AFI FEST 2021: Feature Films Screening Virtually – American Film Institute

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AFI FEST 2021: Feature Films Screening Virtually

FEST from home with this year’s outstanding feature films and shorts programs! Join us for AFI FEST 2021, Nov. 10-14, 2021. Learn more about the films below and visit FEST.AFI.com for more curated lists, filmmaker videos and more.

CITIZEN ASHE

Following the virtual and theatrical screenings, watch a special conversation with director-producer Rex Miller and director Sam Pollard moderated by AFI FEST Programmer Julia Kipnis.

Born and raised in a segregated Virginia, Arthur Ashe rose to the top of the overwhelmingly white world of tennis in the 1960s to achieve many firsts as the most prevalent Black man in the sport. Reticent early in his career to address racial strife in America until the events of 1968, Ashe became an outspoken civil rights activist in the fight against racial discrimination, South African apartheid and later the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS. This insightful documentary includes exclusive interviews with Ashe’s family, Black activists and tennis cohorts Billie Jean King and John McEnroe. With striking archival footage and previously unheard audiotapes, FEST alum Sam Pollard (SAMMY DAVIS, JR.: I’VE GOTTA BE ME) and Rex Miller’s latest film celebrates the inspirational life of this groundbreaking tennis champion and humanitarian. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 13, 1:00 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 13, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

THE FIRST WAVE

While we are living in a post-vaccinated and variant-driven pandemic, it is imperative to process this moment in history – this moment we are still collectively living in. Matthew Heineman’s THE FIRST WAVE documents one of New York City’s hardest hit hospitals as the COVID-19 pandemic peaked in Spring 2020, with doctors, nurses and patients fighting to survive. This powerful and intimate documentary reminds us how far we have come and how many lives have been affected. It is a therapeutic watch, forcing us to confront the harsh reality of the disease, creating space to grieve over our collective trauma and be an active witness to history. Learn more about the film. 

Screening in-person |  November 12, 4:00 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 12, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

HIT THE ROAD

In this fascinating, standout debut from Panah Panahi, son of acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi (TAXI, 3 FACES), an endearing yet frenzied family of four is on a mysterious road trip to an unknown destination. An overprotective mother, a nonchalant father, an anxious older brother and a scene-stealing, rambunctious younger brother pack themselves and their sickly dog into an SUV as they traverse an expansive Iranian landscape. Brimming with charismatic performances and a darkly humorous family dynamic, Panahi takes us on an unforgettable journey that is as profound as it is absurdist. A breakout feature from a bold and assured new voice in world cinema. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 13, 3:45 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 13, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

PARIS, 13TH DISTRICT

Adapted from Adrian Tomine’s acclaimed graphic novel, PARIS, 13TH DISTRICT weaves a breezy tapestry of modern love stories. Beautifully realized in crisp black-and-white cinematography, the electrifying, multicultural 13th arrondissement sets the stage for a panoramic tale of four young lovers. Lucie Zhang delivers a breakout performance as free-spirited Émilie, who begins a casual relationship with new roommate Camille (Makita Samba). Noémie Merlant (PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE) plays wide-eyed student Nora, whose new life in Paris is complicated when she is accidentally mistaken for cam girl Amber Sweet (Jehnny Beth). Stepping away from his usual genre fare, Jacques Audiard, along with script collaborators Céline Sciamma and Léa Mysius, brings to life the sprawling dreams of desire and human connection in the city of love. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 11, 8:15 p.m.  | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 11, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

PETITE MAMAN

After the death of her grandmother, eight-year-old Nelly goes to her mother’s childhood home as her parents sort through the estate. Nelly explores the nearby woods where her mother, Marion, used to play as a child and finds the tree fort she’s heard stories about for years. After Nelly’s mother suddenly leaves the next morning, Nelly meets a girl her own age in the woods, building a fort. Following her masterpiece film PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE, Céline Sciamma crafts an enchanting and poetic coming-of-age story. Modest and poignant in its approach, PETITE MAMAN beautifully explores grief, memory and imagination through a child’s eyes. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 13, 1:15 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 13, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

SIMPLE AS WATER

The impact of humanitarian crises knows no real borders. The Syrian civil war has devastated its people, causing refugees to migrate far and wide in efforts to survive. Academy Award®-winning director Megan Mylan (LOST BOYS OF SUDAN; SMILE PINKI) documents just a handful of the courageous families affected by the conflict and the efforts to rebuild their lives in new surroundings. From Germany, Greece, Turkey and across the ocean to America, these families dream for a better future far away from the traumas caused in their homeland and endured during their treacherous journeys. SIMPLE AS WATER puts faces to a catastrophe that is often too extreme to put into any words. Learn more about the film. 

Screening in-person |  November 11, 4:30 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 11, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

TO WHAT REMAINS

World Premiere

Over 200 aircrafts were shot down over the island of Palau in the South Pacific during World War II. In the early 1990s, Dr. Pat Scannon went to Palau to help a dive team locate a Japanese trawler sunk on a mission by future President George H.W. Bush during the war. With a successful discovery, the trip gave Scannon the vision to create Project Recover, an organization with a mission to bring home missing-in-action World War II veterans.

This powerful documentary follows Scannon and a team of professionals, volunteers and other veterans searching for those left behind in forgotten battles. Led by scientific data and personal accounts of war, the team’s perseverance has provided recognition and closure for families over three decades. AFI FEST is honored to host the world premiere of this remarkable documentary to celebrate all U.S. veterans on November 11. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person | November 11, 5:00 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 12, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

VERA DREAMS OF THE SEA (VERA ANDRRON DETIN)

North American Premiere

Unassuming sign language interpreter Vera (Teuta Ajdini) lives a quiet life alongside retired husband Fatmir in their modest Pristina apartment. Happy to be a vessel for others to navigate the world, her hopes for her daughter and granddaughter’s future are intrinsically linked to the family’s newly valuable country house. But when her husband takes his own life and his cousin Ahmet begins insisting that Fatmir had promised him the rural home, Vera suddenly finds herself trapped in a deeply patriarchal culture where the word of men is final. Unyielding to increasingly violent pressure, Vera discovers how deep the corruption in men’s hearts can run, as well as the strength to stand her ground in this taut drama from director Kaltrina Krasniqi. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person  |  November 13, 7:30 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 13, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

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SHORT FILM PROGRAMS – Screening virtually

Curated from hundreds of entries, this year’s short films highlight unique voices from around the planet – 34 films presented in five programs. And although the films are short – none longer than 23 minutes – each still prove that these emerging and established filmmakers can push the form of storytelling in inventive, challenging and sometimes hilarious ways.

 

SHORTS PROGRAM 1

Following the virtual program, AFI Festivals Shorts Programmer Eric Moore leads a conversation between filmmakers Louise Monlaü (THE DEATH CLEANER), Diana Cam Van Nguyen (LOVE, DAD), Juliana Kasumu (BABYBANGZ), Alexandra Matheou (A SUMMER PLACE).

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?
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.”
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.
THE DEATH CLEANER (EL LIMPIADOR): For a forensic cleaner in Mexico City, healing is at the core of his service.
LOVE, DAD (MILÝ TATI)a; She finds letters full of love her dad wrote her years ago.
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.
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.

Screening in-person |  November 12, 3:00 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 11, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

SHORTS PROGRAM 2

Following the virtual program, AFI Festivals Shorts Programmer Eric Moore leads a conversation between filmmakers Bar Cohen (HER DANCE), Sean Wang (H.A.G.S.), Cosmo Collins Salovaara (ENVIAR Y RECIBIR), Sorayos Prapapan (NEW ABNORMAL), Güzin Kar (YOUR STREET).

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.
H.A.G.S: https://fest.afi.com/2021/short-film-competition-2021/h-a-g-s/
ENVIAR Y RECIBIR: A warehouse worker at a fast fashion company forms an attachment to a piece of damaged inventory.
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. USA Premiere
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.
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?
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.

Screening in-person |  November 12, 6:00 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 11, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

SHORTS PROGRAM 3

Following the virtual program, AFI Festivals Shorts Programmer Eric Moore leads a conversation between filmmakers Sam Davis and Rayka Zehtabchi (ARE YOU STILL THERE?), Malika Zouhali-Worrall (VIDEO VISIT), Federico Torrado (YORUGA), Gabriel Herrera (MOTORCYCLIST’S HAPPINESS WON’T FIT INTO HIS SUIT), Michelle Uranowitz and Daniel Jaffe (SALES PER HOUR), Johnson Cheng (ONLY THE MOON STANDS STILL).

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.
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.
YORUGA: A lonely old man pays a visit to Yoruga, one of the last animals on Earth.
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.
SALES PER HOUR: SALES PER HOUR 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.
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.

Screening in-person |  November 12, 9:00 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 11, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

SHORTS PROGRAM 4

Following the virtual program, AFI FEST Programmer Julia Kipnis leads a conversation between filmmakers Zahida Pirani (EL CARRITO), Claudrena N. Harold (PRIDE), Eliane Esther Bots (IN FLOW OF WORDS), Stephanie Camacho Castillas (MANO SANTA), Nash Edgerton (SHARK), Siyou Tan (STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE).

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. World Premiere
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.
ANXIOUS BODY: Living things, artificial things, geometry shapes and lines. When these different things encounter, a new direction is born.
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. North American Premiere
MANO SANTA: A grandfather harbors his runaway grandson after fleeing the constraints of home.
SHARK: SHARK follows the continuing adventures of Jack, who loves to prank. But in his latest relationship he may have finally met his match.
SOFT ANIMALS: Two ex-lovers cross paths in a train station.
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. North American Premiere

Screening in-person |  November 13, 2:15 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 11, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

SHORTS PROGRAM 5

Following the virtual program, AFI Festivals Shorts Programmer Eric Moore leads a conversation between filmmakers Elizabeth Lo (MISTRESS DISPELLER), Urška Djukićz (GRANNY’S SEXUAL LIFE), Karolina Kajetanowicz (GREEN), Suzannah Mirghani (AL-SIT) and Mitch Kalisa (PLAY IT SAFE).

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. North American Premiere
MISTRESS DISPELLER: A professional “mistress dispeller” works with a married couple struggling with infidelity in contemporary China. World Premiere
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. USA Premiere
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.
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?
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.

Screening in-person |  November 13, 4:45 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 11, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

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.  Learn more about AFI’s annual film festival celebrating the best in global cinema at FEST.AFI.com.

Individual tickets and passes to AFI FEST 2021 are currently available on FEST.AFI.com. AFI Members receive exclusive discounts and benefits to the festival. To become an AFI member, visit AFI.com/join/.

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