AFI FEST 2023: Strange Tales – American Film Institute


AFI FEST 2023: Strange Tales

From horror to ghosts and supernatural to the unexpected, these “strange tales” at AFI FEST 2023 are sure to be a one-of-a-kind experience. 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.


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), which punctures the rhythm of his everyday life. As a relationship develops between the pair, Adam is preoccupied with memories of the past and finds himself drawn back to the suburban town where he grew up, and 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. Screening October 28, 9:30 p.m. 


English expat archaeologist Arthur (Josh O’Connor) has relocated to Tuscany in the early 1980s and fallen in love with Beniamina, the daughter of aging local aristocrat Flora (Isabella Rossellini). But Beniamina has died, leaving Arthur a lost soul. Then he meets Italia (Carol Duarte), the live-in maid and sometime singing pupil of Flora, who might represent romance in the land of the living instead of Arthur’s doom-laden obsession with the underworld. This funny, folkloric, romantic and thought-provoking film from Alice Rohrwacher (LA PUPILLE, AFI FEST 2022) may be her greatest yet. Screening October 28, 6:15 p.m. 


U.S. Premiere

Mongolia’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

CITY OF WIND follows Ze, a studious 17-year-old village shaman, who is diverted from the straight and narrow when he meets wide-eyed rebel Maralaa. Called to perform a pre-heart-surgery protection ritual on her, despite her reluctant participation, Ze’s unmasking provokes a verbal lashing and a torrent of exciting new feelings. Instantly smitten, Ze becomes determined to win Maralaa over and promptly learns that she had been longing for a connection too. In between wandering around Mongolia’s capital city, the two explore their differences, bleach their hair and dance with wild abandon. Screening October 29, 1:45 p.m.  


Screening to be followed by a conversation with director Christos Nikou.

Christos Nikou makes a bold English-language debut with this charming lo-fi sci-fi about the clash between our over-reliance on technology and the primal drive to find true love. Anna (Academy Award® nominee Jessie Buckley) and her partner Ryan (Jeremy Allen White) are among the lucky couples to have passed the “love test,” a cutting-edge method of determining romantic compatibility. But when Anna starts a new dream job at the esteemed Love Institute, she grows close to her new colleague Amir (Oscar® winner Riz Ahmed). As the pair become increasingly attached to their work – and to one another – Anna grows distant from her home life with Ryan and begins to question the validity of the very test she’s worked so hard to master. Screening October 25, 7:30 p.m.  


Screening to be followed by a conversation with writer Martin Escalante.

In this noir-tinged revenge thriller from award-winning Mexican auteur Amat Escalante, idealistic young laborer Emiliano embarks on a mission to seek justice for his mother when she vanishes after opposing the construction of a new Canadian-owned mine. When the trail leads him to a modernist villa on the outskirts of town, Emiliano goes undercover, securing a job as a trusted handyman and slowly becoming entangled in a wild web of lies. Perhaps Escalante’s most accessible work yet, LOST IN THE NIGHT blends its deliciously twisty narrative with the filmmaker’s unique visual style and an evocative, synthwave-inspired soundtrack by STRANGER THINGS composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein. Screening October 26, 9:45 p.m. and October 27, 2:00 p.m.  



Abandoned in a storm as a child, Ion is taken in and raised an orphan. Years later, he will murder his anonymous attacker and be sent to prison for patricide. There, he meets and falls in love with a prison guard who is revealed to be his mother. Filmmaker Angela Schanelec’s latest conundrum revels in fragmentation, jolting temporal jumps and meticulously precise compositions. Winner of the Berlinale Silver Bear for Best Screenplay and a transfixing addition to the Schanelec output, MUSIC – with its Greek setting and baroque music – marks her most visually and sonically pleasing film to date. Screening October 26, 9:30 p.m.  


Denmark’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

Denmark, 18th century. A retired army captain with humble origins, Ludvig Kahlen (Mads Mikkelsen), makes a deal with the King: successfully settle the Jutland’s land and ascend to nobility. Arriving with nothing but a shovel and sheer willpower, Kahlen refuses to yield to the harsh landscape. With the help of a runaway couple, a priest and a precocious orphan, he makes progress, but his unhinged noble neighbor Frederik de Schinkel will stop at nothing to prevent his success. Mikkelsen, reuniting with A ROYAL AFFAIR director Nikolaj Arcel, delivers a star turn in this rollicking period Danish Western filled with romance, intrigue and revenge. Screening October 28, 2:00 p.m.  


Chile’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

In Felipe Gálvez’s visually striking debut, tailor-made for the big screen, three travelers trek through 1900s Patagonia on a roughly veiled colonizing expedition at the behest of a Spanish businessman. As unexpected and intense brutality ensues on their journey, Segundo, played by the mesmerizing and stoic Camilo Arancibia, resists committing violence but is forced to cooperate. With surprising moments of humor sprinkled in between shocking cruelty, Gálvez pokes fun at male egotism while asserting that for Indigenous people to be accepted in their own country, they must conform, obey, submit and assimilate. Based on suppressed historical events, THE SETTLERS is the first Chilean production to win Cannes’ FIPRESCI Prize. Screening October 29, 8:30 p.m.  


Malaysia’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

The first Malaysian film to win the Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prize, Amanda Nell Eu’s debut feature reimagines a classic tale with an endearing DIY spirit and irreverent playfulness. Precocious and quick-witted 12-year-old Zaffan spends her days rebelling against the strict Islamic religious school and swimming in the lake with her best friends. That is until she gets her first period before anyone else in her class. Soon, other parts of her body begin to transform in terrifyingly grotesque ways. Ostracized by her peers and the village community, with a rumored creature lurking in the forest, Zaffan must decide to submit to society’s pressure to conform, or embrace her monstrous self, warts and all. Screening October 26, 9:00 p.m.  


In 1974, author Johannes Leinert appears on a German talk show to promote his sci-fi novel “Die Theorie von Allem,” where shadowy Cold War intrigue melds with alternate realities of the multiverse. But instead, Leinert claims his book is fact, not fiction. Cut to 1962, and Leinert’s fantastical tale plays in flashback, beginning with a train journey to Switzerland to attend a physics conference with his stern mentor. The conference proves to be a dud, but strange goings-on in the hotel intrigue Leinert. Timm Kröger’s visionary, noirish retro-futurist fable recalls classic suspense films by Alfred Hitchcock and Carol Reed, crossed with the reality-rupturing thrillers of David Lynch and Christopher Nolan. Screening October 26, 12:30 p.m. and October 28, 9:00 p.m.  

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