2023 AFI Fest: “Leave the World Behind” Announced as Opening Film

Sam Esmail at the
Sam Esmail at the "Mr. Robot" final season premiere in 2019. Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Shutterstock (10432718ac)

AFI Fest is one of the fall’s most anticipated festivals, and its lineup is shaping up to be amazing. Sam Esmail’s star-studded apocalyptic thriller Leave the World Behind will serve as the festival’s opening film, and its acclaimed cast includes Ethan Hawke, Julia Roberts, and Mahershala Ali.

Leave the World Behind stars Roberts and Hawke as Amanda and Clay, a couple renting a luxurious home for the weekend with their teenage kids. Their peaceful vacation falls apart after two strangers (Ali and Industry‘s Myha’la Herrold) seek refuge in the house they say is theirs, claiming that a mysterious cyberattack led to an unprecedented blackout in the city.

AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale officially announced Leave the World Behind as the festival’s opening film and praised it for being both powerful and profound.

“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,” said Gazzale in a statement.

The 37th AFI Fest will take place between October 25-29, and the rest of the lineup is yet to be unveiled.