AFI FEST 2021: Love Letters to Cinema – American Film Institute


AFI FEST 2021: Love Letters to Cinema

The American Film Institute is dedicated to the excellence of the moving image as an art form and the power of cinema to inspire empathy and drive culture forward. These four films do just that in more ways than one. From ONE SECOND’s beloved projectionist character affectionately known as “Mr. Movie” whose entire town works together to clean damaged film reels, to THE TSUGUA DIARIES’ self-reflexive, behind-the-scenes take on the filmmaking process during COVID lockdown. Both VOIR and THE REAL CHARLIE CHAPLIN quench our thirst for cinematic history, with one chronicling the rise and fall of a Hollywood superstar, while the other examines moments in films that have forever thrilled and impacted audiences. The love of cinema is certainly alive and not going anywhere!


Master filmmaker Zhang Yimou returns to the big screen with this year’s most charming celebration of cinema. During the Cultural Revolution in China, the film’s nameless hero is sent to a remote labor camp in the desert. After escaping several years later, he has one goal – to watch a newsreel screening in which his daughter was briefly captured on film. On this journey, he meets a young orphan who has her own schemes for a newsreel, as well as a small village’s much-loved film projectionist named Mr. Movie.

ONE SECOND is an enchanting and epic fable about the transformative power of film – an opportunity to rejoice as we return to our beloved theaters. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person | November 14, 5:00 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


From Peter Middleton and James Spinney (NOTES ON BLINDNESS), comes a uniquely crafted portrait of iconic physical comedian Charlie Chaplin, creator of silent cinema’s loveable “tramp.” Featuring rare and never-before-heard recordings and introducing characters from Chaplin’s life who had been previously written out of the narrative, THE REAL CHARLIE CHAPLIN brings to life a complex, multi-dimensional image of the world-renowned comedian. This dynamic broad-strokes account of his ascent touches on the major moments of his lengthy career, notably shining a light on the complexities and the darker aspects of his personality. It also offers an appreciation of Chaplin’s films themselves, providing an introduction to the uninitiated. The film’s skillful entwining of reenactments with archival materials presents new possibilities for nonfiction filmmaking. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person | November 14, 12:15 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


When lockdown halted production, Lisbon-based filmmakers Miguel Gomes (TABU, ARABIAN NIGHTS) and Maureen Fazendeiro (BLACK SUN, MOTU MAEVA) incorporated their interrupted project organically into a playful meta-premise: 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. Unfolding throughout the month of August and told in reverse chronological order, this series of sun-soaked vignettes revels in vibrant color, deliciously textured 16mm film grain and the delightful pop tunes of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. And as the August breeze rustles the trees, this charming and enigmatic lockdown experiment sees time unbound and each day existing on its own terms with exuberance, whimsy and delight. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person | November 14, 12:30 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


A collection of visual essays…for the love of cinema. Learn more.

Screening in-person | November 13, 8:15 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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