NewFest, the 32nd New York LGBTQ Film Festival launches today Friday October 16th at 8pm ET with the NYC premiere of God’s Own Country filmmaker Francis Lee’s Ammonite. Oscar-winner Kate Winlset who stars opposite Saoirse Ronan in the film, will virtually present Lee with NewFest’s inaugural World Queer Visionary Award ahead of the opening night drive-in screening at the Queens Drive-In at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. This year’s festival will close on Tuesday October 27th with the virtual NYC premiere of Faraz Shariat’s Teddy-winning No Hard Feelings. Over the 11-day fest over 120 films will be accessible to ticket holders USA-wide via NewFest’s new on-demand platform, there will also be three drive-in screenings. The full lineup includes 24 narrative features in competition, 14 documentary features in competition, three full-season episodic series, one global episodic showcase, and 10 shorts programmes. There will also be a special all-trans cast virtual read-through event of Brokeback Mountain on Sunday October 18th at 6pm ET featuring Leo Sheng, Brian Michael Smith, Jen Richards, Alexandra Grey and Sam Feder.
NewFest 2020 Feature Film Highlights
Sneak Preview drive-in Friday October 23rd at 8pm ET, at Queens Drive-In:
A teenage girl and her gay uncle take a road trip back to their hometown in this hilarious and heartfelt tale from Academy Award-winner Alan Ball.
Saturday October 24th at 8pm, at Brooklyn Drive-In
Cicada ★★★★, directed by Matthew Fifer and Kieran Mulcare.
Set against the backdrop of New York in 2013, Cicada examines the bond between two troubled strangers who develop an honest connection.
Before Cicada, Brooklyn Boys Shorts will feature four local shorts that see Brooklyn boys navigating life, love, and identity together.
Legacy Screening: 25th Anniversary
Bloodsisters, directed by Michelle Handelman.
The queer outlaws of the San Francisco leather scene take center stage in the hottest history lesson you’ll have all year, which had its New York Premiere at NewFest back in 1995.
World Premiere Special One-Night Event – Monday October 26th
Nora Highland, directed by Ryan Spahn.
Based on the play of the same name, this adaptation into a screenplay was shot entirely on computers during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Nora Highland explores the casting process surrounding an iconic and seminal gay character in a new Broadway revival. The original play premiered during the Pride Plays Festival in New York City in 2019.
International Narrative Feature Competition:
Alice Junior, directed by Gil Baroni. (Brazil)
A teenage trans social media star is taken far out of her element in this charming and spirited Mean Girls-esque high school comedy.
Dating Amber/Beards, directed by David Freyne. (Ireland)
Two queer Irish high schoolers hatch the perfect plan to get their families and bullies off of their backs — become each other’s beards!
Dry Wind ★★★, directed by Daniel Nolasco. (Brazil).
A lonely factory worker’s sexual fantasies come to life in this hardcore journey of desire and neon-soaked dreams.
Ellie and Abbie (&Ellie’s Dead Aunt), directed by Monica Zanetti. (Australia).
Ellie just wants to ask her high school crush to the prom, but things get complicated (and hysterical) when she’s granted a Fairy Gaymother in the form of her dead aunt to help her do so.
Forgotten Roads, directed by Nicol Ruiz Benavides. (Chile).
A tender and unconventional tale of a widow who uncovers clandestine loves and finds new purpose in a UFO-obsessed Chilean town.
Los Fuertes/The Strong Ones ★★★1/2, directed by Omar Zúñiga Hidalgo. (Chile)
The intimate and romantic saga of two beautiful Chilean men on very different life paths.
Monsoon ★★★★, directed by Hong Khaou. (Hong Kong).
Henry Golding stars as man returning to his birthplace in this romantic and lusciously lensed Vietnam-set travelogue.
Rurangi, directed by Max Currie. (New Zealand).
A trans activist returns to his long-abandoned New Zealand hometown to reconnect with his roots, loves, and estranged father in this vivacious portrait of coming into one’s own.
Summer of 85, directed by François Ozon. (France).
Two teenage boys meet on the coast of Normandy and begin a life-changing summer in a sexy and electric ode to youth from celebrated French auteur François Ozon.
Two of Us/Deux ★★★1/2, directed by Filippo Meneghetti. (France)
A moving and darkly comic look at two women who find keeping their love secret has its consequences.
Twilight’s Kiss/Suk Suk, directed by Ray Yeung. (Hong Kong).
A tender and heartbreaking portrait of two older, closeted Hong Kong men falling in love.
Welcome to the USA, directed by Assel Aushakimova. (Kazakhstan).
A woman wins the Green Card lottery, and must navigate leaving behind the only home she knows in this intimate autobiographical drama.
White Lie, directed by Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas. (Canada).
A heart-racing lesbian character-study-turned-thriller that ratchets up the tension and refuses to let go.
U.S. Narrative Feature Competition:
Breaking Fast ★★★★, directed by Mike Mosallam. (USA).
An adorable gay rom-com that spotlights the cultural significance of being gay, horny and Muslim in the U.S. and beyond.
Cicada ★★★★, directed by Matthew Fifer and Kieran Mulcare. (USA).
Cowboys ★★★★, directed by Anna Kerrigan. (USA).
A sensitive tale that explores the dynamic between conservative families and transgender kids, starring Steve Zahn and Jillian Bell.
Gossamer Folds ★★★★, directed by Lisa Donato. (USA).
A heartwarming tale of overcoming prejudice and fostering unexpected connections in the 1980’s Midwest, starring Alexandra Grey, produced by Yeardley Smith.
Minyan ★★★★, directed by Eric Steel. (USA).
A young Jewish man is caught between thrilling private trysts and his repressive family in this thoughtful drama set in 1980s Brooklyn.
The Obituary of Tunde Johnson ★★★★1/2, directed by Ali LeRoi. (USA).
A timely and powerful depiction of a Black high school student forever changed by an encounter with the police.
Shiva Baby ★★★★★, directed by Emma Seligman. (USA).
She may be at a shiva, but a self-absorbed recent college grad can only focus on her own bisexual drama in this delightful cringe comedy.
Sublet, directed by Eytan Fox. (Israel/USA).
Tony Award-winner John Benjamin Hickey (The Inheritance) stars in a sexy, intergenerational tango between a middle-aged New Yorker and a handsome young Israeli.
Tahara, directed by Olivia Peace. (USA).
A Jewish teenager navigates toxic friendships and crushes in the wake of her classmate’s suicide in this acerbically sincere (or is it sincerely acerbic?) dark comedy.
Documentary Feature Competition:
Ahead of the Curve ★★★★, directed by Rivkah Beth Medow and Jen Rainin. (USA).
A triumphant documentary that captures the journey of historic lesbian publication Curve magazine and its trailblazing founder Franco Stevens.
Always Amber, directed by Hannah Reinikainen and Lia Hietala. (Sweden).
A unique and fascinating look at genderqueer Amber, thrillingly told through the lens of their own Snapchat, Instagram Stories and DM’s.
Cured ★★★★, directed by Bennett Singer and Patrick Sammon. (USA).
This fascinating feature-length documentary takes viewers inside the David-versus-Goliath struggle that led the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to remove homosexuality from its manual of mental illnesses in 1973.
The Flashpoint, directed by Wojtek Jankowski. (Poland, India).
An eerie snapshot of rising right-wing bigotry in Poland, this galvanizing documentary examines the symbolic meaning of rainbows and public art.
If It Were Love, directed by Matthew Fifer and Kieran Mulcare. (USA).
A stirring hybrid of contemporary dance performance and intimate character study that examines the on-and-off-stage lives of 15 young dancers.
Julia Scotti: Funny That Way, directed by Susan Sandler. (USA).
A heartwarming portrait of hilarious 65-year old transgender New York comedian Julia Scotti.
Keith Haring: Street Art Boy, directed by Ben Anthony. (U.K.).
A dazzling and witty look at the iconic NYC artist and the city he loved, featuring never-before-heard archival audio and new interviews.
Kelet, directed by Susani Mahadura. (Finland).
An immersive and inspiring portrait of Kelet, a Finnish ballroom star and trans model who aspires to one day grace the cover of Vogue magazine.
Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story, directed by Posy Dixon. (USA).
A tender portrait of a cult electronic music legend enjoying a late-in-life career renaissance.
Killing Patient Zero ★★★★, directed by Laurie Lynd. (Canada).
A riveting documentary that unravels the myth of the man scapegoated for singlehandedly spreading the AIDS epidemic to North America.
Making Sweet Tea, directed by Patric Chiha. (USA).
An intimate and engaging doc capturing the lives of six Gay men living in the South.
Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back ★★★★, directed by John Carluccio. (USA).
An intimate look at the legacy of an under-appreciated Black legend of New York City’s Broadway.
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation, directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland. (USA).
The work, lives and personal journeys of two iconic American artists coalesce with creative combustion in this innovative dual-portrait documentary.
Your Mother’s Comfort, directed by Adam Golub. (Brazil).
A Brazilian trans advocate fights to keep her community safe from Bolsinaro’s hate-filled regime in this powerful personal documentary.
All-Trans Brokeback Mountain 15th Anniversary Virtual Live-Read Event:
As well as the cast names listed above, this special fundraiser will also feature Mal Blum, Mars Dixon, Theo Germaine, Jordan Gonzalez, Drew Gregory, Vico Ortiz, and Jes Tom. Event proceeds will be split between The NewFest Future Fund, and the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP). The event will be available to stream for free with a suggested donation, and will be available to watch on NewFest’s Facebook and YouTube channels. To register for the event head to newfest.org/brokeback. The event is produced in collaboration with #MakeItGay live reads, founded by Gaby Dunn during quarantine to reimagine typically white, straight, cis and male films into ones with diverse casts of various queer people.
For a full list of episodics, short films, panels and events head to the official NewFest website.
“With the Presidential election right around the corner and a Supreme Court seat now open, it is more urgent than ever that queer stories be told and celebrated,” said NewFest’s Executive Director David Hatkoff. “We have created an 11-day event that will meet and speak to this moment, delivering a thought-provoking, inspiring and joyful look at the LGBTQ community and the unique challenges it faces, while also paying homage to the incredible queer legacy that exists in NYC. We can’t wait for audiences around the country to view these incredible films, and hopefully be inspired to raise their own voices in pride and protest on November 3rd and beyond.”
“Featuring the newest work from leading international auteurs, Academy Award winners, and emerging LGBTQ filmmakers premiering their work for the first time, this year’s line-up channels themes that inform our community and society at large while confronting the edges of democracy
and celebrating our strong history of LGBTQ ancestry that broke barriers before,” said NewFest’s Director of Programming Nick McCarthy. “By highlighting portraits of hometown heroes and unsung global icons, celebrating the clear fact that All Black Lives Matter, standing up for the visibility of our LGBTQ siblings around the world, and encouraging intergenerational dialogue within our community, our 32nd annual program will raise human spirits by uplifting our diversity of voices.”
Individual tickets for virtual films ($12 regular, $10 for members) and drive-in tickets (starting at $45 per car) are now on sale for purchase, with all-access virtual passes starting at $95. For more information, to purchase tickets/passes, or to become a NewFest member, head to NewFest.org.