AFI FEST 2023: LGBTQIA+ Films – American Film Institute

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AFI FEST 2023: LGBTQIA+ Films

AFI FEST 2023 is proud to present a lineup that highlights the beautifully diverse range of LGBTQIA+ identities from across the spectrum. This year’s selection features narrative and documentary films alike, as well as festival award winners, International Oscar® submissions, groundbreaking short films and more! With stories that will take you from London to Lithuania to Basque Country and beyond, we are excited to showcase captivating queer stories that are both powerfully illuminating and deeply personal. Learn more about the films below and click on the links to buy tickets. Any sold-out screenings will have a RUSH Line on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to seating availability.

AFI FEST 2023 takes place October 25-October 29 in Los Angeles, CA. To learn more the full festival lineup, browse the program by section in our AFI FEST Film Guide or check out the AFI FEST schedule.

20,000 SPECIES OF BEES (20.000 ESPECIES DE ABEJAS)

Ane, in the midst of separating from her husband, takes her children to a sleepy village in Basque Country, to stay with her mother. There, our young heroine, nicknamed Coco, explores her gender identity under the cautious, yet loving gaze of three generations of women in her family. Increasingly frustrated with her family still treating her as her assigned gender at birth – a boy, Coco finds refuge with her great-aunt Lourdes and her beehives. As secrets are whispered against the busy buzzing of bees, they may just guide her and her family toward a deeper acceptance and understanding with each other. Screening  October 29, 7:00 p.m. – BUY TICKETS

ALL OF US STRANGERS

Screening to be followed by a conversation with director Andrew Haigh.

One night in his near-empty tower block in contemporary London, Adam (Andrew Scott) has a chance encounter with a mysterious neighbor Harry (Paul Mescal). As a relationship develops between the pair, Adam is preoccupied with memories of the past and finds himself drawn back to the childhood home where his parents (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell) appear to be living, just as they were on the day they died, 30 years before. The latest from director Andrew Haigh (45 YEARS, WEEKEND) is a moving, metaphysical ghost story that explores love, loss and memory, and the way in which the past exerts a hold on us. Screening – October 28, 9:30 p.m. – BUY TICKETS

BEYOND THE SEA 

International Premiere

Screens as part of SHORTS PROGRAM: LIVE ACTION 1

Lady Casca, a drag queen in her sixties, is about to go on stage at her cabaret for the last time. The next day, retirement by the sea awaits her. But her son Thomas, whom she has not seen for a long time, interrupts the festivities. Screening October 26, 7:00 p.m. – BUY TICKETS

DILDOTECTONICS (DILDOTECTÓNICA)

North American Premiere

Screens as part of SHORTS PROGRAM: DOCUMENTARY 2

Rebeca attempts to create a collection of non-phallic ceramic dildos. During the Inquisition, Josefa finds a dildo that is used in a forbidden love relationship with Maria. Although in different timelines, the paths of Rebeca and Josefa end up crossing. Screening October 28, 11:00 a.m. – BUY TICKETS

GOING VARSITY IN MARIACHI

Screenings to be followed by a conversation with directors Alejandra Vasquez and Sam Osborn.

In this charming documentary set in the South Texas borderlands, a passionate group of student musicians come together to form Edinburg North High School’s mariachi team, steered by the unflappable Coach Abel Acuña. As the award-winning team prepares to compete against their rivals, students clash and Coach Acuña struggles to get his team to reach their highest potential. Filmmakers Alejandra Vasquez and Sam Osborn earnestly observe their young, spirited subjects through a tender lens as they capture the vibrant world of competitive mariachi culture. Screening October 26, 4:15 p.m. and October 28, 11:15 a.m. – BUY TICKETS

MERMAN 

Screens as part of SHORTS PROGRAM: DOCUMENTARY 1

A 58-year-old Black queer man speaks about his life as an emergency nurse, leather title holder and civil rights advocate. Screening October 27, 7:15 p.m. – BUY TICKETS

ORLANDO, MY POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY (ORLANDO, MA BIOGRAPHIE POLITIQUE)

Philosophically probing and brimming with delight, Paul Preciado’s directorial debut composes a letter to Virginia Woolf, concerning her novel “Orlando: A Biography.” In it, an aristocrat changes gender while sleeping and awakes as a woman who then traverses centuries. Preciado convenes 26 trans and non-binary people, between the ages of eight and 70, with each embodying Orlando, while presenting an array of personal anecdotes and varying relationships to the novel. The differences and complexities shape a manifold and beautiful image of transness, one that is both broadening and unifying, devastating and joyful. Screening October 27, 6:45 p.m. – BUY TICKETS

SLOW

Lithuania’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

In this gorgeously realized, sensual second feature from Lithuanian filmmaker Marija Kavtaradzė (SUMMER SURVIVORS, 2018), Elena and Dovyda’s unique relationship unfolds and evolves. Dance instructor Elena is a sex positive serial dater when she meets Dovyda, a soft-spoken but expressive sign language interpreter. The two gradually form a meaningful and intense bond that is threatened when Dovyda reveals to Elena that he is asexual. A complex, candid and rare portrait of diverse sexuality, intimacy and human connection, SLOW won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Screening October 26, 3:00 p.m. – BUY TICKETS

SKIN

2023 Student Academy Award® winner

Screens as part of SHORTS PROGRAM: LIVE ACTION 1

SKIN is a poetic exploration of self-discovery, using symbolism to depict a woman’s transformation into a man. Aided by her inner manifestation, she sheds her old skin and embraces her true identity. Screening October 26, 7:00 p.m. – BUY TICKETS

SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD

Estonia’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Screening to be followed by a conversation with director Anna Hints and producer Marianne Ostrat.

Tucked away in a lush forest in southern Estonia, a group of women gather seasonally in a communal smoke sauna. A traditional practice of the Võro community, recognized on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, they bare their all – mind and body – shedding grit and grime in a ritualistic bath while sharing their innermost secrets. Recipient of the Directing Award in the World Cinema Documentary category at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Anna Hints’ immersive debut offers us a look through the steam, sweat and smoke into the palpable, healing powers of solidarity and sisterhood. Screening October 26, 6:15 p.m. BUY TICKETS

THE SUMMER WITH CARMEN (TO KALOKAIRI TIS KARMEN)

North American Premiere

Screening on Oct. 29 to be followed by a conversation with director Zacharias Mavroeidis.

Demos and Nikitas are best friends, actors and writing partners. Nikitas is fed up with only being considered for stereotypical queer roles and sets out to create the representation that he desperately yearns to see by directing his first film. As the two bare-chested best friends soak in the hot Greek summer sun on a lively nude beach, they brainstorm a script based on the dramatic events of their previous summer. Arranged as a film-within-a-film, writer/director Zacharias Mavroeidis joyfully prods at the “golden rules of screenwriting” in this metatextual delight that is instantly endearing. Screening October 26, 12:00 p.m. and October 29, 9:05 p.m. – BUY TICKETS

THRIVING: A DISSOCIATED REVERIE

Screens as part of SHORTS PROGRAM: DOCUMENTARY 2

THRIVING: A DISSOCIATED REVERIE is a surrealist exploration of dissociative identity disorder (DID) based on the lived experience of Black, non-binary, disabled emerging multidisciplinary performance artist and former sex worker Kitoko Mai. Screening October 28, 11:00 a.m. – BUY TICKETS

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