NewFest has just announced the winners of its 31st edition which took place in New York from 23rd to 29th October 2019. Top honors went to Jayro Bustamante for TEMBLORES (Grand Jury Prize, Narrative Feature) and Theodore Collatos and Carolina Monnerat for QUEEN OF LAPA (Grand Jury Prize, Documentary Feature), while Levan Akin’s AND THEN WE DANCED and Cody Stickels’ A NIGHT AT SWITCH N’ PLAY picked up the top Audience Awards for narrative and documentary features respectively. The announcement was made today by NewFest Executive Director David Hatkoff and Director Of Programming Nick McCarthy.
The festival, which closed tonight with the New York premiere of Rodrigo Bellott’s award-winning film and Bolivia’s selection for Best International Feature Film at the 2019 Academy Awards, TU ME MANQUES, featured more than 160 films from 32 countries over the last 7 days.
Other festival highlights included the New York premiere of Mike Doyle’s romantic ensemble SELL BY, the New York premiere centerpiece screenings of TO THE STARS, DRAG KIDS, AND THEN WE DANCED, and CUBBY, a Spotlight screening of THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF WOLFBOY and World Premieres for ALL WE’VE GOT, SIBERIA AND HIM and MUSIC FOR BLEEDING HEARTS.
The festival also partnered with the New York City Department of Education and the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment (MOME), to present three screenings of a special high school program comprised of six LGBTQ-teen-themed short films during this year’s festival entitled ‘Feels Like Teen Spirit’, programmed exclusively for local students. On Friday, October 24th, MOME Commissioner Anne del Castillo attended and delivered a speech about the importance and impact of LGBTQ youth seeing representations of themselves reflected onscreen. The program was also supported by Browning School, Chapin School, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Friends Seminary, Horace Mann School & Riverdale School.
Through an inclusive and endearing collection of short films, this program is exclusively offered to high school students and provides access and empowerment for LGBTQ+ youth to see themselves on screen while promoting media literacy and encouraging self-expression. These celebrated shorts from the film festival circuit capture a variety of topics that cut across the teen experience, including family dynamics, bullying, first dates, gender and identity.
Here’s the full list of this year’s winners:
Winner of Audience Award, Narrative Feature AND THEN WE DANCED – Director Levan Akin
Winner of Audience Award, Documentary Feature A NIGHT AT SWITCH ‘N PLAY – Director Cody Stickels
Winner of Audience Award, Narrative Short WONDER – Director Javier Molina
Winner of Audience Award, Documentary Short LADYLIKE – Directors Rachel Bickert, Emily Tapanes, Emma Wang and Lidieth Arevalo
NARRATIVE JURIED AWARDS
The NewFest 2019 Narrative Features jurors were Murtada Elfadl (film critic, THE FILM EXPERIENCE), Lauren Wolkstein (filmmaker, THE STRANGE ONES, QUEEN SUGAR) and Elise McCave (Director of Narrative Film, KICKSTARTER).
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize, Narrative Feature TEMBLORES – Director Jayro Bustamante
The Narrative Features Jury awards TEMBLORES the grand prize for its authentic and realistic depiction of a contemporary conservative society. TEMBLORES is an anthropological yet personal story brimming with specificity in its depiction of the central loving relationship while encompassing other viewpoints. Its gothic austere filmmaking is contrasted with a warm and liberated characterization of the queer community.
Special Mention, Narrative Feature
NEVRLAND – Director Gregor Schmidinger
DOCUMENTARY JURIED AWARDS
The NewFest 2019 Documentary Features jurors were Rodrigo Brandão (Director of Communications for The Intercept), Valerie Complex (freelance journalist) and Curtis Wong (Huffington Post).
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize, Documentary Feature QUEEN OF LAPA – Directors Theodore Collatos and Carolina Monnerat
In surveying this year’s documentary lineup, one film stuck out to us for both its visual and narrative merits. We’re proud to present the 2019 Grand Jury Prize for documentary features to QUEEN OF LAPA, an immersive portrait of the great (and late) Luana Muniz, a transgender cabaret performer and sex worker in Lapa, a neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The film’s sensitive take on a tightly knit group of trans women speaks volumes about the power of community, solidarity and personal resilience.
Special Mention, Documentary Feature
OUR DANCE OF REVOLUTION – Director Phillip Pike
A poignant and deeply researched documentary about reclaiming power in Toronto’s LGBTQ community. By focusing on the work of Black queer activists towards equality, the film tells a critical story of the ongoing battle for racial justice within the LGBTQ movement –– and Canada at large.
SHORT FILM JURIED AWARDS
The NewFest 2019 Short Films jurors were Giselle Ariel Bluez (Filmmaker / Mentor, GLOBAL ACTION PROJECT), Katja Blichfeld (Co-Creator & Showrunner / Writer / Director, HIGH MAINTENANCE) and Matthew Puccini (director, LAVENDER).
Winner of Grand Jury Prize, Short
PONYBOI – Directors River Gallo and Sadé Clacken Joseph
Ponyboi wins for its distinctive vision and mastery of world-building; for its compelling, nuanced performance from its lead performer (River Gallo, who also co-directs) and for its sumptuous and striking cinematography and dreamy art direction. This film left the jury feeling excited by its filmmakers, River Gallo and Sadé Clacken Joseph and what lies ahead for them both.
Special Mention, Short WONDER – Director Javier Molina
Wonder: An intimate, emotionally powerful film that portrays an authentic slice of New York life and resonated with us all long after watching. A lovingly and beautifully crafted film with great performances from its two lead performers Benji Siegel and Gabriel Furman (who also wrote the film).