U.S. actor George Clooney poses for photographers as arrives to speak about his new film "Fantastic Mr. Fox" in London, October 14, 2009.
In a year when many film festivals sharply cut operations or closed due to the recession, the large AFI Film Festival that gets under way here on Friday has found a novel way to stay open -- give tickets away for free.
The AFI Film Festival annually serves as one of Los Angeles' major movie gatherings and is a launch pad for some Oscar hopefuls, and 2009 is no exception with the animated "Fantastic Mr. Fox," which features voice work by George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Bill Murray, kicking off screenings.
Over the following eight days, films such as "Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire," "Everybody's Fine," starring Robert De Niro and Kate Beckinsale, and "A Single Man," the directing debut of designer Tom Ford, will play.
Heading into 2009, financial sponsors began pulling out of other top movie gatherings such as the Sundance Film Festival, and AFI organizers began thinking it would be difficult for people to celebrate films at the end of a very tough year, AFI festival artistic director Rose Kuo told Reuters.
"It was a crazy idea when it was thrown out, and then we started kicking it around, and it started not looking so crazy after all," Kuo said.