Cup.

The tournament has never been acknowledged as an official World Cup. When she watched footage from it, two-time World Cup winner Brandi Chastain was in disbelief that the tournament existed. If the film did not exist, no one would know about it.

“Yeah, we found that if we asked men where the footage was,” Erskin said. “They didn’t know where it went.” Now, because of the documentary, people will know women’s soccer has been played internationally since the 1970s with the potential to inspire women that anything is possible.

Cinephiles were able to watch films that have been affected by the current SAG-AFTRA strike. Jeff Nichols’ latest motorcycle gang film, “The Bikeriders” has been postponed indefinitely by 20th Century Fox, but AFI Fest goers got a chance to catch it.

In Jeff Nichols’s “The Bikeriders,” Austin Butler portrays one of the movie’s main characters, Benny. (IMDB.com)

“The Bikeriders” tells the story of a Midwest bike gang from the late 1960s and stars Austin Butler, Tom Hardy and Jodie Comer. The film is framed around an interview with Kathy (Comer), the wife of one of the bike gang members.

It was supposed to open worldwide on Dec. 1, but with the stars on the sidelines because of the strike, promoting it to stand out in a winter dominated by heavy Oscar contenders, the studio decided to hold its release. The AFI Fest was the last opportunity to catch it before it entered limbo.

The impact of films was felt throughout the whole festival–from the couple discussing a film they just watched while sharing a meal in between films, to the auditoriums filled with fans buzzing about getting tickets to the press screening of Bradley Cooper’s next film “Maestro,” to the audience members arriving in their best Pee Wee Herman costumes.

Film aficionados swarmed the Chinese Theater during the time of the festival eager to catch the next “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” a movie that made its way into Oscars history by sweeping the top categories after becoming a hit at last year’s festival circuit.

If I could tell the sweaty kid racing on his scooter to the nearest video store that one day he would attend a festival as a press member and feel the Oscar buzz in the air, he wouldn’t believe me. Now, here we are, patiently waiting for the Oscars and trying to fit four film reviews into one article.

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About the Contributor
Anthony Solorzano
Anthony Solorzano, Opinions Editor
Anthony Solorzano is the Opinions Editor. He has been pursuing journalism since he realized he hated his job. Anthony loves to tell stories using humor. He finds pop culture to be the truest form of pretentious art.

Comments (3)

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  • D

    Dolores SolorzanoNov 1, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Congratulations son, we are so proud of you

  • E

    EvelynOct 31, 2023 at 1:44 pm

    Great article! I love how you captured the essence of the AFI Film Festival and the experience of each film. It makes me want to go out and watch these films.

  • I

    Irma RomeroOct 31, 2023 at 1:16 pm

    Congratulation’s Mijo!!