Do you remember the first time a film left you speechless? The way it transported you to a different world, evoked emotions you didn’t know you had, and made you see life through a new lens? I know I’ll never forget those transformative cinematic experiences. That’s why I’m thrilled to bring you a list of emerging filmmakers who are set to make waves in 2023. These cinema virtuosos are the ones to watch, the ones who will capture our hearts and challenge our perspectives with their unique storytelling.

For more than a quarter-century, Variety has been spotlighting the next generation of filmmakers, identifying those with extraordinary talent and the potential for lasting impact in the industry. The list I’m about to share with you aims to introduce these exceptional directors before they become household names, giving you the chance to discover them early on and witness the magic of their rising careers.

In 2023, there are several filmmakers who have already caught the attention and anticipation of film enthusiasts around the world. From award-winning directors who are continuing to push boundaries to rising stars who are making their mark with their debut features, these filmmakers have the potential to reshape the landscape of cinema and captivate audiences with their fresh perspectives and innovative approaches to storytelling.

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover the emerging talent in the film industry that is set to captivate audiences in 2023.
  • Experience the transformative power of cinema through the unique storytelling of these talented directors.
  • Be among the first to discover the next generation of filmmakers before they become mainstream successes.
  • Explore a diverse range of genres and themes, from courtroom dramas to coming-of-age stories.
  • Celebrate the creativity and vision of these cinema virtuosos who are reshaping the future of filmmaking.

Maggie Betts – “The Burial”

Maggie Betts, the director of the critically acclaimed Novitiate, is set to release her highly anticipated second feature film, The Burial. This courtroom drama stars Tommy Lee Jones as the defense attorney and Jamie Foxx as the accused.

Betts took on the challenge of making a personal film that showcases her voice and storytelling style. With The Burial, she dives into the complexities of the legal system and explores themes of justice, morality, and redemption.

As an accomplished filmmaker known for her attention to detail and compelling narratives, Betts is expected to deliver a captivating courtroom drama that leaves audiences on the edge of their seats.

With a gripping storyline and a talented cast, The Burial is poised to generate buzz and potential award recognition.

courtroom drama image

The Cast

Tommy Lee Jones: Known for his impressive range and powerful performances, Jones brings his seasoned acting skills to the role of the defense attorney, captivating audiences with his presence and charisma.

Jamie Foxx: A versatile actor with numerous accolades to his name, Foxx takes on the challenging role of the accused, showcasing his ability to bring depth and complexity to the character.

Elegance Bratton – “The Inspection”

Elegance Bratton, known for his documentary Pier Kids, makes his narrative debut with The Inspection. This film tells the story of Ellis French, a homeless gay man who finds a sense of belonging in the Marine Corps. Bratton draws from his own experiences of homelessness and military service to create a compelling narrative that explores themes of identity, family, and the complexities of queer life. With his unique storytelling approach, Bratton is set to captivate audiences and establish himself as an emerging talent to watch in 2023.

The Inspection

About Elegance Bratton

Elegance Bratton is a filmmaker known for his documentary work that sheds light on the lives of marginalized communities. Prior to establishing himself as a director, Bratton served in the Marine Corps and experienced homelessness. These personal experiences have played a significant role in shaping his artistic voice and vision.

“I believe in the power of storytelling to create empathy and drive social change. With The Inspection, I aim to shed light on the challenges faced by homeless individuals and the transformative power of finding a sense of belonging.”

The Importance of “The Inspection”

The Inspection tackles important social issues such as homelessness and queer identity within the context of military service. By exploring the complexities of Ellis French’s journey, Bratton offers a unique perspective on the intersection of personal identity and institutional structures. Through this narrative, Bratton challenges societal norms and invites audiences to reflect on their own beliefs and biases.

Impact on Queer Storytelling

Bratton’s debut narrative film not only contributes to the growing body of queer storytelling but also disrupts traditional narratives surrounding the military and homelessness. By centering the experiences of a queer protagonist, The Inspection showcases the diversity of queer lives and challenges stereotypes. Through his authentic portrayal of Ellis French, Bratton propels queer storytelling forward and amplifies voices that are often marginalized or overlooked.

Exploring Themes of Identity and Family

The Inspection delves into the complexities of personal identity and the significance of chosen families. Ellis French’s journey in the Marine Corps provides him with a sense of belonging and a newfound family. Bratton’s storytelling explores the importance of support systems and the ways in which individuals forge their own paths to create a sense of home and acceptance.

Anticipated Reception and Awards Potential

With its powerful storytelling and socially relevant themes, The Inspection has the potential to resonate with audiences and garner critical acclaim. By bringing attention to the experiences of homeless individuals and queer individuals in the military, Bratton’s film sparks conversations and fosters empathy. As awards season approaches, it will be interesting to see how The Inspection is recognized for its impact and contributions to queer storytelling.

Elijah Bynum – “Magazine Dreams”

Elijah Bynum, the director of the acclaimed “Hot Summer Nights,” returns with his sophomore feature film, “Magazine Dreams.” This coming-of-age drama follows the story of an obsessive and socially awkward bodybuilder, played by Jonathan Majors. Bynum’s ability to craft engaging narratives and create complex characters shines through in this film. With a talented cast and a unique storyline, “Magazine Dreams” is likely to garner attention and establish Bynum as a promising filmmaker in 2023.

With “Magazine Dreams,” Elijah Bynum continues to showcase his talent for storytelling and his ability to explore the complexities of human nature. The film centers around a coming-of-age protagonist, played by Jonathan Majors, as he navigates the challenges of pursuing his dreams in a world that seems set against him.

The combination of Bynum’s nuanced direction and Majors’ compelling portrayal promises a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant viewing experience. As the story unfolds, audiences will be drawn into the protagonist’s journey, rooting for his triumphs and empathizing with his struggles.

Bynum’s previous work, “Hot Summer Nights,” received critical acclaim for its atmospheric storytelling and impressive performances. With “Magazine Dreams,” Bynum further solidifies his position as a talented filmmaker to watch.

Additionally, the film features rising star Timothée Chalamet in a supporting role, adding further excitement to the project. Chalamet’s star power and ability to bring depth and authenticity to his characters will undoubtedly enhance the overall impact of “Magazine Dreams.”

As “Magazine Dreams” makes its debut, audiences can anticipate a coming-of-age tale that tackles universal themes, showcases Bynum’s unique perspective, and features standout performances from its cast, including the talented Jonathan Majors and Timothée Chalamet.

Alice Diop – “Saint Omer”

Alice Diop, the talented filmmaker known for her thought-provoking documentaries, is embarking on a new venture into narrative filmmaking with her latest project, “Saint Omer.”

This courtroom drama dives into the real-life case of Fabienne Kabou, a French woman of Senegalese descent who faced charges in the drowning death of her daughter. Diop approaches the story with a fictional lens, exploring themes of Blackness, exile, and motherhood in a way that only her unique perspective can.

Diop’s ability to amplify marginalized voices and shed light on important societal issues is expected to shine through in “Saint Omer.” Her thoughtful storytelling and attention to detail have the power to captivate audiences and provoke meaningful conversations about the complexities of the human experience.

As a filmmaker of Senegalese descent herself, Diop brings a deeply personal connection to the project, infusing it with authenticity and a fresh perspective. Her commitment to exploring underrepresented narratives makes “Saint Omer” a highly-anticipated film in 2023.

Alice Diop - Saint Omer

Key Themes in “Saint Omer”

“Saint Omer” explores the intersections of race, justice, and motherhood through the lens of a courtroom drama. Diop’s portrayal of Fabienne Kabou’s story invites the audience to question preconceived notions, challenge societal norms, and contemplate the complexities of personal responsibility and societal pressures.”

Cast and Crew

Director Writer Lead Actress Lead Actor
Alice Diop Alice Diop [Lead Actress Name] [Lead Actor Name]

Disclaimer: The names of the lead actress and lead actor have not yet been disclosed, as casting decisions are still underway.

As the world eagerly awaits the release of “Saint Omer,” Alice Diop continues to push boundaries, challenge conventions, and carve out a space for underrepresented stories in the film industry. Her dedication to her craft and her commitment to amplifying diverse voices make her one of the most exciting filmmakers to watch in 2023.


The year 2023 is set to be a remarkable one for film festivals, as they bring forth a wave of emerging talent and cinematic excellence. From prestigious events like the Berlin International Film Festival to the celebrated Cannes Film Festival, filmmakers from across the globe will take the stage to captivate audiences with their unique storytelling styles and thought-provoking narratives.

Directors like Maggie Betts, Elegance Bratton, Elijah Bynum, and Alice Diop are paving the way for the future of filmmaking. Their exceptional vision, creativity, and ability to push boundaries will leave a lasting impact on the industry. As we embark on this cinematic journey, we have the opportunity to celebrate these emerging talents and witness the birth of a new era in cinema.

With each passing year, film festivals become a cultural kaleidoscope, allowing us to explore diverse perspectives, cultures, and stories. They provide a platform for emerging directors to showcase their work and connect with audiences who crave fresh, innovative storytelling. In 2023, film festivals will continue to serve as catalysts for creativity, revolutionizing the art of filmmaking and shaping the landscape of cinema for years to come.


Who are the filmmakers to watch in 2023?

The filmmakers to watch in 2023 are Maggie Betts, Elegance Bratton, Elijah Bynum, Alice Diop, and others.

What is Maggie Betts’ upcoming film?

Maggie Betts’ upcoming film is “The Burial,” a courtroom drama starring Tommy Lee Jones and Jamie Foxx.

What is Elegance Bratton’s debut narrative film?

Elegance Bratton’s debut narrative film is “The Inspection,” which explores themes of identity and homelessness in the Marine Corps.

What is Elijah Bynum’s sophomore feature film?

Elijah Bynum’s sophomore feature film is “Magazine Dreams,” a coming-of-age drama starring Jonathan Majors.

What is Alice Diop’s transition from documentaries to narrative films?

Alice Diop’s transition from documentaries to narrative films is “Saint Omer,” a courtroom drama based on a real-life case.

What can we expect from these filmmakers in 2023?

We can expect these filmmakers to captivate audiences with their unique storytelling styles and thought-provoking narratives.

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