The complete lineup for the latest edition of AFI Fest was announced last week -- indieWIRE was among the first to report on it -- and I've been mulling it over ever since. I've worked at the festival in the past and so it's difficult for me to be completely objective, but even though I won't be attending this year, I can't help but feel intense interest. When it comes to film festivals in general, I prefer to be unreasonably optimistic rather than smugly pessimistic.

Under new Artistic Director Rose Kuo, the programming team has made some adjustments. The Asian New Classics section is gone -- the Asian films have been integrated into other sections -- but other regional sidebars remain (American Showcase, Latin Cinema Series, African Showcase) and a new documentary showcase has been introduced, as well as Milestones, devoted to retrospective films. Beyond the already-announced titles, including Robert Redford's political drama Lions for Lambs as the opener and Jason Reitman's much-loved comedy Juno as the centerpiece gala, Mike Newell's romantic drama Love in the Time of Cholera, starring Javier Bardem (pictured), has been named as the closing night presentation. Tributes have also been announced for Laura Linney and Catherine Deneuve.

North American Premieres include Noise, directed by Henry Bean (The Believer), in which Tim Robbins stars as a New York attorney who takes the law into his own hands when life in the city gets too noisy for him, and The Searchers 2.0, the latest by Alex Cox (Sid and Nancy), featuring two aging actors in search of revenge on an even more aging screenwriter. Doghead stars Juan Jose Ballesta (the excellent Seven Virgins) as a young man suffering from an odd disease who starts a romance that encompasses "the endearing and the bleak," according to the program notes. Please Vote for Me is a documentary from China about eight year olds (!) running for class monitor. AFI Fest runs from November 1-11.