While we’re still dealing with Venice, the fallout of Telluride, and the upcoming Toronto and New York Film Festivals, earlier today, the American Film Institute announced the 2023 AFI Fest will open with the world premiere of director Sam Esmail’s “Leave the World Behind.” The premiere will take place in Hollywood on October 25th. The 37th edition of the festival begins that evening and runs through October 29th.
Based on Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel of the same name, the film is written and directed by Esmail, who has created and directed episodes of “Mr. Robot” and “Homecoming.” The film stars Academy Award winners Julia Roberts and Mahershala Ali, plus Ethan Hawke and Myha’la Herrold. The film will be released on Netflix on December 8th.
The official synopsis reads Amanda (Julia Roberts) and her husband Clay (Ethan Hawke) rent a luxurious home for the weekend with their kids, Archie (Charlie Evans) and Rose (Farrah Mackenzie). Their vacation is soon upended when two strangers — G.H. (Mahershala Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha’la) — arrive in the night, bearing news of a mysterious cyberattack and seeking refuge in the house they claim is theirs. The two families reckon with a looming disaster that grows more terrifying by the minute, forcing everyone to come to terms with their places in a collapsing world.
AFI’s CEO and president, Bob Gazzale, had the following to say regarding the news of the festival’s opening night film: “Sam Esmail is a commanding voice in the new generation of cinematic storytellers, and we are proud to present the World Premiere of his new film at AFI FEST. That he is a graduate of the AFI Conservatory only adds to the pride we feel in celebrating this accomplishment – which is both powerful and profound.”
Are you excited for this announcement? Have you enjoyed Esmail’s television projects? Have you seen his feature directorial debut “Comet?” Are you looking to attend the AFI Film Festival this year? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.