‘Saving Mr. Banks,’ ‘Foxcatcher’ and ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ set for 2013 AFI Fest

AFI Fest has come out swinging with a pair of big premieres for the 2013 edition of the Los Angeles-based festival and a closing night selection reflective of an American indie skipping across the festival circuit like a stone this year.

Set for opening night on Thursday, Nov. 7 is John Lee Hancock’s “Saving Mr. Banks” starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson. It won’t be the world premiere of the film, as that honor has been saved for closing night of the BFI London Festival on Oct. 20. But it will be the North American debut of the Walt Disney/P.L. Travers story that could be a dominant force on the awards circuit.

Meanwhile, in the form of a gala presentation, Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” will receive its world premiere at the festival on Friday, Nov. 8. The film stars Steve Carell in a performance that could bring him a Best Actor nomination much like Miller’s work secured the same for Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Capote” and Brad Pitt in “Moneyball.”

Closing the festival will be the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis,” just another festival stop for a film playing the long game this season. It just played the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado but will skip the busy Toronto fest in favor of New York later this month.

Finally, documentary filmmaker Agnès Varda, often called the mother of the French New Wave movement, has been tapped as Guest Artistic Director.

“Our line-up of programming, from opening to closing, reflects what Hollywood is today: a broad spectrum of stories from studio and independent filmmakers,” Festival Director Jacqueline Lyanga said via press release. “Having Agnès Varda as Guest Artistic Director was a conscious decision to recognize the global influence of an icon of the French New Wave. The blending of studio, independent, foreign and auteur films and the artists who made them is the embodiment of AFI FEST.”

The 27th annual AFI Fest runs Nov. 7 – 14.