The American Film Institute has unveiled its lineup of 124 films, adding notable titles including the documentaries “Belushi,” “Citizen Penn” and “Hopper/Welles” and the Albert and Allen Hughes thriller “Dead Presidents.”
AFI Fest, which is going virtual this year without the usual glitzy Hollywood premieres at the TCL Chinese Theatre, had announced previously that Rachel Brosnahan’s crime drama “I’m Your Woman” had been selected as its opening night title on Oct. 15. The festival also announced last month that it would close Oct. 22 with “My Psychedelic Love Story,” and host the world premieres of Kelly Oxford’s “Pink Skies Ahead” and Angel Kristi Williams’ “Really Love,” in addition to special presentations of Florian Zeller’s “The Father,” Werner Herzog and Clive Oppenheimer’s “Fireball” and Mira Nair’s “A Suitable Boy.”
“Belushi” is directed by R.J. Cutler and features interviews with John Belushi, Jim Belushi, Chevy Chase, Carrie Fisher, Dan Aykroyd and Penny Marshall. John Belushi died from a drug overdose in 1982.
“Citiezen Penn” focuses on Sean Penn’s nonprofit Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) and its multi-year relief work in Haiti following the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake. “Hopper/Welles” was shot in Los Angeles and is a conversation between Dennis Hopper and Orson Welles with Hopper discussing editing “Easy Rider,” his feature debut behind the camera. The footage was resurrected by producer Filip Jan Rymsza and editor Bob Murawski, who helped bring Welles’ unfinished “The Other Side of the Wind” to life two years ago.
“Dead Presidents” is part of the festival’s Legacy program. The film, released in 1995, centers on a young Black Vietnam vet who returns home to the Bronx and finds it hard to find make his way, turning to crime out of desperation. Larenz Tate, Keith David and Chris Tucker starred.
The complete AFI Fest program includes 124 titles (54 features, 3 episodic, 33 shorts, 19 Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST shorts and 15 AFI Conservatory Showcase shorts) of which 53% are directed by women, 39% are directed by BIPOC and 17% are directed by LBGTQ+. This year’s program represents 35 countries and includes seven world premieres.
“AFI Fest is committed to supporting diverse perspectives and new voices in cinema and this year is no different,” said Sarah Harris, Director of Programming, AFI Festivals. “While we wish we were able to be together in Hollywood, this year’s festival is an opportunity to celebrate the many great films yet to be discovered by audiences across the nation.”
Tickets go on sale on Oct. 7. Here’s the lineup:
A collection of diverse narrative feature films from celebrated storytellers across the world.
À L’ABORDAGE: After a whirlwind one-night romance, Felix and his friends follow Alma 300 miles to a riverside town as a surprise. There, they will come to embrace the bittersweetness of young love and passing summer. DIR Guillaume Brac. SCR Catherine Paillé, Guillaume Brac. CAST Eric Nantchouang, Salif Cissé, Edouard Sulpice, Asma Messaoudene, Ana Blagojevic, Lucie Gallo. France
FAREWELL AMOR After 17 years apart, a reunited Angolan family faces a struggle to assimilate while holding onto their culture and finds the distances that have formed between them impossible to bridge. DIR Ekwa Msangi. SCR Ekwa Msangi. CAST Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, Zainab Jah, Jayme Lawson, Joie Lee, Marcus Scribner, Nana Mensah. USA
HOPPER/WELLES: Each having turned their generation of moviemaking on its head, Orson Welles and Dennis Hopper share a monumental extended conversation, traversing an impossible-to-predict range of topics, from equally incendiary, opposite perspectives. DIR Orson Welles. CAST Dennis Hopper, Orson Welles. USA
I CARRY YOU WITH ME: Director Heidi Ewing cleverly blends fictional characters with their real-life counterparts in this artful love story that spans decades, crosses borders and artfully weaves in poignant commentary on immigration, injustice and homophobia. DIR Heidi Ewing. SCR Heidi Ewing, Alan Page Arriaga. CAST Armando Espitia, Christian Vázquez, Michelle Rodríguez, Ángeles Cruz, Raúl Briones, Arcelia Ramírez. Mexico, USA
INDUSTRY In the latest drama series from HBO, an ambitious group of graduates compete for a permanent role at a top London bank. DIR Lena Dunham, Tinge Krishnan, Ed Lilly. SCR Mickey Down, Konrad Kay, Sam H. Freeman, Kate Verghese. CAST Myha’la Herrold, Marisa Abela, Harry Lawtey, David Jonsson, Nabhaan Rizwan, Conor MacNeill. USA, UK
MY DONKEY, MY LOVER AND I: When Antoinette’s secret lover cancels their romantic getaway for a preplanned six-day hike with his wife and daughter in the French mountains, Antoinette impulsively decides to follow and surprise him. DIR Caroline Vignal. SCR Caroline Vignal. CAST Laure Calamy, Benjamin Lavernhe, Olivia Côte. France
MY LITTLE SISTER Berlin-born twin siblings Lisa (Nina Hoss) and Sven (Lars Eidinger) have a lifelong shared passion for theater. When Sven is diagnosed with leukemia, Lisa begins to dramatically re-evaluate her life. DIR Stéphanie Chuat, Véronique Reymond. SCR Stéphanie Chuat, Véronique Reymond. CAST Nina Hoss, Lars Eidinger, Marthe Keller, Jens Albinus, Thomas Ostermeier. Switzerland
NEW ORDER (NUEVO ORDEN) The social order has combusted. The gulf between the haves and have-nots has reached incendiary proportions in this brilliant and harrowing tale of a revolutionary attempt set against the backdrop of a society wedding. DIR Michel Franco. SCR Michel Franco. CAST Naian González Norvind, Diego Boneta, Mónica del Carmen, Fernando Cuautle, Darío Yazbek, Eligio Meléndez. Mexico
OUT OF THE BLUE This 4K restoration of Dennis Hopper’s too-long unavailable punk-rock masterpiece is a raw image of teenage rebellion that surpasses cult credentials and stands as a monument to the late Linda Manz. DIR Dennis Hopper. SCR Leonard Yakir, Brenda Nielson. CAST Linda Manz, Dennis Hopper, Sharon Farrell, Don Gordon, Raymond Burr. USA
SOUND OF METAL: A recovering drug addict and heavy-metal drummer begins to lose his hearing and must face the complicated changes to his identity and passion. DIR Darius Marder. SCR Darius Marder, Abraham Marder. CAST Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff, Mathieu Almaric. USA
THERE IS NO EVIL (SHEYTAN VOJUD NADARAD) Banned from making films since 2017, Iranian auteur Mohammad Rasoulof’s Golden Bear-winning four-part anthology is an epic examination of morality under an oppressive regime. DIR Mohammad Rasoulof. SCR Mohammad Rasoulof. CAST Ehsan Mirhosseini, Kaveh Ahangar, Mahtab Servati, Mohammad Valizadegan, Shaghayegh Shourian, Alireza Zareparast. Germany, Iran
TRAGIC JUNGLE (SELVA TRÁGICA): A Belizean woman desperately trying to get away from a white British landowner heads deep into the Mayan rainforest, but will her presence awaken a mythical spirit, Xtabay, who seeks revenge on those who have harmed the land? DIR Yulene Olaizola. SCR Rubén Imaz, Yulene Olaizola. CAST Indira Andrewin, Gilberto Barraza, Mariano Tun Xool, Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez, Eligio Meléndez. Mexico, France, Colombia
UNCLE FRANK: When a death in the family strikes, Beth and her uncle Frank set out on a road trip to their hometown to confront their family and their pasts. DIR Alan Ball. SCR Alan Ball. CAST Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Carson Holmes, Peter Macdissi, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer. USA
UNDER THE OPEN SKY Masao Mikami (Koji Yakusho) is released from prison and struggles to find his place in today’s everchanging Japan. Veteran director Miwa Nishikawa’s drama is a heartfelt exploration of redemption. DIR Miwa Nishikawa. SCR Miwa Nishikawa. CAST Koji Yakusho, Taiga Nakano, Masami Nagasawa. Japan
WANDER DARKLY A troubled relationship is further shaken by a traumatic event. New parents Adrienne (Sienna Miller) and Matteo (Diego Luna) retrace pivotal moments of their romance from a surreal perspective and a time-bending narrative structure. DIR Tara Miele. SCR Tara Miele. CAST Sienna Miller, Diego Luna, Beth Grant, Aimee Carrero, Tory Kittles, Vanessa Bayer. USA
WOLFWALKERS: Robyn befriends wild girl Mebh while exploring the magical forest outside an Irish town’s walls and undergoes a transformation in this adventurous animated film from THE SECRET OF KELLS creators, Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart. DIR Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart. SCR Will Collins. CAST Honor Kneafsey, Eva Whittaker, Sean Bean, Simon McBurney, Tommy Tiernan, Maria Doyle Kennedy. Luxembourg, Ireland, USA
A platform for new voices and new stories, these exciting narrative works push the boundaries of contemporary cinema.
APPLES: A deadpan amnesiac attempts to navigate a world where memory loss is spreading virally, suddenly and without warning. Director Christos Nikou’s debut feature is a somber, surreal and soulful meditation on recollection and grief. DIR Christos Nikou. SCR Christos Nikou, Stavros Raptis. CAST Aris Servetalis, Sofia Georgovasili, Anna Kalaitzidou, Argiris Bakirtzis. Greece, Poland, Slovenia
THE BOY BEHIND THE DOOR: Twelve-year-old Bobby and best friend Kevin have been kidnapped, but proving ever-resourceful, Bobby escapes and now must rescue his friend in this cunningly assembled thriller that upends tropes and expectations. DIR David Charbonier, Justin Powell. SCR David Charbonier, Justin Powell. CAST Lonnie Chavis, Ezra Dewey, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Micah Hauptman, Scott Michael Foster, Rich Ceraulo Ko. USA
EYIMOFE (THIS IS MY DESIRE): Passports, visas and other travel documents are the mainstay of this engaging Nigerian immigration drama, which weaves a compelling tale of two families in Lagos in a strikingly inventive and compassionate fashion. DIR Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri. SCR Chuko Esiri. CAST Tomiwa Edun, Jude Akuwudike, Cynthia Ebijie, Temiloluwa Ami-Williams. Nigeria
THE INTRUDER: A would-be relaxing holiday for voice actor Inés (Érica Rivas) is cut short by an unexpected horror. As she readjusts to her former routine, her sense of reality becomes increasingly precarious. DIR Natalia Meta. SCR Natalia Meta. CAST Érica Rivas, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Cecilia Roth, Daniel Hendler. Argentina, México
JUMBO JUMBO: tells the story of Jeanne who falls in love with a carnival ride. Director Zoé Wittock delivers a compassionate and heartfelt retelling of this quirky inspired-by-a-true-story tale. DIR Zoé Wittock. SCR Zoé Wittock. CAST Noémie Merlant, Emmanuelle Bercot, Sam Louwyck. France, Belgium, Luxembourg
LUXOR: Hana, a British aid worker, arrives in ancient Luxor seeking solace after working on the Syrian border. Upon running into a former lover, Hana’s nostalgic trip becomes a meditative journey on trauma and choices. DIR Zeina Durra. SCR Zeina Durra. CAST Andrea Riseborough, Karim Saleh. Egypt, UK
NASIR: For Nasir, the minor setbacks of the day to day are surmountable, but he lives in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India where Hindu nationalism is pervasive and violent extremism is on the rise. DIR Arun Karthick. SCR Arun Karthick. CAST Koumarane Valavane, Sudha Ranganathan, Yasmin Rahman, Sabari, Bakkiyam Sankar. India, Netherlands
NINE DAYS: A science fiction thriller with a spiritual bent in which a mysterious man (Winston Duke) interviews five unborn souls in a quest to determine which one of them will be given life on Earth. DIR Edson Oda. SCR Edson Oda. CAST Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Benedict Wong, Tony Hale, Bill Skarsgård, David Rysdahl. USA
PIEDRA SOLA: In the remote Argentinian mountainside, a llama herder whose stock is being annihilated by an unseen puma must embark upon a spiritual journey to present the puma with an offering. DIR Alejandro Telémaco Tarraf. SCR Alejandro Telémaco Tarraf, Lucas Distefano. CAST Ricardo Tolaba, Lucia Bautista, Mayco Tolaba, Gregorio Ramos. Argentina
RIVAL (RIVALE): RIVAL (RIVALE) weaves a compelling narrative largely from the perspective of a child. A suspenseful tale of a young Ukrainian boy, his mom and her German employer takes unexpected twists and turns. DIR Marcus Lenz. SCR Marcus Lenz, Lars Hubrich. CAST Yelizar Nazarenko, Maria Bruni, Udo Samel. Germany
SHADOW IN THE CLOUD: A World War II pilot (Chloë Grace Moretz) with top secret cargo boards a bomber with an all-male crew and a sinister stowaway in this exciting horror film. DIR Roseanne Liang. SCR Roseanne Liang. CAST Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Callan Mulvey. New Zealand
SHE PARADISE: A Trinidadian girl’s world is upended when she meets a group of Soca dancers in this engaging and vibrant coming-of-age film about sisterhood and the joy of dance. DIR Maya Cozier. SCR Maya Cozier, Melina Brown. CAST Onessa Nestor, Kimberly Crichton, Chelsey Rampersad, Denisia Lactchman, Kern Mollineau, Michael Cherrie. Trinidad, USA. World Premiere
SHOULD THE WIND DROP (SI LE VENT TOMBE:) Alain, an airport auditor, is sent to evaluate the airport in a small breakaway country and becomes enmeshed with the lives of the local people, making his job more complicated than he anticipated. DIR Nora Martirosyan. SCR Nora Martirosyan, Emmanuelle Pagano, Olivier Torres, Guillaume André. CAST Grégoire Colin, Hayk Bakhryan. Armenia, France, Belgium
WILDLAND: A destructive familial cycle of crime is explored in this engrossing Danish gangster thriller centered on a teenage girl who goes to live with her maternal, but menacing, aunt and a trio of violent cousins. DIR Jeanette Nordahl. SCR Ingeborg Topsøe. CAST Sandra Kampp, Sidse Babette Knudsen, Joachim Fjeldstrup, Elliott Grosset Hove, Besir Zeciri. Denmark
A presentation of the most engaging and powerful real-life stories depicted in global nonfiction cinema that enlighten, educate and entertain.
40 YEARS A PRISONER: In this timely and urgent documentary, Tommy Oliver revisits the 1978 confrontation between the Black liberation group MOVE and the Philadelphia Police Department and follows Michael Davis Africa, Jr. on his quest for justice. DIR Tommy Oliver. SCR Tommy Oliver. FEATURING Mike Africa Jr. USA
76 DAYS:January 23, 2020: Wuhan, China, a city of 11 million, goes on complete lockdown to combat COVID-19. Filming inside Wuhan’s hospitals, 76 DAYS provides an unforgettable look at a city’s fight for survival. DIR Hao Wu, Weixi Chen, Anonymous. China
THE AMERICAN SECTOR: The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of the Cold War. Thirty years later, two filmmakers comb the U.S. in search of fragments of the wall and what it represents. DIR Courtney Stephens, Pacho Velez. USA
BELUSHI: Using previously unheard audiotapes from friends, family and collaborators, documentary filmmaker R.J. Cutler captures the spirit of an American icon in this portrait of the too-short life of John Belushi. DIR R.J. Cutler. SCR R.J. Cutler. FEATURING John Belushi, Jim Belushi, Chevy Chase, Carrie Fisher, Dan Aykroyd, Penny Marshall. USA
THE BIG SCARY “S” WORD: A fascinating blend of historical and contemporary documentary storytelling, THE BIG SCARY “S” WORD re-examines socialism in a U.S. context and finds it to be as American as apple pie. DIR Yael Bridge. FEATURING Adaner Usmani, Eric Foner, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Cornel West, Vivek Chibber, John Nichols. USA
CITIZEN PENN: Avoiding the pitfalls of the celebrity-as-savior portrait, this stirring documentary focuses on Sean Penn’s nonprofit Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) and its multi-year relief work in Haiti following the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake. DIR Don Hardy. SCR Don Hardy. FEATURING Sean Penn, Anderson Cooper, Ann Lee. USA
COLLECTIVE (COLLECTIV): When a fire at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, Romania, killed 27 people in 2015, the tragedy was just beginning. This riveting documentary uncovers the truth behind the deadly government scandals that followed. DIR Alexander Nanau. SCR Antoaneta Opriș. FEATURING Cătălin Tolontan, Camelia Roiu, Tedy Ursuleanu, Mirela Neag, Vlad Voiculescu, Răzvan Luțac. Romania, Luxembourg
DOWNSTREAM TO KINSHASA: Filmmaker Dieudo Hamadi follows a group of severely injured survivors of Congo’s Six-Day War on a harrowing journey down the Congo River to the capital as they seek government compensation for their injuries. DIR Dieudo Hamadi. SCR Dieudo Hamadi. Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Belgium
JACINTA: The camera follows Jacinta, mid-twenties, everywhere – in prison, at the sober house and in the car looking to score. This beautifully crafted, slice-of-life documentary will leave you shaken and profoundly moved. DIR Jessica Earnshaw. USA
THE NEW CORPORATION: THE UNFORTUNATELY NECESSARY SEQUEL: The filmmakers behind 2003’s penetrating documentary THE CORPORATION return with an incredibly timely and urgently needed sequel that lays bare the psychosis of the corporation and what can be done about it. DIR Joel Bakan, Jennifer Abbott. SCR Joel Bakan. FEATURING Charles Officer (narrator). Canada
NO ORDINARY MAN: No Ordinary Man is an in-depth look at the life of musician and trans culture icon Billy Tipton. Complicated, beautiful and historically unrivaled, this groundbreaking film shows what is possible when a community collaborates to honor the legacy of an unlikely hero. DIR Aisling Chin-Yee, Chase Joynt. SCR Aisling Chin-Yee, Amos Mac. Canada
NOTTURNO: Gianfranco Rosi follows up his Academy Award®-nominated FIRE AT SEA with this breathtaking masterpiece, the culmination of a three-year cinematic journey through war-torn Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon. DIR Gianfranco Rosi. SCR Gianfranco Rosi. Italy, France, Germany
ON THE RECORD: Presented in association with AFI FEST’s tribute to Kirby Dick, this free showing of the powerful documentary ON THE RECORD gives voice to former A&R executive Drew Dixon, who alleges sexual abuse by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. DIR Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering. SCR Kirby Dick, Sara Newens, Amy Ziering. FEATURING Drew Dixon, Sil Lai Abrams, Sheri Sher. USA
SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS: A glorious ode to the women who helped shape electronic music and the contemporary soundscape as we know it, using poetic narration and extraordinary archival footage to trace the unsung history of electronic music. DIR Lisa Rovner. SCR Lisa Rovner. NARRATED BY Laurie Anderson . USA, UK. World Premiere
WHIRLYBIRD: In the 1980s and ‘90s, Marika Gerrard and Zoey Tur (known then as Bob) flew high above Los Angeles in their own news helicopter, redefining “action” journalism but at a huge personal cost. DIR Matt Yoka. SCR Matt Yoka. FEATURING Zoey Tur, Marika Gerrard, Katy Tur, James Tur, Lawrence Welk III. USA
The Cinema’s Legacy section is devoted to celebrating the history of the motion picture. It is a unique opportunity to discover lesser known titles for the first time, as well as to recognize and revisit significant films from the diverse and expansive history of filmmaking. Guest curated by Racquel Gates.
DEAD PRESIDENTS: The Hughes Brothers’ classic 1995 crime thriller centers on a young Black Vietnam vet who returns home to the Bronx and finds it hard to find make his way, turning to crime out of desperation. DIR Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes. SCR Michael Henry Brown, Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes. CAST Larenz Tate, Keith David, Chris Tucker. USA
JUST ANOTHER GIRL ON THE I.R.T:. Growing up middle-class in Brooklyn in the ‘90s, 17-year-old Chantal is on the road to fulfilling her med school ambitions, but her upward trajectory is derailed when she receives unwelcome news. DIR Leslie Harris. SCR Leslie Harris. CAST Ariyān A. Johnson, Kevin Thigpen, Ebony Jerido, Jerard Washington, Chequita Jackson, Kisha Richardson. USA
POSSE: Mario Van Peebles directs this rousing tribute to African American heroes of the Old West, re-envisioning and reclaiming the western to reflect historical reality, where a third of the population was Black. DIR Mario Van Peebles. SCR Sy Richardson, Dario Scardapane. CAST Stephen Baldwin, Lawrence Cook, Richard Gant, Pam Grier, Isaac Hayes, Robert Hooks. USA
THE WATERMELON WOMAN: Aspiring filmmaker Cheryl is embarking on a documentary project tracing the unwritten history of a Black actress spotted in a number of films from the ‘30s and ‘40s. DIR Cheryl Dunye. SCR Cheryl Dunye. CAST Cheryl Dunye, Valarie Walker, Guinevere Turner, Lisa Marie Branson, Irene Dunye. USA
Short Film Competition
Curated from thousands of entries, these short films highlight unique voices from around the world. These films are from emerging and established filmmakers pushing the form of storytelling in inventive, challenging and som
A 1984 PERIOD PIECE IN PRESENT DAY 2020 USA 17 MIN DIRECTOR Sean Glass: A couple stop through a motel in unfamiliar territory. An unreliable memory reveals the irrelevance of identity. BLACK GOAT 2019 USA | Nepal
11 MIN DIRECTOR: Yi Tang Pasang, a new girl at a nunnery, has her first period after hearing a late-night ghost story. She keeps it secret until she bleeds at a prayer session. She believes that she has been cursed and needs to sacrifice a black goat to avoid further misfortune.
BLOCKS 2020 USA 11 MIN DIRECTOR Bridget Moloney: An existential comedy about the mother of two young children who begins to spontaneously vomit toy blocks.
BREAKING GROUND 2020 Rwanda 13 MIN DIRECTOR Ines Girihirwe: Mistreated in her relationship, a young woman decides to change the course of her life, let go for once and do as she pleases.
THE CHICKEN 2020 USA 13 MIN DIRECTOR Neo Sora: On an unseasonably hot day in November, a Japanese immigrant in New York City and his visiting cousin decide to butcher a live chicken for dinner.
CHILD OF THE LAND (KAMA’ĀINA) 2019 USA 16 MIN DIRECTOR Kimi Howl Lee: After suffering abuse from her stepfather, a queer 16-year-old girl, Mahina, must navigate life on the streets until she eventually finds refuge at Hawaiʻi’s largest organized homeless encampment.
CHINESE WALL 2020 Argentina 17 MIN DIRECTOR Santiago Barzi: Fernando receives some baffling news which upsets him profoundly, but when he shares it with his loved ones, their reactions are not as he expected. An odd debate ensues, affecting everyone involved.
CLAIRE AT SEVEN MONTHS 2019 USA 19 MIN DIRECTOR Jacob Halpren: A pregnant woman heads down to her family’s beach condo in Florida to get away for the weekend.
CORRESPONDENCIA 2020 Spain | Chile 19 MIN DIRECTOR Carla Simón, Dominga Sotomayor: Two young filmmakers discuss present and past family, heritage, maternity and film. The personal and profound reflections are suddenly echoed by the political emergency of a country.
DAVID 2020 USA 11 MIN DIRECTOR Zach Woods: David needs help.
DUSTIN 2020 France 20 MIN DIRECTOR Naïla Guiguet: In a warehouse club we meet Dustin, a young transgender and their crew. As the night draws on, collective hysteria morphs into sweet melancholy and euphoria into yearning for tenderness.
THE END OF SUFFERING (A PROPOSAL) 2020 Greece 14 MIN DIRECTOR Jacqueline Lentzou: Sofia is panicky, again. The Universe decides to contact her. An other-wordly dialogue. A planet symphony.
THE FEELING 2019 USA 17 MIN DIRECTOR Bridey Elliott: Brandi and Alex are sibling realtors at the top of their game… until they meet their biggest fan and everything they care about is put in jeopardy.
FOREVER 2020 USA 7 MIN DIRECTOR Mitch McGlocklin: AI judgement causes a period of introspection.
GRAMERCY 2019 USA 22 MIN DIRECTOR Pat Heywood, Jamil McGinnis: A young New Jersey native returns to his hometown where his ongoing battle with depression becomes a poetic exploration of brotherhood and personal struggle.
HEADING SOUTH (雁南飞) 2020 USA | China 12 MIN DIRECTOR Yuan Yuan: Eight-year-old Chasuna travels from her home on grassland to visit her father in the big city. During her father’s birthday party, Chasuna finds out he has remarried to a Chinese woman.
IN FRANCE MICHELLE IS A MAN’S NAME 2020 USA 12 MIN DIRECTOR Em Weinstein: Michael, a young trans man, returns home to the rural American West after years of estrangement from his parents.
IN SUDDEN DARKNESS 2020 USA 13 MIN DIRECTOR Tayler Montague: A slice of life film set in the Bronx, New York. A working-class family tries to stay afloat in the midst of a city-wide blackout.
L.A. ROLL 2019 USA 17 MIN DIRECTOR Helki Frantzen: L.A. ROLL follows members of Sk8 Mafia, a crew of Los Angeles-based dance skaters, as they reflect on the closure of their beloved home rink and seek out a new rink despite adversity and setbacks.
LITTLE CHIEF 2019 USA | Seneca | Cayuga Nation 11 MIN DIRECTOR Erica Tremblay: It’s just another typical day at a rural elementary school on a reservation in Oklahoma. It’s a world that is stacked against them, but Sharon shows up each day to guide her fifth grade students through it.
LONELY BLUE NIGHT 2020 USA 15 MIN DIRECTOR Johnson Cheng: The consequences of a mother’s decision to leave her daughter in the care of an American homestay family are unearthed when they reunite for a dinner on one lonely blue night.
MAALBEEK 2020 France 15 MIN DIRECTOR Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis: Sabine is looking for a missing image: a day that has left its mark forever and that everyone remembers but her. But maybe this absence is what allows her to move on with her life?
NOUR 2020 TUNISIA 14 MIN DIRECTOR Rim Nakhli: Nour and Adem set off in search of their father who they have not seen him for a long time. They cross the city to arrive at the appointment place.
PILLARS 2019 USA 18 MIN DIRECTOR Haley Elizabeth Anderson: One Sunday at church, 12-year-old Amber experiences her first kiss, a moment of innocence that triggers a series of awakenings: sexual, emotional and religious.
POSTPARTUM (WOCHENBETT) 2020 Germany 4 MIN DIRECTOR Henriette Rietz: The animated film POSTPARTUM is about the chaotic phase in the life of a new mother. Pumped up with hormones and lacking sleep, this intense time has burned deep into the protagonist’s heart.
RUBBED IN PINK 2019 Colombia 11 MIN DIRECTOR Kathy Esquenazi Mitrani: The daughter of a fashion photographer is starting to discover her femininity. When she follows her mother’s footsteps, she notices an unexpected change in her body.
SWIMMER (BADAREN) 2020 Sweden 13 MIN DIRECTOR Jonatan Etzler: There’s a man floating around in an indoor swimming pool. The police order him to get out, to be arrested, but the man refuses. SWIMMER is a humorous short film about a dramatic arrest that turns into an anticlimax.
T 2019 USA 14 MIN DIRECTOR Keisha Rae Witherspoon: A film crew follows three grieving participants of Miami’s annual T Ball, where folks assemble to model R.I.P. T-shirts and innovative costumes designed in honor of their dead.
THERE’S CAKE (SENSE POSTRE) 2020 Spain 13 MIN DIRECTOR Clàudia Vernis: Marina is surrounded by food, and it also occupies many of her passing thoughts. Today is Saint John – and the hottest and longest day of the summer. Her mother has made chocolate cake to celebrate.
THEY SALIVATE (ILS SALIVENT) 2020 France 19 MIN DIRECTOR Ariane Boukerche THEY SALIVATE is the story of a kiss. A couple kiss each other in their deserted living room. The party begins and one guest drinks the couple’s last kiss.
TIGER AND OX (호랑이와 소) 2019 South Korea 8 MIN. DIRECTOR Seunghee Kim: What does divorce mean to women in Korean patriarchal society? Is a fatherless family a failure? In order to find the answer to these questions, a single mother and her daughter start a conversation.
UMBILICAL 2019 USA 6 MIN DIRECTOR Danski Tang: An animated documentary exploring how the filmmaker’s mother’s abusive relationship with her father shaped her own experiences in a boarding school in China.
THE VISIT 2019 Iran 14 MIN DIRECTOR Azadeh Moussavi :After six months, Elaheh is finally allowed to visit her husband, who is a political prisoner. Elaheh and her little daughter Tara have one single day to prepare for this important meeting.
Meet The Press Film Festival at AFI FEST
A partnership with NBC’s Meet the Press, this showcase of short documentaries features a wide range of compelling stories and highlights some of the most pressing issues facing our society. Each shorts program has a Q&A moderated by an NBC News journalist.
BLACKFEET BOXING: NOT INVISIBLE 2020 USA 29 MIN DIRECTOR Kristen Lappas, Tom Rinaldi As the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women epidemic affects tribal communities, a group of Blackfeet women tackle the threat head-on by practicing and training in self-defense.
BREACH OF TRUST 2019 USA 24 MIN DIRECTOR Mishal Mahmud BREACH OF TRUST explores the University of Southern California’s institutional cover-up involving the sexual misconduct of former full-time gynecologist George Tyndall. The story is anchored by the survivors, who after being wronged by the university continue their fight for institutional change.
CHURCH AND THE FOURTH ESTATE 2020 USA 32 MIN DIRECTOR Brian Knappenberger A reporter uncovers a file that reveals a shocking series of child-abuse allegations in Idaho’s Boy Scouts, which rattles the community and implicates the Mormon church. The story reveals long-running crimes that threaten to bankrupt the Boy Scouts.
DO NOT SPLIT 2020 USA | Norway 20 MIN DIRECTOR Anders Hammer During the 2019 protests in Hong Kong, a series of evening demonstrations escalate into conflict when heavily armed police appear on the scene.
GAMES OF SURVIVAL: A CULTURE PRESERVED IN ICE 2019 USA 16 MIN DIRECTOR Nicholas Natale The events at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics — like the Four Man Carry and the Knuckle Hop — won’t be familiar to most Americans in the Lower 48, but they are rooted in traditional Eskimo culture and pure Americana.
GLOVES OFF 2020 USA 15 MIN DIRECTOR Ugonna Okpalaoka, Nadine Natour GLOVES OFF follows the story of Tiara Brown, a young police officer who forges new ways to serve her community by day, then laces up and fights to make a name for herself in the boxing ring by night.
LIONS IN THE CORNER 2019 USA 9 MIN DIRECTOR Paul Hairston In Virginia, Scarface started Streetbeefs in his backyard to combat gun and knife violence in the area. Soon, it turned into something much more.
THE LOST ASTRONAUT 2019 USA 12 MIN DIRECTOR Ben Proudfoot In 1963, Ed Dwight Jr. was poised to be NASA’s first African-American astronaut, until suddenly he wasn’t.
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER 2020 UK 21 MIN DIRECTOR Laurence Topham MY BROTHER’S KEEPER is about the remarkable friendship between former Guantánamo detainee, Mohamedou Ould Salahi, and his one-time American prison guard, Steve Wood, who gradually became convinced of his innocence.
OIL & WATER 2020 Canada 14 MIN DIRECTOR Anjali Nayar Facing imminent takeover of ancestral lands, the women in the Turkana region of Kenya stand up against oil giant Tullow. Despite resistance from the men in their community, they continue to fight for their way of life.
A PRAYER FOR JOSHUA JACKSON 2018 USA 21 MIN DIRECTOR Ryan Heffernan, Grayson Schaffer and Kahlil Hudson What do you do when someone says your dream is over? Race car driver Joshua Jackson went through something that would break even the toughest of souls, but Jackson managed to come out even more determined.
STATUS PENDING 2020 USA 26 MIN DIRECTOR Priscilla Gonzalez Sainz With immigration law under attack, five first-generation immigration lawyers — who call themselves “The Tribe” — strive to help immigrants obtain safety and status in the United States.
SUSTAINED OUTRAGE 2019 USA 26 MIN DIRECTOR Gabriela Cavanagh Eight months after the family-owned Charleston Gazette-Mail won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, the Gazette-Mail grappled with a painful reality: bankruptcy ahead of a sale.
TALL TALES WITH TRUE QUEENS 2020 USA 10 MIN DIRECTOR Kristina Budelis, Leandro Badalotti Drag Queen Story Hour features drag queens reading stories to kids in libraries and schools. Amidst a building controversy, we learn that kids and drag queens have more in common than you might think.
TANGLED ROOTS 2020 USA 19 MIN DIRECTOR Samantha Knowles TANGLED ROOTS follows Kentucky State Representative Attica Scott as she fights to pass a bill that would dismantle a system of discrimination against black people who are penalized for something seemingly innocuous — their hair.
THE TORTURE LETTERS 2020 USA 12 MIN DIRECTOR Laurence Ralph One of Laurence Ralph’s first memories of the police is when a plainclothes officer harassed his family. Now a Princeton anthropology professor, Ralph traces his story to the entrenched practices of torture by the Chicago Police.
UNITED STATES OF JOE’S 2019 USA 21 MIN DIRECTOR Peter Mortimer, Nick Rosen In rural Utah, a valley of world-class bouldering is nestled among a conservative community of Mormons, cowboys and coal miners. When punk rock climbers show up, cultures clash, but the story doesn’t end there.
VOTE NEIL 2020 USA 18 MIN DIRECTOR Honora Talbott Neil is a first-time politician running for State House. Mike is his fiancé and campaign manager searching for purpose. An intimate portrait about politics, the Southern LGBTQ experience and one incredible love story.
WHEN THE NEWS HITS HOME: A YEAR INSIDE THE CAPITAL GAZETTE 2019 USA 21 MIN DIRECTOR Moises Saman The 2018 shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper left five people dead, exposing not only the danger many journalists face but reminding the public of the essential role local journalism plays in communities large and small.
AFI Conservatory Showcase
A collection of 15 short fiction films from the most recent graduates of the AFI Conservatory.
DÍA DE LAS CARPAS A group of boys help an undocumented girl get to the beach to reunite with her family, unaware of her magical secret that will change their lives forever. DIR João Dall’Stella. SCR Marina Kato Hoag. CAST Tony Garcia, Camila Olivera, Hector Atreyu Ruiz. USA
ELLE In the midst of her sexual awakening, 16-year-old Elle finds herself in love with her best girlfriend who is about to move out of town. DIR Nicole Vanden Broeck. SCR Asher Jelinsky, Nicole Vanden Broeck. CAST Sarah Sawyer, Ron Dadon. USA
FLECK An Asian-American teenager at a traditional prep school longing to fit in is forced to choose between her morality or belonging to the school’s elite. DIR Jing Ai Ng. SCR Jing Ai Ng. CAST Stacy Chu, Alyssa Latson, Sami Sandzimier. USA
FURTHEST FROM In 1999, Novato, California, Jessie is enjoying what little time she has left with her best friend, Lucas. The trailer park they live in will be forced to evacuate as a result of MTBE water contamination. DIR Kyung Sok Kim. SCR Rex Xavier Reyes II. CAST Amanda Christine, Tucker Chandler. USA
JULIET A transgender teenager battles prejudice and her own self-doubt to audition for the female lead in her high school’s play. DIR Ira Storozhenko. SCR Wilandrea Blair. CAST Reise Alexander, Marc Hills, Trew Mullen. USA
LUCE In a synesthesia of classical music, death and sex, Adriano finds love in a time of grief. DIR Ciro Apicella. SCR Ciro Apicella. CAST Josh Brodis, Elise Silver, Peter Elbling. USA
MI AMIGO A hitman attends the funeral of the crime associate and best friend he executed as he searches for forgiveness. After being taunted by his corpse victim in a living room death tableau, he instead finds street justice. DIR Darius Dawson. SCR Veronica Felicity Johnson
THE SPEECH May 2003, Beijing, China. Under pressure from the WHO, the Chinese government announced the SARS outbreak is real. During the ensuing lockdown, three eight-year-old girls have to find a way to make sense of the world. DIR Haohao Yan. SCR Haohao Yan. CAST Harmonie He, Gloria Xiong, Chedi Chang. USA
A STRANGE CALM When 12-year-old Rosie and Miles encounter a strange man on the 4th of July in 1974, their journey to watch the fireworks on the outskirts of town becomes an unexpected fight for survival. DIR Austin Rourke. SCR Austin Rourke. CAST Giovanna Bush, Jacob Sandler, Price Carson. USA
TAPE A 16-year-old ice hockey player on an all girls’ high school team tries to repair her relationship with her teammate, while preparing for the team’s pre-qualifying game. DIR Jojo Erholtz. SCR Shuhan Fan. CAST Brittany Giles, Sarah Sawyer, Joe Coffey. USA
TIL LIFE DO US PART Two 70-year-old best friends with a pact to kill themselves by their 71st birthday learn that life is worth living with a great friend. DIR Aaron Goldenberg. SCR Ariane Hahusseau, Aaron Goldenberg. CAST G.W. Bailey, Miles Anderson. USA
VEIL When Leila, a Muslim teenager, shows up to her senior prom in a conservative and modest dress, her beliefs, culture and sense of identity gets tested. DIR Zahra Golafshani. SCR Zahra Golafshani. CAST Jennalyn Ponraj, Danielle Larracuente, Christopher Avila. USA
WITCHIN Ridiculed in the witch world and sent to the human world to find the elusive BDE, a young witch confronts her biggest tormentor – her kind spirit. DIR Christina Diamantara. SCR Christina Diamantara. CAST Madeleine Coghlan, Genevieve Kennedy, Keli Daniels. USA
THE WORLD AS SHE KNOWS IT Mia’s father is having an affair. She does not know whether to confront her father, tell her mother, or keep the secret to herself. DIR/SCR Chris Kingsleigh. CAST Alyssa Latson, Jhey Castles, Joshua McHugh. USA
YOUR ONE AND ONLY Returning home after an abortion, Sophie finds her husband cheating on her. Overwhelmed, she invites his mistress to lunch in order to take her revenge. DIR Olesia Biletska. SCR Olesia Biletska. CAST Caitlin Gerard, Travis Hammer, Chloe Ray Warmoth. USA