2020 AFI FEST Film Festival: 11 Most-Anticipated Films

Like so many of the biggest events this year, the Los Angeles-based festival is going digital. A wide variety of films and events can be streamed straight into your home.

Like so many other festivals that have disbanded in recent months, this year's AFI FEST has decided to introduce it as a virtual event. All the better that film fans can see the best of the Los Angeles-based festival from just about anywhere. This year's AFI FEST is one of the last big festivals on the fall route and features a wide variety of films and events for everyone to enjoy.

The festival begins on Thursday evening with the world premiere of Julia Hart's "I & # 39; m Your Woman" and will also play new films by filmmakers Errol Morris, Heidi Ewing, Mira Nair, Florian Zeller and Werner Herzog and many more over the next week . This year's complete AFI FEST program includes 124 titles (54 feature films, 3 episodes, 33 short films, 19 short films from the Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST and 15 short films from the AFI Conservatory Showcase), of which 53 percent are women and 39 percent are Women are staged by BIPOC and 17 percent are directed by LBGTQ +.



The virtual event is accessible through both film and event tickets and passes. Brass for each event (and a very practical FAQ): “The festival is structured in the same way as our other festivals, with new films and events planned every day. Due to restrictions imposed by distributors and filmmakers, films and events are only available for a limited time and with limited capacity – and they may sell out. "

In other words, it's like any other festival, only one that happens to happen in the safety of your own home. Here are 11 films to enjoy about the virtual joys of AFI FEST, including new premieres, festival favorites reaching their next big event, and more.

"76 days"

On January 23, 2020 – nine months and a million lives ago – the city of Wuhan, China, was locked down to stifle the coronavirus that had already made the densely populated capital of Hubei Province synonymous with the worst pandemic in more than a century . During the 76 days that had elapsed before the lockdown was lifted, Weixi Chen and an anonymous employee embedded themselves at the front of the story as their footage was directed and edited by filmmaker Hao Wu in New York.

Shot discreetly in four Wuhan hospitals without government approval and premiered just months later at the Toronto International Film Festival, this look into the outbreak is scattered and structureless, so it may seem like it is just taking notes for them History books of the future. But if “76 days” are more valuable as a time capsule than a piece of Cinéma Vérité, it gives a human face to an epoch-making horror that some people do not want to acknowledge, even when it rages around them. It offers a haunting immediate glimpse of the avant-garde of history – the trauma and imbalance of being invaded by a crisis bad enough to define your century – and the world needs to burn this into the collective unconscious as soon as possible to let. – DE

"I am your wife"

The thriller by the aspiring director Julia Hart from the 1970s, which opened at AFI FEST, gives the abandoned mob woman (Rachel Brosnahan) a feminist note. Hart's fourth feature film is her second film this year, in which she previously debuted the Disney + winning YA drama "Stargirl". It marks the first leading role of Emmy-winning Brosnahan in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and could drive her into the Oscar race.

After the husband thief of the suburban housewife Jean, Eddie (Bill Heck), suddenly takes off with the help of his old friend Cal (Arinzé Kene), Jean runs and shoots a vulnerable child on the hip. And when Cal disappears, Jean and his wife Teri (Marsha Stephanie Blake) venture into Eddie's criminal underworld. Hart wrote the script with her husband, producer Jordan Horowitz ("La La Land"). She started her career with the feminist civil war drama "The Keeping Room" with Brit Marling, followed by two films co-written with Horowitz that she also directed: "Miss Stevens" with Lily Rabe and Timothée Chalamet and "Fast Color," with Gugu Mbatha-Raw. -AT THE

"Farewell Cupid"

Bruce Francis Cole

"Farewell Cupid"

Tanzanian-American filmmaker Ekwa Msangi makes her feature film debut with "Farewell Amor," which follows an estranged Angolan immigrant family in Brooklyn, NY as they struggle to bridge the emotional distance between them. Father Walter (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) tries to let go of a previous relationship after his wife Esther (Zainab Jah) and teenage daughter Sylvia (Jayme Lawson), both struggling to adapt to life, are in the US new land.

Eventually, they overcome personal and political hurdles by learning to rely on the muscle memory of Angolan dance to rediscover what they lost after being long apart. The film, which debuted at Sundance in January, is a universal immigrant story that shows the unique perspectives of three characters linked by a shared story. It's an intimate and personal look at the kind of intergenerational history that defined America from the start. -TO

"My Psychedelic Love Story"

Veteran Oscar winner Errol Morris enters the swinging '60s via a remarkably enticing topic, the one-off jet setter and youngest writer Joanna Harcourt Smith ("Stumbling the Bardo with Timothy Leary: My Psychedelic Love Story") who turns into the LSD guru fell in love just before he was jailed for drug possession. Morris has been ahead of the curve since he broke out at the pet cemetery in 1978 with the documentary "Gates of Heaven". A decade later, "The Thin Blue Line" roused critics, but alienated the hidden documentary community with "Reenactments" and a rousing score by Philip Glass. Decades before Netflix created "Making a Murderer" and "The Keepers", Morris' film actually started a crime thriller and freed an innocent convict from death row in a Texas prison.

With "My Psychedelic Love Story" the mystery is why Leary suddenly agreed to work with the FBI and was released from prison. Smith, accused of being a femme fatale Mata Hari by the likes of Alan Ginsberg, offers some answers, though she may be an unreliable narrator. Using the multi-camera interview technique he developed in the Netflix series "Wormwood", Morris explores his charming subject, which tells colorful eponymous stories of hobnobbing with the Rolling Stones and other counterculture stars. The film is a great escape into an exotic past and full of entertaining pictures. from animated tarot cards to film clips, from Marlene Dietrich's "The Blue Angel" to "Goldfinger". Unfortunately, Smith is no longer with us. Morris announced her recent death on October 13th on Twitter

"Pink Skies Ahead"

The life of best-selling author and freshman filmmaker Kelly Oxford has always been unorthodox – the ex-college dropout first drew attention to her disarmingly honest blogs before heading to Hollywood to work on TV and film and find the time to score two victories semi-autobiographical books – that makes it perfect for cinematic treatment. This is exactly what Oxford did for her directorial debut, which she also wrote from personal experience.

The film follows an Oxford surrogate mother (Jessica Barden) who struggles with an anxiety disorder after dropping out of college. Oxford's debut drew a litany of emerging talent, from bards to co-stars Rosa Salazar, Odeya Rush, Lewis Pullman and Devon Bostick, as well as some big megawatt names like Michael McKean, Marcia Gay Harden, Henry Winkler and Mary J. Blige. The film was originally scheduled to be shown on SXSW in March and will finally premiere on the first weekend of the marquee festival in Oxford's own hometown. – KE

"The Reagans"

Documentary filmmaker Matt Tyranauer has featured everyone from Valentino to Scotty Bowers, but it's his final full-length venture – "Where's My Roy Cohn?" – that suggests he's an ideal fit for this four-part Showtime series, which revisits another 1980s political figure whose oversized influence shaped American society throughout the decade. There may not be a better time to find out how Hollywood star Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy turned to politics and eventually stormed the White House. They hid behind the mystique of their celebrity and provided information about the future of the Republican Party for decades to come. The first president to actually pronounce the words "Make America Great Again" was much harder to read on the surface than the next, and while many Americans may think they have figured out the Reagans, the darker side of their history – of filthy campaigns to misinformation – remains untold.

"The Reagans" comes as America confronts its heritage in a whole new light. AFI FEST presents the first half of the miniseries with a mixture of rich archive material and current interviews. It's a mythology that is overdue for further investigation, both to improve this country's understanding of its history and to ensure it doesn't always make the same mistakes with its leadership. – EK

"Shadow in the cloud"


"Shadow in the cloud"

Built around enough wild concepts that it sounds a bit like a Hollywood pitch meeting that's seriously derailed – it's a creature feature! Set on a World War II B-17! filled with misogynistic soldiers! and the star is a badass woman! The soundtrack is synth-heavy! – The craziest thing about Roseanne Liang's nut "Shadow in the Cloud" is that she almost pulled it off. Backed by an effort by star Chloë Grace Moretz and an energy that never wears off (even given things like "logic" and "physics" and "common sense"), "Shadow in the Cloud" is what most Bonkers mix monster movie and World War II drama for at least this year. (The subgenre is fertile, to say the least.)

What Liang and Moretz bring in, however, is a feminist freshness that feels original even in such a crowded field. Audiences who are willing and able to immerse themselves in their particular brand of wacky horror will likely enjoy it best (once you accept the opportunity to fly gremlins, it's easy to imagine the rest of it going smoothly too) , but Liang also maintains a steady tension during its narrow running time of 83 minutes, this should appeal to even die-hard horror and action fans. – KE

"There is no evil"

Iranian writer Mohammad Rasolouf's epic anthology film won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale earlier this year, but now it's time for American audiences to get involved. Rasolouf's films have often addressed the day-to-day challenges of dealing with the despotic regime of Iran, but "There Is No Evil" extends that approach to an amazing quartet of stories, each of which takes unexpected twists and turns into an overall unclassifiable narrative Experience.

From an executioner dealing with mild domestic issues to a nervous military man evading his violent duty, the film explores how Iranian society imposes harrowing expectations on people who are forced to engage, but never that human factor into account. Rasolouf responds by magnifying just that. It's a movie that asks, "What would you do?" Then implicitly let a series of hypotheses take this journey. Alternately exciting, tragic and hopeful, "There Is No Evil" is the culmination of a filmmaker whose work becomes more and more consistent over time. – EK

"Tragic Jungle"

Like a hot, hazy dream from afternoon fever, Yulene Olaizola's colonial allegory “Tragic Jungle” from the 1920s is bursting with the moisture of the Mayan rainforest and the coming and going of its people and creatures. After a Belizean woman, Agnes (Indira Andrewin) tries to evade her white British kidnappers after a harrowing river trip, her adventure deep into the jungle leads to strange encounters with her residents, all haunted by a mythical ghost seeking revenge is the ones who ravaged the land.

“Tragic Jungle” on the Central American Hondo River is a fascinating experience that, thanks to sultry pictures by the cameraman Sofia Oggioni, makes the viewer in a foreign country just as strange as its wandering and survival-oriented protagonist. – RL

"Wander Darkly"

Since her standout twist in 2019 when she was signed to American Woman, Sienna Miller has been quietly experiencing a renaissance as an ambitious actress who deserves more than the fake roles she has seen in films like American Sniper and Foxcatcher " had received. Tara Miele's darkly surreal romance "Wander Darkly" offers Miller yet another showcase as a woman trauma struck after a violent accident with partner Mateo (Diego Luna), throwing the couple into a rabbit hole that is best left untouched. Parallel realities emerge and timelines distort as Miller's Adrienne is haunted by death on every corner of a metaphysical journey, all sustained by Miller's and Luna's chemistry. The film makes ambitious leaps that alienate as many viewers as it enters. – RL





With "Wolfwalkers" – the last part of Cartoon Saloon's informal trilogy of films about Irish folklore – the Irish animation studio behind "The Secret of Kells" and "Song of the Sea" has finally reached its full potential. By far the best animated feature of the year (although "Soul" is looming on the horizon), this heartfelt story of love and loss is the most visually delightful feature his studio has made to date, as well as the most poignant. This 17th century saga is set in the same county as Kilkenny, where Cartoon Saloon would open a store almost 400 years later. It traces the clock back to the year 1650, when the English general Oliver Cromwell invaded Ireland to "tame" the natives and destroy the Catholic Church. This mission doesn't go well with the widower (Sean Bean) who is supposed to hunt down the local wolf population, nor does his brave little daughter who magically becomes a part of it.

And so begins a hand-drawn epic that captures the power of "Princess Mononoke" and makes it a little more palatable to a younger audience. Heartfelt and wonderfully animated, “Wolfwakers” finds new beauty in old traditions; It's a film that fights against the temptation to give up the little magic this world has left, and fulfills Cartoon Saloon's promise along the way. – DE

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