AFI Fest 2021 announces full festival lineup

AFI Fest
(The Galas of AFI Fest 2021)

Our friends at The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today the full lineup for AFI FEST 2021 including Sony Pictures Classics’ Parallel Mothers, written and directed by Academy Award winner Pedro Almodóvar, which will screen as a Red Carpet Premiere at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre on Saturday, November 13.

The complete AFI FEST program includes 115 titles (48 Features, 1 Episodic, 49 Short Films and 17 Conservatory Showcase Shorts) of which 51% are directed by women, 40% directed by BIPOC filmmakers and 13% are directed by LGBTQIA+ filmmakers. This year’s program represents 50 countries and includes six World Premieres.

“We are excited to celebrate AFI FEST 2021 in person at the historic TCL Chinese theater and showcase both master filmmakers and emerging voices,” said Sarah Harris, Director of Programming, AFI Festivals.  “In a time when we need movies more than ever, we look forward to audiences being inspired by the best films from around the world screening at this year’s AFI FEST.” 

Returning filmmakers to FEST include Hany Abu-Assad (HUDA’S SALON), Andrea Arnold (COW), Jacques Audiard (PARIS, 13TH DISTRICT), Sean Baker (RED ROCKET), Michel Franco (SUNDOWN), Miguel Gomes (THE TSUGUA DIARIES), Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (LINGUI, THE SACRED BONDS), Céline Sciamma (PETITE MAMAN), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (MEMORIA), and Zhang Yimou (ONE SECOND).

Internationally acclaimed and award-winning films include AHED’S KNEE (DIR Nadav Lapid), COSTA BRAVA, LEBANON (DIR Mounia Akl), DRIVE MY CAR  (DIR Ryusuke Hamaguchi), THE GIRL AND THE SPIDER (DIR Ramon Zürcher, Silvan Zürcher), GOOD MADAM (DIR Jenna Bass), GREAT FREEDOM (DIR Sebastian Meise), HAPPENING (DIR Audrey Diwan), JOCKEY (DIR Clint Bentley), MEMORIA (DIR Apichatpong Weerakethakul), PRAYERS FOR THE STOLEN (DIR Tatiana Huezo), UNCLENCHING THE FISTS (DIR Kira Kovalenko), WHAT DO WE SEE WHEN WE LOOK AT THE SKY? (DIR Aleksandre Koberidze) and THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD (DIR Joachim Trier).

NBC News’ Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST, now in its fifth year, will spotlight 15 compelling short documentaries about pressing issues facing our society. Since its launch, the Meet the Press Film Festival has showcased nearly 100 issue-based short films from nine countries, including more than a dozen Oscar® and Emmy® nominees.

This year’s festival will feature five program tracks spotlighting issues from racial and gender equality, immigration and democracy to identity, criminal justice and police reform among others. Films include BREE WAYY: PROMISE WITNESS REMEMBRANCE by 2021 AFI DOCS Charles Guggenheim Symposium honoree Dawn Porter about art as a means of protesting and healing; CODED: THE HIDDEN LOVE OF J.C. LEYENDECKER about legendary early-20th century gay illustrator J.C. Leyendecker; and THE TRAIN STATION about the Lejac Indian Residential School by Lyana Patrick.


REELated: Halle Berry’s directorial debut, Bruised makes AFI Fest world premiere


The screenings of the films will be followed by conversations moderated by NBC News correspondents and anchors, including Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd.

As Previously Announced

The films join the previously announced titles which include Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM!, Reinaldo Marcus Green’s King Richard starring Will Smith, Academy Award winner Halle Berry’s directorial debut Bruised and Academy Award winner Benjamin Cleary’s feature directorial debut Swan Song.

This year’s hybrid festival will feature both in-person screenings and events, as well as virtual screenings, showcasing transformative stories from groundbreaking artists.

With health and safety being top priority, AFI FEST 2021 will require all festival-goers who attend in-person events and/or screenings to be fully vaccinated. 

RED CARPET PREMIERES

A celebration of the most anticipated films of the year, showcasing excellence in the art form.


BRUISED
Marking the directorial debut of Academy Award® winner Halle Berry, BRUISED is a triumphant story of a fighter who reclaims her power, in and out of the ring, when everyone has counted her out. DIR Halle Berry. SCR Michelle Rosenfarb. CAST Halle Berry, Adan Canto, Adriane Lenox, Sheila Atim, Valentina Shevchenko, Lela Loren, Nikolai Nikolaef, Danny Boyd, Jr., Shamier Anderson, Stephen Henderson. USA.  World Premiere.

KING RICHARD
Based on the inspiring true story, KING RICHARD follows the journey of a family whose unwavering resolve and unconditional belief ultimately deliver two of the world’s greatest sports legends – Venus and Serena Williams. DIR Reinaldo Marcus Green. SCR Zach Baylin. CAST Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Jon Bernthal, Tony Goldwyn. USA

PARALLEL MOTHERS
Two women, Janis and Ana, are both single mothers that meet in the hospital before giving birth to their daughters. Their bond quickly becomes complicated in the latest drama from Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar. DIR Pedro Almodóvar. SCR Pedro Almodóvar. CAST Penélope Cruz, Melina Smit, Israel Elejalde, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Rossy de Palma, Julieta Serrano. Spain


SWAN SONG
Cameron (two-time Academy Award® winner Mahershala Ali), a loving husband and father diagnosed with a terminal illness, is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor to shield his family from grief. DIR Benjamin Cleary. SCR Benjamin Cleary. CAST Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Glenn Close, Awkwafina. USA.  World Premiere.
 
TICK, TICK…BOOM!
Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his feature directorial debut with tick, tick…BOOM!, an adaptation of the autobiographical musical by composer and playwright Jonathan Larson, who revolutionized theater as the creator of “Rent.” DIR Lin-Manuel Miranda. SCR Steven Levenson. CAST Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús, Vanessa Hudgens, Joshua Henry, Bradley Whitford, Tariq Trotter, Judith Light. USA.  World Premiere.

WORLD CINEMA

The best in contemporary cinema from renowned storytellers and new voices from across the globe.


AHED’S KNEE
Filmmaker Y has just arrived in the remote Arava Valley to introduce a retrospective of his films at the local library when librarian Yahalom presents him with a waiver restricting certain topics. DIR Nadav Lapid. SCR Nadav Lapid. CAST Avshalom Pollak, Nur Fibak, Avshalom Pollak, Nur Fibak, Yoram Honig, Lidor Ederi, Yonathan Kugler, Yehonathan Vilozni, Naama Preis. Israel

ALI & AVA
In this working-class romance filled with rich performances, Ali and Ava must navigate the emotional turmoil of their pasts to keep their newfound passion alive. DIR Clio Barnard. SCR Clio Barnard. CAST Claire Rushbrooke, Adeel Akhtar. UK

CASABLANCA BEATS (HAUT ET FORT)
A group of young students in Morocco begin a passionate journey of self-discovery and artistic expression by practicing rap as they confront the social issues explored in their lyrics. DIR Nabil Ayouch. SCR Nabil Ayouch with Maryam Touzani. CAST Meryem Nekkach, Anas Basbousi, Nouhaila Arif, Ismail Adouab. Morocco, France

CINEMA SABAYA
Rona is an Israeli teaching a film class to a diverse group of eight women. The class becomes the catalyst for deeper discovery as these women bond over their shared experience. DIR Orit Fouks Rotem. SCR Orit Fouks Rotem. CAST Dana Ivgy, Joanna Said, Amal Murkus, Ruth Landau, Yulia Tagil, Marlene Bajali, Aseel Farhat, Orit Samuel, Liora Levi, Khawlah Hag Debsy. Israel

COSTA BRAVA, LEBANON
In this feature debut from Lebanese filmmaker Mounia Akl, a whimsical, close-knit family eludes the political and environmental crises of Beirut by isolating in the remote mountains – until their peaceful days are disrupted. DIR Mounia Akl. SCR Mounia Akl, Clara Roquet. CAST Nadine Labaki, Saleh Bakri, Nadia Charbel, Ceana and Geana Restom, Yumna Marwan, Liliane Chacar Khoury, François Nour. Lebanon, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Qatar

DRIVE MY CAR (DORAIBU MAI KÂ)
Based on a Haruki Murakami short story and awarded Best Screenplay at Cannes, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s epic explores what is left behind when a love is lost and a city is decimated. DIR Ryusuke Hamaguchi. SCR Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe. CAST Hidetoshi Nishijima, Toko Miura, Masaki Okada, Masaki Okada, Reika Kirishima, Park Yurim, Jin Daeyeon. Japan
 

THE GIRL AND THE SPIDER
Lisa is moving out of the apartment she shares with Mara. Friends and neighbors arrive to assist and unspoken tensions simmer just beneath the surface. DIR Ramon Zürcher, Silvan Zürcher. SCR Ramon Zürcher, Silvan Zürcher. CAST Henriette Confurius, Liliane Amuat, Ursina Lardi, Flurin Giger, André M. Hennicke, Ivan Georgiev, Dagna Litzenberger Vinet, Lea Draeger, Sabine Timoteo, Margherita Schoch, Seraphina Schweiger, Birte Schnöink. Switzerland

GOOD MADAM (MLUNGU WAM)
In Jenna Cato Bass’ psychological thriller steeped in remnants of postcolonialism and apartheid, Tsidi moves in with her estranged mother Mavis, a housekeeper under the spell of her mysterious and reclusive Madam. DIR Jenna Cato Bass. SCR Jenna Cato Bass, Babalwa Baartman, Chumisa Cosa, Nosipho Mtebe, Kamvalethu Jonas Raziya, Sanda Shandu, Khanyiso Kenqa, Chris Gxalaba, Peggy Tunyiswa, Sizwe Ginger Lubengu, Siya Sikawuti, Steve Larter. CAST Nosipho Mtebe, Chumisa Cosa, Kamvalethu Jonas Raziya, Khanyiso Kenqa, Sanda Shandu, Sizwe Ginger Lubengu, Siya Sikawuti, Peggy Tunyiswa, Chris Gxalaba. South Africa

GREAT FREEDOM (GROSSE FREIHEIT)
Winner of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard Jury Prize, this unlikely love story by director Sebastian Meise depicts the engrossing life of Hans, a man in postwar Germany who is continuously imprisoned for being gay. DIR Sebastian Meise. SCR Thomas Reider, Sebastian Meise. CAST Franz Rogowski, Georg Friedrich, Anton von Lucke, Thomas Prenn. Austria, Germany

HAPPENING (L’ÉVÉNEMENT)
Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Audrey Diwan’s timely adaptation of Annie Ernaux’s autobiographical novel depicts a young woman caught between her ambitions and an unexpected pregnancy in 1960s France. DIR Audrey Diwan. SCR Audrey Diwan and Marcia Romano. CAST Anamaria Vartolomei, Kacey Mottet-Klein, Luàna Bajrami, Louise Orry Diquiero, Louise Chevillotte, Pio Marmaï, Sandrine Bonnaire, Anna Mouglalis. France

HIT THE ROAD (JADDE KHAKI)
An endearing yet frenzied family of four embarks on a mysterious road trip to an unknown destination in this distinctive and surprising debut from Panah Panahi, the son of acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi. DIR Panah Panahi. SCR Panah Panahi. CAST Hassan Madjooni, Pantea Panahiha, Rayan Sarlak, Amin Simiar. Iran

HOLY EMY (AGIA EMY)
Living in Athens and keeping to themselves, Emy and Teresa live a simple life centered around attending mass, working in a fish market and avoiding the locals, but the outside world soon encroaches. DIR Araceli Lemos. SCR Araceli Lemos, Giulia Caruso. CAST Abigael Loma, Hasmine Kilip, Angeli Bayani, Ku Aquino, Michalis Siriopoulos, Irene Inglesi. Greece, France, USA

HUDA’S SALON
Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker and AFI FEST alum Hany Abu-Assad (OMAR; PARADISE NOW) portrays the harrowing experience of a Palestinian mother who is blackmailed one fateful day at Huda’s Salon. DIR Hany Abu-Assad. SCR Hany Abu-Assad. CAST Ali Suliman, Maisa Abd Elhadi, Manal Awad, Kamel El Basha, Samer Bisharat, Omar Abu Amer. Palestine, Egypt, Netherlands

ÎNTREGALDE
The mission of three humanitarian aid workers is diverted when they offer a ride to an elderly man along the side of the road and find themselves suddenly stranded. DIR Radu Muntean. SCR Radu Muntean, Răzvan Rădulescu, Alexandru Baciu. CAST Maria Popistașu, Alex Bogdan, Ilona Brezoianu, Luca Sabin. Romania

JOCKEY
An aging jockey hopes to win one last title for his longtime trainer who has acquired what appears to be a championship horse. But the years – and injuries – have taken a toll on his body, throwing into question his ability to continue his lifelong passion. DIR Clint Bentley. SCR Clint Bentley, Greg Kwedar. CAST Clifton Collins Jr., Molly Parker, Moises Arias. USA

LINGUI, THE SACRED BONDS (LINGUI)
Despite abortion being illegal in Chad and forbidden in Islam, Amina is determined to support her teenage daughter’s decision to end her pregnancy and must navigate the fragile fabric of female support within a patriarchal society.  DIR Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. SCR Mahamat-Saleh Haroun. CAST Achouackh Abakar Souleymane, Rihane Khalil Alio, Youssouf Djaoro, Briya Gomdigue, Hadjé Fatimé Ngoua. Chad, France, Germany, Belgium

MEDUSA
Anita Rocha da Silveira (KILL ME PLEASE) returns to AFI FEST with a horror-satire that fiercely critiques evangelical fanaticism, focusing on a virtuous Christian girl gang that is hellbent on publicly shaming sinful women. DIR Anita Rocha da Silveira. SCR Anita Rocha da Silveira. CAST Mari Oliveira, Lara Tremouroux, Joana Medeiros, Felipe Frazão, Bruna G. Brazil
 

MEMORIA
While visiting Bogotá, Colombia, Jessica (Tilda Swinton), a Scottish orchid farmer grappling with deep existential unease, becomes tormented by a sound only she can hear. DIR Apichatpong Weerasethakul. SCR Apichatpong Weerasethakul. CAST Tilda Swinton. Colombia, Thailand, UK, Mexico, France

ONE SECOND
Master Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou crafts a charming celebration of cinema in this epic story of an escaped prisoner bonding with an orphan and a village projectionist. DIR Zhang Yimou. SCR Zhang Yimou, Zou Jingzhi. CAST Fan Wei, Liu Haocun, Zhang Yi. China

PARIS, 13TH DISTRICT (LES OLYMPIADES, PARIS 13E)
A response to a roommate ad and a case of mistaken identity blossoms into a complex web of love and friendship in this modern, panoramic tale by director Jacques Audiard. DIR Jacques Audiard. SCR Jacques Audiard, Lea Mysius, Céline Sciamma, Adrian Tomine. CAST Noémie Merlant, Geneviève Doang, Jehnny Beth, Line Phé, Stephen Manas. France


PETITE MAMAN
In Céline Sciamma’s (PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE) enchanting and poetic coming-of-age story, eight-year-old Nelly – mourning the recent death of her beloved grandmother – meets a girl building a tree fort, like her mother once did. DIR Céline Sciamma. SCR Céline Sciamma. France

PLEASURE

In this raw and powerful debut feature, Bella arrives in Los Angeles from Sweden to pursue her dreams of stardom – in the adult film industry.DIR Ninja Thyberg. SCR Ninja Thyberg, Peter Modestij. CAST Sofia Kappel, Revika Anne Reustle, Evelyn Claire. Sweden, Netherlands, France

PRAYERS FOR THE STOLEN (NOCHE DE FUEGO)
This devastating narrative debut from documentary filmmaker Tatiana Huezo set in the mountains of Mexico follows Ana and her two best friends who live under the constant threat of kidnappings and drug cartel violence. DIR Tatiana Huezo. SCR Tatiana Huezo. CAST Mayra Batalla, Marya Membreño, Ana Cristina Ordoñez Gonzalez. Mexico

RED ROCKET
In Sean Baker’s bold and provocative new film, Simon Rex gives a hypnotic performance as an adult film star and hustler returning to his hometown in search of a fresh start. DIR Sean Baker. SCR Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch. CAST Simon Rex, Suzanna Son, Bree Elrod, Brenda Deiss, Ethan Darbone, Brittney Rodriguez, Judy Hill. USA

SUNDOWN
Opting to stay on permanent vacation instead of tending to family, wealthy heir Neil Bennett quietly fights to control his life in a world where violence and leisure are one and the same. DIR Michel Franco. SCR Michel Franco. CAST Tim Roth, Iazua Larios, Charlotte Gainsbourg. Mexico

THE TSUGUA DIARIES (DIÁRIOS DE OTSOGA)
Friends Crista, Carloto and João are building a greenhouse for butterflies, cleaning out an above-ground pool and participating in spontaneous dance parties when there is a sudden global virus outbreak. DIR Maureen Fazendeiro, Miguel Gomes. SCR Maureen Fazendeiro, Miguel Gomes, Mariana Ricardo. CAST Crista Alfaiate, Carloto Cotta, João Nunes Monteiro. Portugal, France

UNCLENCHING THE FISTS (RAZZHIMAYA KULAKI)
In a remote mining town, Ada is coming of age in a deeply dysfunctional family isolated by the men that surround her. The welcome attentions of a local boy present the possibility of new experiences, and a potential escape. DIR Kira Kovalenko. SCR Kira Kovalenko, Anton Yarush, Lyubov Mulmenko. CAST Milana Aguzarova, Alik Karaev, Soslan Khugaev, Khetag Bibilov, Arsen Khetagurov, Milana Pagieva. Russia

VERA DREAMS OF THE SEA (VERA ANDRRON DETIN)
Reeling from her husband’s suicide, sign language interpreter Vera (Teuta Ajdini) must summon untapped strength when her inheritance is violently challenged by a male in-law in deeply patriarchal Kosovo. DIR Kaltrina Krasniqi. SCR Doruntina Basha. CAST Teuta Ajdini, Alketa Sylaj, Astrit Kabashi, Refet Abazi. Kosovo, North Macedonia, Albania

WHAT DO WE SEE WHEN WE LOOK AT THE SKY?
Alexandre Koberidze’s Berlinale FIPRESCI Prize winner follows Lisa and Giorgi who fall in love at first sight, only for a curse to strike the pair, leaving them unrecognizable to one another. DIR Alexandre Koberidze. SCR Alexandre Koberidze. CAST Giorgi Bochorishvili, Ani Karseladze, Oliko Barbakadze, Giorgi Ambroladze, Vakhtang Fanchulidze. Georgia, Germany

WILDHOOD
Link, an indigenous Mi’kmaw teen, and his younger half-brother go on a journey to find Link’s long-lost mother. Joining their trek, Pasmay, a two-spirit teen, awakens something new inside of Link. DIR Bretten Hannam. SCR Bretten Hannam. CAST Phillip Lewitski, Joshua Odjick, Avery Winters-Anthony, Michael Greyeyes. Canada

THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD
This modern dramedy chronicles four years in the life of Julie, a young woman navigating love and life in Oslo. DIR Joachim Trier. SCR Joachim Trier, Eskil Vogt. CAST Renate REINSVE, Herbert Nordrum, Anders Danielsen Lie. Norway, France, Sweden, Denmark
 

DOCUMENTARIES

The most engaging and powerful real-life stories depicted in global nonfiction cinema that enlighten, educate and entertain.


BERNSTEIN’S WALL
Director Douglas Tirola documents the life of composer Leonard Bernstein (WEST SIDE STORY) from his early life in New England, to his early orchestral career, his work on television and his constant advocacy of worthy causes. DIR Douglas Tirola. USA

CITIZEN ASHE
Filmmakers Rex Miller and Sam Pollard (MLK/FBI) honor the life and enduring impact of groundbreaking tennis champion, civil rights activist and humanitarian Arthur Ashe in this stirring documentary. DIR Rex Miller, Sam Pollard. USA, UK

COW
A mother. A provider. A cow. AFI Alumna Andrea Arnold’s first-ever documentary is a visceral, up-close portrait of Luma, a singular dairy cow who despite her tenacity is subject to the whim of others. DIR Andrea Arnold. UK

THE FIRST WAVE
In early 2020, New York City is the number one hotspot for COVID-19 in the United States. Academy Award®-nominated documentary filmmaker Matthew Heineman takes a poignant look at the turmoil and resilience on the hospital frontlines. DIR Matthew Heineman. USA

JUICE WRLD
This intimate documentary explores the life and death of the young hip hop star Juice WRLD. DIR Tommy Oliver. FEATURING JuiceWRLD, The Kid Laroi, Lil Bibby, Polo G, G Herbo, Benny Blanco, Rex Kudo, Hit-Boy, Cole Bennett, Trippie Redd. USA. World Premiere.
 
JULIA
Highlighting delightful, never-before-seen clips from Julia Child’s public television show, veteran filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West explore the trailblazing career of a culinary icon. DIR Julie Cohen, Betsy West. USA

A NIGHT OF KNOWING NOTHING
In Payal Kapadia’s semi-fictionalized experimental documentary, the diary of a student to her absent lover recounts a period of political upheaval in India, her own heartbreak reflecting that of a generation of students. DIR Payal Kapadia. SCR Payal Kapadia, Himanshu Prajapati. France, India
 
PROCESSION
Robert Greene’s poignant documentary chronicles six men using drama therapy to process childhood sexual abuse and explores their journey to create something truly beautiful out of horrible trauma. DIR Robert Greene. USA

THE REAL CHARLIE CHAPLIN
This uniquely crafted portrait of iconic silent film comedian Charlie Chaplin features rare insights and never-before-heard recordings by those closest to the mercurial film legend, introducing characters previously written out of the narrative.  DIR Peter Middleton, James Spinney. USA

SIMPLE AS WATER
Oscar-winning director Megan Mylan documents a handful of courageous refugee families affected by the Syrian civil war and the efforts to rebuild their lives in new surroundings around the world. DIR Megan Mylan. USA
 
TO WHAT REMAINS
This powerful documentary follows Project Recover, an organization with a mission to bring home missing-in-action World War II veterans from forgotten South Pacific battlefields. DIR Chris Woods. SCR Mark Monroe. USA. World Premiere.
 
WHO WE ARE: A CHRONICLE OF RACISM IN AMERICA
Filmmakers Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler chronicle ACLU lawyer Jeffrey Robinson’s essential deep dive into America’s 400-year history of white supremacy and anti-Black racism. DIR Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler. SCR Jeffery Robinson. USA
 

MEET THE PRESS FILM FESTIVAL AT AFI FEST

In partnership with NBC’s Meet the Press, these short documentaries spotlight compelling stories about pressing issues facing our society with conversations moderated by NBC News journalists.


BREE WAYY: PROMISE WITNESS REMEMBRANCE
A film by award-winning director and 2021 AFI DOCS Charles Guggenheim Symposium honoree Dawn Porter that looks at how the art world responded to the death of Breonna Taylor by using art not only as a form of protest but as a space to heal. DIR Dawn Porter. USA

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: AMERICA’S SECRET NAZIS
During WWII, a group of young Jewish refugees are sent to a secret POW camp near Washington, DC, and they soon discover that the prisoners are Hitler’s top scientists. DIR Daniel Sivan, Mor Loushy. USA


CODED: THE HIDDEN LOVE OF J.C. LEYENDECKER
The coded advertisements of legendary early-20th century gay illustrator J.C. Leyendecker quietly, but directly, acknowledged a community that was forced to live in the closet. DIR Ryan White. USA

THE FACILITY
A group of immigrants, detained inside an infamous American detention center as the pandemic spreads, organize in protest to demand protections and their release. DIR Seth Freed Wessler. USA

GOLDEN AGE KARATE
Teen karate pro Jeff Wall teaches senior citizens self-defense at a local nursing home, giving them the tools to feel in control, connected and cared for. DIR Sindha Agha. USA


THE INTERVIEW
The film forces viewers to confront their own feelings about justice and mercy, while revealing the heavy toll our current system takes on incarcerated people and their families. DIR Jonathan Miller, Zachary Russo. USA

LEAD ME HOME
A short presenting the epidemic of homelessness in America with candid testimonials from the unhoused. A poetic portrait of our culture’s fraying edges and the people who inhabit them. DIR Pedro Kos, Jon Shenk. USA


LYNCHING POSTCARDS: ‘TOKEN OF A GREAT DAY’
From 1880–1968 over 4,000 African Americans were lynched at the hands of white mobs. These lynchings were commemorated through souvenir postcards that would ultimately be subverted by Black activists to expose racist violence in the U.S. DIR Christine Turner. USA
 

MELTDOWN IN DIXIE
A film exploring the broader role of Confederate symbolism in the 21st century and the lingering racial oppression which these symbols help maintain. DIR Emily Harrold. USA


MISSION: HEBRON
Israeli soldiers are recruited at age 18 and, only months later, are already overseeing Palestinian civil life. Former soldiers describe their time in Hebron, the most troubled city in the West Bank. DIR Rona Segal. Israel
 

PARTY LINE
At the early voting line in Ohio’s most populous county, civic duty is a public performance. DIR Lydia Cornett. USA

RED TAXI
As protests unfold in Hong Kong, RED TAXI shows a city in upheaval through the eyes of those who must traverse the streets day and night to make a living. DIR Anonymous. Hong Kong, USA
 

TAKEOVER
An exploration of July 14, 1970, when members of the Young Lords Party stormed the Lincoln Hospital in South Bronx, making their cries for decent healthcare heard by the world. DIR Emma Francis-Snyder. USA

THEY WON’T CALL IT MURDER
Mothers, sisters and grandmothers of those killed by Columbus police, seeking justice in a community bound together by grief and a system that refuses to call these killings murder. DIR Melissa Gira Grant, Ingrid Raphael. USA

THE TRAIN STATION
In this beautifully animated documentary short, filmmaker Lyana Patrick narrates her family’s powerful story of love and survival at Lejac Indian Residential School. DIR Lyana Patrick. Canada
 

SHORT FILM COMPETITION

Emerging and established filmmakers push the form of storytelling in inventive, challenging and sometimes hilarious ways – all in 40 minutes or less.


AL-SIT
In a cotton farming village in Sudan, Nafisa has a crush on Babiker, but her parents have arranged her marriage to Nadir, a young Sudanese businessman. Can Nafisa choose for herself? DIR Suzannah Mirghani. Sudan,Qatar
 

ANXIOUS BODY
Living things, artificial things, geometry shapes and lines. When these different things encounter, a new direction is born. DIR Yoriko Mizushiri. Japan, France

ARE YOU STILL THERE?
On a hot day, Safa’s car battery dies, leaving her stranded in a strip mall parking lot. When her mom arrives, the two struggle to jump-start a car. DIR Rayka Zehtabchi, Sam Davis. USA

BABYBANGZ
BABYBANGZ visualizes the story of Anastasia Ebel, owner of a natural hair salon in Mid-city, and her mission to foster opportunities for intentional reflection, for herself and her community. DIR Juliana Kasumu. USA

THE DEATH CLEANER (EL LIMPIADOR)
For a forensic cleaner in Mexico City, healing is at the core of his service. DIR Louise Monlaü. Mexico, Spain, France

EL CARRITO
Nelly slogs through another unsuccessful day of street vending in Queens, New York. Determined to improve her circumstances, she makes a risky business decision that ends in misfortune. DIR Zahida Pirani. USA

ENVIAR Y RECIBIR
A warehouse worker at a fast fashion company forms an attachment to a piece of damaged inventory. DIR Cosmo Collins Salovaara. USA

GRANNY’S SEXUAL LIFE (BABIČINO SEKSUALNO ŽIVLJENJE)
A trip into grandmother’s youth and the memories of her intimate life illustrate the status of Slovenian women in the first half of the 20th century. DIR Urška Djukić, Émilie Pigeard. Slovenia, France

GREEN (ZIELEŃ)
Roadside greenery is created to be driven past, not to be in. Geometrical, artificial and overgrown by weeds. Your body is the same, dragged through life instead of living it. DIR Karolina Kajetanowicz. Poland

H.A.G.S.
Feeling anxious about adulthood, Sean Wang found comfort in the innocence of middle school through his old yearbooks. Curious about how his old friends were handling adulthood, he called them. DIR Sean Wang. USA

HER DANCE (RIKUD HASSIDI)
After not being invited to her sister’s wedding, Aya, a transwoman, shows up by surprise on a Shabbat night at the Orthodox Jewish community where her family lives. DIR Bar Cohen. Israel

IN FLOW OF WORDS
The narratives of three interpreters of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, who interpreted shocking testimonies without regard for their own feelings and personal histories. DIR Eliane Esther Bots. Netherlands


LOVE, DAD (MILÝ TATI)
She finds letters full of love her dad wrote her years ago. DIR Diana Cam Van Nguyen. Czech Republic, Slovakia

MANO SANTA
A grandfather harbors his runaway grandson after fleeing the constraints of home. DIR Stephanie Camacho Casillas. Puerto Rico

MISERY LOVES COMPANY
One night, Seolgi is lying on a grass field with friends. A shooting star falls, and dark and intrusive thoughts hits her and her melancholy blooms into “flower people.” DIR Sasha Lee. South Korea, USA

MISTRESS DISPELLER
A professional “mistress dispeller” works with a married couple struggling with infidelity in contemporary China. DIR Elizabeth Lo. USA,China

MON AMI QUI BRILLE DANS LA NUIT
A ghost loses their memory after being struck by lightning. They meet Arthur, who tries to help them. DIR Grégoire de Bernouis, Jawed Boudaoud, Simon Cadilhac, Hélène Ledevin. France

MOTORCYCLIST’S HAPPINESS WON’T FIT INTO HIS SUIT (AL MOTOCICLISTA NO LE CABE LA FELICIDAD EN EL TRAJE)
He sits proudly on his motorbike, encompassed in majestic red and the dazzling admiration of others. A playful re-enactment with reversed roles that targets the hubris of colonial conquerors. DIR Gabriel Herrera. Mexico

NALUJUK NIGHT
Every January 6th, families in the Inuit community of Nain, Canada, celebrate Nalujuk Night, when eerie figures in tattered fur clothing arrive to reward the good and punish the bad. DIR Jennie Williams. Canada

NEW ABNORMAL
Based on a true story, NEW ABNORMAL is a reflection on human life during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as under the Emergency decree. DIR Sorayos Prapapan. Thailand

ONLY THE MOON STANDS STILL (明月依旧)
Three generations of Chinese women say goodbye to their family ballroom dance studio. Executive produced by Lena Waithe, starring Shirley Chen and Mardy Ma. DIR Johnson Cheng. USA, China

PLAY IT SAFE
Jonathan is out of place in his drama school. Pigeonholed and typecast in parts, Jonathan decides to demonstrate to his peers their prejudices during a class role-play exercise. DIR Mitch Kalisa. UK

PLAYTIME (GIOCHI)
A mother wants to play with her son. A boy wants to find out what his friend is giving a girl. A cat has disappeared. But these are only games. DIR Simone Bozzelli. Italy

PRIDE
An aspiring writer finalizes stories for “Pride,” a student-run newspaper. Over a hectic two days in the early 1990s, she puts the finishing touches on the upcoming issue. DIR Kevin Jerome Everson, Claudrena N. Harold. USA


SALES PER HOUR
The film tells the story of a young woman who faces a moral dilemma when she witnesses a sexual encounter at the clothing store where she works. DIR Michelle Uranowitz, Daniel Jaffe. USA

SANDSTORM (MULAQAT)
Zara shares a sensual dance video with her virtual boyfriend, who blackmails her. She begins her search for the strength to reject the confines of a patriarchal society. DIR Seemab Gul. Pakistan

SHARK
SHARK follows the continuing adventures of Jack, who loves to prank. But in his latest relationship he may have finally met his match. DIR Nash Edgerton. Australia

SOFT ANIMALS
Two ex-lovers cross paths in a train station. DIR Renee Zhan. UK

STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE
In Singapore, where even vapes are illegal, three rebellious schoolgirls are caught smoking by the principal. Their revenge prank takes a sinister turn. DIR Siyou Tan. Singapore

A SUMMER PLACE
On the day of Tina’s birthday, she is ready to give up on everything until an extraordinary encounter changes her life. DIR Alexandra Matheou. Cyprus, France


VIDEO VISIT
Each week, people visit the Brooklyn Public Library to video call incarcerated loved ones. A story of two mothers and their sons, and the librarians who keep the families connected. DIR Malika Zouhali-Worrall. USA
 

YOUR STREET (DEINE STRASSE)
The grey present of an industrial area is being charged with its past, linked to a tragic episode in the history of Germany. Are public memorials collective remembrance or repression? DIR Güzin Kar. Switzerland


YORUGA
A lonely old man pays a visit to Yoruga, one of the last animals on Earth. DIR Federico Torrado Tobón. Colombia
 

ZONDER MEER
A boy has disappeared and may have drowned. Five-year-old Lucie is trying to understand what is going on around her. How long can you hold your breath? DIR Meltse Van Coillie. Belgium

AFI Conservatory Showcase

A collection of short fiction films from the most recent graduates of the AFI Conservatory. 

The theatrical screenings will conclude with a special AFI Fellows-focused premiere of Executive Producer David Fincher’s latest Netflix series, VOIR.

VOIR

A special screening of Executive Producer David Fincher’s latest Netflix series: A collection of visual essays…for the love of cinema. DIR David Prior, Taylor Ramos, Tony Zhou. World Premiere.

APART, TOGETHER

Yiru is a Chinese teenager traveling to the U.S. as a translator for her mom, who is searching for her first daughter she gave up for adoption under the one-child policy. DIR Hang “Olivia” Zhou. USA

BOYS OF A CERTAIN AGE

Stalked by an ominous driver, a boy on the cusp of puberty faces danger and excitement during a weekend of self-discovery with his best friend. DIR Spencer Wardwell. USA

THE BRIGHT SIDE OF THINGS

During the hottest heat wave in Southern California, Bobby wakes up to find his AC stolen from his window. Soon, a journey for revenge becomes one of self-discovery. DIR Andrew Pollack. USA

A BUTTERFLY VANISHES

The peace between Leo and his grieving father is disrupted when the young boy finds a butterfly that he believes to be his deceased mother. DIR Juan Pablo Arias Muñoz. USA

COLD WALL

After a video of a miscarriage suffered by a student goes viral, a shocked 16-year-old Chinese girl, Katie, attempts to solve a personal crisis in unfamiliar territory. DIR Jiaying “Lilly” Hu. USA 

EUREKA

A young indentured Chinese prostitute must overcome her toxic dependency on the brothel madam on the eve of the 1885 anti-Chinese riot in Eureka, California. DIR Lixing “Mida” Chu. USA

GUIDE ON

On her first day of basic training, an army recruit stands out as she defiantly fights to be the first female guidon bearer. DIR Paige Compton. USA

THE HIDEAWAY

After hearing a rumor that her mother is a stripper, 14-year-old Nika becomes determined to discover the truth, unknowingly crossing the threshold into adulthood. DIR Jane Stephens Rosenthal. USA

KUSH: A BUBBLEGUM WESTERN

Brent and Perry, a broke and in-love couple, run into trouble when they decide to transport weed across the country. DIR Anthony Sneed. USA

LI

Li, a recent immigrant, hopes for a better education for her son while dealing with potentially losing her career, and learns how to do what’s best for her son. DIR Shengxi “Clement” Yang. USA

LIKE US

A lonely woman saves an alien who cannot experience emotions. As she tries to teach it what love is, she discovers that you can’t teach what you don’t know yourself. DIR Mikhail Saburov. USA

LUX NOCTIS

In a post-apocalyptical-matriarchal community, Lina faces her trial to bring light or perish to the darkness. Mara’s compassion pushes Lina to create an unprecedented light. DIR Damiana Acuña. USA

MASS AVE

Over a day of landscaping work, a first generation African American and his immigrant father have their relationship and outlooks on life transformed irreversibly when racially profiled by police. DIR Omar Kamara. USA

THE MONKEY KING

Bao, a small-time Chinese opera performer, finally gets a chance to perform for the city’s V.I.P.s. However, his son’s departure brings conflict between their relationship and a potential break. DIR Yingqi “Niko” Ren. USA

RIDING SCOOTERS

A socially awkward Chinese-American teenager spends an evening trying to impress his crush at a friend’s unusual party. DIR Terry Hou. USA

SPACESHIP

When a Latina transwoman in East LA is on the verge of losing her daughter to child services, she begins to unravel after confronting her buried traumas and fears. DIR Jorge Camarena. USA

YOURS TO BURY

When an innocent game puts two sisters face to face with death, one must choose whether or not to protect the other from the irreversible consequences of their play. DIR Sydney Ribot. USA

Early bird passes are now available at FEST.AFI.com, and individual tickets for in-person and virtual screenings and events will be available to AFI members on October 19 and the general public on October 20.

Top Sponsors for AFI FEST 2021 include AT&T, Apple Original Films, National Geographic Documentary Films and Dell. Passes for AFI FEST 2021 are now available at FEST.AFI.com and individual tickets will be available to AFI members on October 19 and the general public on October 20. AFI members receive exclusive discounts and benefits to the festival. To become an AFI member, visit AFI.com/join/.

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