Tag Archives: AFI FEST presented by Audi


I’m inspired by the women in my life and telling stories that prominently feature women making decisions, being active and at the forefront of the narrative… I simply knew I wanted to explore sisterhood and tap into some of my experiences as a teenager living in Trinidad. I then started interviewing dancers and the story for the film became clearer from those interviews. I was lucky enough to get women to open up to me about their personal stories. Those interviews helped affirm that there was an important story to tell. — Maya Cozier

SHE PARADISE—directed by Cozier, and co-written by the filmmaker and Melina Brown—started out as a feature-length script. Cozier then devised a short version as a festival calling card before developing her story of a work hard/play hard Trinidadian dance troupe, negotiating gigs—video shoots and party appearances—and demanding their due. Sisterhood above all is an inviolable precept, and it is a pleasure to watch Sparkle (Onessa Nestor), Diamond (Kimberly Crichton), Mica (Chelsey Rampersad), and Shan (Denisia Latchman) build a life through exhilarating movement and hustle.

This world premiere engagement is now streaming at AFI Fest 2020. See link below for details.


AFI Fest Presented by Audi.

Streaming through October 22.

Following the film, AFI FEST Senior Programmer Claudia Puig leads a conversation between Maya Cozier, Melina Brown, and Onessa Nestor.

Maya Cozier, She Paradise (2020), from top: Onessa Nestor; She Paradise; Chelsey Rampersad; She Paradise; Nestor. Images courtesy and © the filmmaker, the actors, and She Paradise Instagram.


SOUND OF METAL—the story of a heavy metal drummer whose sense of hearing suddenly disappears, and one of the highlights of this year’s AFI Fest—is distinguished by writer-director Darius Marder‘s deep affection for his characters and the sensitivity with which these characters are brought to life.

Riz Ahmed stars as Ruben, the drummer for a band fronted by his partner, singer-guitarist Lou (played by Olivia Cooke). Paul Raci co-stars as the director of a sober living house for the deaf.

The film was co-written by Abraham Marder, from a story by Derek Cianfrance. See link below for streaming details.


AFI Fest Presented by Audi.

Streaming through October 22.

Following the film, Variety’s editor Clayton Davis leads a conversation with filmmaker Darius Marder, Riz Ahmed, Paul Raci, Chelsea Lee, and Shaheem Sanchez.

Darius Marder, Sound of Metal (2019), from top: Riz Ahmed; Ahmed at post-streaming Q & A; film cast, director, and interpreters at post-streaming Q & A; Ahmed in film. Images courtesy and © the filmmaker, the actors and interpreters, AFI Fest, and Amazon.


Michel Franco has said that his current film NEW ORDER is not political per se, but rather “an exploration of the social aspects” of how his characters interact with one another as Mexico City implodes in an emergency of class warfare. The director’s claims aside, NEW ORDER is a trenchant political thriller, told in broad, crude strokes that reflect the egregious inequities that poison daily life in the capital.

In Franco’s short, sharp shock of pulp dystopia—the running time is 88 minutes—the poor and the brown raise arms against their rich, pale-skinned employers and oppressors. According to anthropologist José Ignacio Lanzagorta, “it’s impossible to talk of class and poverty without touching the topic of race. It’s very clear that the distribution of income in Mexico is very racialized.”

In this tale of citizen versus citizen, the military is the third element, playing a wild card of disparate factions and divided loyalties. The exponential growth and overcrowding of contemporary Mexico City has, in fact, been met with a highly visible military presence. It goes without saying that in the creation of any “nuevo orden,” redeemable characters are expendable and a fascist expedience prevails.

This AFI Fest presentation will stream through the end of this year’s festival. See link below for details.


AFI Fest Presented by Audi.

Streaming.through October 22.

Following the film, AFI FEST Senior Programmer Claudia Puig leads a conversation with filmmaker Michel Franco.

Michel Franco, New Order (2020), from top: Naian Gonzaléz Norvind (left) and Fernando Cuautle; New Order poster courtesy and © Teorema; Cuautle (left); Dario Yazbek Bernal (left), Patricia Bernal, and Diego Boneta. Images courtesy and © the filmmaker and Teorema.


I don’t want this movie to be as relevant as it is. But the scary thing is the movie becomes more and more relevant with every passing day. The script is almost a result of my trauma. I’m a black person in the world watching TV like everybody else. The work that artists are doing right now, this is us trying to put a time stamp on the society in which we live. It is a violent one. It is a cold one, and yet we still are stylish and we still are funny and we still love and we still smoke weed and we still do crab boils. Even in the midst of this trauma, we survive, we live, and that, to me, is what the real meditation of this movie became.Lena Waithe

Written by Waithe—from an idea by James Frey—and directed by Melina Matsoukas, QUEEN & SLIM opened this year’s AFI FEST and has gone on to ignite audiences across the country. Compared by critics to Bonnie and Clyde and Thelma and Louise—and by its writer to Set It Off—the film stars Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya in the title roles, with backup by Bokeem Woodbine, Sturgill Simpson, Chloë Sevigny, Flea, and Indya Moore.


Now playing.

Alamo Drafthouse

700 West 7th Street, downtown Los Angeles.

L.A. Live

1000 West Olympic Boulevard, downtown Los Angeles.

Arclight Hollywood

6360 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Laemmle Noho

5240 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood.

Melina Matsoukas, Queen & Slim (2019), from top: Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya; Turner-Smith; Kaluuya; Bokeem Woodbine and Indya Moore; Kaluuya and Turner Smith (2); Moore, Woodbine, Turner-Smith, and Kaluuya; Turner-Smith, and Kaluuya; Turner-Smith. Images courtesy and © the filmmaker, the actors, and Universal Pictures.


The film demands that you, the viewer, engage immediately and unceasingly with the protagonists and their plight, leaving you drained and astounded.Deirdre Towers

Although AND THEN WE DANCED—the first LGBTQ drama set in Georgia—has received widespread critical acclaim across Eastern Europe (winning Best Film and Best Actor this year at Odessa), the film’s shooting schedule was frequently disrupted and the set in Tbilisi often resembled a guerrilla production. Earlier this month right-wing groups staged violent protests outside the hometown premiere—which was standing-room only—and it was noted that the film’s choreographer is credited as “Anonymous,” for fear of losing his job.

A story of same-sex attraction among two members of the National Georgian Ensemble, AND THEN WE DANCED will screen on the closing days of this year’s AFI FEST presented by Audi. The film’s leads—Levan Gelbakhiani (a phenomenal young actor making his debut) and Bachi Valishvili—will join their director Levan Akin for post-screening conversations with the audience.


Wednesday, November 20, at 2:45 pm.

Thursday, November 21, at 8:45 pm.

Chinese Theatre

6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Levan Akin, And Then We Danced (2019), from top: Levan Gelbakhiani; Gelbakhiani and Anna Javakishvili; Bachi Valishvili (left) and Gelbakhiani (2); poster; Gelbakhiani and Valishvili (2); Gelbakhiani. Images courtesy and © the filmmaker, the actors, the photographers, Quarter Film, and Takes Film.