AFI FEST 2016 in Hollywood: Five Tips for Attending

AFI FEST has always been known as the festival that showcases a diverse group of year-end, award-worthy films in Hollywood. Kicking off its 30th edition on Thursday, this year is no different with a robust slate of 118 films from 46 countries, many of which hope to catch the eye of Oscar voters. But how do you navigate Hollywood's eight-day, heavily attended AFI FEST 2016? Here are five tips and highlights.

1. The Festival Screenings are Free, But...
AFI FEST prides itself on its free screenings, which is pretty great. But, although you can secure tickets online or on site at the AT&T Box Office in the Hollywood & Highland Center, having a ticket doesn't guarantee entrance. More tickets are handed out than seats within the venues, which means festivalgoers still need to wait in long lines. AFI FEST has tried to ease this situation in recent years by handing out numbered queue cards to attendees in line one hour in advance of screening. Those that don't receive a card are then moved to the Rush line. So basically you'll know an hour in advance if you'll get into the venue. Accordingly, if seeing multiple films in a day, leave a fair amount of time between screenings.

2. Gala Screenings and World Premieres – Are They Worth Trying For?
As one would expect, the Galas and World Premieres are pretty fabulous, with the film's director(s) and cast usually in attendance. Although these tickets are tough to get, the screenings usually take place in the TCL Chinese Theatre, which seats over 1,100. So for those dedicated, starry-eyed film buffs, I say go for it. After all, this year's Galas include the World Premiere of "Rules Don't Apply," written, directed and produced by Academy Award winner Warren Beatty; Paul Verhoeven's powerful and controversial "Elle" starring Isabelle Huppert; "Jackie" directed by Pablo Larrain and starring Natalie Portman; Damien Chazelle's "La La Land" starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone; "20th Century Women" directed by Mike Mills and starring Annette Bening; and Peter Berg's "Patriots Day" starring Mark Wahlberg.

3. Seek Out the Numerous Foreign Films Vying for an Oscar Nod
Featuring 33 films from 28 countries, the World Cinema selection of AFI FEST often consists of the top films from around the world; thus these are films worth seeking out. Of these 33 films, eight films are already slated as official Best Foreign Language entries for the Academy Awards. These include "Death in Sarajevo" (Bosnia and Herzegovina); "The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki" (Finland); "It's Only The End of the World" (Canada); "Julieta" (Spain); "Land of Mine" (Denmark); "Neruda" (Chile); "Toni Erdmann" (Germany); "The Salesman" (Iran).

4. AFI FEST Midnight Slates
The fest isn't only about galas, world premieres and artsy foreign film fare, AFI FEST also showcases select horror films in the Midnight section from around the globe. This year's Midnight selection is comprised of three buzzy horror films – "Fear Itself" directed by Charlie Lyne (UK); "The Lure" directed by Agnieszka Smoczynska (Poland); and "Prevenge" directed by Alice Lowe (UK).

5. AFI FEST – The Gritty Details
AFI FEST 2016 presented by Audi runs November 10 – 17 in Hollywood at the TCL Chinese and Chinese 6 Theatres, The Egyptian Theatre and The Hollywood Roosevelt. For schedules of film and ticket information visit the AFI FEST website. Parking is available in the Hollywood and Highland Center parking structure.

Author's bio: Lori Huck works in television development as well as writes on entertainment, travel and the arts. She's a fan of the vibrant arts scene in Los Angeles and is a member of various film, television, and arts organizations.

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