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Spencer starring Kristen Stewart
Spencer starring Kristen Stewart

The 2021 Hamptons International Festival (HIFF) unveiled the full slate of films including Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch as Closing Night film and the East Coast Premiere of Pablo Larraín’s Spencer as the Saturday Centerpiece Film, and additional films to the Spotlight section, as well as Signature Programs including Views From Long Island; Conflict and Resolution; Air, Land & Sea; and Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights.

The 29th edition of the festival will feature a lineup of films that are 53% female-directed and represent 34 countries from around the world.

From Academy Award-nominated writer and director Wes Anderson, and starring an ensemble cast featuring Frances McDormand, Willem Dafoe, Timothée Chalamet, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Bob Balaban, Owen Wilson and Bill Murray, the festival’s Closing Night Film The French Dispatch is a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city.

The festival will open with the World Premiere of Matthew Heineman’s The First Wave on October 7, 2021.

The festival will also host the East Coast premiere of Academy Award-nominated director Pablo Larraín’s Spencer as their Saturday Centerpiece Film. The film, starring Kristen Stewart, Jack Farthing, Sally Hawkins, and Timothy Spall, tells the story of Princess Diana, née Diana Spencer, and eschews the conventions of the traditional biopic, dialing up the melodrama and playing to our collective fascination with the woman known as The People’s Princess.

Newly announced Spotlight titles include the East Coast Premiere of Joe Wright’s Cyrano, an exuberant and enchanting re-imagining of the timeless tale of Cyrano de Bergerac and the love and heartbreak he endures, starring Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison, Jr. and Ben Mendelsohn, and music by Bryce Dessner and Aaron Dessner; Maggie Gyllenhall’s directorial feature debut The Lost Daughter, which is adapted from Elena Ferrante’s novel of the same name about a celebrated academic whose seaside holiday takes a dark turn when her obsession with a young mother at the resort forces her to confront the secrets of her past, starring Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson; Academy Award-winning director Pedro Almodóvar’s Parallel Mothers, a masterful examination of motherhood that tells the story of two women who develop a brief but intense bond when they cross paths in a maternity ward in Madrid, starring Penélope Cruz and Milena Smit; Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut Passing, a riveting examination of identity in two Black women who can “pass” as white, but choose to live on opposite sides of the color line during the height of the Harlem Renaissance, based on Nella Larsen’s classic novel and starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga; and Academy Award-winner Jane Campion’s The Power of The Dog, set in early 20th century Montana and concerning the successful cattle-ranching Burbank brothers as they storm into the life of a widowed innkeeper and her dreamy, sensitive son, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee. It was previously announced that C’mon C’mon and Jockey would screen in the Spotlight section as well. HIFF will also be presenting a special surprise screening of one of the biggest hits from this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

“We are thrilled to once again feature the work of emerging filmmakers in our competition sections whose bold films are always a highlight of the festival,” said David Nugent, Artistic Director of HamptonsFilm. “And with this year’s Spotlights, Centerpieces and World Cinema sections, audiences will find some of the best films of the year that will spark buzz and resonate as this unique year of getting back into cinemas continues to unfold.”

As part of the Signature Programs, the Conflict and Resolution section will include Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee, a poetic and arresting tale of self-discovery that follows an Afghan refugee who recounts how he escaped his native country as a teen; in addition to the previously announced presentation of JR’s Paper & Glue. As also previously announced, this year’s Views from Long Island program will feature the World Premiere of Kelcey Edwards’ The Art of Making It; the Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights program, sponsored by Chantecaille, will present the East Coast premieres of Andrea Arnold’s Cow and Garth de Bruno Austin’s The Last Horns Of Africa; and the Air, Land & Sea program will feature the New York premiere of Liz Garbus’ Becoming Cousteau.

In the World Cinema Documentary section, the slate includes the addition of Douglas Tirola’s Bernstein’s Wall, the World Premiere of Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce’s Bill Mauldin: “If it’s big, hit it”, Jerry Risius and Beth Levison’s Storm Lake, and the East Coast premiere of Natalia Almada’s Users. It was previously announced that the festival would screen Amanda Lipitz’s Found, Rachel Fleit’s Introducing, Selma Blair, Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s Julia, Penny Lane’s Listening to Kenny G, and E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s The Rescue as part of the section as well. The festival also announced the presentation of Julia Ducournau’s Palme d’Or winning film Titane in the World Cinema Narrative section, in addition to the previously announced Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car, Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand Of God, Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman, Nana Mensah’s Queen of Glory, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir Part II, and Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World

The Documentary Competition section of this year’s festival will include Jessica Kingdon’s Ascension, Alonso Ruizpalacios’s A Cop Movie, Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee, and Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s The Real Charlie Chaplin. The festival additionally announced that Nathalie Álvarez Mesén’s Clara Sola, Hafsia Herzi’s Good Mother, Sebastian Meise’s Great Freedom, and the U.S. Premiere of Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović’s Murina will screen as part of the Narrative Competition Section.

“We are delighted to welcome our audiences back to theaters with everyone fully vaccinated, wearing masks and staying safe for the 29th edition of the festival,” said Anne Chaisson, Executive Director of HamptonsFilm. “David and his team have worked tirelessly to bring such a well-rounded, challenging and engrossing selection of films. We are also thrilled to be screening in the new Sag Harbor Cinema for the very first time.”

HIFF also announced six programs of short films this year, including Narrative Competition, Documentary Competition, New York Women in Film & Television: Women Calling the Shots, the University Short Films Showcase, This Will Be Our Year, and the Views from Long Island Showcase. Additional shorts will appear before feature films as well.

In the features lineup, the festival will host the World Premieres of The Art of Making It:, Bill Mauldin: “If it’s big, hit it”, Found, and The First Wave; the North American Premieres of Good Mother and Great Freedom; the US Premieres of Mothering Sunday and Murina; and the New York Premieres of Becoming Cousteau, Clara Sola, A Cop Movie, Listening to Kenny G, and The Real Charlie Chaplin. The festival will also feature the World Premieres of The Glass and Prayers For Sweet Waters; the US Premieres of Egúngún (Masquerade), Happiness is a Journey, and Trumpets in the Sky; and the New York Premieres of Anita, Bad Omen, Buzzkill, Pure, and Unity Mosque in the shorts lineup.

In addition, the festival has announced the jury members for the 2021 festival, which include film producer Sam Bisbee, whose work includes the Emmy Award-winning documentary The Sentence, as well as The Truffle Hunters, Hearts Beat Loud, and Farewell Amor, among others; co-founder of Chicken & Egg Pictures Wendy Ettinger, whose production company has awarded $8 million in grants and thousands of hours of creative mentorship to over 340 female nonfiction filmmakers; screenwriter Bill Collage, best known for his work on Assassin’s Creed and The Divergent Series: Allegiant; and filmmaker Jane Schoebrun, whose most recent project We’re All Going to the World’s Fair debuted in the NEXT section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

The 29th annual Hamptons International Film Festival will take place October 7 – 13, 2021 as a Live and In-Person festival.

2021 Hamptons International Film Festival Lineup


World Premiere
dir. Matthew Heineman (USA), 2021

With exclusive access to one of New York’s hardest-hit hospital systems, Oscar®-nominated and Emmy® Award-winning director Matthew Heineman’s THE FIRST WAVE spotlights the everyday heroes at the epicenter of COVID-19 as they come together to fight one of the greatest threats the world has ever encountered. Leaving a devastating trail of death and despair, this once-in-a-century pandemic changed the very fabric of daily life and exposed long-standing inequities in our society. The “first wave” of COVID-19 ravaged New York from March through June 2020. Employing his signature approach of character-driven cinema vérité, Heineman documents those harrowing first four months, embedding with a group of doctors, nurses and patients on the frontlines as they all navigated the crisis. With each distinct storyline serving as a microcosm through which we can view the emotional and societal impacts of the pandemic, THE FIRST WAVE is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.


dir. Wes Anderson (USA), 2021

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 journalism with his signature impeccable style and flair. Bringing to life the stories published within the expatriates’ magazine is a star-studded cast, including Frances McDormand, Willem Dafoe, Timothée Chalamet, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Bob Balaban, Owen Wilson and long time Anderson collaborator Bill Murray. A magnificent world rigorously analyzed and perfected to its core, THE FRENCH DISPATCH will be celebrated by diehard fans and first time viewers alike.


East Coast Premiere
dir. Pablo Larraín (Germany, UK), 2021

It’s Christmastime at Sandringham, and while three days of festivities at the Queen’s pastoral estate promise warmth and merriment, the marriage of Prince Charles (Jack Farthing) and Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart), nèe Diana Spencer, has long since grown cold. Suffocated by rumors of affairs, murmurings of divorce, and impossible expectations that have been thrust upon her, Diana is on the precipice of a monumental decision that would soon shock the world. In SPENCER, Academy Award®-nominated director Pablo Larraín (JACKIE) eschews the conventions of the traditional biopic, dialing up the melodrama and playing to our collective fascination with the woman known as The People’s Princess.


US Premiere
dir. Eva Husson (UK), 2021

In this vibrant, lush romance, orphaned housemaid-turned-writer Jane (played by Odessa Young and the legendary Glenda Jackson, respectively) reflects back on a particular warm spring day she spent in post-WWI Britain. While her employers Mr. and Mrs. Niven (Academy Award® winners Colin Firth and Olivia Colman) are away for the day, she meets with her neighbor and long-term lover Paul (Josh O’Connor, The Crown) for a clandestine tryst. Scripted by Alice Birch (LADY MACBETH, Normal People) and sensually helmed by Eva Husson, MOTHERING SUNDAY explores one woman’s passion, vulnerability, and grief in the inter-war period.


Dir. Mike Mills (USA), 2021

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 when unexpected circumstances lead his semi-estranged sister Viv (Gaby Hoffmann) to leave her nine-year-old son Jesse (Woody Norman, in a breakout performance) in his care. Suddenly thrust into each other’s company, the two forge a tenuous but transformational relationship that takes them on a journey from Los Angeles to New York to New Orleans. With striking black-and-white cinematography and soulful performances from its knockout cast, C’MON C’MON is a delicate and deeply moving story about the tender connections between adults and children, the past and the future.

East Coast Premiere
dir. Joe Wright (UK/Italy/Canada/USA), 2021

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 appearance renders him unworthy of the love of a devoted friend, the luminous Roxanne (Haley Bennett), Cyrano has yet to declare his feelings for her — and Roxanne has fallen in love, at first sight, with Christian (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.). Award-winning director Joe Wright (DARKEST HOUR, ATONEMENT) crafts an exuberant and enchanting re-imagining of the timeless tale of love and heartbreak.

East Coast Premiere
dir. Clint Bentley (USA), 2021

​​Despite his age and deteriorating health, veteran jockey Jackson (Clifton Collins Jr.) stubbornly decides to train for what is likely to be his final season on the circuit, hoping to win one last championship for his longtime trainer, Ruth (Molly Parker). This plan is unexpectedly upended by the arrival of rookie rider Gabriel (Moisés Arias), who claims to be his son—their connection further complicating the path to fulfilling Jackson’s dream. Imbued with authentic performances and gorgeously shot at an active racetrack, JOCKEY is a thoughtful character study of a seasoned athlete forced to confront his personal and professional legacy.

dir. Maggie Gyllenhaal (USA/Greece/UK/Israel), 2021

Adapted from Elena Ferrante’s novel of the same name, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s extraordinary directorial debut follows celebrated academic Leda (Olivia Colman), whose seaside holiday takes a sinister turn upon the arrival of a mysterious family. Observing the raucous clan from her corner of the beach, Leda quickly develops a dangerous fixation on young mother Nina (Dakota Johnson) and her daughter—unearthing long-buried memories and forcing Leda to face the consequences of her unconventional choices from the past. Grounded by Colman’s fearlessly complex performance, THE LOST DAUGHTER is an electrifying, unpredictable tale about the terror, confusion, and intensity of motherhood.

dir. Pedro Almodóvar (Spain), 2021

The latest from Academy Award-winning auteur Pedro Almodóvar (PAIN AND GLORY, ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER) is an arresting melodrama following the lives of successful, middle-aged photographer Janis (Penélope Cruz) and anxious adolescent Ana (Milena Smit), which intertwine when they meet in a maternity ward in Madrid and develop a brief, but intense bond. The encounter has a transformative effect that thrusts the two mothers into a life-changing odyssey, sending them down a rabbit hole of secrets that calls into question the fabric of family, legacy, and memory. PARALLEL MOTHERS is a masterful examination of motherhood and the ways in which history frames our experience.

dir. Rebecca Hall (USA), 2021

Rebecca Hall’s stunning directorial debut follows two Black women, Irene Redfield (Tessa Thompson) and Clare Kendry (Academy Award® nominee Ruth Negga), who can “pass” as white, but choose to live on opposite sides of the color line during the height of the Harlem Renaissance. When a chance encounter reunites the former childhood friends, Irene reluctantly allows Clare into her home—where she ingratiates herself to Irene’s husband (André Holland) and soon her social circle as well. Gorgeously adapted from Nella Larsen’s celebrated novel, PASSING is a riveting examination of identity, repression, and the lies people tell themselves and others to protect their carefully constructed realities.

dir. Jane Campion (Australia/New Zealand), 2021

Set in majestic rural Montana in the early 20th century, Jane Campion’s highly anticipated new film follows the successful cattle-ranching Burbank brothers—brutal and beguiling Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and quiet and polite George (Jesse Plemons)—as they storm into the life of widowed innkeeper Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and her dreamy, sensitive son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). When George falls in love with Rose, the full force of Phil’s charisma, cruelty, and internal torment is unleashed. With gorgeous visuals and brilliantly subversive performances, this incendiary examination of masculinity gone awry once again proves Campion to be one of the best filmmakers of our time.


World Premiere
dir. Kelcey Edwards (USA), 2021

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 systems intended to nurture these up-and-coming creative talents are ultimately failing them instead. Simultaneously a powerful condemnation of the American art world and a love letter to those who strive to continue on in spite of extraordinary adversity, THE ART OF MAKING IT asks the question: are we at risk of losing a new generation of creative voices, or are we maybe on the verge of making art accessible to all?


dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen (Denmark/France/Sweden/Norway), 2021

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 teen, his years-long perilous journey through multiple countries, and his constant pursuit of a place in which he could freely explore his identity and feel a sense of belonging. Now on the verge of marriage, Amin decides to reveal his hidden past for the first time—and the secret he has been hiding for over twenty years threatens to ruin the life he has built. A masterful reimagining of the medium, FLEE is a poetic and arresting tale of self-discovery that won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

*Also screening as part of the Documentary Competition section

A JR Project (France/USA), 2021

From acclaimed French street artist JR (FACES PLACES, co-directed with the iconic Agnès Varda), and featuring collaborator Ladj Ly (director of the HIFF 2019 Oscar®-nominated film LES MISÉRABLES), PAPER & GLUE showcases some of JR’s most monumental projects, starting with early illicit graffiti videos captured on nighttime Paris rooftops. From the US-Mexico border to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to a current collaboration at a California supermax prison, JR turns photographs of residents into eye-catching, immersive aerial installations. Magnetic and insightful, JR’s art re-centers the narrative on some of the most overlooked members of society, with awe-inspiring results.


East Coast Premiere
dir. Andrea Arnold (UK), 2021

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 during the birth of her calf, and from there we watch with hypnotic fascination as their lives unfold. Arnold’s contemplative style lends itself beautifully to the study of this magnificent creature as she asks us to meaningfully acknowledge her services and understand her realities. The daily life of a cow is by no means glamorous, but certainly thought-provoking, within this particular examination, which moves us closer to nature.

East Coast Premiere
dir. Garth de Bruno Austin (South Africa), 2021

Every 24 hours a rhinoceros is illegally killed in South Africa. With unprecedented access to the realities of both the conservationists who put their lives on the line and the organized poachers themselves, filmmaker Garth de Bruno Austin grippingly captures these worlds with an exquisite eye for cinematic moments against a sometimes unforgiving backdrop. The film also offers an inside look into one of the world’s largest rehabilitation centers tasked with protecting rhinos left to perish throughout the land, while examining the moral debates of contemporary conservation, in turn forging a greater understanding of the larger politics at work.


NY Premiere
dir. Liz Garbus (USA), 2021

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 the whole world with him—sounding alarms more than 50 years ago about the warming seas and our planet’s vulnerability. Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus (WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?) takes an inside look at Cousteau and his life, his iconic films and inventions, and the experiences that made him the 20th century’s most unique and renowned environmental voice—and the man who inspired generations to protect the Earth.


dir. Douglas Tirola (USA), 2021

BERNSTEIN’S WALL explores Leonard Bernstein’s legacy as one of America’s key musical figures and his lifelong fight to create social change and inspire political activism through his work. The son of a Russian Jewish immigrant who rose to become Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, Bernstein towered over the worlds of classical music, Broadway, and television. Douglas Tirola’s stirring documentary features newly discovered archival footage, personal photos, letters, and candid audio moments with his family, as well as highlights of his spectacular career—including WEST SIDE STORY and the Kennedy Center opening—to create an intimate look at one of the 20th century’s most prominent icons.

World Premiere
dir. Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce (USA), 2021

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 commentary on the world, earning two Pulitzer Prizes in the process. Addressing segregation in the armed forces, the 1960s civil rights movement, and the economic inequalities in America, Mauldin created images that communicated more than the written word often could. BILL MAULDIN: “IF IT’S BIG, HIT IT” delves into Bill’s incredible legacy, as well as his complicated personal life, to create an intimate portrait of a long-forgotten voice whose work still resonates today.

World Premiere
dir. Amanda Lipitz (USA), 2021

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 desire to visit China, in an attempt to understand their past and to come to terms with what has transpired. Their journey marks the cousins’ first in-person meeting, and they band together in search of the answers that hold the key to their past. Documentary filmmaker Amanda Lipitz (STEP) elegantly sheds light on the resilience of teenage girls and the histories that bind us as we confront our unspoken pasts in order to face uncharted futures.

East Coast Premiere
dir. Rachel Fleit, (USA), 2021

Startlingly honest and candid, INTRODUCING, SELMA BLAIR offers the viewer an unprecedented glimpse into the life of the celebrated actress and activist. Following Blair as she reckons with the next chapter of her life after a devastating diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, the film explores complex issues ranging from dissecting deep-rooted myths about beauty to exploring our collective fears around disability and mortality. Replete with Blair’s trademark wit and humor, director Rachel Fleit’s deeply intimate and powerful feature honors this brave and compassionate woman as she undergoes a journey of resilience, monumental transition, and personal acceptance.

dir. Julie Cohen, Betsy West (USA), 2021

JULIA brings to life the legendary cookbook author and television superstar who changed the way Americans think about food, television, and even about women. Using never-before-seen archival footage, personal photos, first-person narratives, and cutting-edge, mouth-watering food cinematography, the film traces Julia Child’s 12-year struggle to create and publish the revolutionary Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961), which has sold more than 2.5 million copies to date, and her rapid ascent to become the country’s most unlikely television star. It’s the empowering story of a woman who found her purpose—and her fame—at 50, and took America along on the whole delicious journey.

NY Premiere
dir. Penny Lane (USA), 2021

LISTENING TO KENNY G explores why some people hate Kenny G’s music and why so many more people can’t get enough. With her signature wit and provocative flair, documentary filmmaker Penny Lane (HAIL SATAN?) delivers a light-hearted examination of the internationally best-selling—yet often polarizing!—smooth jazz icon. While chronicling both his impressive rise to fame and the consequent backlash in certain quarters, Lane raises some complex questions about musical taste, genre, and marketing. In the process, we hear from music critics, record executives, radio personalities, market researchers, fans—and of course, the G man himself.

dir. E. Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin (USA/UK), 2021

In the summer of 2018, the world stood watch as 12 young soccer teammates were trapped in a cave in northern Thailand. Flooded passageways left rescue crews at a loss, until they sought help from cave experts and deep sea divers who offered both an expansive knowledge of the risks involved and the willpower to succeed when all hope seemed lost. Oscar®-winning directors Jimmy Chin and E. Chai Vasarhelyi (FREE SOLO) take on one of the most remarkable rescue missions in recent history with intricate detail; the powerful firsthand accounts in THE RESCUE will leave you in awe of human perseverance.

dir. Jerry Risius, Beth Levison (USA), 2021

Dark clouds hang over the cornfields of Storm Lake, Iowa, which has seen its share of change in the 40 years since Big Agriculture came to town. Farmers blow their life savings on new equipment they hope will keep their livelihoods intact. Migrant workers flock here—welcome and not—for their slice of the American Dream. Enter: 63-year-old Pulitzer-Prize winner Art Cullen and his family-run newspaper, The Storm Lake Times. Day-in and day-out, the Cullens deliver local news on a shoestring budget for their 3,000 readers. Come hell or pandemic, they’ll fight to preserve this town they call home.

*Followed by a Q&A moderated by The East Hampton Star editor David Rattray.

East Coast Premiere
dir. Natalia Almada (USA/Mexico), 2021

In her latest visionary work, which earned her the Best Documentary Director Award at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, filmmaker and MacArthur “Genius” grantee Natalia Almada takes us on a philosophical and cinematic journey, inviting us to reassess our complicated relationship to technology and to question whether technological progress will always lead to the betterment of society. Synchronously intimate in scope and epic in scale, and crafted with breathtaking imagery, USERS challenges the audience to consider the ways the machines we rely on every day may end up irrevocably altering our planet, and ultimately, the very fabric of our humanity.


East Coast Premiere
dir. Asghar Farhadi (Iran), 2021

Celebrated filmmaker Asghar Farhadi (A SEPARATION, THE SALESMAN) returns to HIFF with his latest film, the winner of the Cannes 2021 Grand Prix. Rahim (Amir Jadidi), separated from his wife and child, is imprisoned due to an unpaid debt. When he is granted two days of leave from prison, Rahim attempts to turn his life around, but instead spirals even deeper into despair, weaving a seemingly inescapable web of deceit. With A HERO, Farhadi has created another intricate tale of human morality, one that explores the fragility of justice, and how even the sincerest of intentions can somehow lead to even greater misunderstanding.

dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Japan), 2021

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 hired to be his chauffeur as he prepares for an upcoming production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. An engrossing tale of love and betrayal, loneliness and kinship, DRIVE MY CAR thoughtfully considers the ways in which artistic expression can unlock fundamental truths to understanding human nature. Crafted in his characteristically mesmerizing style, Japanese auteur Ryusuke Hamaguchi (HAPPY HOUR, ASAKO I & II) skillfully transforms Haruki Murakami’s short story into an entrancing epic that earned him Best Screenplay at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

East Coast Premiere
dir. ​​Paolo Sorrentino (Italy), 2021

In his stunning new feature, Academy Award® winner Paolo Sorrentino (THE GREAT BEAUTY, YOUTH, and The Young Pope) returns to his hometown to tell his most personal story yet. Inspired by events of his youth, the film follows Fabietto Schisa (Filippo Scotti) as he comes of age in the tumultuous Naples of the 1980s—a time of unexpected joy, including the arrival of soccer legend Diego Maradona, and of an equally unforeseen tragedy that changes the course of Fabietto’s life forever. Lusciously lensed and with excellent supporting performances by Toni Servillo and Teresa Saponangelo, THE HAND OF GOD is a sweeping tale of love, loss, self-discovery, and how one can find salvation in cinema.

dir. Céline Sciamma (France), 2021

After the passing of her grandmother, 8-year-old Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) returns with her parents to her mother’s childhood home to begin clearing out the house. While wandering the surrounding woods, Nelly discovers a secret that unlocks insights into her mother’s past. With PETITE MAMAN, Céline Sciamma (PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE, HIFF 2019) once again brings forth a magical quietude, this time through the exploration of the emotional bonds between mothers and daughters. Sciamma’s luscious, cinematic poetry takes pleasure in confronting the spirit of imagination and the power of memory through the eyes of a child.

dir. Nana Mensah (USA), 2021

Nana Mensah’s playful and charming debut feature follows the story of a brilliant daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, Sarah Obeng (played by the director herself), who is quitting her Ivy League PhD program at Columbia University to follow her married lover to Ohio. However, Sarah’s plans fall apart when her mother dies suddenly, bequeathing her a Christian bookstore in the Bronx. A humorous and empathetic twist on the classic immigrant tale, QUEEN OF GLORY explores the intricate threads connecting the experiences of different generations, and illuminates the way in which its heroine is reborn through her inheritance.

dir. Joanna Hogg (UK), 2021

The much-awaited follow up to her mesmerizing 2019 masterpiece, Joanna Hogg’s THE SOUVENIR PART II follows Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) in the aftermath of her tumultuous relationship with Anthony (Tom Burke), a charismatic and manipulative older man. As Julie begins to untangle her fraught love for him in the making of her graduation film, she deliberately sorts fact from his elaborately constructed fiction. The hypnotic and enchanting story of this young woman’s complicated reaction to a formative first love is also a portrait of an artist that transcends the halting particulars of everyday life—a singular, alchemic mix of memoir and fantasy.

dir. Julia Ducournau (France), 2021

Not for the faint of heart, Julia Ducournau’s (RAW) dazzling and sinister pychosexual thriller TITANE smashed over this year’s Cannes Film Festival like a tidal wave. With its plot shrouded in mystery, viewers found themselves on an unforgettable ride that forced them to question assumptions about gender, identity and how the idea of what a family is remains fluid. Featuring stunning imagery and a blazing lead performance by newcomer Agathe Rousselle, Ducournau went on to become only the second woman ever to win the prestigious Palme d’Or for her startlingly creative vision.

dir. Joachim Trier (Norway/France/Sweden/Denmark), 2021

Julie (Renate Reinsve) is restlessly cycling through career paths, relationships and the taxing realities of existence. As she goes hurtling into her 30s, she’s left wondering: when will life really begin, and what is her true purpose? Framed around Julie’s delightful indecisiveness, we follow four years of ups and downs, featuring two important relationships and a handful of what ifs. This darkly comedic journey from director Joachim Trier (LOUDER THAN BOMBS, HIFF 2015) is a biting take on romantic comedy in the modern age, and earned Reinsve the Best Actress Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.


dir. Jessica Kingdon (USA), 2021

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 pursuit of wealth and progress in contemporary China. In a series of vignettes loosely structured around the distinct social and economic classes that divide the nation, Kingdon follows factory workers, middle class consumers, and carefree elites as they chase the ever elusive “Chinese Dream.” With sharp observations, sensory visuals, and a hypnotic score by Dan Deacon, ASCENSION solidifies Kingdon’s place as one of the rising stars of vérité cinema.

NY Premiere
dir. Alonso Ruizpalacios (Mexico), 2021

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 convictions and hopes crushed by a corrupt system. Their emotional bond becomes a refuge for the hostility they are exposed to. Through an experimental style of narrative and documentary storytelling, A COP MOVIE propels the viewer into an unusual cinematic space, giving voice to one of Mexico and the world’s most controversial institutions. Playing with the boundaries of nonfiction, Ruizpalacios immerses the audience into the challenges of police work within a dysfunctional system.

dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen (Denmark/France/Sweden/Norway), 2021

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 teen, his years-long perilous journey through multiple countries, and his constant pursuit of a place in which he could freely explore his identity and feel a sense of belonging. Now on the verge of marriage, Amin decides to reveal his hidden past for the first time—and the secret he has been hiding for over twenty years threatens to ruin the life he has built. A masterful reimagining of the medium, FLEE is a poetic and arresting tale of self-discovery that won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

*Also screening as part of the Conflict and Resolution Signature Program

NY Premiere
dir. Peter Middleton, James Spinney (UK), 2021

Award-winning filmmakers Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s (NOTES ON BLINDNESS) latest documentary is a fascinating take on one of cinema’s most iconic figures: Charlie Chaplin. In an innovative blend of newly-unearthed audio recordings, dramatic reconstructions and personal archive, the film traces Chaplin’s meteoric rise from the slums of Victorian London to the heights of Hollywood superstardom, before his scandalous fall from grace. Refracting Chaplin’s life through a kaleidoscope of previously unheard voices and perspectives, the film sheds new light on the many sides of a groundbreaking, controversial, and visionary artist.


NY Premiere
dir. Nathalie Álvarez Mesén (Costa Rica/Sweden/Belgium/Germany), 2021

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 a “healer.” She sustains a family and a village in need of hope, while she finds solace in her relationship with the natural world. After years of being controlled by her mother’s repressive care, Clara’s sexual desires are stirred by her attraction to her niece’s new boyfriend. This newly awakened force takes Clara to unexplored territory, allowing her to cross boundaries, both physical and mystical. Empowered by her self-discovery, Clara gradually frees herself from her repressive background and begins to heal.

North American Premiere
dir. Hafsia Herzi (France), 2021

Hafsia Herzi’s sophomore feature is a tender character study of matriarch Nora (Halima Benhamed), a caretaker in her fifties who also looks after her multigenerational family, struggling to make ends meet in a Marseille housing estate. The film transcends the standard migrant story, following Nora and her family as they try to escape the broken system that keeps them perpetually indebted. Accompanied by a cast of mainly non-professional actors that won an ensemble award at Cannes, Benhamed is a revelation in her debut role. At once quietly devastating and hopeful, GOOD MOTHER is an unvarnished portrait of profound intimacy that resonates with empathetic force.

North American Premiere
dir. Sebastian Meise (Austria/Germany), 2021

In postwar Germany, the Allies’ liberation does not mean freedom for everyone. Under Paragraph 175, Hans (Franz Rogowski, TRANSIT) is spied on and imprisoned again and again, solely because of his sexuality. Throughout the years, the one steady relationship in his life proves to be the combative one he has with his cellmate Viktor (Georg Friedrich), a convicted murderer serving a life sentence. What begins as revulsion blossoms into something far more tender, a salve to nourish their broken spirits. Winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Sebastian Meise’s film is a revelation, a poignant tour-de-force anchored by Rogowski’s mesmerizing performance.

US Premiere
dir. Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović (Croatia/Brazil/USA/Slovenia), 2021

On an exquisite Croatian island, tensions rise between father Ante (Leon Lučev) and daughter Julija (Gracija Filipović), as Ante’s verbally abusive patriarchal ways become too much for Julija to bear. When a millionaire friend of Ante’s comes to visit, Julija sets into motion a plan that will force an already strained relationship towards its fiery breaking point. Gorgeously shot on a location bathed in sunlight and blue waters, a passionate tale unfolds, marked by a perfectly paced descent into rebellion. Director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović’s brutal yet luscious first feature won her the Golden Camera at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.


US Premiere
dir. Olive Nwosu (Nigeria/UK), 2021

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.

East Coast Premiere
dir. Marie Larrivé (France), 2021

Following an earthquake in Naples Bay, the body of a man who disappeared 40 years ago is discovered. To confirm his identity, authorities summon Dino (Marc Barbé) and his daughter Victoria (Clémence Quélennec) for a DNA test.

East Coast Premiere
dir. Carlos Segundo (Brazil/France), 2021

In Natal, a small community in the north of Brazil, the historic first launch of a Brazilian rocket is about to take place.

US Premiere
dir. Rakan Mayasi (Palestine/Lebanon/France/Belgium), 2021

Boushra (Boushra Matar), one of the Syrian potato-picking girls in Lebanon, returns from a long day of work in the field only to learn that today her childhood will come to an end.

dir. Edgar Morais, Lucas Elliot Eberl (USA/Portugal), 2021

A woman’s frustrations boil to the surface while hosting a party for her friends.


dir. Topaz Jones, rubberband.(France/Germany/Italy/USA), 2021

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.

US Premiere
dir. Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan (USA), 2021

On the night before Christmas, a warehouse of workers in Austin, TX, rush to process newspapers for delivery.

dir. Eliane Esther Bots (Netherlands), 2021

Three interpreters of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia reflect back on when they were tasked with translating the shocking testimonies from witnesses, victims, and perpetrators—without ever allowing their own emotions, feelings, and personal histories to interfere.

East Coast Premiere
dir. Diana Cam Van Nguyen (Czech Republic/Slovakia), 2021

When a filmmaker rediscovers the letters her dad used to write her from prison, she decides to write back in hope to find connection once again.

World Premiere
dir. Elijah Ndoumbe (South Africa/UK), 2021

A submergence into the vivid realities of three Transgender sex workers living in Cape Town, South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Presented in partnership with NYWIFT

dir. Maya Cueva (USA), 2021

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 a system that could tear her from her family and the only home she has ever known.

NY Premiere
dir. Sushma Khadepaun (India/USA), 2020

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.

East Coast Premiere
dir. Abbesi Akhamie (USA), 2020

A single woman’s feelings of loneliness begin to stir when an eccentric African couple temporarily moves into her building.

NY Premiere
dir. Natalie Jasmine Harris (USA), 2020

On the eve of her cotillion ball, a young Black girl grapples with her identity and questions her purity.

East Coast Premiere
dir. Haley Elizabeth Anderson (USA), 2021

Living out of a motel, taking care of her younger siblings, and longing for freedom, 15-year-old Tommy makes a radical decision in an attempt to escape the sweltering Texas heat.

NY Premiere
dir. Nicole Teeny (Canada/USA), 2020

Based in Toronto, the Unity Mosque is one of the world’s first Queer-affirming and gender-equal mosques in the world. Despite facing threats and obstacles, it forges on to play a lifesaving role in the lives of its members.


NY Premiere
dir. Salar Pashtoonyar (Canada/Afghanistan), 2020

In Kabul, a tailor widowed by the Afghan war must find the means to purchase her prescription glasses in order to save her job.

NY Premiere
dir. Kathy E. Mitrani (USA), 2020

A young girl desperately tries to fit in with a group of South Florida teenagers.

dir. Shaylee Atary (Israel), 2020

A young wheelchair user’s daily routine of physical therapy becomes her unique source of excitement after a relationship develops between her and the new physiotherapist.

dir. Antoine Bonnet, Mathilde Loubes (France), 2020

A group of children are bribed into remaining silent after witnessing a crime, but the burden may be too heavy for the youngest to bear.

dir. Jessie Zinn (USA/South Africa), 2020

Exhale, a hotline for women seeking help processing their abortion experiences, remains in service during the COVID-19 lockdown, with volunteers lending an ear all across the Bay Area.


dir. Serhat Karaaslan (France/Romania/Turkey), 2021

In a small Turkish town, a young couple tries their best to find a hotel room in which to spend the night together.

NY Premiere
dir. Annie St-Pierre (Canada), 2021

It’s Christmas Eve: Julie (Lilou Roy-Lanouette) and her cousins have eaten too much sugar, Santa Claus is late, and Denis (Steve Laplante), alone in his car, is anxious at the idea of setting foot in his ex-in-laws’ house to pick up his children.

dir. Charles Wahl (Canada), 2020

Following the birth of his first son, a young father arranges to have a Mohel to perform the circumcision—forcing him to confront his faith and the realities of maintaining old traditions in a modern world.

dir. Ben Proudfoot (USA), 2020

She is one of the greatest living women’s basketball players, winning three national trophies, scoring the first basket in women’s Olympic basketball at the ‘76 Olympics, and getting drafted to the NBA. But have you ever heard of Lucy Harris?

dir. Kaitlyn Schwalje, Alex Wolf Lewis (USA), 2020

Family pet turtle, Snowy, has lived an isolated life in the basement. What would it take for him to be happy?


World Premiere
dir. Tom Van Scoyoc (USA), 2021

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.

East Coast Premiere
dir. Nastasya Popov (USA), 2020

On a road trip to scatter her father’s ashes, Nora’s (Stella Baker) family does a substandard job of paying their respects.

dir. William A. Kirkley (USA), 2021

An exploration of the subversive political activism and deep connection of husband-and-wife legal team Michael and Eleanora Kennedy.

dir. Roger Sherman (USA), 2021

Patty Gentry, a local farmer who grows vegetables on her three-acre Long Island farm for top chef clients, reveals the harsh realities behind the farm-to-table lifestyle.


dir. Toby Bull (UK), 2021

A filmmaker attempts to communicate with the flock of sheep living on the ground where his parents are buried.

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