AFI FEST 2021: On the Road – Movies about travel – American Film Institute


AFI FEST 2021: On the Road – Movies about travel

Come take a trip with us down roads you’ve never traveled! Maybe you want to board a train in Russia. Or you could pack a bag and hop into a stranger’s truck somewhere in the Great White North. How about a large SUV taking you deep into the Romanian Mountains? Interested in a family road trip in Iran? It could also be fun to get chauffeured to the theater in Japan. Or, you could go on all of these adventures, with these great travel films at AFI FEST 2021. Itinerary created for you by the AFI FEST team!


Finland Official International Feature Film Oscar® Submission

A young Finnish woman escapes an enigmatic love affair in Moscow by boarding a train to the arctic port of Murmansk. Forced to share the long ride and a tiny sleeping car with a larger-than-life Russian miner, the unexpected encounter leads the occupants of Compartment No. 6 to face major truths about human connection. COMPARTMENT NO. 6 shared the Grand Prix award at Cannes in 2021 and has been selected as Finland’s official entry for the 94th Academy Awards®. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person | November 11, 10:00 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 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)


From Romanian writer-director Radu Muntean, this intelligent and engaging parable/thriller replete with dark humor and high tension premiered at the 2021 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, featuring a shockingly honest depiction of the often-self-serving nature and limitations of altruism. Winding deep into the Romanian mountainside, three humanitarian aid workers intend to deliver packages to the impoverished rural inhabitants before Christmas, but their mission is diverted when they offer a ride to an elderly man along the side of the road, and they find themselves suddenly stranded. Trapped overnight in the cold Romanian forest, the disconnect between those offering aid and those receiving it widens, and attitudes begin to shift along with the realization that the trio may need to brave circumstances that locals find exceedingly ordinary. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 14, 7:45 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


US Premiere

The road of life can be difficult as Link, an indigenous Mi’kmaw teen, certainly knows. Fortunately, he has his younger half-brother, Travis, by his side. When their abusive father is discovered to be hiding an unimaginable secret about Link’s long-lost mother, the brothers begin a challenging and revelatory. Following the breadcrumbs of information along the way, the brothers begin a journey in search of her. During their quest, they are joined by Pasmay, also two-spirit and Mi’kmaw, known in the community for his dancing. Link soon discovers that Pasmay’s kindness and generosity are infectious. What starts as a bleak story of despair for Link, turns into a charming trek of self-discovery and young love. Writer/director Bretten Hannam’s second feature is overflowing with visual and emotional beauty. Learn more about the film. 

Screening in-person |  November 13, 4:00 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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