The Highlights of NewFest 2019, New York's LGBTQ Film Festival
There are over 160 films at this year's NewFest, New York's LGBTQ Film Festival. So which to see? Judging by this year's centerpieces and anniversary screenings, the festival organizers have chosen to highlight an intriguing mixture of new productions that push boundaries while honoring classic films whose messages continue to resonate for the LGBTQ community.
Preview some of the highlights of NewFest 2019 below, and don't miss the full lineup of screenings and events (A conversation with Jen Richards! Queer comedians! Parties!) at NewFest.org.
Stills and descriptions courtesy of NewFest.
Sell By - Opening Night Film & Party
Dir. Mike Doyle, USA, 2019, 94 mins
Actor Mike Doyle's directorial debut explores the lives and loves of a group of friends as they navigate their careers and relationships amidst the beating heart of New York City. 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 talented cast under Doyle's direction is Kate Walsh (Grey's Anatomy) and Academy Award nominee Patricia Clarkson (High Art).
Drag Kids - Documentary Centerpiece
Dir. Megan Wennberg, Canada, 2019, 80 mins
Four very different drag performers under the age of 12 meet and celebrate their shared interest for the first time in Megan Wennberg's 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 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 nonjudgmental support for people of all ages.
Cubby - New York Centerpiece
Dir. Mark Blane and Ben Mankoff, USA, 2019, 83 mins
Written and co-directed by breakout star Mark Blane and shot in crisp 16mm, this quirky dark comedy, which gives whole new meaning to gives a whole new meaning to "adventures in babysitting," tells the semi-autobiographical story of an anxious Midwestern 20-something who moves to New York City in hopes of becoming an artist. Mark navigates his new life in this overwhelming city amid 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 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).
To The Stars - U.S. Centerpiece
Dir. Martha Stephens, USA, 2018, 109 mins
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 shine 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.
Filmed entirely in black-and-white, Martha Stephens's gorgeously textured feature boasts formidable performances by its young cast, in addition to dramatic supporting appearances by Malin Akerman (Billions, The Comeback) and Emmy Award winner Tony Hale (Veep, Arrested Development).
And Then We Danced - International Centerpiece
Dir. Levan Akin, Sweden/France, 2019, 105 mins
Fresh from its acclaimed debut at Cannes, writer-director Levan Akin's And Then We Danced delivers a passionate and exceptionally crafted tale of love and 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 in him a mixture of rivalry and desire.
Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street - HalloKween Centerpiece
Dir. Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen, USA, 2019, 100 mins
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.
Tongues Untied - 30th Anniversary Screening
Dir. Marlon Riggs, United States, 1990, 55 mins
The seminal documentary on black gay life, Emmy Award-winning director Marlon T. Riggs's 1989 Tongues Untied uses poetry, personal testimony, rap, and performance (featuring poet Essex Hemphill and others) to describe the homophobia and racism that confront Black gay men. The stories are fierce examples of homophobia and racism: the man refused entry to a gay bar because of his color; the college student left bleeding on the sidewalk after a gay bashing; the loneliness and isolation of the drag queen. Yet they also affirm the Black gay male experience: protest marches, smoky bars, "snap diva," humorous "musicology," and vogue dancers. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, director Marlon T. Riggs's documentary is as relevant as ever.
Go Fish - 25th Anniversary Screening
Dir. Rose Troche, United States, 1994, 84 mins
Opposites attract in this New Queer Cinema staple that defined '90s lesbian zeitgeist. Camille "Max" West (Guinevere Turner, Charlie Says and The L Word) is a tony young lesbian living in Chicago. Despite being a part of a robust queer scene, Max can't seem to find a girlfriend who meets her impossibly high standards. Enter: Ely (V.S. Brodie), a dowdy tea-drinker on the periphery of Max's social circle. She is initially written off, but Ely's granola ways eventually charm Max, who begins to reassess her queer rules of attraction.
Filled to the brim with timeless subcultural commentary on subjects such as bisexuality and coming out, Rose Troche's freewheeling Go Fish was made by a motley crew of friends and lovers who wanted to push the lesbian film canon beyond Desert Hearts. Its endurance is a testament to the power of DIY filmmaking, queer subjectivity, and the backwards ballcap.
Tu Me Manques - Closing Night Film and Party
Dir. Rodrigo Bellott, USA/Bolivia, 2019, 110 mins
After his son Gabriel passes away, conservative Bolivian patriarch Jorge (Oscar Martinez) 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 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 Almodovar favorite Rossy De Palma). Tu Me Manques, the 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.