Today, Outfest – the Los Angeles-based nonprofit that uplifts Queer and Trans creators in the entertainment industry by providing career support and curating the exhibition and preservation of queer and transgender stories – announced the Opening and Closing Night gala film selections for the 41st edition of the Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival, taking place from July 13 – 23 in Los Angeles, presented by Warner Bros. Discovery and Genesis Motor America. The festival will open with Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, directed by Aitch Alberto, and the 11-day event will close with Chasing Chasing Amy, directed by Sav Rodgers. The Opening Night Gala will screen at the Orpheum Theatre, with the Closing Night Gala screening at The Montalbán Theatre.
This marks the first time in Outfest’s history that both Opening and Closing night will feature films made by trans artists, underlining the deep roster of trans, non-binary, and intersex talent working in the entertainment industry as well as the diversity of trans storytelling at this moment in history. These events also represent a homecoming for both Alberto and Rodgers, both of whom are alumni of Outfest’s Artist Development programs. Alberto took part in the Outfest Screenwriting Lab in 2007 and has returned to mentor young filmmakers in Outfest’s programs, while Rodgers is an alum of both OutSet – Outfest’s filmmaking lab and mentorship program for LGBTQ+ youth (16-24) to share their stories in film – and the 2021 Outfest Screenwriting Lab with his and Taylor Gates’ narrative screenplay I Love You, Margot Robbie.
Based on Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s beloved and best-selling 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. The film stars Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzales 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 Productions, Big Swing Productions’ Valerie Stadler, Ben Odell and Eugenio Derbez of 3Pas Studios, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 5000 Broadway Productions. Limelight funded the film along with Boies/ Schiller Entertainment. Zack Schiller, David Boies, Kyra Sedgwick, Meredith Bagby also served as executive producers on the film along with Alberto. The film premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews, and is currently 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and will be released in the U.S. by Blue Fox Entertainment.
Chasing Chasing Amy, which will hold its World Premiere in June at the Tribeca Film Festival, follows Rodgers as he investigates the history and legacy of Kevin Smith’s 1997 indie hit Chasing Amy, a film that profoundly changed the trajectory of Rodgers’ life for the better. The documentary wrestles with Chasing Amy’s complicated queer storyline, Rodgers’ own coming out process as a trans man, and the tricky intersection between devoted fandom and the tough realities of the Hollywood machine, featuring the participation of 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 (Changing the Game, Disclosure, Framing Agnes, Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story), Carrie Radigan, Lela Meadow-Conner, Matthew C. Mills, and Sav Rodgers. The film is represented by CAA.
“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.”
Aitch Alberto, director and writer of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, said: “Although in many ways this moment is bigger than myself, or any individual, I feel ready to step into it as a representation of what’s possible when we refuse the naysayer. To step into it as a representation of what is possible when we refuse to let our identity hold us back. 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.”
“Outfest has been invaluable to my development as a filmmaker, from being selected to be part of the OutSet Fellowship to the Screenwriting Lab, I can attribute so much of my film education to this organization and its people who are dedicated to supporting Queer and Trans storytellers. For Chasing Chasing Amy, my directorial debut, to be chosen to play as the Closing Night film is the honor of a lifetime,” said Sav 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.”
Now in its 41st year, Outfest Los Angeles will take place from July 13 – 23 at venues across Los Angeles.
Tickets and passes to Outfest Los Angeles will be available beginning June 20th. Visit OutfestLA.org for more information.