- LOS ANGELES
The American Film Institute (AFI) has unveiled the films that will play in the World Cinema section and the inaugural Documentary section of AFI Fest 2019.
The World Cinema section showcases the most anticipated and celebrated international films of the year and features 16 titles representing 19 countries. The section includes five official International Feature Film Oscar® submissions screening at this year’s festival: Sweden’s And Then We Danced (director Levan Akin), Canada’s Antigone (Sophie Deraspe), Poland’s Corpus Christi (Boze Cialo) (Jan Komasa), Italy’s The Traitor (Marco Bellocchio), and Romania’s The Whistlers (Cornlieu Porumboiu). The section also includes the Los Angeles premiere of Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life. The film, a historical drama about Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter who refused to fight for the Nazis during World War II, is set to be released in the U.S. on December 13, 2019.
The AFI Fest Documentary section presents some of the most engaging and powerful real-life stories depicted in global non-fiction cinema. With subjects and themes both profound and impactful, the section includes two-time Academy Award®-winning director Barbara Kopple’s Desert One, a film that revisits the 1980 secret mission by the Army’s elite Delta Force to rescue U,S, hostages held captive in Tehran. Additional documentaries include Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator (Eva Orner), Chez Jolie Coiffure (Rosine Mbakam), Citizen K (Alex Gibney), The Human Factor (Dror Moreh), I Am Not Alone (Garin Hovannisian), Present.Perfect (Wan Mei Xian Zai Shi) (Shengze Zhu) and Searching Eva (Pia Hellenthal).
Here’s a full rundown of the World Cinema and Documentary lineups:
AND THEN WE DANCED
While training at the National Georgian Ensemble, the arrival of preternaturally talented Irakli awakens a sense of friendly competition in Merab, along with more complicated feelings between the two boys. This twirling, rhythmic romance sees the profundity of first love intensified by the risk that exposure could threaten career, familial and community support. DIR Levan Akin. SCR Levan Akin CAST Levan Gelbakhiani, Bachi Valishvili, Ana Javakishvili, Giorgi Tsereteli, Tamar Bukhnikashvili. Georgia, Sweden, France
An immigrant family is ripped apart by a police shooting in Québécois writer/director Sophie Deraspe’s original and propulsive drama that takes its inspiration from Sophocles’ tragedy and centers it on a daughter’s painful choices that could determine the family’s fate. DIR Sophie Deraspe. SCR Sophie Deraspe CAST Nahéma Ricci, Nour Belkhiria, Rawad El-Zein, Hakim Brahimi, Rachida Oussaada, Antoine Desrochers, Paul Doucet. Canada
The inhabitants of a remote Brazilian village realize that their town has been erased from the map. When the water supply is cut, cell-phone coverage fades and a local family is murdered, it becomes clear they are under attack. Tension explodes into war as the community bands together, determined to survive the assault. DIR Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho. SCR Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles. CAST Bárbara Colen, Sonia Braga, Udo Kier. Brazil, France
BALLOON (QI QIU)
Shepard Dargye and his wife, Drolkar, live a simple life with their sons and patriarch on the family farm in rural Tibet. When a death in the family occurs, the family must make decisions as faith and political realities collide in this delicate and beautiful film from Pema Tseden. DIR Pema Tseden. SCR Pema Tseden. CAST: Sonam Wangmo, Jinpa, Yangshik Tso. China
CORPUS CHRISTI (BOŻE CIAŁO)
After he is released from a brutally violent juvenile detention center, a young man, disguised as a priest, finds himself hiding out in a small town with a dark past. As the townspeople grieve and the priest attempts to help them heal, he moves towards grace in a most unexpected way. DIR Jan Komasa. SCR Mateusz Pacewicz. CAST Bartosz Bielenia, Eliza Rycembel, Aleksandra Konieczna, Tomasz Ziętek, Leszek Lichota, Łukasz Simlat. Poland
In Quentin Dupieux’s surreal, dark comedy, Georges (Jean Dujardin) buys his dream jacket — vintage, fringed and 100% deerskin —in the French Alps. As George’s madness spirals from existential midlife crisis to violent psychotic breakdown, he attempts to document his new mission of ensuring that the jacket is the only one left in existence. DIR Quentin Dupieux. SCR Quentin Dupieux. CAST: Jean Dujardin, Adèle Haenel. France
A HIDDEN LIFE
Terrence Malick returns with this harrowing true-life tale of conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter, eliciting comparisons in scope to his Academy Award-nominated TREE OF LIFE. When the Third Reich shatters Franz’s simple life, he is forced to reconcile the prevailing beliefs of his church and country with his own personal convictions. DIR Terrence Malick. SCR Terrence Malick. CAST August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, Maria Simon, Tobias Moretti, Bruno Ganz, Matthias Schoenaerts, Karin Neuhäuser, Ulrich Matthes. USA, Germany
I WAS AT HOME, BUT... (ICH WAR ZUHAUSE, ABER...)
In Angela Schanelec’s cryptic, disjointed and enigmatic winner of Best Director at the 2019 Berlinale, familial trauma is premise to a series of defiantly fragmented vignettes. Astrid attempts to purchase a second-hand bicycle, her son and his classmates stage Hamlet, two teachers discuss their relationship, a dog, a rabbit and a donkey. DIR Angela Schanelec. SCR Angela Schanelec. CAST Maren Eggert, Franz Rogowski, Clara Möller, Jakob Lassalle, Lilith Stangenberg, Alan Williams, Jirka Zett, Dane Komljen. Germany, Serbia
In a small clearing in the woods somewhere between Potsdam and Berlin, over the course of one extended night of debauchery, a band of exiled Libertines seeking support from the German Duc de Walchen (Helmut Berger) will revel in the freedom to take sexuality to its darkest places. DIR Albert Serra. SCR Albert Serra. CAST Lluís Serrat, Marc Susini, Théodora Marcadé, Helmut Berger, Alex Duttman, Xavier Perez, Baptiste Pinteaux, Laura Poulvet, Iliana Zabeth, Cătălin Jugravu. France, Portugal, Spain
Sarah, a French astronaut, earns her dream job: a spot on a year-long mission to Mars. During training, Sarah wrestles with the stress of separation from her daughter and earning respect from her male colleagues. Shot on location in real training facilities, PROXIMA is a poignant, thoughtful journey through the complexities of parenthood. DIR Alice Winocour. SCR Alice Winocour. CAST Eva Green, Matt Dillon, Zélie Boulant-Lemesle, Aleksey Fateev, Lars Eidinger. France, Germany.
THE SLEEPWALKERS (LOS SONÁMBULOS)
While preparing to spend the summer at her mother-in-law’s cottage, Luisa discovers her teenage daughter Ana sleepwalking naked. In the countryside, each woman becomes alienated by repeated attempts to connect and be understood and, with surmounting feelings of entrapment, will be pushed beyond complacency in Paula Hernández’s elegant and bold debut. DIR Paula Hernández. SCR Paula Hernández. CAST Érica Rivas, Ornella D’elía, Marilú Marini, Luis Ziembrowski, Daniel Hendler, Valeria Lois, Rafael Federman. Argentina, Uruguay
A single mother of two faces a terrible dilemma whether to: marry a single father who will provide for her and her daughter but, who, due to Iranian custom, refuses to also take in her 12-year-old son. Director Mahnaz Muhammadi brilliantly navigates this unsentimental critique of Iranian traditions and the impossible choices that they can impose. DIR Mahnaz Mohammadi. SCR Mohammad Rasoulof. CAST Raha Khodayari, Mahan Nasiri, Reza Behboodi, Maryam Boubani. Iran.
TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
Facing production difficulties and confrontations amid language barriers and uncomfortable misunderstandings, the on-camera host of a Japanese crew shooting a travelogue in Uzbekistan begins to spiral into untapped anxieties, alienation and loneliness, leaving her to wander the streets of the unfamiliar landscape alone, where fears of the unknown are all-consuming. DIR Kiyoshi Kurosawa. SCR Kiyoshi Kurosawa CAST: Atsuko Maeda, Ryo Kase, Shota Sometani, Adiz Radjabov, Tokio Emoto. Japan, Uzbekistan, Qatar
Celebrated Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio (FISTS IN THE POCKET, 1965) steps behind the camera with one of the most compelling modern dramatic stories of our time. THE TRAITOR is the ultra-widescreen true story of the Sicilian Mafia and Tommaso Buscetta, who makes a fateful decision that will permanently transform the Mafia. DIR Marco Bellocchio. SCR Marco Bellocchio, Ludovica Rampoldi, Valia Santella, Francesco Piccolo. CAST Pierfrancesco Favino, Maria Fernanda Cândido, Nicola Calí, Luigi Lo Cascio, Fabrizio Ferracane, Fausto Russo Alesi. Italy
In his first film outside of Japan, Palme d’Or winner Hirokazu Kore-eda (SHOPLIFTERS) casts legendary actresses Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche as a fading screen star and her daughter in this witty and touching battle of wills between two women coming to grips with the movie business and each other. DIR Hirokazu Kore-eda. SCR Hirokazu Kore-eda CAST Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke, Ludivine Sagnier. France, Japan
An epically proportioned heist plot unravels when corrupt police officer Cristi is drawn into an elaborate money laundering scheme and ubiquitous hidden cameras threaten to expose him. A departure for Romanian auteur Corneliu Porumboiu, this tremendously entertaining and inventive crime thriller flashes a droll sense of humor under its stone-faced seriousness. DIR Corneliu Porumboiu. SCR Corneliu Porumboiu CAST Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar, Antonio Buil, Agustí Villaronga, Sabin Tambrea, Julieta Szonyi, George Pisterneanu. Romania, France, Germany
BIKRAM: YOGI, GURU, PREDATOR
Capitalizing on yoga’s growing popularity, the charismatic Bikram Choudhury, founder of Bikram Yoga, built an empire of yoga studios and teaching programs. Eva Orner’s stunning documentary exposes Choudhury’s dark secret — he was abusing his position of authority, preying on women and creating a cult-like atmosphere that gave him virtual immunity. DIR Eva Orner. USA
CHEZ JOLIE COIFFURE
Inside a bustling Brussels hair salon, manager Sabine can be seen braiding hair and lending support to a vibrant group of African migrants. In this lovely observational chamber piece, filmmaker Rosine Mbakam offers an affectionate tribute to Sabine and her community. Despite the traumas of migration, their enduring charm and laughter are testament to human resilience. DIR Rosine Mbakam. SCR Rosine Mbakam. Belgium
Hero or villain? Mikhail Khodorkovsky is perhaps a unique blend of both. In this gripping documentary, Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney charts the fascinating rise and fall of the former Russian oil tycoon whose story bears witness to Putin’s ruthlessness and to the changing fortunes of those who dared to oppose him. DIR Alex Gibney. SCR Alex Gibney. FEATURING Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Leonid Nevzlin, Igor Malashenko, Anton Drel, Maria Logan, Alexei Navalny, Tatyana Lysova, Derk Sauer, Vladimir Kara-Murza, Martin Sixsmith, Arkady Ostrovsky. USA
Two-time Academy Award®-winning director Barbara Kopple revisits the 1980 secret mission by the Army’s elite Delta Force to rescue US hostages held captive in Tehran. Using previously unused archival material and featuring riveting interviews with the principals, Kopple’s breathtaking account paints an unforgettable portrait of American heroism — and its profound cost. DIR Barbara Kopple. SCR Francisco Bello. FEATURING Jimmy Carter, Ted Koppel, Walter Mondale. USA
THE HUMAN FACTOR
Dror Moreh’s (THE GATEKEEPERS) fair-minded and highly dramatic documentary delivers vivid recollections from American diplomatic envoys who have witnessed — and shaped —the most tenuous negotiations of the Middle East peace process. Their insights into world leaders, including Arafat, Rabin and Clinton, leave a devastating impression about what could have been… and still isn’t. DIR Dror Moreh. SCR Dror Moreh, Oron Adar. FEATURING Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Gamal Helal, Aaron Miller, Daniel Kurtzer, Robert Malley. UK, Israel
I AM NOT ALONE
Capturing the fury, emotion, and spontaneous expressions of freedom that overtook the streets of Armenia in 2018, Garin Hovannisian’s fascinating eye-witness documentary affords a unique glimpse into a revolution-in-the-making by offering unprecedented access to the grassroots movement that dared to challenge an entrenched regime, as well as the regime’s leaders themselves. DIR Garin Hovannisian. SCR Garin Hovannisian. FEATURING Nikol Pashinyan, Serzh Sargsyan, Valeriy Osipyan, Anna Hakobyan, Raffi Hovannisian, Armen Sarkissian, Chalo the Dog. Armenia
OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE
Famed neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks (THE MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT), who died in 2015, led an extraordinary life. Master filmmaker Ric Burns, granted intimate access in Sacks’ final months, paints a deeply moving portrait that captures his remarkable life and reveals the enormity of his spirit. DIR Ric Burns. USA
PRESENT.PERFECT. (WAN MEI XIAN ZAI SHI)
Winner of the Tiger Award at the Rotterdam Film Festival, Zhu Shengze’s found-footage documentary compiles live streaming footage from over 800 hours of material. Its hosts are those with disabilities, the marginalized and the working-class, who poetically demonstrate the need to seek out or create global communities and the threat this poses to state control. DIR Shengze Zhu. SCR Shengze Zhu. USA, Hong Kong
READY FOR WAR
Andrew Renzi’s startling documentary tells the heartbreaking immigration story of veterans of the Armed Services who, after having fought for the U.S. as a path to legal citizenship, find themselves not only without citizenship but being deported instead. For some, in a cruel twist, once in Mexico, the drug cartels pressure them to join their ranks. DIR Andrew Renzi. FEATURING Hector Barajas, Miguel Perez, Nathan Fletcher, Tammy Duckworth, Esperanza Perez. USA
For 25-year-old Eva, complex emotions surrounding adolescence, family, body, art and sex work are processed publicly through unflinchingly personal photos and writing posted on social media. In an attempt to capture the essence of this elusive personality, Pia Hellenthal’s extraordinary feature debut is a cinematic portrait that unfolds as a blitz of sound and image. DIR Pia Hellenthal. SCR Pia Hellenthal, Giorgia Malatrasi. FEATURING Eva Collé. Germany
SOUTH OXFORD, ALL IOWA LAWN TENNIS CLUB, MARAVILLA, SERVE
Filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe returns to the screen with a series of intimate nonfiction shorts exploring America’s culture and passion for tennis and handball. Four stories, warmly crafted with both archival and original materials, illustrates the great humanity of society and the powerful, soulful bond we experience through sports. DIR Darius Clark Monroe. FEATURING Richard Northern, Ann Northern, Mark Kuhn, Denise Kuhn, Amanda Perez, Hyacinth Yorke. USA
Dates; opening, closing films
AFI Fest 2019 takes place November 14-21, 2019, at historic theaters in Los Angeles. Screenings, Galas and other events will be held at the TCL Chinese Theatre, the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres and the Hollywood Roosevelt and will open, as previously announced, with the world premiere of AFI Conservatory alumna Melina Matsoukas’s Queen & Slim and close with World Premiere of George Nolfi’s The Banker. Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell will also have its world premiere at AFI Fest on Wednesday, November 21, 2019. The full festival lineup and schedule will be unveiled later this month.