Feature Directorial Debuts From Academy Award® Winners Halle Berry And Benjamin Cleary To Screen At The TCL Chinese Theatre
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, September 28, 2021 — Today, the American Film Institute (AFI) announced that AFI FEST 2021 will include the World Premieres of Academy Award® winner Halle Berry’s directorial debut BRUISED from Netflix and Academy Award® winner Benjamin Cleary’s feature directorial debut SWAN SONG from Apple Original Films. Both World Premieres will screen in-person at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre on Saturday, November 13 and Friday, November 12, respectively.
BRUISED stars Berry as a washed-up MMA fighter who struggles for redemption as both an athlete and a mother. SWAN SONG stars two-time Oscar® winner Mahershala Ali as a man diagnosed with a terminal illness who is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor, portrayed by eight-time Oscar® nominee Glenn Close, to shield his family from grief. The film also stars Oscar® nominee Naomie Harris, BAFTA Award nominee Awkwafina and Adam Beach.
“Now more than ever it is important to lift up and shine a light on new voices and new stories that inspire empathy,” said Sarah Harris, Director of Programming at AFI Festivals. “Halle Berry and Benjamin Cleary are vital artists whose visions we are proud to celebrate at AFI FEST.”
The films join the previously announced titles which include Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! and Reinaldo Marcus Green’s KING RICHARD starring Will Smith. AFI FEST 2021 takes place from November 10–14 in Los Angeles. Tickets and passes will be available soon on FEST.AFI.com.
ABOUT THE FILMS
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 (Adan Canto) and grabs the attention of a fight league promoter (Shamier Anderson) who promises Jackie a life back in the octagon. But the road to redemption becomes unexpectedly personal when Manny (Danny Boyd, Jr.), the son she gave up as an infant, shows up at her doorstep.
The film marks the directorial debut of Academy Award® winner Halle Berry and also stars Adriane Lenox, Sheila Atim, Valentina Shevchenko and Stephen McKinley Henderson in a triumphant story of a fighter who reclaims her power, in and out of the ring, when everyone has counted her out. The film is helmed by Berry from an original screenplay written by Michelle Rosenfarb, and produced by Thunder Road Pictures, Entertainment 360 and Romulus Entertainment. BRUISED will air on Netflix on November 24.
SWAN SONG is set in the near future and told through the eyes of Cameron (two-time Academy Award® winner Mahershala Ali), a loving husband and father diagnosed with a terminal illness who is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor (eight-time Academy Award® nominee Glenn Close) to shield his family from grief. As Cam grapples with whether or not to alter his family’s fate, he learns more about life and love than he ever imagined. Academy Award® nominee Naomie Harris, BAFTA winner Awkwafina and Adam Beach also star in the ensemble cast. The film is helmed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Benjamin Cleary (STUTTERER), from an original screenplay written by Cleary and produced by Anonymous Content and Concordia Studio. Producers are Adam Shulman (DEFENDING JACOB) and Jacob Perlin (THE AMAZING JOHNATHAN DOCUMENTARY) on behalf of Anonymous Content; Jonathan King (STILLWATER, DARK WATERS) on behalf of Concordia Studio; Rebecca Bourke (WAVE); Mahershala Ali and Mimi Valdés (HIDDEN FIGURES) through Know Wonder. SWAN SONG will be released in select theaters and premiere globally on Apple TV+ on December 17.
As previously announced
AFI FEST 2021 takes place from November 10 – 14, 2021 in Los Angeles. The World Premiere of Netflix’s tick, tick…BOOM! directed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda will open the festival, and Warner Bros.’ KING RICHARD directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green will close the festival.
This year’s hybrid festival will feature both in-person screenings and events, as well as virtual screenings, showcasing transformative stories from groundbreaking artists.
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.
Top Sponsors for AFI FEST 2021 include AT&T, Apple Original Films, National Geographic Documentary Films and Dell.
Tickets and passes to AFI FEST 2021 will be available soon on FEST.AFI.com. AFI Members receive exclusive discounts and benefits to the festival. To become an AFI member, visit AFI.com/join/.
Download artwork from the films HERE.
About the American Film Institute (AFI)
The American Film Institute (AFI) is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to champion the moving image as an art form. Established in 1967, AFI launched the first comprehensive history of American film and sparked the movement for film preservation in the United States. In 1969, AFI opened the doors of the AFI Conservatory, a graduate-level program to train narrative filmmakers. AFI’s enduring traditions include the AFI Life Achievement Award, which honors the masters for work that has stood the test of time; AFI AWARDS, which celebrates the creative ensembles of the most outstanding screen stories of the year; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive that preserve film history for future generations. AFI exhibition programs include AFI FEST, AFI DOCS and year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Maryland. Other pioneering programs include workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community, including the AFI Directing Workshop for Women and the AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women. AFI’s newest program is AFI Movie Club, a daily global engagement for those who love the movies. Read about all of these programs and more at AFI.com and follow us on social media at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, YouTube.com/AFI, Twitter.com/AmericanFilm and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.
About AFI FEST
Now in its 35th year, AFI FEST is a world-class event, showcasing the best films from across the globe. With an innovative slate of programming, the five-day festival historically presents screenings, panels and conversations, featuring both master filmmakers and new cinematic voices. This year’s edition takes place in-person and online November 10-14, 2021. The festival includes Special Presentations of high-profile films with Q&As featuring the films’ cast and crew and a robust lineup of fiction and nonfiction features and shorts presented in established AFI FEST sections. Additional information about AFI FEST is available at FEST.AFI.com. Connect with AFI FEST at Facebook.com/AFIFEST, Twitter.com/AFIFEST, Instagram/AmericanFilmInstitute and YouTube.com/AFI.
American Film Institute: Shari Mesulam, [email protected]