By Matt Neglia
The AFI Film Festival has announced its full lineup this year after playing exclusively virtual last year. Passes for the festival are now available here. Individual tickets will be available to AFI members on October 19th and the general public on October 20th. The festival is set to take place November 10th till November 14th.
Click below to see the lineup.
RED CARPET PREMIERES
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
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
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
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.
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
The best in contemporary cinema from renowned storytellers and new voices from across the globe.
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
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
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 & Maryam Touzani
CAST: Meryem Nekkach, Anas Basbousi, Nouhaila Arif & Ismail Adouab
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 & Marcia Romano
CAST Anamaria Vartolomei, Kacey Mottet-Klein, Luàna Bajrami, Louise Orry Diquiero, Louise Chevillotte, Pio Marmaï, Sandrine Bonnaire & Anna Mouglalis
HIT THE ROAD
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
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
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
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
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
LINGUI, THE SACRED BONDS
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
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.
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
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
PARIS, 13TH DISTRICT
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
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
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
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
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
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
THE TSUGUA DIARIES
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
UNCLENCHING THE FISTS
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
VERA DREAMS OF THE SEA
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
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
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
The most engaging and powerful real-life stories depicted in global nonfiction cinema that enlighten, educate and entertain.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The full lineup including shorts can be seen here. What do you think of this year’s lineup? Which world premiere are you most excited to see? Let us. know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.
You can follow Matt and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @NextBestPicture