The third annual NewFest Pride Summer Film Series, running June 1st – 5th, 2023 in New York, will kick off Pride month in the city in style, featuring a mix of exclusive in-person premieres and panels, virtual screenings, and social events.
Among the nine feature films being shown, is the opening night selection Fairyland—receiving its New York premiere—written and directed by Andrew Durham, produced by Sofia Coppola, and starring Emilia Jones, Scoot McNairy, Geena Davis, and Adam Lambert. Fairyland, which world premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, is an adaptation of Alysia Abbot’s memoir about growing up with her queer father in 1970s and 80s San Francisco.
Another series highlight is writer-director Julio Torrres’ (Los Espookys) comedy Problemista about an aspiring toy designer from El Salvador (Torres) who takes a job assisting an erratic art-world outcast (Tilda Swinton) as his only hope to stay in the country.
Bottoms, directed by NewFest alumni Emma Seligman (Shiva Baby) and written by Seligman and Rachel Sennott, is billed as “a hilarious and raucous romp” about two unpopular queer high school students (Sennott and Ayo Edebiri) who start a fight club to have sex with their cheerleader crushes before graduation. The New York premiere screening will be followed by NewFest’s Women’s Night Out party.
NewFest’s screening series continues with New York premiere of Madeleine Lim’s Jewelle: A Just Vision, which shines a joyful and hope-filled spotlight on novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and journalist Jewelle Gomez.
Aitch Alberto’s Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe, which world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, will receive its New York premiere at NewFest Pride. Based on the beloved book of the same name by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, the film follows two Mexican- American teenagers, Ari (Max Pelayo) and Dante (Reese Gonzales), as they are each discovering the world and themselves in El Paso, Texas in 1987.
Sundance US Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Prize-nominated Mutt, directed Vuk Lungulov-Klotz—an alum of NewFest and Ryan Murphy’s HALF Initiative, who mentored under Janet Mock on Pose—makes an impressive feature debut, executive produced by Silas Howard. Sundance award-winner Lío Mehiel stars as Feña, who, within the space of 24 hours, is swept through the extremes of human emotion when people who seemed to disappear when he transitioned are suddenly back in his life, including his ex-boyfreind Cole Doman (Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party, Starfuckers).
NewFest Pride will close with a free outdoor screening of the Sundance award-winning documentary The Stroll directed by Kristen Lovell and Zackary Drucker, that explores the history of New York’s Meatpacking District from the point of view of the transgender sex workers who lived and worked there. The screening is co-presented with Rooftop Films, The Meatpacking District, and HBO Documentaries, and will be followed by a reception at The Whitney Museum of National Art.
“The LGBTQ+ community is once again under attack, making it all the more essential that NewFest continue to loudly and proudly amplify queer voices,” said NewFest Executive Director David Hatkoff. “We can’t wait to kick off Pride month by bringing the community together for bold new films, necessary conversations, and celebratory social gatherings. Think you can silence us? Ha. Think again.”
“From family dramas to documentaries to absurdist comedies, this year’s line-up includes an expanse of highly anticipated films that capture the varied ways our community expresses pride” said NewFest Director of Programming Nick McCarthy. “We’re excited to honor trailblazers such as Jewelle Gomez and celebrate emerging LGBTQ+ filmmakers such as Aitch Alberto, Julio Torres, Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, and Emma Seligman through their authentic and unapologetically queer stories.”
NewFest Pride will also host a screening of LGBTQ Nation’s docu-series, “Authentic Voices of Pride, presented by Chevrolet,” followed by a panel discussion. In its second year, the 360-degree program highlights some of the most pressing issues of the day that affect the LGBTQ+ community, and features original reporting and analysis by and for a community that is often underserved by the media. This year’s screening and conversation will focus on the “Legacy of Care.” From the AIDS crisis, to the mental health challenges of the day, from helping each other navigate the medical system, to providing emotional support, the series will show how LGBTQ+ folks have always provided care and comfort – not just of their own, but the wider community as well.
2023 full lineup for NewFest’s Pride series
Fairyland, directed by Andrew Durham, 2023, 114 mins. (USA / Narrative). Thursday, June 1st at 7pm Opening Night Film & Party; SVA Theatre
New York Premiere
A moving, star-studded saga about family and self-expression set against the vivid backdrop of 1970s and 80s San Francisco. Based on a best-selling memoir, FAIRYLAND sees Alysia Abbott growing up in a packed house with her father Steve (Scoot McNairy), a queer poet and activist who comes out after his wife’s passing. Steve’s bohemian lifestyle clashes with the expectations of being a parent from both the outside world and Alysia herself; their intergenerational bonds and duty to each other are tested as they navigate their parallel journeys. Produced by Academy Award-winner Sofia Coppola, written & directed by Andrew Durham, and featuring warm ensemble support from Emilia Jones (CODA), Adam Lambert, Maria Bakalova, and Geena Davis, Fairyland is a vivid snapshot of the many forms family and acceptance can take.
Problemista, written and directed by Julio Torres, 2023, 98 mins. (USA / Narrative). Friday, June 2nd at 7pm; SVA Theatre
New York Premiere
From writer-director Julio Torres comes a surreal adventure through the equally treacherous worlds of New York City and the U.S. Immigration system. Alejandro (Torres) is an aspiring toy designer from El Salvador, struggling to bring his unusual ideas to life or be accepted into a coveted incubator program. As time on his work visa runs out, a job assisting an erratic art-world outcast (Academy Award®-winner Tilda Swinton) becomes his only hope to stay in the country and realize his dream. Fresh off its premiere at SXSW, this satiric comedy from A24 is a burst of queer imagination that navigates life’s absurdities with wry wit.
Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, directed by Aitch Alberto, 2022, 96 mins. (USA / Narrative).
Saturday, June 4th at 4:30pm; SVA Theatre
New York Premiere
Based on a beloved, award-winning novel and produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer/director Aitch Alberto’s winning coming-of-age tale celebrates the kinship between two Mexican-American teenagers in 1987 El Paso. Aristotle Mendoza wants to blend in and be left alone but everything changes when he meets Dante Quintana at the local swimming pool. Free spirited Dante is everything Ari isn’t, and his wanderlust for life and artistic spirit shake something loose in Ari. When their journey together is suddenly disrupted, Ari must decide if he is going to live in the world of infinite possibilities that Dante represents. Featuring a wonderful ensemble including Eva Longoria and Eugenio Derbez, Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe reveals the difficult yet magical road to becoming one’s authentic self.
Bottoms, directed by Emma Seligman, 2023, 92 mins. (USA / Narrative).
Saturday, June 3rd at 7:30pm; SVA Theatre **Followed by Women’s Night Out party
New York Premiere
A refreshingly outspoken raunchy comedy, follows two unpopular girls in their senior year who start a fight club to try to impress and hook up with cheerleaders.
Jewelle: A Just Vision, directed by Madeleine Lim, 2022, 64 mins. (USA / Documentary).
Sunday, June 4th at 3:30pm; SVA Theatre (also available virtually)
New York Premiere
From Black Power in late-60s Boston, to AIDS activism in mid-80s New York, to Marriage Equality in early 2010s San Francisco, JEWELLE: A JUST VISION shines a joyful and hope-filled spotlight on novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and journalist Jewelle Gomez.
Mutt, directed by Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, 2023, 87 mins. (USA / Narrative). Sunday, June 4th at 7pm; SVA Theatre (also available virtually)
Within the space of 24 hours in New York City, Feña (Lio Mehiel) is swept through a series of ups and downs as people who seemed to disappear when he transitioned are suddenly back in his life. Mehiel took home the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and is supported by strong character work from the ensemble. Writer/director Vuk Lungulov-Klotz beautifully captures the rhythms of the city and creates a potent portrait of identity and perseverance.
The Stroll, directed by Zackary Drucker and Kristen Lovell, 2023, 84 mins. (USA / Documentary).
Monday, June 5th at 8pm; free outdoor screening in Meatpacking District at Gansevoort Plaza, RSVP required
New York Premiere
Talent attendance: directors Kristen Lovell and Zackary Drucker, and producer Matt Wolf
The history of New York’s Meatpacking District told from the point of view of transgender sex workers who lived and worked there. They recount the violence, policing, and gentrification that lead to a movement for transgender rights. Winner of the 2023 Sundance “Clarity of Vision” U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award.
Docu-Series Program + Panel
Authentic Voices of Pride: Screening & Conversation, Presented by Chevrolet
Saturday, June 5th at 2pm; SVA Theatre (also available virtually)
The LGBTQ Nation “Authentic Voices of Pride” presented by Chevrolet docu-series tackles some of the LGBTQ+ community’s most important issues. Each episode highlights a different issue bringing context and original reporting, profiling how real people, activists, policy makers and thought leaders are creating change, and driving a conversation. At this special event screening we’ll share 4 documentary shorts, including a World Premiere, and hear from some of the individuals who shared their stories. We’ll discuss the importance of community and see how these individuals have dedicated themselves to making the world a better place for future LGBTQ+ generations.
Before I Change My Mind, directed by Trevor Anderson, 2023, 89 mins. (Canada /
Narrative). Streaming June 1st – 5th, 2023.
It’s 1987 and when new kid Robin shows up for their first day of school, it seems everyone wants to know if they’re a boy or a girl. Robin, however, remains largely unbothered, keeping their attention focused on one person: Carter, the confident, charismatic school bully. As the two forge a complicated bond, Robin finds themselves making increasingly dangerous choices to fit in. Writer and director Trevor Anderson’s wry narrative feature debut presents retro ‘80s detail, a sensational soundtrack, and a breakthrough lead in non-binary performer Vaughan Murrae. Wholly redefining the conventions of the coming-of-age story, Before I Change My Mind is a queer cult classic in the making.
1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture, directed by Sharon “Rocky” Roggio, 2022, 92 mins. (USA / Documentary)
Streaming June 1st – 5th, 2023.
This riveting documentary follows the story of tireless researchers who trace the origins of homophobia amongst Christians to a grave mistranslation of the Bible in 1946. Director Sharon “Rocky” Roggio chronicles the discovery of never-before-seen archives at Yale University which unveil astonishing new revelations, and casts significant doubt on any biblical basis for LGBTQIA+ prejudice. 1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture won the Audience Award at DOC NYC and strives to seek justice while spreading understanding, compassion and hope within religious communities.
Individual tickets and all-access passes to NewFest Pride are now on sale at newfest.org.
SVA Theatre is NewFest’s partner in this event. Film descriptions courtesy of NewFest.