Festival season arrives in the heart of Hollywood with the 2022 AFI Fest, which runs from Nov. 2 through Nov. 6. This year’s fest features 125 films, sorted into categories such as “Red Carpet Premieres,” “World Cinema,” and “Discovery,” to name a few, along with special titles curated by Guest Artistic Director Ava DuVernay.
This year’s lineup includes the world premiere of Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me, along with the U.S. premieres of Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio. Meanwhile, festival mainstays like Bones and All, Bardo (False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths), She Said, and The Son will have their latest showings.
From the slate of starry debuts, documentaries, short films and more, A.frame has put together a list of 12 must-see movies playing during this year’s AFI Fest.
Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me
From director Alek Keshishian, who helmed Madonna’s groundbreaking documentary Truth or Dare, comes this intimate look at the actress and pop star’s mental health journey, and how she’s managed to navigate the spotlight since her days as a child star. World premiering at AFI Fest, the doc seeks to de-stigmatize mental health issues and illuminate Gomez’s own six-year journey to better understand herself.
When it’s showing: The red carpet premiere is Nov. 2 at the TCL Chinese Theater.
Spielberg’s deeply personal coming-of-age tale won the People’s Choice Award when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Making its U.S. debut, the drama follows a young boy who falls in love with movie as his family begins to fall apart, with four time Oscar-nominee Michelle Williams as his artist mother and Paul Dano as his pragmatic dad. The film is a celebration of the movies, as well as Spielberg’s own legacy.
When it’s showing: The red carpet premiere is Nov. 6 at the TCL Chinese Theater.
Director Kristy Guevara-Flanagan’s documentary explores the ways women are exploited in Hollywood, in front of and behind the camera. By breaking down sex scenes in well-known films, the filmmaker examines their real world impact on the treatment of women, for better and for worse. Featuring interviews with Jane Fonda, Rose McGowan, and Karyn Kusama, Body Parts hopes to shed a light on the sins of the past and a safe, equitable path forward.
When it’s showing: Nov. 6 at the TCL Chinese Theater, with a Q&A with director Kristy Guevara-Flanagan.
Writer and director Miles Warren expands on his award-winning 2021 short of the same name with his feature-length debut. The story follows Darius (Till breakout Jalyn Hall), a young, Black teenager as he encounters various father figures and contends with ideas on masculinity in an effort to bolster his own. But when he learns a shocking secret about his own identity and its relation to violence, his world is shaken to its core.
When it’s showing: Nov. 4 at the TCL Chinese Theater, with a Q&A with director Miles Warren.
Close is the second feature film from Belgian director Lukas Dhont, following 2018’s Queer Palm-winning Girl. The drama follows two 13-year-old boys, Léo (Eden Dambrine) and Rémi (Gustav de Waele), whose relationship is torn apart by peers who don’t understand their close bond. The film premiered at Cannes, where it won Grand Prix.
When it’s showing: Nov. 5 at the TCL Chinese Theater, with a Q&A with writer/director Lukas Dhont.
The Eight Mountains
Written and directed by Charlotte Vandermeersch and Felix van Groeningen (the latter of whom directed the Oscar-nominated Broken Circle Breakdown) and based on the novel of the same name, this drama follows the evolving friendship of two men who meet as teens and remain in touch over thirty years. The film debuted at Cannes and won the Jury Prize, sharing the honor with EO.
When it’s showing: Nov. 3 at the TCL Chinese Theater.
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio
Two-time Oscar winner Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water) teams up with animator Mark Gustafson for this stop-motion adaptation of the classic fairytale, which makes it’s U.S. debut at the festival. Here, the setting is 1930s Fascist Italy, with a voice cast that includes Oscar-winners Tilda Swinton, Christoph Waltz, and Cate Blanchett. The dark, whimsical take on the classic story marks Del Toro’s first foray into both stop motion and musicals
When it’s showing: The red carpet premiere is Nov. 5 at the TCL Chinese Theater.
Activist Malala Yousafzai recently signed on as an executive producer for this debut feature from Pakistani filmmaker Saim Sadiq, which follows Haider (Ali Junejo) as he lands a gig as a backup dancer in a queer cabaret and sparks a sexual rebellion within his patriarchal family. Joyland premiered at Cannes, where it won the jury prize in the festival’s Un Certain Regard category.
When it’s showing: Nov 5. at the TCL Chinese Theater, with a Q&A with director/co-writer Sadim Sadiq.
Produced by Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón, this short from Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher (Happy as Lazzaro) is a quaint fable about mischievous girls at a Catholic school. When the girls get a tempting treat over the Christmas holiday, they scramble to enjoy it under the watchful eye of Mother Superior.
When it’s showing: Nov. 3 at the TCL Chinese Theater, with a Q&A with writer/director Alice Rohrwacher.
Nanny blends folklore and magical realism with a touch of horror in this debut feature from writer-director Nikyatu Jusu. Aisha (Anna Diop) is a Senegalese immigrant who takes a job nannying for a wealthy white family and begins experiencing haunting visions that threaten her sanity and safety. Nanny won the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize when it premiered at Sundance.
When it’s showing: Nov. 3 at the TCL Chinese Theater, with a Q&A with writer/director Nikyatu Jusu.
Though banned from filmmaking and from leaving his country since 2010, Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi returns with his latest docu-fiction film, which tells the parallel stories of a couple trying to flee the country and the director’s own saga. Prior to No Bears‘ premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize, Panahi was detained after protesting the imprisonment of fellow Iranian filmmakers.
When it’s showing: Nov. 3 at the TCL Chinese Theater.
Oscar nominee Sarah Polley’s (Away From Her) adaptation of Miriam Toews’ best-selling novel centers on a group of Mennonite as they grapple with systemic sexual assault inflicted by the men in their community, with an ensemble cast led by Claire Foy, Oscar nominees Jessie Buckley and Rooney Mara, and four-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand.
When it’s showing: Nov. 5 at the TCL Chinese Theater, with a Q&A with writer/director Sarah Polley.