• Brooke Sonenreich

2021 Atlanta Film Festival + Creative Conference Announces Programming Highlights

The Atlanta Film Festival +Creative Conference (ATLFF) announced key programming additions to the lineup of the 45th annual event taking place from Thursday, April 22 to Sunday, May 2, 2021. The announcement today includes 12 films from celebrated filmmakers and Hollywood studios that will be presented on Opening and Closing Night and at Marquee screening events throughout the 11-day festival. These screenings join the previously announced 2021 lineup of 170 works chosen from a record-breaking 9,400 total submissions.

The Opening Night Presentation, sponsored by Moonshine Post-Production, will be “Socks on Fire,” a unique cinematic experience from director Bo McGuire that details an estate battle between a homophobic sister and her drag queen brother in Hokes Bluff, Alabama. The film will screen both at the Plaza Indoors and Drive-In on April 23, and the screenings will be preceded by performances from “Rupaul’s Drag Race” season 12 star Rock M. Sakura and local drag performers.

The Closing Night Presentation on May 1 will feature “The Dry,” a crime mystery starring Eric Bana about a federal agent who begins to connect the dots on two crimes that occurred decades apart. Ten additional Marquee selections will allow ATLFF to present some of the best upcoming films that Hollywood has to offer, including films from top studios and films that previously played at Sundance.

“Each year we strive to present a program of Marquees that bring the flash of major Hollywood films to Atlanta but also maintain our mission to celebrate independent filmmakers,” said Cameron McAllister, Associate Director of ATLFF. “We’re excited that our Opening, Closing and Marquee selections for 2021 help us accomplish both of those goals and we can’t wait to present them to our audience.”

In addition to Bana in “The Dry,” notable names appearing in the Marquee films include Academy Award-nominee Toni Collette and Damian Lewis in “Dream Horse,” Academy Award-nominee Riz Ahmed in “Mogul Mowgli," Winston Duke and Zazie Beetz in “Nine Days,” and Patti Harrison and Ed Helms in “Together Together.”

In addition to the Opening, Closing and Marquee announcements, additional film programming was announced or enhanced today. “Carterland,” a moving documentary based on the presidency of Georgia’s own Jimmy Carter and directed by Georgia-raised brothers Jim and Will Pattiz, will have its world premiere at ATLFF on April 24 at the Carter Presidential Center with special guests in attendance. The film was previously announced as part of the first wave of programming in February.

The Atlanta Film Festival is the annual centerpiece of educational and enriching film programming that is provided year-round by its parent organization, the Atlanta Film Society (ATLFS). Now in its fifth decade, ATLFF is one of only a handful of film festivals worldwide that is Academy Award-qualifying in three or more categories.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, ATLFF 2021 will be presented via a mix of drive-in, virtual and socially distanced in-person screenings. As in 2020, the Creative Conference events will all be virtual. Drive-in screenings will be held at the Plaza Drive-In (1049 Ponce De Leon Ave NE) and Dad’s Garage Drive-In (569 Ezzard St SE), while the in-person screenings will take place at the Plaza Theatre.

The full schedule of 188 films is now available at www.AtlantaFilmFestival.com and through the ATLFF app. Festival passes and tickets for individual events are on sale now on the site. Drive-in screenings cost $15-50 (depending on the number of people in the vehicle), virtual events cost $9.99 and tickets to in-person screenings cost $20. The virtual catalog is now accessible for pre-orders, and all virtual screenings and events will be presented via Eventive.

Applications for press credentials for ATLFF 2021 are now open and can be submitted here. Press materials and assets, including past press releases, logos and film stills can be found here.

Opening Night Presentation sponsored by Moonshine Post-Production


Directed by Bo McGuire

USA, 2020, English, 93 minutes

Friday, April 23, 2021, 7:00 PM — Plaza Theatre, Indoors

Friday, April 23, 2021, 8:00 PM — Plaza Theatre, Drive-In

A poet composes a cinematic love letter to his grandmother as his homophobic aunt and drag queen uncle wage war over her estate in Hokes Bluff, Alabama.


Director Bo McGuire is scheduled to attend. The Indoor screening will be preceded by a performance from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Rock M. Sakura and other local drag performers to be announced. The Drive-In screening will also be preceded by a performance (performers to be announced soon).

Closing Night Presentation


Directed by Robert Connolly

Australia, 2021, English, 118 minutes

Saturday, May 1, 2021, 7:00 PM — Plaza Theatre, Indoors

Saturday, May 1, 2021, 8:30 PM — Plaza Theatre, Drive-In

Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to his home town after an absence of over twenty years to attend the funeral of his childhood friend, Luke, who allegedly killed his wife and child before taking his own life—a victim of the madness that has ravaged this community after more than a decade of drought. When Falk reluctantly agrees to stay and investigate the crime, he opens up an old wound—the death of 17-year-old Ellie Deacon. Falk begins to suspect these two crimes, separated by decades, are connected. As he struggles to prove not only Luke’s innocence but also his own, Falk finds himself pitted against the prejudice towards him and pent-up rage of a terrified community.

Marquee Screenings


Directed by Prano Bailey-Bond

United Kingdom, 2021, English, 84 minutes

Friday, April 30, 2021, 8:30 PM — Dad’s Garage Theatre, Drive-In

Film censor Enid takes pride in her meticulous work, guarding unsuspecting audiences from the deleterious effects of watching the gore-filled decapitations and eye gougings she pores over. Her sense of duty to protect is amplified by guilt over her inability to recall details of the long-ago disappearance of her sister, recently declared dead in absentia. When Enid is assigned to review a disturbing film from the archive that echoes her hazy childhood memories, she begins to unravel how this eerie work might be tied to her past.



Directed by Euros Lyn

United Kingdom, 2020, English, 113 minutes

Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 7:00 PM — Plaza Theatre, Indoors

Experience the inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely race horse bred by small town bartender, Jan Vokes (Toni Collette). With very little money and no experience, Jan convinces her neighbors to chip in their meager earnings to help raise Dream and compete with the racing elites. Their investment pays off as Dream rises through the ranks and becomes a beacon of hope in their struggling community. Also starring Damian Lewis.


Directed by Nicole Riegel

USA, 2020, English, 90 minutes

Tuesday, April 27, 2021, 8:30 PM — Dad’s Garage Theatre, Drive-In

In a forgotten pocket of Southern Ohio where American manufacturing and opportunity are drying up, a determined young woman finds a ticket out when she is accepted to college. Alongside her older brother, Ruth Avery joins a dangerous scrap metal crew in order to pay her way. Together, they spend one brutal winter working the scrap yards during the day and stealing valuable metal from the once thriving factories by night. With her goal in sight, Ruth finds that the ultimate cost of an education for a girl like her may be more than she bargained for, and she soon finds herself torn between a promising future and the family she would leave behind.



Directed by Ben Sharrock

United Kingdom, 2020, English/Arabic, 103 minutes

Monday, April 26, 2021, 7:00 PM — Plaza Theatre, Indoors

Recently nominated for two BAFTA® awards for Best British Film and Best Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer, LIMBO is a wry and poignant observation of the refugee experience, set on a fictional remote Scottish island where a group of new arrivals await the results of their asylum claims. It centers on Omar, a young Syrian musician who is burdened by his grandfather’s oud, which he has carried all the way from his homeland. Reflecting the complexity of the movement of people across borders has been a long-held passion for director and writer Ben Sharrock, who spent time working for an NGO in refugee camps in southern Algeria and living in Damascus in 2009 shortly before the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. There, he formed a network of friends whose personal stories inspired the film.


Directed by Bassam Tariq

United Kingdom/USA, 2020, English, 89 minutes

Friday, April 30, 2021, 7:00 PM — Plaza Theatre, Indoors

MOGUL MOWGLIi is the debut narrative feature from award-winning documentary filmmaker Bassam Tariq. It follows the story of a rapper (Riz Ahmed) who, on the cusp of his first world tour, is struck down by an illness that forces him to face his past, his family, and the uncertainty of his legacy.


Directed by Edson Oda

USA, 2020, English, 124 minutes

Friday, April 30, 2021, 10:00 PM — Plaza Theatre, Indoors

Sunday, May 2, 2021, 7:00 PM — Plaza Theatre, Indoors

Will (Winston Duke) spends his days in a remote outpost watching the live Point of View (POV) on TV’s of people going about their lives, until one subject perishes, leaving a vacancy for a new life on earth. Soon, several candidates—unborn souls—arrive at Will’s to undergo tests determining their fitness, facing oblivion when they are deemed unsuitable. But Will soon faces his own existential challenge in the form of free-spirited Emma (Zazie Beetz), a candidate who is not like the others, forcing him to turn within and reckon with his own tumultuous past. Fueled by unexpected power, he discovers a bold new path forward in his own life. Making his feature-film debut after a series of highly acclaimed and award-winning short films and music videos, Japanese Brazilian director Edson Oda delivers a heartfelt and meditative vision of human souls in limbo, aching to be born against unimaginable odds, yet hindered by forces beyond their will...


Directed by Timur Bekmambetov

USA/United Kingdom/Cyprus/Russia, 2018, English/Arabic, 105 minutes

Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 8:30 PM — Plaza Theatre, Drive-In

PROFILE follows an undercover British journalist in her quest to bait and expose a terrorist recruiter through social media, while trying not to be sucked in by her recruiter and lured into becoming a militant extremist herself. The unconventional thriller plays out entirely on a computer screen in the Screenlife format, pioneered by director Timur Bekmambetov.


Directed by Mariem Pérez Riera

USA, 2021, English, 90 minutes

Thursday, April 29, 2021, 8:30 PM — Plaza Theatre, Drive-In

Also screening the virtual catalog for 24 hours

Over a 70+ year career, Rita Moreno defied both her humble upbringing and relentless racism to become a celebrated and beloved actor, one of the rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) Award Winners of our time. Born into poverty on a Puerto Rican farm, Moreno and her seamstress mother immigrated to New York City when Moreno was five years old. After studying dance and performing on Broadway, Moreno was cast as any ethnic minority the Hollywood studios needed filled, be it Polynesian, Native American or Egyptian. Despite becoming the first Latina actress to win an Academy Award for her role as Anita in “West Side Story” (1961), the studios continued to offer Moreno lesser roles as stereotypical ethnic minorities, ignoring her proven talent. RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT illuminates the humor and the grace of Moreno, as well as lesser-known struggles faced on her path to stardom, including pernicious Hollywood sexism and abuse, a toxic relationship with Marlon Brando, and serious depression a year before she emerged an Oscar winner. Moreno’s talent and resilience triumphed over adversity, as she broke barriers, fought for representation and forged the path for new generations of artists.

#CineMás, #Documentary, #NewMavericks


Directed by Kentucker Audley, Albert Birney

USA, 2021, English, 90 minutes

Friday, April 23, 2021, 10:30 PM — Plaza Theatre, Indoors

In a world where the government records and taxes dreams, an unassuming dream auditor gets swept up in a cosmic journey through the life and dreams of an aging eccentric named Bella. Together, they must find a way back home.


Directed by Nikole Beckwith

USA, 2021, English, 90 minutes

Thursday, April 22, 2021, 7:00 PM — Plaza Theatre, Indoors

When young loner Anna (Patti Harrison) is hired as the gestational surrogate for Matt (Ed Helms), a single man in his 40s who wants a child, the two strangers come to realize this unexpected relationship will quickly challenge their perceptions of connection, boundaries and the particulars of love.

Additional Film Programming Announcements


Directed by Maisie Crow

USA/Mexico, 2021, English/Spanish, 96 minutes

Thursday, April 22, 2021, 8:30 PM — Plaza Theatre, Drive-In

For many teenagers, the sound of gunshots ringing through the halls is their worst nightmare, but for criminal justice students at Horizon High, outside of El Paso, it’s the first step toward achieving their American Dream. Home to one of the largest law enforcement education programs in the region, students train to become police officers and Border Patrol agents. This film follows three Mexican-American students as they embark on such a career path and begin to discover that the realities of their dream jobs may be at odds with the truths and people they hold most dear.

#CineMas, #Documentary, #NewMavericks


Directed by Jim Pattiz & Will Pattiz

USA, 2021, English, 122 minutes

Saturday, April 24, 2021, 8:15 PM — Carter Presidential Center

In their feature film debut, CARTERLAND, the Pattiz Brothers examine the tragic, yet inspiring story of America’s most misunderstood president. While leading the nation through a series of unprecedented crises, Jimmy Carter also confronted climate change and championed social justice at home and abroad. This groundbreaking film draws on archival footage, experts, and insiders to reveal how Carter’s selfless leadership and moral integrity ultimately cost him the presidency.

#Documentary, #Georgia


Directed by Kate Tsang

USA, 2021, English, 81 minutes

Sunday, May 2, 2021, 8:30 PM — Plaza Theatre, Drive-In

Thirteen-year-old Sammy Ko’s family has been fractured since the recent death of her mother. She self-harms, vandalizes, and terrorizes her family with hair-trigger tantrums. All seems hopeless, until she meets an aging magician named Margot, and over time, Margot introduces her to the secretive world of sleight-of-hand magic. Their budding friendship encourages Sammy to open up to life and its magical possibilities. But, when her father decides to get remarried, Sammy embarks on a destructive bender that implodes her relationship with her family and new friendship. Ultimately, Sammy must use her newfound magic skills to bring her family back together and repair her friendship with Margot. A coming-of-age fantasy-comedy that touches on family, grief, and how we find hope even in the darkest moments.



Directed by Marion Hill

USA/France, 2021, English/French, 93 minutes

Lane, Bertie and Fred once shared a polyamorous relationship in New Orleans. Lane loved Bertie, Fred loved Bertie, they had a balance that worked... until it didn’t, and Lane vanished from their lives. Two years later, Bertie and Fred have gotten married and are living at Fred’s family home in the countryside of southern France. When Lane unexpectedly shows up in Bertie’s seemingly idyllic new life, she finds her former lover much different than she remembers. Bertie is disillusioned in her jazz career, still grieving the loss of her mother, and clearly alienated in this small, white, European town. Lane attempts to recreate their old, carefree dynamic, hoping that her return might lighten Bertie’s mood -- but Bertie isn’t having it. It seems time hasn't healed all wounds... so Lane shifts her strategy when she meets Noa, a young artist and former soldier, quickly reigniting dormant jealousies.

#NewMavericks, #PinkPeach


Directed by Khaldiya Amer Ali, Marah Mohammad Alkhateeb, Karoli Bautista Pizarro, Christy Cauper Silvano

USA/Peru/Jordan, 2021, Arabic/Spanish/Shipibo, 82 minutes

Saturday, May 1, 2021, 1:00 PM — Plaza Theatre, Indoors

Conceived as a cross-border film project from Another Kind of Girl Collective, ONLY THE OCEAN BETWEEN US follows four personal stories of resilience, displacement, connection, and ultimately enormous strength and power, from two Syrian directors in Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan, and two indigenous Shipibo directors in Lima, Peru. In first-person documentary style, each young filmmaker captured her unique landscape for the others to experience. What emerged from their cinematic exchange paints an unexpected story of sisterhood forged through the shared struggles of building home and family in the face of prolonged uncertainty.

#CineMás, #Documentary, #NewMavericks


Directed by Jane Schoenbrun

USA, 2021, English, 86 minutes

Saturday, April 24, 2021, 7:00 PM — Plaza Theatre, Indoors

“I want to go to the World’s Fair. I want to go to the World’s Fair. I want to go to the World’s Fair.” Say it three times into your computer camera. Prick your finger, draw some blood and smear it on the screen. Now press play on the video. They say that once you’ve seen it, the changes begin… In a small town, a shy and isolated teenage girl becomes immersed in an online role-playing game.


Special Presentations

Awards Viewing Party

Sunday, April 25, 2021, 7:30 PM — Plaza Theatre, Indoors

Come watch film’s biggest night live on the big screen at the Plaza Theatre!

CREEPSHOW Sponsored by Shudder and Moonshine Post-Production

Saturday, May 1, 2021, 11:00 PM — Plaza Theatre, Drive-In

Join us for a special presentation of “Creepshow” at the Drive-In with Greg Nicotero and other members of the “Creepshow” family in attendance!


Featured Stories