With Telluride over, Venice wrapping up and Toronto about to begin, it’s never too early for another film festival to make some noise. So here comes the AFI Fest announcing their opening-night film November 7th will be a Disney awards-season biggie: the North American premiere of Saving Mr Banks starring Emma Thompson as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks in a supporting role as Walt Disney. It is said to be warm and funny and a potential Oscar contender, not only for Thompson and Hanks  but also Best Picture. It is also a no-brainer opener for the AFI. It has a movie theme (Disney tries to convince the stubborn author to sell him rights to make Mary Poppins) and also is partially set at the Chinese theatre, where AFI Fest is headquartered. What could be more perfect? Hate to say I TOLDJA! — but I did. AFI announced they will also be showing 1964’s Mary Poppins itself in honor of its 50th anniversary. It’s actually only 49 years but hey, who’s counting? In a move that indicates filmmakers LOVE to have that opening-night slot , AFI also announced Sony Pictures Classics’ new Bennett Miller drama Foxcatcher will be the cleverly titled “Opening Weekend” Gala on November 8, a World Premiere. SPC’s co-president Michael Barker is very high on this one and told me over the weekend in Telluride that the company expects it to be one of their top awards contenders including for star Steve Carell’s transformative performance in which he is virtually unrecognizable. Barker indicated the film will start early press screenings in mid-October. Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum co-star. That Best Actor race promises to be more crowded than ever. The Coen brothers’ Cannes hit, Inside Llewyn Davis which just played Telluride and will also hit the New York Film Festival, was previously announced as the Closing Night film on November 14. Here’s this morning’s full release:

September 4, 2013 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today early details of its AFI FEST 2013 presented by Audi. The programming unveiled epitomizes the vision of the festival – a celebration of Hollywood today where icons and emerging artists bring audiences together to experience global cinema in the movie capital of the world. The North American Premiere Gala of Disney’s SAVING MR. BANKS will open the festival on Thursday, November 7. The World Premiere Opening Weekend Gala of Sony Picture Classics’ FOXCATCHER on Friday, November 8 will launch a slate of independent and auteur films that will unspool over the course of the festival. Agnès Varda, considered “the Mother of French New Wave cinema,” will serve as Guest Artistic Director.

“The American Film Institute honors the past, the present and the future of the motion picture arts. Now in its 27th year, AFI FEST remains the place to experience Hollywood now – a place that lives in the mythology of the movies, but also the dynamic global stories of today,” said AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale. “Our line-up of programming, from opening to closing, reflects what Hollywood is today: a broad spectrum of stories from studio and independent filmmakers, and having Agnès Varda as Guest Artistic Director was a conscious decision to recognize the global influence of an icon of the French New Wave,” said Festival Director Jacqueline Lyanga. “The blending of studio, independent, foreign and auteur films and the artists who made them is the embodiment of AFI FEST.”

SAVING MR. BANKS, starring Academy Award®-winning actress Emma Thompson, and AFI Life Achievement Award recipient and Academy Award®-winning actor Tom Hanks, will have its North American Premiere on Thursday, November 7, as the Opening Night Gala. Inspired by true events, SAVING MR. BANKS is the extraordinary, untold story of how Walt Disney’s classic MARY POPPINS made it to the screen – and the testy relationship between the legendary Walt Disney and author P.L. Travers that almost derailed it. John Lee Hancock (THE BLIND SIDE) is the director, and Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith wrote the screenplay. SAVING MR. BANKS also stars Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, Annie Rose Buckley, Ruth Wilson, B.J. Novak, Rachel Griffiths, Kathy Baker and Colin Farrell.

MARY POPPINS premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in 1964 with both Walt Disney and P.L. Travers in attendance. The film was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Picture and garnered 12 more Oscar® nominations. Out of the 13 nominations, MARY POPPINS won five, including Best Actress for its star, Julie Andrews. The song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the greatest movie songs of all time. MARY POPPINS is ranked among the top ten of AFI’s Greatest Movie Musicals. Bridging the present and the past, AFI FEST celebrates SAVING MR. BANKS and the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Disney classic with a screening of MARY POPPINS during the festival’s opening weekend at the renowned movie palace where it first debuted to the world.

FOXCATCHER, a psychological drama directed by Academy Award® nominee Bennett Miller (MONEYBALL) and starring Golden Globe® winner Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Academy Award® nominee Mark Ruffalo, Academy Award® winner Vanessa Redgrave and Sienna Miller, will have its World Premiere on Friday, November 8 as the Opening Weekend Gala. The film was written by E. Max Frye and Academy Award® nominee Dan Futterman. FOXCATCHER tells the story of Olympic Gold Medal-winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Tatum), who sees a way out from the shadow of his more celebrated wrestling brother Dave (Ruffalo) and a life of poverty when he is summoned by eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont (Carell) to move onto his estate and train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Desperate to gain the respect of his disapproving mother, du Pont begins “coaching” a world-class athletic team and, in the process, lures Mark into dangerous habits, breaks his confidence and drives him into a self-destructive spiral. Based on actual events, FOXCATCHER is a gripping and profoundly American story of fragile men who pin their hopes for love and redemption on a desperate obsession for greatness that was to end in tragedy.

As AFI FEST Guest Artistic Director, Agnès Varda, often called the mother of the French New Wave movement, will present a program of films that have inspired her work. Details will be announced in later this month.

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, written and directed by Academy Award® winners Joel and Ethan Coen (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN), was produced by Scott Rudin and Joel and Ethan Coen and will be the Closing Night Gala on Thursday, November 14. The film stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund and Justin Timberlake and follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. Llewyn Davis (Isaac) is at a crossroads. Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles some of them of his own making. Brimming with music performed by Isaac, Timberlake and Mulligan (as Llewyn’s married Village friends), as well as Marcus Mumford and Punch Brothers, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS – in the tradition of O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? – is infused with the transportive sound of another time and place. An epic on an intimate scale, it represents the Coen Brothers’ fourth collaboration with multiple-Grammy and Academy Award®-winning music producer T Bone Burnett. Marcus Mumford is associate music producer. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS recently won the Grand Prix at the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival. The film will be distributed by CBS Films in the U.S.

Festival passes are on sale now at AFI.com/AFIFEST. For the fifth consecutive year, AFI FEST will continue its unprecedented offer of free tickets to all screenings, but only the Star Patron Package and Marquee Patron Package will provide reserved seating at today’s three announced galas – Opening Night, Opening Weekend and Closing Night. These and other AFI FEST Patron Packages and Passes – which can include access to sold-out galas and other high-demand films and events – are available now. Free individual tickets to AFI FEST screenings and galas will be available to AFI members on Monday, October 28 and Tuesday, October 29 in a 48-hour advance window before they become available to the general public on Wednesday, October 30 and Thursday, October 31. In addition, AFI members at the Two-Star level and above receive a 10% discount on all AFI FEST Patron Packages and Passes. Information about AFI Membership is available at AFI.com/membership.