NewFest 2019 Full Lineup Revealed

The full lineup for the 31st NewFest LGBTQ Film Festival which runs 23rd – 29th October 2019 in New York has just been revealed. With a programme comprising 27 narrative features, 14 documentary features, 15 episodic series, 8 centerpiece and spotlight screenings, and 100 short films from 32 countries, it’s the city’s biggest queer film fest. 54% of films in this year’s NewFest were directed by women, trans, or non-binary filmmakers. 71% of content is by and about underrepresented voices including women, people of color, trans, bi and differently abled.

As previously announced the festival will open with the New York premiere of Mike Doyle’s Manhattan-set ensemble romcom Sell By and close with another New York premiere, Rodrigo Bellott’s award-winning Tu Me Manques, which was recently announced as Bolivia’s Oscar submission for Best International Feature Film.

This year’s US Centerpiece Gala will be the stylized period drama Martha Stephen’s To the Stars, starring Kara Hayward, Malin Akerman, Jordana Spiro and Tony Hale. Other highlights announced today by NewFest include the New York Centerpiece screening of Mark Blane’s 16mm quirky comedy film Cubby, starring Patricia Richardson, and the International Centerpiece screening of Levan Akin’s And Then We Danced, which premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. And Then We Danced is Sweden’s submission for Best International Feature Film selection for the Academy Awards.

The Documentary Centerpiece screening will be the US premiere of Megan Wennberg’s Drag Kids and there will be a spotlight screening of The True Adventures of Wolf Boy, Martin Krejcí’s modern-day fairytale starring Jaeden Martell, John Turturro and Chloë Sevigny.

Among the three world premieres at this year’s festival are Alexis Clements’
documentary All We’ve Got, which looks into what it takes in the USA for queer spaces for women to survive and why and how they are disappearing. Viatcheslav Kopturevskiy’s Siberia and Him will also have its world premiere at the festival, a story of forbidden love in one of the most unexpected and dangerous places on earth, and so will Rafael Gomes’ Music for Bleeding Hearts, based on the hit Brazilian play.

Other gems in the Narrative Features section include the New York premiere of the 2019 Berlinale Teddy Jury Prize winner A Dog Barking at the Moon, James Sweeney’s romantic comedy Straight Up; the comedy in black-and-white with bursts of color Second Star on the Right, about a bi-sexual woman and three best friends, and the East Coast premiere of
Samatha Lee’s 90s coming-of-age film Bille & Emma.

Doc highlights include The Archivettes about the co-founders of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, Leonard Soloway’s Broadway, which delves into the archives and experiences of a legendary Broadway producer who received over 40 Tony Awards and 3 Pulitzer Prizes, andUnsettled: Seeking Refuge in America, about the untold stories of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers who have fled intense persecution from their home countries.

NewFest’s brilliantly titled frightfully scary queer program HalloKween will screen Bit, the Nicole Maines led transgender vampire film, on of our favourite docs of the year Scream Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street about the controversial sequel of the Wes Craven classic that
ended Mark Patton’s acting career, and the Spanish alien rescue mission film Brief Story from the Green Planet, which won the coveted Teddy Award at this year’s Berlinale.

Screening will be at New York’s SVA Theatre, Cinépolis Chelsea, as well as The LGBT Community Center. Ticket redemption for Festival Passholders begins at 12PM EST on Friday, September 20th. There will be a Member Presale for tickets on Tuesday, September 24th. Tickets go on sale to the public on Friday, September 27th. For more information, to purchase a festival pass, or to become a member, go to newfest.org.

“New York is big and bold, and so is our 31st Annual LGBTQ Film Festival, which will feature over 160 films that reflect and celebrate all aspects of the queer experience,” said NewFest Executive Director David Hatkoff. “Whether set in Brooklyn or Brazil, Manhattan or Manila, our
brilliant programming team has selected films that are local and international, intersectional and intergenerational – just like the singular city we live in. It’s an honor to offer a platform to these
filmmakers, connect them to audiences, and create a joyful space for members of our community to come together and share experiences.”

“Like most art, cinema is at its most powerful when it’s necessary, and this year’s selections prove the importance of giving visibility to the LGBTQ community throughout the world,” said Director of Programming Nick McCarthy. “With World Premieres of films from Brazil and remote
Siberia, it’s vital to amplify queer stories from a variety of genres in the face of oppression. Creating a space to celebrate queer voices and gather diverse audiences in conversation is essential to the fabric, survival and growth of the LGBTQ community. Film always find a way to
shine a light in the darkest times, and we salute both the established and emerging filmmakers represented this year for giving life to our community.”

Here’s the full feature lineup with synopses written by the NewFest programming team.

OPENING NIGHT GALA SELL BY

New York Premiere
Dir. Mike Doyle, USA, 2019, 94 mins
Cast: Scott Evans, Augustus Prew, Kate Walsh, Michelle Buteau, Zoe Chao, Patricia Clarkson, Christopher Gray, Colin Donnell, John Doman

SYNOPSIS
Delivering laugh-out-loud humor alongside wry truths, SELL BY is proof that witty writing and a strong ensemble are a true cornerstone of New York City filmmaking. Actor Mike Doyle’s delightful directorial debut explores the lives and loves of a group of friends as they navigate their careers and relationships amidst the beating heart of our vast metropolis.

Having been together for five years, Adam (Scott Evans, GRACE AND FRANKIE) and rising social media celeb Marklin (Augustus Prew, SPECIAL) are faced with confronting their commitment to each other, while both Cammy (Michelle Buteau, TALES OF THE CITY) and Haley (Zoe Chao) face their own challenges with companionship. Rounding out the lively and talented cast under Doyle’s assured direction is Kate Walsh (GREY’S ANATOMY) and Academy Award-nominee Patricia Clarkson (HIGH ART). Imbued with a can-do charm so becoming of our great metropolis, SELL BY captures both how we let ourselves go, as well as how we grow closer to those we love.

CLOSING NIGHT GALA TU ME MANQUES

New York Premiere
Dir. Rodrigo Bellott, USA/Bolivia, 2019, 110 mins
Cast: Oscar Martinez, Rossy de Palma, Fernando Barbosa

SYNOPSIS
After his son Gabriel passes away, conservative Bolivian patriarch Jorge (Oscar Martínez) accidentally Skypes Gabriel’s ex-boyfriend Sebastian (Fernando Barbosa), leading him on a journey from Bolivia to New York City in search for the truth about his child. Based on writer/director Rodrigo Bellott’s own electrifying and influential play, TU ME MANQUES is an inspiring story that celebrates community, love, and storytelling, and excavates both familial and international homophobia with tremendous tact and care.

Bolivia’s official Oscar submission for Best International Feature Film, Bellott’s spellbinding and playfully shot film explores the connections between art and memory with extraordinary candor and confidence, and features a varied cast of international superstars (including Pedro Almodóvar favorite Rossy De Palma). This bold debut, and recipient of Outfest’s U.S. Screenwriting Prize, is a revelation, and serves as a powerful love letter to New York City, Bolivia, and the function of art to provide LGBTQ visibility and save lives throughout the world.

INTERNATIONAL CENTERPIECE AND THEN WE DANCED

New York Premiere
Dir. Levan Akin, Sweden/France, 2019, 113 mins
Cast: Levan Gelbakhiani, Bachi Valishvili, Ana Javakishvili

SYNOPSIS
Fresh from its acclaimed debut at Cannes, writer/director Levan Akin delivers a passionate and exceptionally crafted tale of liberation set against the backdrop of Georgian traditional dance. Goal-oriented rule-follower Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) has trained most of his life for a spot in the National Georgian Ensemble, but he’s thrown off balance with the arrival of Irlaki, a naturally gifted dancer with a rebellious streak who awakens a mixture of rivalry and desire in Merab. After trading longing glances and

Sweden’s official selection for Best International Feature Film at the 2019 Academy Awards, AND THEN WE DANCED offers a riveting and visceral lead performance from newcomer Gelbakhiani, while featuring dynamic cinematography and a cathartic dance sequence that will leave you breathless.

U.S. CENTERPIECETO THE STARS

New York Premiere
Dir. Martha Stephens, USA, 2019, 111 mins
Cast: Kara Hayward, Liana Liberato, Jordana Spiro, Malin Akerman, Shea Whigham, Tony Hale, Lucas Zumann, Adelaide Clemens

SYNOPSIS
Set in the conservative, bobby-socked setting of a 1960s Oklahoma high school, mysterious cosmopolitan new girl Maggie (Liana Liberato)—a coveted recruit among the popular girls—takes an unexpected shining to Iris (Kara Hayward, MOONRISE KINGDOM), a withdrawn pariah. As the two teens grow closer, we learn the curious circumstances behind Maggie’s sudden arrival in the small Dust Bowl town.

NewFest’s 2015 Centerpiece CAROL flung us out of space, and this year’s blast from the past takes us on a celestial journey through queer friendship and outcast identity. Filmed entirely in black-and-white, Martha Stephens’ gorgeously textured feature boasts formidable performances by its young cast, in addition to dramatic supporting appearances by Malin Åkerman (BILLIONS, THE COMEBACK) and Emmy Award-winner Tony Hale (VEEP, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT).

NEW YORK CENTERPIECECUBBY

New York Premiere
Dir. Mark Blane, USA, 2019, 83 mins
Cast: Mark Blane, Joseph Seuffert, Patricia Richardson, Zachary Booth, Christian Patrick

SYNOPSIS
With a bold voice reminiscent of heyday 90s independent cinema, CUBBY gives a whole new meaning to “adventures in babysitting.” Written and co-directed by breakout star Mark Blane and shot in crisp 16mm, this quirky dark comedy tells the semi-autobiographical story of an anxious midwestern twenty something who moves to New York City in hopes of becoming an artist. We follow Mark as he navigates his new life in this overwhelming city and chemically imbalanced flights of fancy, all while fostering a friendship with Milo, a precocious 6-year-old he begins to babysit in brownstone-filled Brooklyn. This simultaneously off-the-wall and oddly charming debut features a superhero named Leather-Man (Christian Patrick, INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR.), a bizarre closet-dwelling roommate, psychedelics, and a heartwarming performance by Emmy Award-nominee Patricia Richardson (HOME IMPROVEMENT). CUBBY is sure to make you reconnect with your inner child and remind you why you fell in love with this crazy city.

DOCUMENTARY CENTERPIECE DRAG KIDS

US Premiere
Dir. Megan Wennberg, Canada, 2019, 78 mins

SYNOPSIS
Four very different drag performers under the age of 12 meet and celebrate their shared interest for the first time in Megan Wennberg’s marvelously entertaining and touching documentary DRAG KIDS. Nemis, Stephan, Bracken, and Jason have faced an enormous amount of scrutiny over their brief drag careers, but Wennberg’s film frames their celebration through an essential lens of loving and upstanding parenthood.

This triumphant documentary follows the four young stars as they prepare for the biggest performance of their lives at Montreal Pride, demonstrating the importance of artistic expression,

community-building, and non-judgmental support for people of all ages. A surprisingly moving film about gender, art, and affirming parenting, DRAG KIDS will have you cheering through tears by its end. This oft misunderstood segment of the drag community deserves more accurate representation in media, and Megan Wennberg’s film is only the beginning.

NARRATIVE FEATURES

15 YEARS

New York Premiere
Dir. Yuval Hadadi, Israel, 2019, 89 mins Cast: Oded Leopold, Udi Persi, Ruth Asarsai

SYNOPSIS
When his best friend becomes pregnant and his longtime boyfriend starts talking about adopting, the often-unfazed Yoav begins to unravel. Small arguments fester to extreme degrees in Yuval Hadadi’s stunning portrait of a relationship in crisis. Shot against the backdrop of contemporary Tel Aviv, Hadadi explores ingrained pressures on the Israeli LGBT community in his confident feature directorial debut.

Featuring powerful performances by its three leads, 15 YEARS is a remarkable calling card for both its director and stars. Unflinchingly intimate, it provides a remarkably nuanced perspective on parenthood, partnership, and personal growth.

A DOG BARKING AT THE MOON

New York Premiere
Dir. Lisa Zi Xiang, China/Spain, 2019, 107 mins
Cast: Naren Hua, Nan Ji, Wu Reyuan, Thomas Fiquet

SYNOPSIS
While visiting her broken family with her American husband, pregnant writer Huang Xiaoyu finds herself trapped between her cult-brainwashed mother and her secretly homosexual father. An epic Chinese family saga that unfolds over–and weaves together–multiple periods of time, Lisa Zi Xiang’s directorial debut is a masterful tale of secrets, infidelity, and the enormous weight of societal norms.

Combining hyperrealistic cinematography with highly self-aware sequences, A DOG BARKING AT THE MOON takes the best parts of FAR FROM HEAVEN and IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE and forms something brand new from them. A beautiful and meticulous look at religion, queerness, and shame, Lisa Zi Xiang’s film won the Jury Prize at this year’s Berlinale and solidifies her as a major talent to watch.

BENJAMIN

New York Premiere
Dir. Simon Amstell, UK, 2019, 85 mins
Cast: Gabe Gilmour, Jack Rowan, Colin Morgan, Anna Chancellor, Robin Peters, Arnab Chanda, Jessica Raine, James Bloor, Joel Fry, PhéniYES Brossard, Jessie Cave

SYNOPSIS
Like a perfectly steeped cup of English Breakfast, BENJAMIN is a satisfyingly bittersweet romantic comedy from the distinctive mind of Simon Amstell (NEVER MIND THE BUZZCOCKS). Benjamin is an anxious, awkward filmmaker who feels stuck ahead of the premiere of his second feature. His lack of confidence in the film is eating him away, and, though love fuels his writing material, he’s overwhelmed by his self-proclaimed inability to love. When a beautiful young French musician named Noah comes into Benjamin’s life, he begins to let go of his past love traumas and see the light. It’s not long, however, before Benjamin’s insecurities come knocking and threaten to throw his life and relationship into disarray.

Colin Morgan (THE FALL, NBC’s MERLIN) brilliantly leads the film, and perfectly delivers Amstell’s witty dialogue while allowing us to empathize with Benjamin’s many uncomfortable situations. The film also features the fun, familiar faces of Joel Fry (GAME OF THRONES, YESTERDAY), Nathan Stewart-Jarret (MISFITS, ANGELS IN AMERICA – 2018), and Ellie Kendrick (GAME OF THRONES, AN EDUCATION).

BILLIE & EMMA

New York Premiere
Dir. Samantha Lee, Philippines, 2019,107 mins
Cast: Gabby Padilla, Zar Donato, Beauty Gonzales, Chelo Aquino

SYNOPSIS
In the Philippines during the 1990s, out teenager and rock music-lover Billie is sent from Manilla to live with her aunt in a rural village. Sticking out like a sore thumb in her strict Catholic high school, Billie develops an intimate bond with Emma, an ambitious classmate who is hiding the fact that she’s pregnant from their peers. Together, Billie and Emma stand up against oppressive school officials and gossipy classmates, and discover there is so much more to live for aside from religious doctrine. Visually distinct and heartwarming, this charming coming-of-age tale from writer/director Samantha Lee (MAYBE TOMORROW, NewFest 2017) underscores Lee’s commitment to telling tender stories about the Southeast Asian queer experience.

HOLY TRINITY

New York Premiere
Dir. Molly Hewitt, USA, 2019, 97 mins
Cast: Molly Hewitt, Theo Germain, Heather Lynn, Imp Queen

SYNOPSIS
HOLY TRINITY is an absolute acid trip of kinky, drug-induced, gender-fluid adventures through an alternative universe’s Chicago. We follow Trinity, a queer dominatrix, who, after huffing a new brand of magic aerosol, can see dead people. If John Waters, Jamie Babbit, and Bruce LaBruce collaborated on a movie, it would be HOLY TRINITY.

But the only person to credit with this brilliant madness is writer/director/star Molly Hewitt. Their directorial debut features some of the most imaginative production design of the twenty-first century and performances that are sure to baffle and delight in equal measure. Comedian Sarah Squirm, drag performer Imp Queen, and Theo Germaine (THE POLITICIAN) co-star in this playful, unpredictable, and genre-defying future cult classic that must be seen to be believed.

LAST FERRY

New York Premiere
Dir. Jaki Bradley, USA, 2019, 86 mins
Cast: Ramon O. Torres, Myles Clohessy, Sheldon Best

SYNOPSIS
Fire Island during the early summer off-season makes for a perfectly isolated setting for this singular comedy-thriller. When lonely lawyer Joseph (Ramon Torres, who also serves as writer/co-producer) ventures out to The Pines for the first time, he is drugged and mugged, and witnesses a murder on the beach. After he is found and taken in by a group of friends (featuring a boatload of familiar faces, including Sheldon Best and the hilarious Larry Owens) he quickly acclimates, but then begins to wonder, who can he trust? This taut thriller offers a delightfully gay spin on the classic thriller formula and features excellent cinematography from Alexa Wolf, who manages to capture the beauty and brightness of beaches and mimosa-drenched brunches, as well as the darkness that always seems to be lurking underneath this story’s surface.

MONSTERS

East Coast Premiere

Dir. Marius Olteanu, Romania, 2019, 116 mins Cast: Judith State, Cristian Popa

Presenting a clear snapshot of a contemporary Romanian couple through three distinct chapters, Marius Olteanu’s formal portrait of a marriage in quiet disarray is immersive in its naturalism and sneaky in its sense of humor. Subtly exploring the varied routes through which humans seek connection, whether through an extended all-night conversation with a cab driver or a secretive Grindr hookup, MONSTERS. is an observational film that refuses to judge its characters no matter how desperate they appear to be at times.

Following two decades of expertly crafted cinema known for its distinct humanism and deadpan wit, the Romanian New Wave can finally claim its queer masterpiece with this stunning and form-expanding debut.

MUSIC FOR BLEEDING HEARTS

World Premiere
Dir. Rafael Gomes, Brazil, 2019, 102 mins
Cast: Victor Mendes, Mayara Constantino, Caio Horowicz, Icaro Silva, Denise Fraga

SYNOPSIS
In present day São Paulo, a trio of young hearts are about to break. Ricardo has both a steady boyfriend and a wandering eye for a new coworker. Isabella is taking a break from both her boyfriend and best friend Ricardo. And hopeless romantic Felipe has suddenly found himself caught between the two of them. These three have big dreams, yearning passion, and opinionated acquaintances, but they’re all unprepared for what’s to come from Cupid’s arrows.

From the producer of NewFest 2014 Audience Award winner THE WAY HE LOOKS and featuring an eclectic record-store-ready soundtrack that samples Brazilian Pop, New Wave, and Classical, MUSIC FOR BLEEDING HEARTS is a disarming ensemble rom-com which explores gay, bisexual, and lesbian relationships with depth, humanity, and a symphony of charm.

NEVRLAND

New York Premiere
Dir. Gregor Schmidinger, Austria, 2019, TBC mins Cast: Simon Frühwirth, Paul Forman, Josef Hader

SYNOPSIS
Seeking escape from his drab life at home and at work in a slaughterhouse, Jakob retreats into online worlds in search of excitement. After making a connection with tight-torsoed Kristjan in a cam chatroom, Jakob ventures out to meet up in person, leading to a mind-bending journey to the center of the self that will irreparably alter both of their lives.

A twisted thriller about anxiety, grief, and loneliness, NEVRLAND defies expectations up to, and including, its wild conclusion. An absurd fusion of genres, Gregor Schmidinger’s startling and confident feature debut is an indescribable depiction of love, loss, and drug use in the Internet era.

SECOND STAR ON THE RIGHT

New York Premiere
Dir. Ruth Caudeli, Colombia, 2019, 82 mins
Cast: Silvia Varón, Ximena Rodríguez, Alejandra Lara, Tatiana Rentería, Diana Wiswell, Andrés Jiménez, Lorena Castellanos, Justin Vahala, Gina Medina

SYNOPSIS
In the blink of an eye, gregarious bisexual Emilia (Silvia Varón) has gone from being a core member of a tight-knit group of women to its biggest burden. As her thirties close in on her, Emilia flits from day job to passion project to romantic interest without wholly committing to any. As the group’s focus shifts from friendship to careers, partners, and kids, Emilia becomes yet another load its members must shoulder.

In the playful spirit of FRANCES HA and MISTRESS AMERICA, prolific writer/director Ruth Caudeli’s SECOND STAR ON THE RIGHT dives into the deep end of “becoming a real human” in an age where everyone seems increasingly inauthentic.

SEVENTEEN

New York Premiere
Dir. Monja Art, Austria, 2019, 104 mins
Cast: Elisabeth Wabitsch, Magdalena Wabitsch

SYNOPSIS
Reminiscent of subtle tales of sapphic desire like SHOW ME LOVE and MY SUMMER OF LOVE, Monja Art’s feature is an adroit portrait of young love and its complex yet inexpert motions. As summer looms in bucolic Austria, seventeen year-old Paula studies and silently pines for her boarding school classmate and close friend, Charlotte, who is biding time with an unremarkable boyfriend and exercising restraint in her shared feelings for Paula. Rather than dwelling, Paula attempts to date Tim, an eccentric but earnest classmate, in turn striking an imperfect balance between erotic connection and attraction that ultimately proves satisfying. With SEVENTEEN, the lesbian coming-of-age story receives the attention and layers that are usually reserved for adult narratives.

SIBERIA & HIM

World Premiere
Dir. Viatcheslav Kopturevskiy, USA/Russia, 2019, 72 mins
Cast: Ilya Shubochkin, Anastasiya Voskresenskaya, Irina Novokreshennyh, Aleksandr Savin, Viatcheslav Kopturevskiy

SYNOPSIS
Meek farmhand Sasha and policeman Dima have a fraught relationship. They’re brothers-in-law, travel companions, and⁠—secretly⁠—lovers. Over the course of their journey to visit Sasha’s grandmother, unspoken truths are uttered, intimacy is built, and authenticity is challenged. Although they may be far from the peering eyes of their oppressive society, their relationship teeters on a dangerous precipice.

Selected and supported by the IFP Filmmaker Lab and destined to evoke both the breathtaking landscapes of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and the tragedy of a Dostoevsky novel, Viatcheslav Kopturevskiy’s auspicious debut drama is an elliptical and much-needed examination of

internalized homophobia, repression, and identity in a remote Siberian town.

STRAIGHT UP

New York Premiere
Dir. James Sweeney, USA, 2019, 95 mins
Cast: Katie Findlay, James Sweeney, Randall Park

SYNOPSIS
Heralding in a fresh voice of contemporary independent cinema, writer/director/producer James Sweeney stars in this witty comedy as Todd, an obsessive-compulsive and GILMORE GIRLS-loving twentysomething plagued by intense anxieties. Todd has never been comfortable with his queerness, or with most aspects of his life, and consistently struggles with insecurity. That is until he thinks he’s met his soulmate. The only problem? She’s a woman.

Featuring a career-defining performance by Katie Findlay (HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER) as Todd’s literal platonic ideal and comedic support from Betsy Brant (BREAKING BAD) and Randall Park (FRESH OFF THE BOAT) as Todd’s parents, STRAIGHT UP tells the hilarious, touching, and label-shattering story of gay boy meets straight girl. Beautifully shot, delicately constructed, and brilliantly scripted, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Sweeney’s hilarious directorial debut.

TREMBLORES (TREMORS)

New York Premiere
Dir. Jayro Bustamante, Guatemala/France/Luxembourg, 2019, 107 mins Cast: Juan Pablo Olyslager, Mauricio Armas, Diane Bathen

SYNOPSIS
In Guatemala, earthquakes (or tremors) can be a very common occurrence. TEMBLORES explores what happens to an affluent religious family as a rumbling rift symbolically tears them apart after patriarch Pablo (a revelatory Juan Pablo Olyslager) reveals that he’s been sustaining a loving relationship with another man. What follows is a tale of passionate romance, immense inner conflict and devastating tragedy. Separated from his wife, his children and his life of Evangelical tradition, Pablo initially finds a sense of freedom. But how long can he sustain this new and exciting life when he’s fired from his job and his religious creed begins to take over again? Filled with gorgeous and breathtaking cinematography, Olyslager leads a brilliant cast in this Berlinale standout from prominent award-winning auteur Jayro Bustamante (IXCANBUL, LA LLORONA) that is sure to shake you to your core by its final frames.

THE SHINY SHRIMPS

New York Premiere
Dir. MaYESime Govare and Cédric Le Gallo, France, 2019, 103 mins Cast: Nicolas Gob, Alban Lenoir, Michaël Abiteboul, Geoffrey Couët

SYNOPSIS
After an Olympic swimmer near the end of his career makes a homophobic comment on TV, he’s barred from any further events unless he agrees to coach the Shiny Shrimps, a flambouyant gay water-polo team. They might have the worst record in the amateur league, but they’re dead-set on qualifying for the most prestigious and challenging LGBTQ sporting event in Europe, the Gay Games.

Co-directors Maxime Govare and Cédric Le Gallo’s flinty sports movie is an exhuberant, surprising, and thought-provoking comedy about the potential for growth in all of us. Bring your friends, your dates, and your local gay water-polo team and dive into the most fun you’ll have in a movie theater all year.

TOP 3 (AND OTHER ANIMATED TALES)

New York Premiere
Dir. Sofie Edvardsson, Sweden, 2019, 44 mins
Cast: Eric Ernerstedt, Jonas Jonsson, Caroline Johansson Kuhmunen

SYNOPSIS
In this inventive and bittersweet animated rom-com, perpetual list-maker Anton falls in love with David and the two share a globetrotting young romance. But things start to go awry when Anton realizes that his dreams could be in direct opposition to his crush’s. Sofie Edvardsson’s charming and moving tale of miscommunication, idealization, and star-crossed love premiered at Frameline and won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at Outfest. Presented alongside a variety of animated short films, TOP 3 (AND OTHER ANIMATED TALES) is sure to be one of the most delightfully crowd-pleasing programs in this year’s festival.

ZEN IN THE ICE RIFT

New York Premiere
Dir. Margherita Ferri, Italy, 2019, 90 mins
Cast: Eric Ernerstedt, Jonas Jonsson, Caroline Johansson Kuhmunen

SYNOPSIS
Maia “Zen” Zenassi is a quick-tempered, nonconforming sixteen year-old living in a provincial Italian mountain village. A standout on the local boys hockey team, Zen uses the sport as a vital outlet for rage, an escape from emotional vulnerability, and a stage for gender performance. While being scouted for the national women’s team, Zen develops an improbable friendship with a male teammate’s reluctant girlfriend, causing an icy demeanor to melt away as Zen finally shares a closely-guarded desire to be a boy. Here, an open heart comes with mixed results. A brutally honest story of youth and life in the in-between that draws inspiration from BOYS DON’T CRY, Margherti Ferri’s second feature is marked by understated dialogue, beautiful shots of

Italy’s Apennine Mountains, and a revelatory performance from newcomer Eleonora Conti that captures a queer unruliness that is seldom seen on screen.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

A NIGHT AT SWITCH ‘N’ PLAY

New York Premiere
Dir. Cody Stickels, USA, 2019, 72 mins

SYNOPSIS
You are cordially invited to a night at Switch n’ Play! Meet the daring and dazzling Queer artists behind one of Brooklyn’s most popular and groundbreaking performance groups. Come along for the ride as they display their own unique blend Burlesque and drag, and navigate how gender identity, body image, and familial issues affect their performance personas and personal lives.

This devillishly delightful documentary reminds us that the greatest joy in life comes from fully embracing yourself, and that there’s no better support system than a giant Queer family. Featuring performances by Divina GranSparkle, Pearl Harbor, K. James, Miss Malice, Vigor Mortis, Nyx Nocturne, and Zoe Ziegfled.

ALL WE’VE GOT

World Premiere
Dir. Alexis Clements, USA, 2019, 67 mins

SYNOPSIS
Since 2010, over 100 queer women’s spaces—from dive bars to bookstores and dance halls to health centers—have shuttered across the United States. As concern grows over this death and dearth of these essential social hubs, this documentary takes inventory of those that continue to thrive across the country, inciting a powerful conversation about the importance of community. Whether at Alibi’s Club in Oklahoma City or WOW Café Theatre in our own New York City, queer women are tirelessly making room for one another on barstools, stages, and activism’s front lines.

Intrepid first-time director Alexis Clements takes us on a far-flung journey through American herstory and resilience. ALL WE’VE GOT is a timely reminder that, despite financial hardship and the evolving definition of queer community, the existing places in which we seek shelter are more inclusive and active than ever before.

BURN DOWN THE HOUSE (Screening with FABULOUS)

Dir. Giselle Bailey and Nneka Onuorah, France, 2019, 44 mins

SYNOPSIS
When one of us wins, we all win—and BURN THE HOUSE DOWN sets out to prove that. Giselle Bailey & Nneka Onuorah’s immersive documentary follows Kiddy Smile and several Parisian dancers as they prepare to perform in his next concert (and also features FABULOUS’ Lasseindra Ninja). After DJing for Emmanuel Macron in a T-shirt that read “Fils d’immigrés, noir et pédé” (which translates to “son of an immigrant, Black and gay), Smile was the subject of extraordinary praise and backlash. But he and his friends won’t let that faze them. As they discuss contemporary racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and the art that binds them, these rising stars make it clear that they won’t stop until everyone knows Paris is still burning.

FABULOUS (Screening with BURN DOWN THE HOUSE)

Dir. Audrey Jean-Baptiste, France, 2019, 46 mins

SYNOPSIS
Audrey Jean-Baptiste’s triumphant FABULOUS follows Lasseindra Ninja, a notable fixture of the ballroom scene in Paris, who travels from France to French Guiana in order to teach the art of voguing to LGBTQ young adults in her home country. A powerful and personal look at one woman’s return home, FABULOUS gives the gift of empowerment and community to the next generation of queer dancers.

JONATHAN AGASSI SAVED MY LIFE

Dir. Tomer Heymann, Israel/Germany, 2019, 106 mins

SYNOPSIS
Jonathan Agassi, one of the world’s most successful gay porn stars, splits his time between Israel, where both his parents live, and Berlin. The recipient of multiple international porn awards, Agassi built his fame on something considered taboo but enjoyed by millions worldwide. But as Agassi’s success starts to wane, he responds in increasingly self-destructive ways.

Both a candid portrait of a self-admitted mama’s boy and a harrowing look at the people behind pornography, JONATHAN AGASSI SAVED MY LIFE is a non-judgmental depiction of drug addiction and an industry that can chew you up and spit you out. Award-winning filmmaker Tomer Heymann’s documentary melds ego, idealization, and disappointment into an eerie look at one man’s rapid fall from grace.

LEONARD SOLOWAY’S BROADWAY

New York Premiere
Dir. Jeff Wolk, USA, 2019, 84 mins

SYNOPSIS
Leonard Soloway is a Broadway legend, and he’s got the Tony Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and unforgettable stories to prove it. Narrated by Campbell Scott, this documentary follows the octogenarian producer as he works tirelessly to bring Maurice Hines’ musical memoir TAPPIN THRU LIFE to New York City. Interwoven with footage from Soloway’s more than 70 years in show business, the film features hilarious anecdotes about Lauren Bacall, Marlene Dietrich, and Elaine Stritch, alongside candid interviews with friends and colleagues including John Slattery, Olympia Dukakis, Elizabeth Ashley, and Tovah Feldshuh. LEONARD SOLOWAY’S BROADWAY vividly paints the portrait of a great man of the theater, and pulls back the curtain on what it takes to get a show to the Great White Way.

MARKIE IN MILWAUKEE

New York Premiere
Dir. Matt Kliegman, USA, 2019, 88 mins

SYNOPSIS
Markie Wenzel, a transgender TSA agent and former minister, struggles with being ostracized within her conservative community as she debates whether to de-transition. On the eve of her confirmation surgery, Markie professes that she heard the voice of God who convinced her not to go forward with it. In the aftermath of this decision, Markie reintegrates into her family and fundamentalist church, while reconciling the mutability of gender and the explicit and implicit transphobia of those she loves.

Shot over ten years, director Matt Kliegman provides space for Markie to tell her own story while beautifully stitching together an endearing and often challenging portrait of gender fluidity, transphobia, and self-acceptance in the American Midwest.

MR. LEATHER

New York Premiere
Dir. Daniel Nolasco, USA, 2019, 85 mins

SYNOPSIS
Brazil’s leather community gets up close and personal in Daniel Nolasco’s playful documentary about the titular competition. Nolasco follows judges, past winners, and current contenders for the title of Mr. Leather Brazil, as they prepare for the annual contest, where one participant will win the honor of representing their country at Chicago’s annual International Mr. Leather contest.

Combining vérité footage with stylized sequences, MR. LEATHER keeps its audience on their toes through its illuminating, playful, and uncompromising depiction of this kinky subculture. Sex, activism, and community-building collide to make MR. LEATHER a one-of-a-kind glimpse into São Paulo’s fetish scene.

ONE TAXI RIDE

New York Premiere
Dir. Mak CK, Mexico/Sinagpore, 2019, 84 mins

SYNOPSIS
When Erick was seventeen-years-old, his life changed forever. Ten years after a traumatic taxi ride, he’s ready to reclaim his future and set out on a journey that will not only shift his path, but that of those closest to him. ONE TAXI RIDE is a thoughtful and delicate look at how sexual violence impacts survivors, their relationships, and their futures. C.K. Mak’s documentary doesn’t turn Erick’s trauma into a source of spectacle, but, rather, a means of healing and honest introspection.

It’s a hopeful and commendable piece of documentary filmmaking, modeling ethical storytelling and the ways in which art and activism can and should cathartically collide.

OUR DANCE OF REVOLUTION

New York Premiere
Dir. Phillip Pike, Canada, 2019, 102 mins

SYNOPSIS
An audience favorite at this year’s Hot Docs, OUR DANCE OF REVOLUTION is an enriching documentary that celebrates the unsung heroes of Toronto’s black LGBTQ community. Tracing four decades of necessary rebellion while highlighting the crucial role of black women and black queer spaces, director Phillip Pike gives voice to the trailblazers who fought on the frontlines against violence and police brutality via fascinating archival footage and first person interviews.

OUR DANCE OF REVOLUTION will educate, uplift, and move you–and it makes very clear that the era of activism isn’t over, and the fight for queer and black rights demands a more international understanding of organization and resistance.

QUEEN OF LAPA

New York Premiere
Dir. Theodore Collatos and Carolina Monnerat, Brazil, 2019, 73 mins

SYNOPSIS
Against the backdrop of political corruption and flagrant transphobia in Brazil, the late, great Luana Muniz—cabaret performer, activist, and sex worker since age eleven—minced no words

about the challenges in calling Lapa, Rio de Janeiro home. In her hostel, she provided a rare safe haven and a heavy dose of tough love for the next generation of trans sex workers.

Theodore Collatos and Carolina Monnerat beautifully honor Muniz’s memory, the space she fostered for young trans women, and those following in her uncompromising footsteps. Along with profiling an unsung heroine, this fly-on-the-wall verité documentary humbly listens, sans judgement, to frank discussions of transfemme triumph and tragedy in Lapa’s streets.

QUEER JAPAN

New York Premiere
Dir. Graham Kolbeins, USA/Japan, 2019, 100 mins

SYNOPSIS
While queer and trans subject-matter remains somewhat taboo in parts of Japan, Graham Kolbeins assembled an extraordinary group of artists, activists, and community-leaders who are fighting to shift societal and political perspectives on the LGBTQ+ community. Featuring the country’s first transgender elected-official Aya Kamikawa, erotic manga illustrator Gengoroh Tagame, lesbian bar-owner Chiga Ogawa, and many more, Kolbeins’ film demonstrates the wide range of experiences, identities, and obstacles among Japan’s queer and trans pioneers.

Our community is not a monolith, and Kolbeins showcases that beautifully and organically here. QUEER JAPAN is not a tragic look of queer oppression and exclusion, but rather a celebration of community, originality, and the inherent power of loving ourselves.

THE ARCHIVETTES

New York Premiere
Dir. Megan Rossman, USA/Australia, 2019, 61 mins

SYNOPSIS
Led by local heroes Deb Edel and Joan Nestle in the 1970s, a group of young lesbians frustrated by misogyny and homophobia within academia huddled together and built an accessible archive of lesbian documents and artifacts for those conducting research, both professional and personal. The location: a bedroom in a modest apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

In its nearly fifty years of existence, the Lesbian Herstory Archives has weathered many storms, from the feminist sex wars to a move to Brooklyn. Today, with its founders in their seventies, the Archives is staring down its next challenge: a change in leadership. This highly anticipated feature debut from Megan Rossman is a thoughtful and more intergenerational expansion of NewFest 2016 Audience Award winner for Best Documentary short, LOVE LETTER RESQUE SQUAD.

UNSETTLED: SEEKING REFUGE IN AMERICA

New York Premiere
Dir. Tom Shepard, USA, 2019, 84 mins

SYNOPSIS
Tom Shepard’s new documentary follows four asylum-seekers from Syria, Angola, and The Democratic Republic of Congo as they try to start fresh in the United States. Subhi, Junior, Mari, and Cheynne have come a long way from home, but their journies are just beginning. Even before Donald Trump’s election, the asylum process has been notoriously labyrinthine for many refugees. Nonetheless, these four extraordinary individuals have persisted tenaciously.

Depicted with heartbreaking intimacy, UNSETTLED: SEEKING REFUGE IN AMERICA is inspiring must-see cinema. Much is at stake for queer and trans immigrants globally and we have a long way to go in order to sufficiently support them.

YOUR TURN

New York Premiere
Dir. Eliza Capai, Brazil, 2019, 93 mins

SYNOPSIS
Lucas “Koka” Penteado, Marcela Jesus, and Nayara Souza were three ordinary high school students whose lives suddenly changed when the state of São Paulo announced plans to close ninety-four public schools. In response to corruption and inefficiency in their government, these teens started to organize. Beginning with protests in which local students occupied their schools for weeks on end, the student labor movement reached extraordinary heights in 2015 and 2016, bringing awareness to numerous injustices in Brazil and remedying widespread problems for the country’s poorest residents. That was until 2018, when Jair Bolsonaro was elected with 55% of the popular vote. As the tides shift against activists and social justice movements, Koka, Marcela, and Nayara are faced with a jarring reality. Charting the country’s recent history through casual voiceover narration, gorgeous archival footage, and intimate interviews, YOUR TURN is a passionate championing of young activists and the future of progressive advocacy, in Brazil and beyond.

EPISODIC

A LUV TALE: THE SERIES

New York Premiere
Dir. Kay Oyegun, USA, 2019, 75 mins
Cast: Vanessa Williams, Leon, Rotim, Sheria Irving, Amber Whittington

SYNOPSIS
Based on the 1999 award-winning film, writer and creator Sidra Smith brings us back to Harlem: a section of New York City vibrant with brilliant, Black artists in A LUV TALE: THE SERIES. When we meet Taylor, she has a magical one stand with an older woman named Candice. The next night at Taylor’s gallery opening, she meets Candice again. Only this time, Candice is with her husband. (This is when things start to really get crazy.) Taylor then discovers that Candice is not only married to a man, but that she’s also Taylor’s best friend Jake’s Mother. At the same time, Taylor’s roommate Akila navigates her own love life, and her work as a musician, all while still having to defend herself and her sexuality against her Mother who is a famous singer. This tea-spilling romantic dramedy boats an all star cast including Vanessa Williams (SOUL FOOD: The Series, CANDYMAN), Leon (COOL RUNNINGS, THE TEMPTATIONS), Rotimi (POWER, BOSS), and Victor Williams (KING OF QUEENS, THE AFFAIR), and is the directorial debut of THIS IS US and QUEEN SUGAR writer Kay Oyegun.

THESE THEMS: SEASON 1 (Episodes 1-7)

New York Premiere
Dir. Jett Garrison, USA, 2019, 82 mins
Cast: Gretchen Wylder, Victoria Ortiz, Shaan Dasani, Nick Park

SYNOPSIS
After realizing she may be a lesbian, Gretchen (Gretchen Wylder) befriends non-binary dog-walker Vero (Victoria Ortiz), who decides to stop training dogs and start training cishets. Vero takes Gretchen under their wing and introduces her to the queer world of New York City as she navigates what it’s like to be newly out at the age of 30.

THESE THEMS is the rare ensemble series which effectively combines comedy with education, teaching its audience about gender nonconformity and various queer identities while delighting and captivating through sharp humor. Featuring authentic casting, local settings, and seven incredible episodes, THESE THEMS puts the LGBTQ+ community in the driver’s seat, showing what can happen when we’re allowed to tell our own stories on television.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Episode 101 & Season Sneak Preview

Dir. Tim Mason, USA, 2019
Cast: Abby McEnany, Karin Anglin, Celeste Pechous, Julia Sweeney

WORK IN PROGRESS, a new half-hour comedy series created by Chicago improv mainstays Abby McEnany and Tim Mason, and co-written by Lilly Wachowski (The Matrix, Sense8) is a funny and uniquely human comedy, WORK IN PROGRESS features McEnany as a 45-year-old self-identified fat, queer dyke from Chicago whose misfortune and despair unexpectedly lead her to a vibrantly transformative relationship. Chicago-based performer Karin Anglin co-stars alongside Celeste Pechous, with Julia Sweeney (Saturday Night Live) appearing in a crucial role as herself and serving as executive producer. Theo Germaine (The Politician) will also appear as a guest star. WORK IN PROGRESS is executive produced by McEnany, Mason and

Wachowski, who also serve as co-showrunners. Lawrence Mattis, Ashley Berns and Josh Adler of Circle of Confusion also serve as executive producers, along with Tony Hernandez of JAX Media (DESUS & MERO). Mason also serves as director this season and WORK IN PROGRESS will premiere Sunday, December 8 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME.

HALLOKWEEN

HalloKween Centerpiece
SCREAM QUEEN: MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
New York Premiere
Dir. Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen, USA, 2019, 100 mins Cast: Mark Patton, Robert Englund, Kim Myers, Robert Rusler

SYNOPSIS
Following a successful stint on Broadway alongside stars such as Cher, Karen Black, and Sandy Dennis, closeted actor Mark Patton launched his film career with a prominent role in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE in 1985. What initially seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime soon became a horror story worthy of its own midnight movie. Appreciated fondly by razor-gloved connoisseurs the world over, FREDDY’S REVENGE’s intricately crafted gay subtext decimated its lead’s job prospects in a single swipe. In SCREAM QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, Patton finally strikes back.

A consistently compelling film essay that also offers a glimpse at the human collateral of the AIDS epidemic in Hollywood, Tyler Jensen and Roman Chimienti’s documentary follows the disenchanted actor as he goes on tour during ELM STREET 2’s 30th anniversary, coming face-to-face with the screenwriter who sealed his fate and the queer fans who have reclaimed this homophobic horror as a cult classic.

BIT

New York Premiere
Dir. Brad Michael Elmore, USA, 2019, 90 mins
Cast: Diana Hopper, Nicole Maines, James PaYESton, Jimmy Jagger, Julia Voth, MC Gainey

SYNOPSIS
Think Los Angeles is soulless? Try surviving the city’s underground feminist vampire scene. In this comedic-horror flick with a flair for the postmodern, Laurel (SUPERGIRL’s Nicole Maines) leaves the suburbs hoping to catch a breather and a couple of good rock shows while crashing with her with her brother Mark (James Paxton) in the City of Angels. Instead, she quickly finds herself swept up in a faction of vampires with hazy motives. Led by a centuries-old, discerning sanguisuge by the name of Duke (Diana Hopper), entry into this clique might be more than Laurel bargained for. As the age-old queer girl adage goes, she must find out whether they want to befriend her, date her, or turn her—before it’s too late.

BRIEF STORY FROM THE GREEN PLANET

New York Premiere
Dir. SantIago Loza, Argentina/Germany/Brazil/Spain, 2019, 75 mins
Cast: Romina Escobar, Paula Grinszpan, Luis Soda, Elvira Onetto, Pablo Cura, Anabella Bacigalupo, Leo Kildare Louback

SYNOPSIS
In the eerie early moments of this mesmerizing Teddy Award winner, Tania–a transgender club performer–finds out that her grandmother has died. When she brings her two friends (the depressed Daniela and the dancey Pedro) to visit her late relative’s home, they discover that Tania’s grandmother spent her last years with a very special pal of her own: a small blue alien. Now Tania, Daniela, and Pedro must journey through rural Argentina to bring the alien back home before time runs out for the creature. Told through a genre-focused lens with a dry, Almodóvarian sense of humor, this bold tale of friendship fully satisfies the itch for a queer version of E.T. or THE GOONIES, while giving life to themes of self-discovery, embracing who you are, and the true meaning of home.

SPECIAL EVENTS CRYSTAL CITY

New York Premiere
Dir. Terrence Crawford, USA, 2019, 89 mins Cast: David Fawcett, PhD

SYNOPSIS
Filmmaker Terrence Crawford delivers a respectful and intimate look into the lives of gay men dealing with the re-emerging crisis of crystal meth addiction in New York City. Crawford expertly traces the history of the drug while making connections to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and mental health in the LGBTQ community. Through first hand experiences we learn about how these men became addicts and about their road to recovery via essential and life changing queer support groups. Simultaneously revealing, compassionate, and deeply informative, this essential documentary humanizes a stigmatized subject matter, ensuring awareness across our community rather than shame and isolation.

QUEER GENIUS

New York Premiere
Dir. Chet Catherine Pancake, USA, 2019, 114 mins
Cast: Barbara Hammer, Eileen Myles, Black Quantum Futurism, Moor Mother, Jibz Cameron AKA Dynasty Handbag

SYNOPSIS
Effortlessly multigenerational, interdisciplinary, and diverse in scope, Queer Genius peers into the lives of five virtuosos who have challenged artistic formalism, gender roles, and heterosexism without apology in both their private lives and creative practices. Composed of rare and in-depth portraits of late experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer, the art collective Black Quantum Futurism, East Village poet Eileen Myles, and performance artist Jibz Cameron, this documentary charts the robust family tree of the lesbian and queer avant-garde across six decades. It’s a lineage that shows no sign of growing dormant.

A working artist also worthy of the queer genius epithet, director Chet Catherine Pancake exists on the same plane as their subjects. In turn, Pancake’s lens takes on the intimacy of home video; their interviews, conversation between chosen family.

QUEERING THE SCRIPT

New York Premiere
Dir. Gabrielle Zilkha, USA/Canada, 2019, 93 mins
Cast: Angelica Ross, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Gloria Calderon Kellett & Mike Royce, Ilene Chaiken, Lucy Lawless, Tanya Saracho

SYNOPSIS
Fangirls have long been overlooked and disregarded, but Gabrielle Zilkha’s documentary beautifully honors the queer women who have consistently supported some of television’s most popularly coded shows, such as XENA: THE WARRIOR PRINCESS and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

QUEERING THE SCRIPT looks at queer representation over past decades—charting its course from mild subtext to fully realized queer characters—and its impact on the women who were watching. Zilkha reorients our associations with fan culture away from cis hetero men and toward a new, intersectional audience. A refreshing, empathetic, and honest film about media’s ubiquitous nature and the repercussions of that, especially for queer communities. With extraordinary candor and thoughtfulness, Gabrielle Zilkha and her interviewees argue for necessary changes to the status quo of storytelling.

STEVEN ARNOLD: HEAVENLY BODIES

New York Premiere
Dir. Vishnu Dass, USA, 2019, 81 mins

SYNOPSIS
Academy Award-winner Anjelica Huston narrates this exploration of the spectacularly dreamlike world of Salvador Dalí protégé Steven Arnold and his strikingly creative body of work. Arnold’s photography, filmography, paintings, and illustrations are filled with occult rituals, Hollywood camp, and surrealist whimsy. Taken from more than 70 hours of original and archival footage,

director Vishnu Dass digs deeply into the inspiring life of this unheralded multimedia artist and countercultural icon.

Featuring remarkable interviews with Ellen Burstyn, Simon Noonan, Holly Woodlawn, Stuart Comer, and many more, STEVEN ARNOLD: HEAVENLY BODIES paints a remarkable picture of the man behind the reemergence of art nouveau in America.


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