Outfest has lined up its opening and closing night films.
The Los Angeles LGBTQ film festival — scheduled for July 13-23 and presented by Warner Bros. Discovery and Genesis Motor America — will open with Aitch Alberto’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe at the Orpheum Theatre and close with Sav Rodgers’ Chasing Chasing Amy at the Montalbán Theatre.
The selections mark the first time in the fest’s history that both the opening and closing night films come from trans filmmakers. Furthermore, both Alberto and Rodgers hail from Outfest’s artist development programs. Alberto participated in the Outfest screenwriting lab in 2007 and has since served as a mentor to young filmmakers in Outfest programs, while Rodgers participated in Outfest’s OutSet filmmaking lab and mentorship program as well as the screenwriting lab in 2021.
Based on Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s young adult novel, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe centers on the friendship between two teenage Mexican-American boys in 1987 El Paso who 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 funded the film along with Boies/Schiller Entertainment. Zack Schiller, David Boies, Kyra Sedgwick, Meredith Bagby served as executive producers on the film along with Alberto. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and will be released in the U.S. by Blue Fox Entertainment.
Chasing Chasing Amy, set for a world premiere at Tribeca Festival in June, follows Rodgers as he investigates the history and legacy of Kevin Smith’s 1997 indie hit Chasing Amy, a film that changed the trajectory of Rodgers’ life. It features the participation 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.
“The power of filmmaking can inspire, uplift, and unite audiences, and this is something that our community needs now more than ever as our rights are being attacked and restricted across the country,” said Damien Navarro, executive director of Outfest. “To make history while we celebrate the power and creativity of our community with these two incredible filmmakers gives us hope that our voices can encourage future generations of artists.”
About opening the fest, Alberto said, “I stand as an example that anything is possible when we move with intention, resilience, and purpose to show that we are more than what you define us as. How fitting to get to do it with this story, a story rooted in the invitation to see the love around us and to stand in our very truth. I can confidently say that on Outfest’s opening night I will be standing in my truth. I’m forever grateful to this important organization and for this opportunity to celebrate.”
Rodgers said Outfest has been invaluable to his development as a filmmaker and he called the selection “the honor of a lifetime.” Added Rodgers: “Over the last 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 represented over time.”
Outfest tickets and passes will be available beginning June 20.