It’s been an incredible year for film and as 2019 comes to a close, we wanted to look back at some of the favorite films that screened at the AFS Cinema during the past twelve months. We showed over 400 films this year—ranging from new to newly restored, cult to classic—so there is plenty to choose from. For our end of year wrap up, we asked the AFS staff about which films struck them the most this past year and why.
Lisa Dreyer, Programming Coordinator
THE QUEEN (1968)
This beautiful restoration of the rare documentary covering the 1967 Miss All-American Camp Beauty Pageant was such a highlight of my year in film. An amazing snapshot of early drag culture in NYC, with a scene-stealing Crystal LaBeija (who later starred in PARIS IS BURNING) showing us she was already ICONIC in the 60s. Live performances by local drag legends Mandy Quinn and Colleen DeForest before the film made this a night to remember at AFS.
FLAMING CREATURES with Contrast Fest (1963)
Guest programmers for our monthly Homo Arigato series, Tish Sparks and Jeremy Stilb have brought Contrast Fest, their festival featuring boundary-pushing film to AFS Cinema for two years now. Their screening of the previously banned and rarely screened FLAMING CREATURES, paired with a live score from Austin’s own Thor & Friends was transcendent.
QUEEN OF DIAMONDS (1991)
Great example of a film that must be seen on the big screen to fully appreciate—a burning palm tree makes a lot more impact at 10 feet tall rather than 10 inches. Director Nina Menkes makes real ART that is beautiful and boundary-breaking, and her calling in after the screening to share her filmmaking philosophy with the AFS audience was illuminating and inspiring.