AFI FEST 2020 Announces Full Lineup, Including Majority Female-Directed Films

The Los Angeles festival's lineup boasts a number of films from strong filmmakers, including Heidi Ewing, Julia Hart, Mira Nair, and many more.
AFI FEST 2020 Full Lineup, Including Majority Female-Directed Films
"Shadow in the Cloud"

The American Film Institute (AFI) has today announced the full lineup of this year’s AFI FEST, including the World Cinema, New Auteurs, and Documentary sections. These titles, including buzzy festival features like “I Carry You with Me,” “Shadow in the Cloud,” “Jumbo,” “Farewell Amor,” “Wander Darkly,” “Tragic Jungle,” “Sound of Metal,” “Wolfwalkers,” “New Order,” and “Hopper/Welles,” join previously announced films, including Julia Hart’s “I’m Your Woman,” which will open the festival, and Errol Morris’ “My Psychedelic Love Story,” which will close it.

This year’s 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 percent are directed by women, 39 percent are directed by BIPOC, and 17 percent are directed by LBGTQ+.

“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, in an official statement. “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.”

Other previously announced titles include Kelly Oxford’s debut “Pink Skies Ahead,” Matt Tyrnauer’s new documentary “The Reagans,” Florian Zeller’s Anthony Hopkins-starring “The Father,” Mira Nair’s new series “A Suitable Boy,” and Werner Herzog and Clive Oppenheimer’s doc “Fireball.”

Sofia Coppola, Kirby Dick, Rita Moreno, and Mira Nair will be honored with Tributes at the festival. The AFI Summit lineup includes a conversation with Academy Award nominee, producer, director and writer Ava DuVernay in a conversation about elevating and supporting BIPOC filmmakers through her company Array, plus a Doc Roundtable moderated by producer and film festival curator Caroline Libresco and a panel led by Dr. Stacy L. Smith on the portrayal of characters with mental health conditions in film and television.

AFI FEST 2020 will take place online, kicking off on October 15 and running through October 22. Check out the new additions to the lineup below, with all synopses and information provided by the festival.

World Cinema

A collection of diverse narrative feature films from celebrated storytellers across the world. 

“À l’Aboradge”
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”Courtesy Cinetic Media

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

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 Switzerland’s Best International Feature Film Oscar® Submission

"New Order"
“New Order”TIFF

“New Order”
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”
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”
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

Sienna Miller and Diego Luna appear in Wander Darkly by Tara Miele, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Carolina Costa.All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.
“Wander Darkly”Sundance

“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

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

New Auteurs

A platform for new voices and new stories, these exciting narrative works push the boundaries of contemporary cinema. 

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

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 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

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

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

Nomie Merlant appears in Jumbo by Zoé Wittock, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

“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) 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

“Luxor”Samuel Goldwyn Films

“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”
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

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

“76 Days”

“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

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

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 Kinshasha”
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

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

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

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

Cinema’s Legacy

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

Cheryl Dunye in her film, “The Watermelon Woman”Metrograph

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

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