AFI FEST 2021: International Award Winners – American Film Institute


AFI FEST 2021: International Award Winners

This critically acclaimed, prestigious group of films includes award winners from Venice (HAPPENING, Golden Lion; PARALLEL MOTHERS, Best Actress), Cannes (DRIVE MY CAR, Best Screenplay; A NIGHT OF KNOWING NOTHING, Golden Eye Award), Berlinale (THE GIRL AND THE SPIDER, Best Director in Encounters), Locarno (HOLY EMY, Honorable Mention for First Feature) and the London Film Festival with HIT THE ROAD being crowned Best Film in Competition. This knockout batch of international films has something alluring for everyone, whether it be MEMORIA or AHED’S KNEE, who were both awarded Cannes’ Jury Prize in unison. Or the stellar lead performances in JOCKEY (U.S. Dramatic Award for Best Actor, Sundance) and THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD (Best Actress, Cannes). With expert craft and ingenuity, these lauded films are unmissable!


Filmmaker Y, widely known for his insufferable arrogance and self-righteousness, has just arrived in the remote Arava Valley to introduce his film at the local library when Yahalom, a librarian under the Minister of Culture, presents him with a waiver dictating that he must not stray from pre-approved topics in his remarks. Privately struggling with the waning health of his mother, Y becomes enraged and, when Yahalom expresses sympathy, the filmmaker seizes the opportunity to expose governmental hypocrisy. Spinning wildly around such complex questions as the moral obligation of a citizen whose country is becoming increasingly oppressive and censorial, and the inherent privilege in speaking out against such injustices, the latest from celebrated Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid is a provocation as intimate as it is extreme. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 12, 4:30 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


Japan Official International Feature Film Oscar® Submission

Following the theatrical screening, watch a special conversation with director Ryusuke Hamaguchi moderated by AFI Festivals Programmer Malin Kan.

Expanding on the eponymous Haruki Murakami short story, this epic examination of loss from Japanese auteur Ryusuke Hamaguchi (ASAKO I & II), which won Best Screenplay at Cannes, follows well-known stage actor Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) who is invited to direct a multi-lingual version of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” in Hiroshima. Accustomed to running lines behind the wheel with a tape recorded by his late wife, Yusuke is dismayed to learn that the production requires he accept a quiet young woman, Misaki, as his driver. When her driving abilities prove more than adequate, his concerns are shifted to revelations about his wife, a possible affair uncovered and an inner life he will never fully know. With a delicate emotionality, Hamaguchi explores what is left behind when a love is lost and a city is decimated.  Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 13, 12:30 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


In the long-awaited follow-up to their 2013 collaboration THE STRANGE LITTLE CAT and a continuation in what they describe as “a loose trilogy about human togetherness,” Ramon and Silvan Zürcher’s THE GIRL AND THE SPIDER takes place over the course of two days as Lisa is moving out of the apartment she shares with Mara. Friends and neighbors appear intermittently to assist, resulting in a series of odd, if seemingly minor, interactions with unspoken tensions simmering just beneath the surface. Its formal language complex, singular and assured, each movement and each look are pointed and precise in intention, hinting at the absurd nature of human relationships and underscoring the unconscious parameters – such as the confines of space and the laws of gravity – that dictate human behavior. Winner of Best Director in the Encounters section at the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 13, 8:30 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


Following the theatrical screening, watch a special conversation with director Audrey Diwan moderated by AFI FEST Programmer Julia Kipnis.

In Audrey Diwan’s Golden Lion award-winning feature adapted from Annie Ernaux’s autobiographical novel, Anamaria Vartolomei delivers a breakout performance as Anne, a young woman studying literature in 1960s France. While on the path to sexual liberation, Anne discovers that she is pregnant – an occurrence her friends liken to a death sentence in a country where abortion is stigmatized and illegal. Determined not to let her life and academic ambitions be derailed by an unexpected pregnancy, Anne desperately searches in secret for a solution to her predicament. Anchored by supporting turns from Sandrine Bonnaire (VAGABOND) and Luàna Bajrami (PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE), this poignant and timely film does not shy away from the brutal realities many women must endure when left without a choice. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person | November 12, 9:30 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


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)


North American Premiere

Largely keeping to themselves after their mother is forced to leave Athens and return to the Philippines, Emy and Teresa live a simple, quiet life centered around attending mass, working in a fish market and avoiding the locals. But soon the outside world encroaches as Teresa begins seeing a Greek co-worker and Mrs. Christina, their mother’s former boss, lures Emy into working as a caregiver, a ruse to tap into Emy’s very unique, and very ancient, gifts. When Teresa’s boyfriend sees Emy crying tears of blood, she runs the risk of her abilities being exposed, sending her on a shocking trajectory in this whip-smart feature debut – a potent and visceral tale of race, class and tradition filtered through body and social horror – from filmmaker Araceli Lemos. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 14, 7:30 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


As Jackson nears the end of his professional jockey’s career, he’s trying to win one last championship before hanging up his silks. When Ruth, his longtime trainer, acquires a new horse, they feel that this could be the key to their final chance at glory. As Jackson pushes forward despite the years of injuries catching up to him, he meets a young rider claiming to be his son. Taking the rookie under his wing, Jackson is left to consider the complex possibilities of what’s next and what it means to have a second chance at fatherhood.

A personally inspired tribute to the horse-racing community by director Clint Bentley, JOCKEY is an authentic and immersive look at the scenes behind the racetrack. Clifton Collins, Jr. carries the film with a passionate and humble performance of an aging man at a crossroads between dreams and sacrifice. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 14, 2:00 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


Colombia Official International Feature Film Oscar® Submission

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: the heavy thud of a falling metal ball. But when a sound engineer recreates the noise, Jessica finds that communicating the unplaceable sound in her head does not mitigate her own intense feelings of displacement. Continuing to seek answers, she travels to the mountains to meet with an archeologist researching ritual deaths, but an encounter with a local fisherman instead suggests she look to the skies and the land for answers. Inspired by the filmmaker’s own experience suffering from “exploding head syndrome,” MEMORIA is confounding and transfixing, an intriguing addition to the filmography of Apichatpong Weerasethakul (UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES) and a deserved co-winner of the Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 14, 2:45 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


Winner of the Best Documentary Award at Cannes, Payal Kapadia’s hypnotic feature directorial debut examines rediscovered, once lost film reels and a diary written by a student (“L”) to her absent lover at the Film & Television Institute of India. As her words are read aloud in sedate tones, her own intimate and singular experience of heartbreak reflects that of a generation of students in India experiencing intense feelings of anger, sadness and powerlessness at the injustices of the Modi government. Layered sound and black and white cinematography contrasts vividly with vibrant saturated colors, and that which is remembered or dreamed or truth or fiction is indiscernible in Kapadia’s semi-fictionalized account of political upheaval in India and the student protest movement against rising nationalism, ethnic cleansing and abuses of the lower castes. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person | November 14, 3:30 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film follows two women Janis and Ana (both single mothers) from the moment they give birth to two daughters. Janis is thrilled by her accidental pregnancy, seeing it as perhaps her last chance at motherhood, while the adolescent Ana is scared and traumatized by the ordeal.

Almodóvar masterfully weaves the drama of these two women around the complexity, anxiety and passion that comes with motherhood. With the birth of their daughters, Janis and Ana have a unique link and are drawn closer by the lack of support from others in their world. But this bond unravels in complicated and surprising ways that neither of them expected. PARALLEL MOTHERS is a powerful exploration of how generations and families are held together amongst the greatest challenges. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person | November 13, 2:00 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


Norway Official International Feature Film Oscar® Submission

Julie is experiencing an existential crisis of life and love. She’s altered her career path a handful of times and begins dating Aksel, an older and successful graphic novelist. As time goes on, Julie bristles against his need to settle down. When Julie crashes a party one night, she meets the charming and equally carefree Eivind and throws herself into a new relationship with vigor.

The latest film by Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier (THELMA, LOUDER THAN BOMBS) is a wry and at times melancholy romance, portraying a young woman navigating her way through her evolving identity, happiness and mistakes. THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD reminds us how quickly life can pass us by and to make the most of every opportunity in it. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person | November 11, 9:15 p.m. | Buy In-Person 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

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


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