Outfest presents opening and closing night films by trans filmmakers for the first time

Outfest presents opening and closing night films by trans filmmakers for the first time

Outfest has lined up its opening and closing films.

Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival July 13-23 Presented by Warner Bros. Discovery and Genesis Motor America to Open with Aitch Alberto Film Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe at the Orpheum Theater and close with Sav Rodgers’ Chasing Chasing Amy at the Montalban Theater.

The selections mark the first time in the festival’s history that opening and closing night films come from trans filmmakers. Additionally, both Alberto and Rodgers come from Outfest’s artistic development programs. Alberto attended the Outfest Screenwriting Workshop in 2007 and has since mentored young filmmakers in Outfest programs, while Rodgers has attended Outfest’s OutSet Directing Workshop and Mentoring Program, as well as the Screenwriting Workshop in 2021.

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Based on the young adult novel by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe centers on the friendship between two Mexican-American teenagers in 1987 El Paso as they explore a new, unusual friendship and the difficult road to self-discovery. Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzales star in the lead roles with Eugenio Derbez, Eva Longoria, Veronica Falcón and Kevin Alejandro rounding out the cast.

The film is produced by Dylan Sellers and Chris Parker of Limelight Prods., Big Swing Prods.’ Valerie Stadler, Ben Odell and Eugenio Derbez of 3Pas Studios and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 5000 Broadway Prods. Limelight co-financed the film with Boies/Schiller Entertainment. Zack Schiller, David Boies, Kyra Sedgwick and Meredith Bagby served as executive producers on the film along with Alberto. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and will be distributed in the United States by Blue Fox Entertainment.

Chasing Chasing AmySet as its world premiere at June’s Tribeca Festival, it follows Rodgers as he investigates the history and legacy of Kevin Smith’s 1997 indie hit Hunting for Amy, a film that changed the trajectory of Rodgers’ life. It features guest appearances from Kevin Smith, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Lee, Guinevere Turner, and LGBTQ+ notables including former Outfest Executive Director Christopher Racster, Andrew Ahn, Princess Weekes, Trish Bendix, and Bob Hawk. Chasing Chasing Amy is a Yeehaw Pictures, Spacestation and Professional Amateur Production produced by Alex Schmider, Carrie Radigan, Lela Meadow-Conner, Matthew C. Mills and Rodgers.

A still from the film Chasing Chasing Amy directed by Sav Rodgers.

A frame from the film Chasing Chasing Amy directed by Sav Rodgers.

Courtesy of Outfest 2023

“The power of cinema can inspire, uplift and unite audiences, and this is something our community needs now more than ever as our rights are attacked and curtailed across the country,” said Damien Navarro, Director Outfest executive. “Making history as we celebrate the power and creativity of our community with these two incredible filmmakers gives us hope that our voices can inspire future generations of artists.”

Regarding the opening of the festival, Alberto said: “I am an example of the fact that anything is possible when we move with intention, resilience and purpose to demonstrate that we are more than what you define us. How appropriate to do this with this story, a story rooted in an invitation to see the love that surrounds us and to stand in our own truth. I can confidently say that on opening night of Outfest, I will stand by my truth. I will be forever grateful to this important organization and for this opportunity to celebrate.”

Rodgers said Outfest was invaluable to his development as a director and called the selection “the honor of a lifetime”. Rodgers added, “Over the past 41 years, Outfest has been a platform for so many brilliant queer films, including some from our own filmmaking team. I can’t think of a better homecoming to showcase a film that celebrates and critiques how our community has been portrayed over time.”

Outfest tickets and season tickets will be available from 20 June.