Film Guide 2021


ALE LIBRE

2021 Shorts Program | documentary short | 17 min Alejandra is a criminalized organizer and unapologetic immigrant. As she prepares for one of the biggest moments of her life—her deportation case—she is forced to reckon with a past mistake and …

Directed by Maya Cueva

ANITA

2021 Shorts Program | narrative short | 18 min New York Premiere Having returned to India for her sister’s wedding, Anita (Aditi Vasudev) is counting on her husband’s support to announce some exciting news to her family.

Directed by Sushma Khadepaun

THE ART OF MAKING IT

2021 Views from Long Island | documentary feature | 95 min World Premiere Against the backdrop of a culture in crisis, documentary filmmaker and curator Kelcey Edwards follows a diverse cast of young artists at defining moments in their careers, and explores whether the s …

Directed by Kelcey Edwards

ASCENSION “登楼叹”

2021 Documentary Competition | documentary feature | 97 min Following her Best Documentary win at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, alumni filmmaker Jessica Kingdon (COMMODITY CITY) returns to HIFF with an immersive examination of the often paradoxical pu …

Directed by Jessica Kingdon

BAD OMEN “Bad Shagun”

2021 Shorts Program | narrative short | 19 min New York Premiere In Kabul, a tailor widowed by the Afghan war must find the means to purchase her prescription glasses in order to save her job.

Directed by Salar Pashtoonyar

BECOMING COUSTEAU

2021 Air, Land & Sea | documentary feature | 93 min New York Premiere For over four decades Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his explorations under the ocean became synonymous with a love of science and the natural world. As he learned to protect the environment, he brought …

Directed by Liz Garbus

BELFAST

2021 Spotlight | narrative feature | 97 min East Coast Premiere Set amidst the sociopolitical turmoil of late-1960s Northern Ireland, BELFAST follows Buddy (Jude Hill), a nine-year-old boy who is lovingly raised by his Ma and Pa (Jamie Dornan and Caitríona Bal …

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

BERNSTEIN’S WALL

2021 World Cinema Documentary | documentary feature | 100 min Douglas Tirola’s thrilling documentary portrait of famed composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein expertly tells the story of an immigrant son who became a phenom as the visionary and exuberant co …

Directed by Douglas Tirola

BILL MAULDIN: “IF IT’S BIG, HIT IT”

2021 World Cinema Documentary | documentary feature | 108 min World Premiere During his long and storied career, famed political cartoonist Bill Mauldin consistently questioned the privilege he witnessed in American politics, and used his artistry and wit to provide commenta …

Directed by Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce

BUZZKILL

2021 Shorts Program | narrative short | 11 min New York Premiere A young girl desperately tries to fit in with a group of South Florida teenagers.

Directed by Kathy E. Mitrani

C’MON C’MON

2021 Spotlight | narrative feature | 108 min Writer-director Mike Mills (BEGINNERS, 20TH CENTURY WOMEN) returns to the festival with the story of Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix), a well respected radio journalist who finds his life turned upside-down …

Directed by Mike Mills

CLARA SOLA

2021 Narrative Competition | narrative feature | 106 min New York Premiere HIFF alum Nathalie Álvarez Mesén’s debut feature is the riveting tale of Clara (played by the wonderful Wendy Chinchilla Araya, in her first role), who is believed to have special powers as …

Directed by Nathalie Álvarez Mesén

A COP MOVIE “UNA PELÍCULA DE POLICÍAS”

2021 Documentary Competition | documentary feature | 107 min New York Premiere Alonso Ruizpalacios’ inventive, genre-bending documentary takes us deep into the Mexican police force. Following family tradition, Teresa and Montoya join the police force, only to find their conv …

Directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios

THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR

2021 Shorts Program | narrative short | 11 min East Coast Premiere A single woman’s feelings of loneliness begin to stir when an eccentric African couple temporarily moves into her building.

Directed by Abbesi Akhamie

COW

2021 Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights | documentary feature | 94 min East Coast Premiere In her documentary debut, acclaimed director Andrea Arnold (AMERICAN HONEY) turns her lens towards a dynamic subject of few words, a dairy cow named Luma residing on an English farm. We meet Luma du …

Directed by Andrea Arnold

THE CRIMINALS “Les Criminels”

2021 Shorts Program | narrative short | 23 min In a small Turkish town, a young couple tries their best to find a hotel room in which to spend the night together.

Directed by Serhat Karaaslan

CYRANO

2021 Spotlight | narrative feature | 124 min East Coast Premiere A man ahead of his time, Cyrano de Bergerac (a delightful Peter Dinklage) dazzles, whether with ferocious wordplay at a verbal joust or with brilliant swordplay in a duel. But, convinced that his ap …

Directed by Joe Wright

DON’T GO TELLIN’ YOUR MOMMA

2021 Shorts Program | documentary short | 34 min 50 years after the development of the Black ABCs, visionary artist Topaz Jones debuts his second album and offers a view into personal and national Black Identity through 26 individual scenes.

Directed by Topaz Jones, rubberband.

DRIVE MY CAR

2021 World Cinema Narrative | narrative feature | 179 min While grieving the loss of his wife Oto (Reika Kirishima), aging thespian Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) develops an unexpected connection with Misaki (Toko Miura), the reticent young woman hir …

Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi

EGÚNGÚN (MASQUERADE)

2021 Shorts Program | narrative short | 15 min US Premiere In search of healing, a young woman returns to her hometown in Nigeria—delving into her past and revealing new truths about the people and experiences that shaped her into the person she is today.

Directed by Olive Nwosu

THE FIRST WAVE

2021 Opening, Closing, Centerpiece | documentary feature | 93 min World Premiere OPENING NIGHT FILM With exclusive access to one of New York’s hardest-hit hospital systems, Oscar®-nominated and Emmy® Award-winning director Matthew Heineman (CARTEL LAND) spotlights the everyd …

Directed by Matthew Heineman

FLEE

2021 Documentary Competition | documentary feature | 90 min Told through a mix of animation and archival footage in order to protect the anonymity of the protagonist, FLEE follows Amin, an Afghan refugee who recounts how he escaped his native country as a te …

Directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen

FOUND

2021 World Cinema Documentary | documentary feature | 98 min World Premiere Three American teenage girls, each adopted from China, come across a life-changing discovery after a commercial DNA service informs them that they are cousins. The online reunion sparks a burning de …

Directed by Amanda Lipitz

THE FRENCH DISPATCH

2021 Opening, Closing, Centerpiece | narrative feature | 107 min CLOSING NIGHT FILM Wes Anderson’s (THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL) latest escape into color palettes and quirk revels in the 1920s expatriate life in France while turning an eye to the world of journali …

Directed by Wes Anderson

THE GLASS

2021 Shorts Program | narrative short | 20 min World Premiere When rising sea levels drive his family to relocate from their home, 19-year-old Del (Matthew Courson) develops a new relationship with his hometown on the eve of their move.

Directed by Tom Van Scoyoc