Category Archives: AFI FEST

DO THE RIGHT THING (1989) – AFI Movie Club Pick for April 11, 2022

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Do the Right Thing is a 1989 American comedy-drama film produced, written, and directed by Spike Lee, starring Lee himself, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, and Samuel L. Jackson, and is the feature film debut of Martin Lawrence and Rosie Perez. The story explores a Brooklyn neighborhood’s simmering racial tension between its African-American residents and the Italian-American owners of a local pizzeria, culminating in tragedy and violence on one of the hottest of summer days.

 

 

Appearing on the 10th-anniversary edition of the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest American films, DO THE RIGHT THING (1989) explores racial tensions exacerbated by the summer heat in a New York neighborhood. An imperative work from iconic director and 2011 AFI Honorary Degree recipient Spike Lee, the film features Public Enemy’s powerful call to action – “Fight the Power” – which was since ranked #40 on AFI’s list of the greatest movie songs of all time.

 

 

The film ends with the following quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X: “‘Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys the community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in a monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers,’ – Martin Luther King”; and, “‘I think there are plenty of good people in America, but there are also plenty of bad people in America and the bad ones are the ones who seem to have all the power and be in these positions to block things that you and I need. Because this is the situation, you and I have to preserve the right to do what is necessary to bring an end to that situation, and it doesn’t mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don’t even call it violence when it’s self-defense, I call it intelligence,’ – Malcolm X.”

Do the Right Thing was ranked 96th on AFI’s 2007 100 Years…100 Movies–10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films. It was added to the National Film Registry in 1999, and won Best Picture and Best Director from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, in addition to Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (Danny Aiello) from the Chicago Film Critics Association. The New York Film Critics awarded Ernest Dickerson with Best Cinematography, and the film received the following Academy Award nominations: Actor in a Supporting Role (Danny Aiello), and Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen). The Golden Globe Awards also nominated Do the Right Thing for Best Motion Picture – Drama; Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Danny Aiello); Best Director – Motion Picture; and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture.

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

 

HollywoodGlee celebrating the start of the 2019 AFI FEST presented by Audi. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)

 

About AFI Movie Club

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. As a non-profit, AFI Movie Club is a member-powered organization, dependent upon the support of its movie fans. To support AFI Movie Club please consider becoming a member or donating. AFI Movie Club was launched as a free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. AFI MOVIE CLUB (Source: AFI News Release)

 

 

FILM REVIEW: Jane Campion’s The Power Of The Dog

Posted by Larry Gleeson

THE POWER OF THE DOG: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH as PHIL BURBANK in THE POWER OF THE DOG. (Photo credit: KIRSTY GRIFFIN/NETFLIX © 2021)

 

Jane Campion’s latest work, The Power of the Dog, screened as part of a Red Carpet Premiere at the historic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood California, during the American Film Institute’s  AFI FEST 2021, on Thursday, November 11th. Campion is a New Zealand screenwriter, producer, and director. She is the second of seven women ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and the first female filmmaker to receive the Palme d’Or; both of these achievements came for The Piano (1993).

 

The Power of the Dog,  written and directed by Campion, is set in 1925 Montana and circles around two well-off brothers who own an influential ranching operation. The Burbank brothers, played by Jesse Plemons and Benedict Cumberbatch, come across as polar opposites. Phil Burbank, played by Cumberbatch, is an infamous Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale University who prefers the daily grind of working the ranch with the hired hands. Cumberbatch brings a deep dark presence to the character in what might be his best performance to date. Plemmons plays Gordon Burbank,  the slower, mild-mannered younger brother, embodying a ranch gentleman with grace and style. Kirsten Dunst portrays Rose Gordon, a compelling love interest as a saloon-style restaurant owner who serves dinners to the locals with her son, Peter, portrayed by Kodi Smith-McPhee in a breakout performance.

While The Power of the Dog is set in Montana, the actual film location is New Zealand – adding a surreal quality. And, Campion’s writing matches it full force. The twists and turns in the dramatic, psychological, roller-coaster ride narrative combined with Cumberbatch’s powerful, dark character portrayal set the audience on the edge of their seats and their eyes fixed on the big screen. Undoubtedly, Campion is in the mix for her second Oscar for screenwriting and appears to be in the mix for a directorial nod as well.

 

Q & A, on November 11th, 2021, following the screening of The Power of the Dog, inside Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

 

Following the screening, a fun-filled Q & A unfolded as the film’s actors, editor, cinematographer, and director sparred, cajoled, and informed under the watchful eye of moderator Hahn as she effectively marshaled the energies of The Power of the Dog conversation. The Power of the Dog, set for a December 1st, 2021, release date,  is a magnificent and majestic work tantalizing and titillating – a bonafide Oscar contender for now – in multiple categories! Highly recommended. One of the year’s best films!

 

Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Gordon in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, set for a December 1st, 2021 release. (Photo Cr. KIRSTY GRIFFIN/NETFLIX © 2021 Cross City Films Limited/Courtesy of Netflix)

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

FILM CAPSULE: Sean Baker’s RED ROCKET

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Sean Baker ( Tangerine, The Florida Project, Starlet) and A24’s Red Rocket, a dramedy, featuring Simon Rex, a standout media personality, Suzanna Son, and Bree Elrod, tells the tale of Mikey Saber, a washed up, 20 year veteran performer in the adult film industry who returns home for more of the same, screened last night at the 2021 AFI FEST.

Simon Rex as Mikey Saber in Sean Baker’s Red Rocket (Photo from fest.afi.com)

Red Rocket, follows Mikey Saber (played by a compelling Simon Rex), as he futilely careens in and out of harrowing situations in dark places never fully grasping the ramifications of his actions and choices. Bree Elrod as Lexi, and Suzanna Son as Strawberry, deliver riveting performances with exquisite line execution. Rex turns in a tour de force performance as Mikey Saber.

Red Rocket is Sean Baker at his best in this low, low-budget filmmaking. Providing a snapshot of Mikey and the socially marginalized characters that are in his orbit, Baker elevates Red Rocket with snappy dialogue, carefully executed camera work, and the trust he places in the audience. Captivating work from start to finish.

Interestingly,  the Q & A immediately following the screening led by AFI Programming Director Sarah Harris got a little saucy. Baker and Rex took exception when an audience member, who coincidentally works in the adult film industry and performs in Ninja Thyberg’s Pleasure, also screening at AFI FEST 2021, stated his displeasure hearing the audience guffawing loudly at a term thrown out by Lexi at Red Rocket’s end.

(Left to right) Sarah Harris, AFI Programming Director, Director Sean Baker, Actor Simon Rex, Actor Bree Elrod, and Actor Suzanna Son participate in a Q&A, on November 12, 2021, following the AFI FEST screening of RED ROCKET, at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGLee)

Baker shared the film had five consultants work over the script and scene work to make Red Rocket’s depiction of a former porn star as realistic as possible. Rex chimed in stating few people in the audience would recognize the industry term.

Red Rocket is Sean Baker’s strongest work to date. Not for the faint of heart. Earthy with frontal nudity. Coming to theatres December 10th. Very warmly recommended!

FILM REVIEW: KING RICHARD Serves Up An Ace @AFIFEST

Posted by Larry Gleeson

King Richard, the Will Smith-led, Warner Bros. biopic, served as the 2021 AFI FEST Closing Night Film at the historic Hollywood Chinese Theatre with a Red Carpet Premiere.

King Richard tells the story of Richard Williams, the father of women’s tennis superstar sisters, Venus and Serena Williams. With a run time of 144 minutes, King Richard seemed to reach its conclusion too quickly – a tribute to how mesmerizing the film is. Numerous times the audience erupted with applause and approval as the Williams family overcame obstacle after obstacle. Will Smith portrayed Richard Williams with fortitude and tenderness – qualities not always evident from Richard Williams’ public persona. Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton portray Venus and Serena in very compelling performances. Aunjanue Ellis portrays Oracene ‘Brandy’ Williams. Ellis and Smith play off each other remarkably well. The pair were recently announced as the recipients of the 2022 Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s (SBIFF) Outstanding Performers of the Year. Kudos to Casting Directors Rich Delia and Avy Kaufman!

In life, Richard Williams often came across in the media as brash, touting with a braggadociousness how his daughters were coming to dominate women’s tennis, the likes of which had never been seen before, would never be seen again, and there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. What he didn’t tell the public, and what King Richard tells so well, is he also wanted his daughters to have a real childhood, meaningful adolescence, and to be prepared to lead successful lives. Throughout King Richard, Richard Williams came across as a devoted husband, loving father, and dedicated coach delving into some of his formative life experiences growing up in a racist environment. Rearing his family in Compton, California, also had its challenges for Williams. But, Richard Williams had a plan – he wanted a better life for his family.

Technically speaking the film is very solid. The film’s cinematography is excellent. AFI Conservatory Alumnus, Robert Elswit utilizes some natural lighting with traditional lenses and frames for establishing shots juxtaposed with fast zoom lenses to capture the action with tight framing combined with extreme closeups of the Williams sisters, generating some major pace with their groundstrokes and capturing winning overhead smashes. Editor Pamela Martin made the shots and their complementary counterparts (returns) appear seamless with the continuity editing and helped create some riveting moments with the shots provided. In addition, non-diegetic sounds kept the film’s pace and helped match the film’s tone and the actors’ emotionality. Kris Bowers is credited with the music. Costuming, make-up, and production design are all complementary to the characters and the period covered in the film.

And, last but not least, Director Reinaldo Marcus Green, helming only his second feature film, steered King Richard to a beautiful conclusion culminating in Venus’s first professional matches and first tennis matches of any kind in three years. The excitement she (and Serena later) brought to the game of tennis encouraged an entire generation of young African-American girls that anything is possible if they are willing to put in the work. Credit to Zach Baylin for writing sharp dialogue and creating an engaging narrative.

King Richard is chock full of inspiration and hope. Ahhh…the power of film and the magic of AFI FEST – Hollywood. Talk about speaking truth to power in layers. Look for King Richard in theatres and on HBO Max Friday. Highly recommended!

Unti next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

Halle Berry BRUISED on the Red Carpet at #AFIFEST 2021

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Academy Award winner Halle Berry made her directorial with BRUISED, a triumphant story of a fighter who reclaims her power, in and out of the ring, when everyone has counted her out.

Berry, cast, and team walked the Red Carpet at the historic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California!

Put up your dukes! Congratulations Halle!!!

 

Valentina Shevchenko – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021.
Bob Gazzale, Halle Berry and Ted Sarandos – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Brad Feinstein – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Ambre – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Stephan James – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Halle Berry and Van Hunt – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Danny Boyd, Jr. – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Terri Seymour – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Erica Banks – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Halle Berry – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Shamier Anderson – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Halle Berry – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Halle Berry – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021
Michelle Rosenfarb – AFI FEST 2021 World Premiere of BRUISED – TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 13, 2021

Opening Night Red Carpet AFI FEST 2021

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Last night, the AFI FEST audience at the TCL Chinese Theatre was treated to the World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM! Check out the exclusive photos from the red carpet, featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andrew Garfield, Vanessa Hudgens, Judith Light, Robin de Jesus, Joshua Henry, Alexandra Shipp and more.

Check out the red carpet video tick, tick…BOOM!

Judith Light – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Andrew Garfield and Alexandra Shipp – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Andrew Garfield and Lin-Manuel Miranda – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Andrew Garfield – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Director Lin-Manuel Miranda – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Robin de Jesus, Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Julie Oh – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Robin de Jesus – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Isabella Gomez – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM
Julie Larson – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Alice Brooks, Cinematographer – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!

Tickets Still Available for Select In-person Screenings Tomorrow!

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AFI FEST 2021 – Day 1

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Meet the Press Film Festival in collaboration with AFI opens the first day of the 2021 AFI FEST. Meet the Press Film Festival highlights topics such as criminal justice reform, climate change, immigration and racial and gender bias. Along with the shorts, the festival also features live discussions with filmmakers, subjects, NBC News correspondents and anchors. These are excellent films with timely topics! Also available today virtually. Director of AFI Festivals, Michael Lumpkin on the Meet The Press Film Festival:

 

Michael Lumpkin, Director AFI Festivals

“We are all storytellers, whether as journalists or filmmakers, our job is the same. We share a commitment to bringing important truths to our audience — be it in a theater, on television or any other screen..

 

 

Julia

Julie Cohen’s deliberative documentary Julia on Julia Childs, the 20th Century American pioneer in the kitchen and out is an informative piece – well researched. The night belongs to the Jane Campion directed The Power Of the Dog as it makes its Red Carpet Premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre – a “must-see” film for AFI FEST 2021.

The Power of the Dog

 

The Virtual Screenings make their premiere as well with the Meet the Press viewings available and the AFI Conservatory Showcase. Both are HollywoodGlee recommended selections. The short form is often overlooked, yet the stories are succinct, informative, while showcasing fresh voices and pertinent messaging.

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

 

For ticketing and more information visit fest.afi.com.

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

Posted by Larry Gleeson

OPENING NIGHT

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:

THE POWER OF THE DOG

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.

MEDUSA

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.

TO WHAT REMAINS

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.

MON AMI QUI BRILLE DANS LA NUIT

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.

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: AMERICA’S SECRET NAZIS

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.

WHO WE ARE: A CHRONICLE OF RACISM IN AMERICA

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 .

 

AFI FEST 2021 Starts Tonight!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Final preparations were taking place bright and early this morning at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., as the American Film Institute’s (AFI) 2021 AFI FEST, Nov.10-14th, is slated to open tonight with the World Premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! starring Andrew Garfield.

The American Film Institute’s AFI FEST 2021 Production Crew begin preparations at the TCL Chinese Theatre on November 10th, 2021, for tonight’s Opening Night World Premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

The American Film Institute’s AFI FEST 2021 Production Crew begin preparations at the TCL Chinese Theatre on November 10th, 2021, for tonight’s Opening Night World Premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

The American Film Institute’s AFI FEST 2021 Production Crew begin preparations at the TCL Chinese Theatre on November 10th, 2021, for tonight’s Opening Night World Premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

The American Film Institute’s AFI FEST 2021 Production Crew begin preparations at the TCL Chinese Theatre on November 10th, 2021, for tonight’s Opening Night World Premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

On Thursday, the Red Carpet Premieres continue with a sizzling POWER OF THE DOG directed by Jane Campion and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst. The performances led by Cumberbatch and strongly supported by Plemons and Dunst make this a “don’t miss” film. Campion is a front runner for her second screenwriting Oscar and may well make it a twofer ala Chloe Zhao with Nomadland – Writing and Directing!

More to come as the best in global cinema is about to get underway! Stay tuned…

The American Film Institute’s AFI FEST 2021 Production Crew begin preparations at the TCL Chinese Theatre on November 10th, 2021, for tonight’s Opening Night World Premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Tickets to in-person and virtual screenings are available on FEST.AFI.com.

 

AFI FEST 2021: Music Films

Posted by Larry Gleeson

What do The Buzzcocks, Bob Dylan, and Leonard Bernstein have in common? What about rappers from Morocco and rappers from Chicago? And what connects the next great American musical and a classic Chinese love song? The answer is….. in all of this great music in films at this year’s AFI FEST! These toe tappers are sure to strike a chord or two with something for everyone’s audible enjoyment – and plenty of new tunes to discover. Check ’em out!

ALI & AVA

Ali and Ava each live lonely lives in North Britain. Ali, a British Pakistani, is a former DJ turned compassionate landlord who meets Ava, an Irish-born schoolteacher and single mother of five, while picking up one of his tenant’s children from school. Despite their differences, sparks start to fly. As Ali and Ava’s relationship grows deeper, the shadows of their emotional turmoil and society’s expectations of them build as well. Can they find a way to keep their love alive?

This contemporary working-class romance – filled with rich and tender performances from Claire Rushbrook and Adeel Akhtar – is a charming and heartwarming portrait of love, beauty and acceptance. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person | November 12, 7:00 p.m.  | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

BERNSTEIN’S WALL

For the better part of the 20th century, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein was a household name due to his music in WEST SIDE STORY (for which he won an Academy Award®), his role as Musical Director of the New York Philharmonic and his work on television making classical music accessible to the general public. This documentary follows the life of this extraordinary first-generation son of Ukrainian-Jewish parents, from his early life in New England, to the many “firsts” he claimed during his early orchestral career and his constant advocacy of worthy causes. The narration uses Bernstein’s own words, harvested from his many recorded appearances on the radio, television and in-person interviews, which offers a strikingly intimate perspective. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 12, 3:15 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

CASABLANCA BEATS (HAUT ET FORT)

Morocco Official International Feature Film Oscar® Submission

North American Premiere

Based on director Nabil Ayouch’s own experiences opening a cultural center for young people in Casablanca, his new film depicts a group of Moroccan students trying their hand at rap with the guidance of a former rapper and navigating their way through differences in identity, religion and politics. As students and teacher find themselves in direct conflict with the social issues they explore through music, each of them must reckon with the decision to continue rapping or return to the silence of their previous lives. With a dynamic ensemble of first-time actors, Ayouch’s film brings a passionate perspective on a cathartic story with sincerity and depth for an audience of all ages. CASABLANCA BEATS encompasses the heart of youthful inspiration in this lyrical slice of life, as well as the discovery that self-expression cannot be curbed or controlled. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 11, 8:00 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

JUICE WRLD

World Premiere

The SoundCloud rap generation, known for music that explores emotional vulnerabilities, prescription drug use and mental health, has greatly impacted American music and culture in the last decade. After posting songs from his home in Chicago, Juice WRLD catapulted to stardom and quickly connected with fans for his profound lyrics and impressively long freestyles. But just three years after his career started, Juice WRLD succumbed to an oxycodone and codeine overdose as he celebrated his 21st birthday.

Filmmaker Tommy Oliver explores the life and final days of this talented, young rapper with footage from studio sessions of unreleased songs, behind-the-scenes moments on tour and emotional interviews with the friends he left behind. Almost two years after his death, the impact of Juice WRLD’s music lives on. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 12, 6:30 p.m.   | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

MISERY LOVES COMPANY

One night, Seolgi is lying on a grass field with friends. A shooting star falls, and dark and intrusive thoughts hits her and her melancholy blooms into “flower people.” Screens as part of Shorts Program 1. Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person | November 12, 3:00 p.m. | Buy In-Person Ticket(s)

Virtual screening available beginning November 11, 12:00 p.m. PST | Buy Virtual Ticket(s)

ONLY THE MOON STANDS STILL (明月依旧)

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)

tick, tick…BOOM!

Opening Night / World Premiere 

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? Learn more about the film.

Screening in-person |  November 10, 7:30 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 FEST.AFI.com.

Individual tickets and passes to AFI FEST 2021 are currently available on FEST.AFI.com. AFI Members receive exclusive discounts and benefits to the festival. To become an AFI member, visit AFI.com/join/.

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