Sunday, March 18, 2018
  • Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017
Director Dee Rees' "Mudbound" To Open AFI Fest
Dee Rees (l) directed Mary J. Blige in "Mudbound" (photo by Steve Dietl/courtesy of Netflix)
  • HOLLYWOOD, Calif.
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The American Film Institute (AFI) has announced that AFI Fest 2017 will open with the Netflix film Mudbound. Directed by Dee Rees and co-written by Virgil Williams and Rees, the historical period drama features cinematography by AFI Conservatory alumna Rachel Morrison (Class of 2006). The film stars Academy Award® nominee Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, Jonathan Banks, Mary J. Blige and Rob Morgan. The Opening Night Gala will take place on Thursday, November 9, at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre.

Mudbound will launch eight exhilarating days of great movies, filmmakers and discovery in the heart of Hollywood,” said Jacqueline Lyanga, director, AFI Fest. “Emblematic of what AFI Fest is, director Dee Rees’ film is rich with cinematic artistry — exemplifying storytelling at its finest, on both an epic and a human scale.”

Set in the rural American South during World War II, Mudbound is an epic story of two families pitted against one another by a ruthless social hierarchy, yet bound together by the shared farmland of the Mississippi Delta.

Mudbound follows the McAllan family, newly transplanted from the quiet civility of Memphis and unprepared for the harsh demands of farming. Despite the grandiose dreams of Henry (portrayed by Clarke), his wife Laura (Mulligan) struggles to keep the faith in her husband’s losing venture. Meanwhile, Hap and Florence Jackson (Morgan and Blige) — sharecroppers who have worked the land for generations — struggle bravely to build a small dream of their own despite the rigidly enforced social barriers they face.

The war upends both families’ plans as their returning loved ones, Jamie McAllan (Hedlund) and Ronsel Jackson (Mitchell), forge a fast but uneasy friendship that challenges the brutal realities of the Jim Crow South in which they live.

Mudbound will be in select theaters and on Netflix on November 17.

AFI Fest takes place November 9–16, 2017 in the heart of Hollywood. Screenings, Galas and other events will be held at the TCL Chinese Theatre, the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, the Egyptian Theatre and The Hollywood Roosevelt. The full festival lineup and schedule will be unveiled on Friday, October 27. 

This year, AFI Fest will present a retrospective of the work of Robert Altman (1925–2006), with screenings and discussions of 12 films: M*A*S*H (1970), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), The Long Goodbye (1973), California Split (1974), Nashville (1975), 3 Women (1977), Vincent & Theo (1990), The Player (1992), Short Cuts (1993), Kansas City (1996), Gosford Park (2001) and A Prairie Home Companion (2006).

New educational experiences taking place as part of the festival this year include an AFI Fest Storytelling Bootcamp for Los Angeles Unified School District students.