Boom! It’s Opening Night at the 2021 AFI FEST!


Posted by Larry Gleeson


World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!


AFI FEST 2021 kicks off tonight with AFI FEST’s return to the theaters with the Red Carpet Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM! directed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Bob Gazzale, AFI President

“AFI was created to fulfill a need, and that need seems to change every year, certainly during a global pandemic,” Gazzale says. “And what we determined early was that the goal of AFI this year was to manifest what we learned during the pandemic: that experiencing life with others is a joy. To laugh together, to experience a jump scare, to experience a story well told has always proven a tonic for dark times.”

Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his feature directorial debut with tick, tick…BOOM!, an adaptation of the autobiographical musical by Jonathan Larson, who revolutionized theater as the creator of “Rent.”

Jon is a young theater composer who’s waiting tables at a New York City diner in 1990 while writing what he hopes will be the next great American musical. Days before he’s due to showcase his work in a make-or-break performance, Jon is feeling the pressure from everywhere: from his girlfriend Susan, who dreams of an artistic life beyond New York City; from his friend Michael, who has moved on from his dream to a life of financial security; amidst an artistic community ravaged by the AIDS epidemic. With the clock ticking, Jon is at a crossroads and faces the question everyone must reckon with: What are we meant to do with the time we have?

There will be a post-screening conversation with Lin-Manuel Miranda (Director), Andrew Garfield (Actor), Robin De Jesus (Actor), Alexandra Shipp (Actor) and Steven Levenson (Screenwriter) moderated by filmmaker Rian Johnson.

More films playing this week at AFI FEST:


Academy Award® winner Jane Campion crafts an enthralling psychological drama set in the American West starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a brutally beguiling rancher. Jane Campion, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and more in attendance for post-screening conversation. Screening in person Thursday, November 11, 7:30 p.m. One of HollywoodGlee’s Select Pics! The performances led by Cumberbatch and strongly supported by Plemons and Dunst make this a “don’t miss” film.

UPDATE: There will be a post-screening conversation with Jane Campion (Director), Benedict Cumberbatch (Actor), Kirsten Dunst (Actor), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Actor), Ari Wegner (Cinematographer), Peter Sciberras (Editor), and moderated by recently announced actress and comedian, Kathryn Hahn.


Deeply seeded carnal desires bubble to the surface and topple over in this cathartic narrative which fuses the darkly morbid with the sublimely feminine. Director Anita Rocha da Silveira (KILL ME PLEASE) returns to AFI FEST with this modern horror-satire that fiercely critiques evangelical fanaticism in a Brazil. Screening in person Saturday, November 13 at 8:30 p.m.


World Premiere

This powerful documentary follows Dr. Pat Scannon and a team of professionals, volunteers and other veterans searching for those left behind in forgotten battles. Screening in person Thursday, November 11 at 5:00 p.m. and virtually beginning November 12.


A ghost struck with memory loss makes an ephemeral friendship with Arthur, a human, and learns patience in its journey to the afterlife…It’s the ghost story that ghosts deserve to have. Screening as part of Shorts Program 2. Screening virtually beginning November 11 and in person November 12 at 6:00 p.m.


During WWII, a group of young Jewish refugees are sent to a secret POW camp near Washington, DC – and soon discover that the prisoners are Hitler’s top scientists. Join us for these compelling – and true – stories as part of the Meet The Press Film Festival at AFI FEST. Post-screening conversation moderated by NBC News journalists. Screening virtually beginning November 11 and in person Thursday, November 11 at 2:00 p.m.


Directed by Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, this powerful documentary is an essential deep dive into a divided nation’s history and the ongoing racial reckoning of our times. Join us for a post-screening discussion with the filmmakers and the ACLU’s Jeffery Robinson, moderated by Variety’s Clayton Davis. Screening in person Thursday, November 11 at 6:00 p.m.



The complete AFI FEST program includes 115 titles (48 Features, 1 Episodic, 49 Short Films and 17 Conservatory Showcase Shorts) of which 51% are directed by women, 40% directed by BIPOC filmmakers and 13% are directed by LGBTQIA+ filmmakers. This year’s program represents 50 countries and includes six World .