AFI FEST 2021: Sports Films – American Film Institute


AFI FEST 2021: Sports Films

Want some great films that don’t pull any punches? Well, the ball’s in your court; just get your tickets to see some of the best sports films in this year’s roster! We don’t just talk a good game when we tell you that these films are in a league of their own. So, what’s in the lineup? Well, we’ve got a down-on-her-luck mixed martial arts fighter, two tennis tales – one of an iconic dad and another of an iconic player – and a horse jockey at the end of his career. And Mexican motorcyclists, Chinese ballroom dancers and Australian scuba divers. Whether you’re watching from the stands in the theatre, or from the comfort of your home, we know you will be a fan of these films.


World Premiere

Jackie Justice (Halle Berry) is a mixed martial arts fighter who leaves the sport in disgrace. Down on her luck and simmering with rage and regret years after her fight, she’s coaxed into a brutal underground fight by her manager and boyfriend Desi and grabs the attention of a fight league promoter who promises Jackie a life back in the octagon. But the road to redemption becomes unexpectedly personal when Manny— the son she gave up as an infant — shows up at her doorstep.

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.  Learn more about the film.

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


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)


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)


Closing Night

Armed with a clear vision and a brazen 78-page plan, Richard Williams is determined to write his daughters, Venus and Serena, into history. Training on Compton, California’s abandoned tennis courts – rain or shine – the girls are shaped by their father’s unyielding commitment and their mother’s balanced perspective and keen intuition, defying the seemingly insurmountable odds and prevailing expectations laid before them. Based on the true story that will inspire the world, KING RICHARD follows the journey of a family whose unwavering resolve and unconditional belief ultimately deliver two of the world’s greatest sports legends. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person | November 14, 7:00 p.m.   | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)


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. Screens as part of Shorts Program 3. Learn more about the film.

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)


Three generations of Chinese women say goodbye to their family ballroom dance studio. Executive produced by Lena Waithe, starring Shirley Chen and Mardy Ma. Screens as part of Shorts Program 3. Learn more about the film. 

Screening in-person as part of Shorts Program 3 |  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)


SHARK follows the continuing adventures of Jack, who loves to prank. But in his latest relationship he may have finally met his match. Screens as part of Shorts Program 4. Learn more about the film.

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)


After a seemingly predestined pair of romantic encounters, pharmacist Lisa and soccer player Giorgi arrange a date, but after a peculiar curse strikes the pair, each awakens with an altered appearance, leaving them unrecognizable to one another. A seedling, a rain gutter and even the wind attempt to communicate with them, but the two are ultimately left without resources. In this heightened state of awareness, amid the warm summer breeze and World Cup madness, the would-be lovers find themselves suddenly receptive to the small dramas and charged rhythms reverberating along the banks of the riverside city of Kutaisi. Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlinale, this unique and profoundly charming sophomore feature from new voice in Georgian cinema Alexandre Koberidze enacts a quiet magic, crafting a contagious state of marveling at the wonders of existence. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person | November 11, 3:15 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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