AFI Fest, the American Film Institute's annual film festival in Los Angeles, has a variety of cinematic offerings this year that showcase LGBTQ themes and characters. From The Favourite to Rafiki to Knife + Heart, here are some of the highlights of AFI. Find showtimes and a full listing of events at AFI.com.
Film stills and descriptions courtesy of AFI Fest.
Director Yorgos Lanthimos showcases his uniquely dark humor with a royal story of intrigue, jealousy and betrayal. Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) sits on the throne in the early 18th century, while her close friend, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), governs behind the curtain and tends to her capricious moods. When a new servant named Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, she charms her way into the women's lives, discovering secrets and provoking rivalries.
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos. Screenplay: Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara. Cast: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, James Smith, Mark Gatiss, Jenny Rainsford.
And Breathe Normally
Lara is a single mother whose job as an Icelandic border guard is all that's keeping her afloat. While training, Lara notices that the passport of Adja, a woman from Guinea-Bissau, has been forged. From there, Adja and Lara's stories diverge and weave together again in Isold Uggadottir's elegantly constructed drama of lives affected by the ongoing refugee crisis.
Premiering in competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival, the latest from provocative French auteur Yann Gonzalez is a blood-soaked, neon-drenched delight set in the world of gay porn in 1970s Paris. Among the drugs, debauchery and kinkily creative film sets, a dark menace lurks: a maniac has been stalking members of the cast and crew of a porno production, and murdering them in grand, depraved fashion -- using a switchblade dildo. As the killer inches closer to flinty female producer Anne (Vanessa Paradis), the tension mounts and body fluids spray until the thrilling final reveal. A modern classic slasher with a bright giallo soul, Knife+Heart is a cinematic adrenaline shot. - Lane Kneedler
On the verge of graduation and an uncertain future, a mischievous teenager rails against the societal and familial pressures of her suburban surroundings to seek autonomy in director/writer Katharina Muckstein's masterfully perceptive and effervescent second feature about finding oneself by embracing one's true desires.
Director: Katharina Mueckstein. Screenplay: Katharina Mueckstein. Cast: Sophie Stockinger, Kathrin Resetarits, Dominik Warta, Julia Franz Richter, Jack Hofer, Stefan Pohl, Dominic Marcus Singer, Simon Morze, Eva Herzig, David Oberkogler, Martina Spitzer, Lisa C. Nemec, Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg, Gisela Salcher, Alexandra Schmidt. Austria
Meetings of Anna (Les Rendez-vous D'Anna)
In Chantal Akerman's 1978 masterwork, Anna (Aurore Clement) is a respected Belgian filmmaker on a no-frills European tour promoting her latest film. As Anna travels from city to city, she has a series of startling encounters with different men and women, all of which seem to underscore her uneasy place in an increasingly dreary and anonymous Western Europe.
Director: Chantal Akerman. Screenplay: Chantal Akerman. Cast: Aurore Clement, Helmut Griem, Magali Noel. France, Belgium, West Germany
The debut feature from celebrated filmmaker Barbara Hammer, Nitrate Kisses is an experimental excavation of queer histories, a celebration of difference across communities and a lament for histories lost to cultural repression. New 16mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.
Director: Barbara Hammer. USA
Kena likes to kick around a soccer ball with her boys. Bubbly Ziki likes to dance with her girls. Yet when their paths cross the two fall in love. Former banned in Kenya, Wanuri Kahiu's gay romance is delightful and full of life.
Guillaume is an outwardly confident teenager in a posh boarding school. Intelligent and brash, he veers between likable and overbearing both in the faculty's and his fellow student's eyes. When surprising new feelings of love and alienation consume him, his veneer of composure begins to crack. Meanwhile, his older sister Charlotte has just wriggled free of a disappointing relationship with her boyfriend, and travels down a new, thorny path with an older suitor whose rebellious charm may blind her to inevitable heartbreak. Together, Guillaume and Charlotte's parallel stories form a detailed, incisive portrait of adolescent yearning from Quebecois director Philippe Lesage, whose AFI Fest 2016 entry The Demons manages to subtly extend its reach into this film's narrative. - Mike Dougherty