AFI Fest 2010: a field update

The cinephiles have been pouring out in droves for many mouthwatering offerings at the American Film Institute’s 2010 festival. Although the presence of Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway at Thursday night’s opening screening of Love and Other Drugs has drawn the largest crowd thus far, the most whispered title here is currently Blue Valentine.

Derek Cianfrance’s new film, which follows the blissful courtship and later disintegration of a tragically enamored Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, drew rapturous applause from a stunned audience that packed its Saturday night premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

Not only is AFI Fest admirable in its lineup, it’s completely free as well. Screenings like Blue Valentine and The King’s Speech have boasted an A-list crowd, from Cindy Crawford to Judd Apatow, but also a healthy amount of the non-movie stars. The recently employed a rush line policy, allowing those without online tickets to line up for extra seats (released 15 minutes before each screening). This has proved a reliable means of admittance, with AFI staff working to accommodate as many hopefuls as possible. Early arrival is a must — one to two hours before a screening is recommended — but the likely reward is something very worth it.

The festival concludes on Thursday night with a screening of Darren Aronofsky’s highly anticipated ballet shocker Black Swan.