The fall film season season gets off to a blazing start with the Latin American Film Festival at AFI Silver in downtown Silver Spring.
Now celebrating its 26th year, the festival showcases the best in filmmaking from Latin America. Running Sept. 17-Oct. 7, this year’s selections include more than 40 films ranging from international festival favorites and award winners to debut works from gifted new talents.
The festival opens with “Sand Dollars (Dólares de arena)” from the Dominican Republic. The film features a stunning performance by Geraldine Chaplin (“Doctor Zhivago”) as a French expat visiting the seaside town of Las Terrences. She falls head over heels for the much younger Noeli, but things get complicated when Noeli tells the older woman that her boyfriend is really her brother. The gala opening night screening on Sept. 17 will include a Q&A with filmmaker Laura Amelia Guzmán and Jean-Noël Pancrazi who wrote the novel on which the movie is based, as well as a reception sponsored by the Embassy of the Dominican Republic. The movie is in English, French and Spanish with English subtitles.
The festival closes Oct. 7 with “Trash,” directed by openly gay British director Steven Daldry (“The Hours” and “Billy Elliot”). Featuring supporting performances by Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara, the film explores what happens after three best friends from a Rio favela discover a wallet full of cash. (In English and Portuguese with English subtitles.)
The festival also includes the highly anticipated Washington premieres of “Nasty Baby” and “Eisenstein in Guanajuato.” Written and directed by openly gay Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Silva, “Nasty Baby” is a provocative satire that stars Kristen Wiig as a women in Brooklyn having a baby with a gay couple. The film won the Teddy Award at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival and was an Official Selection for 2015 Sundance Film Festival. (In English and Spanish with English subtitles.)
Written and director by controversial British director Peter Greenaway, “Eisenstein” has already been denounced by Vladimir Putin. It tells the story of the famous Russian film director’s life-changing trip to Mexico. Fleeing the constraints of both Stalin and Hollywood, the frustrated director has a passionate affair with his tour guide and finally confronts his sexuality. (In English and Spanish with English subtitles.)
This fall also marks the 40th anniversary of the gender-bending, tap-dancing, stereotype-smashing, time-warping queer classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” The Landmark E Street Cinema offers a monthly midnight screening complete with live performers and audience participation.
After the successful return of the feature-length Film Festival, Reel Affirmations returns with the monthly XTRA series. On Sept. 25, the festival partners with Team Rayceen to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the legendary movie “Paris Is Burning.” For Halloween, there’s “Lyle,” a sinister homage to “Rosemary’s Baby” with a lesbian protagonist. And, on Nov.13, it offers (subtitle alert!) “Fall for Foreign Films,” a collection of foreign short films.
The third annual Middleburg Film Festival offers great films in a stunning setting. Running Oct. 22-25, this year’s festival will honor composer Carter Burwell and cinematographer Dante Spinotti. In addition to panel discussions and audience Q&As with award-winning filmmakers, farm-to-table meals featuring local food and wine, master classes and fabulous parties, the festival will feature regional premieres and audience favorites. Confirmed titles include “I Saw The Light,” the Hank Williams biopic featuring Spinotti’s camera work, and “Carol,” the period lesbian romance directed by gay auteur Todd Haynes and starring Cate Blanchet, with a ravishing score by Burwell.
The 12th annual D.C. Shorts Film Festival is already underway. The exciting LGBT shorts program will be screened Sept. 17 at the Landmark E Street Cinema. This fall, D.C. Shorts will also partner with Story District (formerly known as Speakeasy D.C.) for Reel to Reel, an innovative program that pairs area storytellers with local filmmakers. On Nov. 13, the filmmakers will meet their storytellers and on Nov. 21 they will premiere their new films. Details can be found at D.C. Shorts.
Coming soon to D.C. theaters are:
• “The New Girlfriend” (Sept. 18). Based on a Ruth Rendell novel with openly gay French director François Ozon, is about the unexpected changes a young man undergoes after the death of his wife.
• “About Ray” (Sept. 18). Elle Fanning plays a transgender teen with Naomi Watts as her mother and Susan Sarandon as her lesbian grandmother.
• “Stonewall” (Sept. 25). Already controversial, the film by gay director Roland Emmerich and gay screenwriter Jon Robin Baitz reexamine the historic riots through the eyes of a recent transplant from the Midwest.
• “Legend” (Oct. 9). Tom Hardy (“Mad Max: Fury Road”) stars as both Ronald (gay) and Reginald (straight) Kray, identical twin brothers who ruled the London underworld in the 1960s.
• “Freeheld” (Oct. 9). Based on a true story, Julianne Moore and Ellen Page play a lesbian couple forced to fight for their pension rights when one is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
• “Carol” (Nov.). Based on the novel “The Price of Salt” by bisexual author Patricia Highsmith (“The Talented Mr. Ripley”), gay auteur Todd Haynes tackles the story of a department-store clerk (Rooney Mara) who begins a relationship with an older, married woman (Cate Blanchett).
• “Spectre” (Nov. 6). Along with the expected homoerotic banter (expertly handled by Daniel Craig in his last outing as 007), the latest James Bond outing will feature out actor Ben Whitshaw as the gadget guru Q.
Other releases of note include “He Named Me Malala” (Oct. 9), “Suffragette” (Oct. 30), “Miss You Already” (Nov. 6) and “Trumbo” (Nov. 13). Later in the year, look for “The Danish Girl,” along with holiday blockbusters such as the final installation of “The Hunger Games” and the latest “Star Wars” installation “The Force Awakens.”