The American Film Institute announced today the films that will be featured in the New Auteurs and American Independents sections at AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi.
Highlighting first- and second-time feature film directors, New Auteurs is the festival’s platform for upcoming filmmakers from all over the world to showcase their new films. This year, the section is comprised of 11 films, nine of which come from female directors.
The American Independents section represents the best of independent filmmaking this year. Pushing boundaries of form and content across narrative and documentary cinema, this section includes 11 films from both fresh new voices and filmmakers returning to AFI FEST.
“The New Auteurs and American Independents programming speaks to a singular mandate of AFI FEST: ensuring that emerging filmmakers from around the globe have a world-class venue to present their stories to an eager audience,” said Lane Kneedler, AFI FEST Director of Programming. “These films embody the promise of women and men who strive to lift our spirits through comedy, documentary, drama, science fiction and even a great American western.”
AVA – After an adolescent girl discovers she will soon go blind, she confronts the problem in her own way in this disturbing, visually bold debut. DIR Léa Mysius. SCR Léa Mysius, Paul Guilhaume. CAST Noée Abita, Laure Calamy, Juan Cano. France
CLOSENESS (TESNOTA) – Controversial and beloved in equal measure, the film centers on a young woman eking out an existence in a remote region of Russia, and the choices she must face when her brother and his fiancée are kidnapped. DIR Kantemir Balagov. SCR Kantemir Balagov, Anton Yarush. CAST Atrem Cipin, Olga Dragunova, Veniamin Kac, Darya Zhovnar, Nazir Zhukov. Russia
HANNAH – Charlotte Rampling gives another career-defining performance in this taut and layered film as a woman dealing with the fallout of an abhorrent crime committed by her husband. DIR Andrea Pallaoro. SCR Andrea Pallaoro, Orlando Tirado. CAST Charlotte Rampling, Andre Wilms. Italy, Belgium, France
HAVE A NICE DAY (HAO JI LE) – This morbid, hilarious animated noir cuts deep into the greed fueling the Chinese economic miracle. DIR/SCR Liu Jian. CAST Zhu Changlong, Cao Kai, Liu Jian, Yang Siming, Shi Haitao, Ma Xiaofeng, Xue Feng, Zheng Yi. China
HIGH FANTASY – Four South African friends on a camping trip discover they’ve switched bodies in this found-footage sophomore feature that cathartically examines racial and gender issues. DIR Jenna Bass. SCR Jenna Bass, Qondiswa James, Nala Khumalo, Francesca Varrie Michel, Liza Scholtz, Loren Loubser. CAST Qondiswa James, Nala Khumalo, Francesca Varrie Michel, Liza Scholtz, Loren Loubser. South Africa
I AM NOT A WITCH – A nine-year-old girl ignites a rebellion in the witch camp where she’s been imprisoned, in this bold debut that beautifully mixes satire, superstition and ambiguity. DIR/SCR Rungano Nyoni. CAST Margaret Mulubwa, Henry B.J. Phiri, Nancy Mulilo. France, UK, Germany
MILLA – The happy but impoverished life-on-the-fringes of a young French couple is captured with observational care and quiet grace in this striking new work. DIR/SCR Valérie Massadian. CAST Severine Jonckeere, Luc Chessel, Ethan Jonckeere. France
PENDULAR – This intense and unforgettable debut melds sculpture, dance and film in a tale brimming with sexual passion. DIR/SCR Júlia Murat, Matias Mariani. CAST Raquel Karro, Rodrigo Bolzan, Neto Machado, Marcio Vito, Felipe Rocha, Renato Linhares, Larissa Siqueira, Carlos Eduardo Santos, Valeria Barretta, Martina Revollo. Argentina, Brazil, France
SUMMER 1993 – In this unforgettable and autobiographical debut, a six-year-old girl goes to live with her extended family in the Catalan countryside following her mother’s death from an AIDS-related illness. DIR/SCR Carla Simón. CAST Laia Artigas, Paula Robles, Bruna Cusí, David Verdaguer, Fermí Reixach. Spain
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE SAY (HVA VIL FOLK SI) – A Norwegian-Pakistani teenage girl must bear the consequences of her rebellious actions in this powerful sophomore feature. DIR/SCR Iram Haq. CAST Maria Mozhdah, Adil Hussain, Rohit Saraf, Ekavali Khanna, Ali Arfan, Sheeba Chaddha, Lalit Parimoo, Jannat Zubair Rahmani, Nokokure Dahl, Trine Wiggen, Maria Bock, Sara Khorami. Norway, Germany, Sweden
WINTER BROTHERS (VINTERBRØDRE) – A loner in a snowy mining community is pushed to violent extremes in this hypnotic, beautiful debut out of Denmark. DIR/SCR Hlynur Pálmason. CAST Elliott Crosset Hove, Simon Sears, Victoria Carmen Sonne, Peter Plaugborg, Lars Mikkelsen. Denmark, Iceland
THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN – Bill Pullman gives a career-best performance in Jared Moshé’s cleverly scripted, thrilling love letter to the Western. DIR/SCR Jared Moshé. CAST Bill Pullman, Kathy Baker, Jim Caviezel, Tommy Flanagan, Peter Fonda. USA
BODIED – A meek white-boy rapper wants to spit fire, but does cultural appropriate outweigh his desire? DIR Joseph Kahn. SCR Alex Larsen. CAST Calum Worthy, Jackie Long, Charlamagne Tha God, Anthony Michael Hall, Rory Uphold, Dumbfoundead, Walter Perez, Shoniqua Shandai, Dizaster, Debra Wilson, Loaded Lux. USA
CALIFORNIA DREAMS – Beautiful and multilayered, Mike Ott’s latest work of docufiction centers on struggling individuals in Valencia, CA, and the profound chasm between their lives and dreams of stardom. DIR Mike Ott. CAST Cory Zacharia, Patrick Ilaguno, Carolan J. Pinto, Neil Harley, Kevin Gilger AKA K-Nine. USA
EL MAR LA MAR – A stunning new film from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, EL MAR LA MAR dives into matters of life and death at the U.S.-Mexico border in the Sonoran Desert, where legions of immigrants are dying to cross. DIR/SCR Joshua Bonnetta & J.P. Sniadecki. USA
THE ENDLESS – Filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead return with another fiercely original sci-fi horror film, this time set in a UFO death cult. DIR Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead. SCR Justin Benson. CAST Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington. USA
FITS AND STARTS – Wyatt Cenac and Greta Lee star in this fantastic and funny debut centering on two married writers — one successful, the other not so much. DIR/SCR Laura Terruso. CAST Wyatt Cenac, Greta Lee, Maria Dizzia. USA
GEMINI – Lola Kirke stars as a personal assistant who must figure out who killed her famous employer (Zoë Kravitz) in this neon-drenched neo-noir from director Aaron Katz. DIR/SCR Aaron Katz. CAST Lola Kirke, Zoë Kravitz, John Cho, Greta Lee. USA
LIFE AND NOTHING MORE – AFI FEST alum Antonio Méndez Esparza’s sophomore feature follows the day-to-day struggles of an African-American mother and her troubled son, who is getting ever closer to following in his imprisoned father’s footsteps. DIR/SCR Antonio Méndez Esparza. CAST Andrew Bleechington, Regina Williams, Robert Williams, Ry’Nesia Chambers. USA
MR. ROOSEVELT – Triple threat Noël Wells directs, writes and stars in this funny tale of a struggling comedian returning to her hometown to mourn an old pet, and play third wheel to her ex and his new girlfriend. DIR/SCR Noël Wells. CAST Noël Wells, Nick Thune, Britt Lower, Daniella Pineda, Andre Hyland. USA
SOLLERS POINT – This moving portrait of one young man’s frustrated attempts to rise above his obstacles after being released from prison is the latest film from indie director Matt Porterfield. DIR/SCR Matthew Porterfield. CAST McCaul Lombardi, Jim Belushi, Zazie Beetz, Everleigh Brenner. USA
THOROUGHBREDS – Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke star in this darkly comedic thriller that recalls films like HEAVENLY CREATURES and HEATHERS. DIR/SCR Cory Finley. CAST Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kaili Vernoff. USA
AFI FEST takes place November 9 to 16, 2017, in the heart of Hollywood. Screenings, Galas and other events will be held at the TCL Chinese Theatre, the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, the Egyptian Theatre and The Hollywood Roosevelt.