Selections Include Opening and Closing Films By Trans Directors and Festival Favorites
By Dolores Quintana
For 2023, Outfest will bring opening and closing gala films directed by trans directors in a history-making first for the festival. The event will run from July 13 through July 23 at multiple venues throughout Los Angeles. Outfest will open with “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,” directed by Aitch Alberto, on July 13 at the Orpheum Theater and close with “Chasing Chasing Amy,” directed by Sav Rodgers, on July 23 at The Montalbán Theatre.
Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Univere’s Outfest description states, “Fans of Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s YA novel sensation and newcomers to the story alike will delight in this big screen adaptation of a truly dreamy coming-of-age romance. Aristotle and Dante (Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzales), two Mexican-American teenagers living in El Paso, Texas, meet by chance one summer at the community pool and quickly click into a close-knit friendship. Dante, the product of a free-spirited artistic household, opens Ari’s eyes to a world of new possibilities. Still, in order to fully embrace this fresh perspective, Ari must confront the secrets he’s been keeping hidden. That includes grappling with some long-suppressed family history and dealing with emotions that bubble to the surface when Dante temporarily moves out of state.”
Eva Longoria, Eugenio Derbez, Kevin Alejandro, Veronica Falcón, and Isabella Gomez star in the film, and director Aitch Alberto is an alumnus of Outfest’s screenwriting lab. The film is produced by Lin Manuel Miranda, Dylan Sellers, Chris Parker, Ben Odell, Eugenio Derbez, and Valerie Stadler.
“The People’s Joker,” director Vera Drew’s fabled film, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival only to be pulled from subsequent festivals and to have hush-hush underground screenings will have its official U.S premiere at Outfest on July 15th, 9:15 PM at the REDCAT: Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater.
The Outfest description says, “A hilarious and loving pastiche of the Batman comics and DC universe as a whole, this debut feature from writer/director/editor Vera Drew (who also stars in it) reimagines the coming-out story from the perspective of the famously chaotic and meme-worthy villain of its title. Loosely autobiographical, playfully experimental in its blend of comic-book animation and live-action, and deeply personal without wading into the sentimentality of the coming-out genre, The People’s Joker is a rallying cry for self-determination, embodiment, and transition as acts of rebellion in a media and political environment that would box it, its characters, and its audience into a tidy, consumable box. More vivid and awe-inspiring than the sum of its parts, this film must be seen to be believed.”
This screening has already sold out but will have a standby line on the day of the screening.
Another festival favorite is My Animal, directed by Jacqueline Castel, which I did see at Sundance, and it is wonderful. The Outfest description states, “ In a desolate northern Canadian town, wannabe hockey goalie Heather (Bobbi Salvör Menuez) is an outcast living a painfully small existence. Like most teenagers, she has a curfew — but one that is urgent, unsettling, and leaves her imprisoned at home each full moon. When figure skater Jonny (Amandla Stenberg) first bumps into Heather in the grocery store and later on the ice, Heather falls hard for her and believes with a ferocious aching that she has found her soulmate. Amid the teen angst, alienated yearning, family secrets, and toxic parents, Heather and Jonny try to get a leash on their unconventional and dangerous love. With the help of a pulsing soundtrack by Augustus Muller of darkwave icons Boy Harsher, whose other member, Jae Matthews, wrote the film’s screenplay) that will remind you of Georgio Moroder’s Cat People and reshape the rhythm of your every breath for weeks to come; My Animal is a violently sensual love story that reflects and mines the depths of otherness, the iconography of queer monstrosity and the desire to belong.”
The festival’s closing night film is “Chasing Chasing Amy,” a documentary directed by Sav Rodgers about the effect of director Kevin Smith’s hit film “Chasing Amy.” The Outfest description reads,”Featuring illuminating, candid interviews with Amy alumni Smith, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Lee, and one of the unexpected inspirations behind the film — Lesbian cinema icon Guinevere Turner — it’s fascinating to watch Rodgers’ film shift and expand into a more complex treatise on queerness, fandom, and the Hollywood system than even Rodgers may have expected at the start. Like some of the best documentaries of years past, the filmmaker’s journey is altered significantly by the messiness of real life. Perhaps not everyone in Chasing Amy can give us a warm remembrance of it. Still, Rodgers nimbly adapts the story — and his own life — at every turn to craft a portrait of an artist coming into his own over several ultimately rewarding years.”
“Chasing Chasing Amy” screens on Sunday, July 23rd, 7:00 PM @ The Montalbán Theatre.
The festival has a full schedule of films and an online screening component. You can purchase tickets here.