AFI announced that FEST 2021 will include the World Premieres of Academy Award winner Halle Berry’s directorial debut Bruised from Netflix and Academy Award winner Benjamin Cleary’s feature directorial debut Swan Song from Apple Original Films.
Both World Premieres will screen at the film festival in-person at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre on Saturday, November 13 and Friday, November 12, respectively.
Bruised stars Berry as a washed-up MMA fighter who struggles for redemption as both an athlete and a mother. Down on her luck and simmering with rage and regret years after her fight, she’s coaxed into a brutal underground fight by her manager and boyfriend Desi (Adan Canto) and grabs the attention of a fight league promoter (Shamier Anderson) who promises Jackie a life back in the octagon. But the road to redemption becomes unexpectedly personal when Manny (Danny Boyd, Jr.), the son she gave up as an infant, shows up at her doorstep.
The film marks the directorial debut of Berry and also stars Adriane Lenox, Sheila Atim, Valentina Shevchenko and Stephen McKinley Henderson in a triumphant story of a fighter who reclaims her power, in and out of the ring, when everyone has counted her out.
The film is helmed by Berry from an original screenplay written by Michelle Rosenfarb, and produced by Thunder Road Pictures, Entertainment 360 and Romulus Entertainment.
Swan Song stars two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali as a man diagnosed with a terminal illness who is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor, portrayed by eight-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close, to shield his family from grief. As Cam grapples with whether or not to alter his family’s fate, he learns more about life and love than he ever imagined
The film also stars Oscar nominee Naomie Harris, BAFTA Award nominee Awkwafina and Adam Beach.
“Now more than ever it is important to lift up and shine a light on new voices and new stories that inspire empathy,” said Sarah Harris, Director of Programming at AFI Festivals. “Halle Berry and Benjamin Cleary are vital artists whose visions we are proud to celebrate at AFI FEST.”
AFI FEST 2021 film festival takes place from November 10–14 in Los Angeles.
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 film festival will require all festival-goers who attend in-person events and/or screenings to be fully vaccinated. Tickets and passes will be available soon on FEST.AFI.com.
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