In a press release issued this morning, the American Film Institute announced that tickets to all film screenings at this year's AFI Fest (October 30-November 7) will be made free to the public, including a limited number of tickets for the festival's opening and closing night galas. (Paid passes, allowing for priority seeing, will also be available.) This decision, unprecedented for a festival of AFI Fest's size, comes on the heels of the announcement that veteran Variety and L.A. Weekly contributor Robert Koehler will be joining the festival as programming director. It's also the latest sign of the renaissance the city's longest-running, but historically troubled film festival has been enjoying under the stewardship of artistic director Rose Kuo and AFI President/CEO Bob Gazzale, both of whom have come on board in the last two years. Keep up the good work, guys.