In experimenting with all forms of moviemaking, this year’s AFI Fest slate managed to spread the focus of its selections even more than years past.

With Gala screenings featuring world premieres of big budget Oscar players On the Basis of Sex and Mary, Queen of Scotts (both directed by notable female moviemakers) as well as a Netflix Original film (the Sandra Bullock-starring Bird Box directed by Susanne Bier), and even a Netflix original episodic series (Chuck Lorre’s The Kominsky Method). The lines of what makes a film a film may be blurred, but AFI Fest remains committed to screening fascinating, diverse work, regardless of where (or what format) it will eventually be shown.

AFI’s programmers make a point to showcase cinema from across the globe, whether it be in their World Cinema category (which sports new works from Jafar Panahi, Olivier Assayas, Mia Hansen-Løve, Hirokazu Kore-eda, and Lászloó Nemes) or the New Auteurs section (featuring Khalik Allah’s Black Mother, Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki, and Richard Billingham’s autobiographical Ray & Liz. They also foster relationships with burgeoning independent filmmakers such as Philippe Lesange, whose The Demons screened in 2016 and now returns with Genesis, Joel Potrykus, whose Relaxer put a gross out spin on The Exterminating Angel, as well as Alex Ross Perry, whose new film Her Smell is sure to make quite the splash upon its early 2019 release. Here are some of our writers’ favorites from this year’s typically strong festival.

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