|Location||Moscow, Soviet Union|
|Festival date||7–21 July 1981|
The 12th Moscow International Film Festival was held from 7 to 21 July 1981.The Golden Prizes were awarded to the Brazilian film O Homem que Virou Suco directed by João Batista de Andrade, the Vietnamese film The Abandoned Field: Free Fire Zone directed by Nguyen Hong Shen and the Soviet-French-Swiss film Teheran 43 directed by Aleksandr Alov and Vladimir Naumov.
The following films were selected for the main competition:
|English title||Original title||Director(s)||Production country|
|Ali in Wonderland||Ali au pays des mirages||Ahmed Rachedi||Algeria|
|Al Qadisiyya||Al Qadisiyya||Salah Abu Seif||Iraq|
|Jeppe på bjerget||Jeppe pa bjerget||Kaspar Rostrup||Denmark|
|The Pale Light of Sorrow||Lumina palidă a durerii||Iulian Mihu||Romania|
|Der Bockerer||Der Bockerer||Franz Antel||Austria, West Germany|
|Brothers and Sisters||Brothers and Sisters||Richard Woolley||Great Britain|
|Temporary Paradise||Ideiglenes paradicsom||András Kovács||Hungary|
|O Homem que Virou Suco||O Homem que Virou Suco||João Batista de Andrade||Brazil|
|Gary Cooper, Who Art in Heaven||Gary Cooper, que estás en los cielos||Pilar Miró||Spain|
|Tree Dzhamal||Derevo Dzhamal||Khodzhakuli Narliev||Soviet Union|
|Savage Breed||Razza selvaggia||Pasquale Squitieri||Italy|
|For Freedom!||For Freedom!||Ola Balogun||Nigeria, Great Britain|
|Yo Ho Ho||Yo Ho Ho||Zako Heskiya||Bulgaria|
|Bloody Season||Fasl-e khoon||Habib Kavosh||Iran|
|Muddy River||Doro no kawa||Kōhei Oguri||Japan|
|Our Daughter||Notre fille||Daniel Kamwa||Cameroon, France|
|Our Short Life||Unser kurzes Leben||Lothar Warneke||East Germany|
|The Moth||Ćma||Tomasz Zygadło||Poland|
|Night by the Seashore||Yö meren rannalla||Erkko Kivikoski||Finland|
|The Abandoned Field: Free Fire Zone||Cánh đồng hoang||Nguyễn Hồng Sến||Vietnam|
|Sentimental||Sentimental (requiem para un amigo)||Sergio Renán||Argentina|
|Peacetime in Paris||Sezona mira u Parizu||Predrag Golubović||Yugoslavia, France|
|The Pretenders||De Pretenders||Jos Stelling||Netherlands|
|Seduction||La seducción||Arturo Ripstein||Mexico|
|Escape to Victory||Escape to Victory||John Huston||United States|
|Bikaya suar||Bikaya suar||Nabil Maleh||Syria|
|Teheran 43||Tegeran 43||Aleksandr Alov, Vladimir Naumov||Soviet Union, France, Switzerland|
|Trokadero||Trokadero||Klaus Emmerich||West Germany, Austria|
|Bye, See You Monday||Au revoir... à lundi||Maurice Dugowson||Canada, France|
|Morning Undersea||Manhã Submersa||Lauro António||Portugal|
|Pictures||Pictures||Michael Black||New Zealand|
|The Charter Trip||Sällskapsresan||Lasse Åberg||Sweden|
|The Man with the Carnation||O anthropos me to garyfallo||Nikos Tzimas||Greece|
|Ta chvíle, ten okamžik||Ta chvíle, ten okamžik||Jiří Sequens||Czechoslovakia|
|El caso Huayanay||El caso Huayanay||Federico García||Peru|
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