The New York premiere of Anthony&Alex’s highly anticipated and acclaimed film SUSANNE BARTSCH: ON TOP will kick off this year’s 2017 NewFest.The documentary is an inside look at the legendary New York City party promoter and LGBTQ advocate Susanne Bartsch and features a who’s who of NYC nightlife heroes, including RuPaul, Amanda Lepore, Michael Musto and Bill Cunningham. Following the screening, Michael Musto will moderate a special talkback with Susanne Bartsch and Anthony&Alex.
Continuing in the cross-generational vein is the New York premiere of Vincent Gagliostro’s AFTER LOUIE, which will screen as the festival’s New York Centerpiece film. Starring Alan Cumming and Zachary Booth (KEEP THE LIGHTS ON), AFTER LOUIE is a touching and lyrical cross-generational look at the effect the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic had on individuals and their art as well as at how that history informs and influences the most recent generation of creative LGBTQ New Yorkers.
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY is the award-winning feature-length debut from writer/director/actor Francis Lee and serves as the fest’s International Centerpiece film. This New York premiere introduces audiences to a bold new voice in LGBTQ filmmaking with this masterful story of longing, loneliness and love. GOD’S OWN COUNTRY continues to rack up awards, including the Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Directing Award and the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, among many others.
Daniel Powell and Elizabeth Rohrbaugh’s BECKS, starring Tony Award winner Lena Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Oscar winner Christine Lahti (Best Live Action short film Lieberman in Love) and Mena Suvari, will bring NewFest to a close with the New York premiere of this award-winning romantic drama. Inspired by the life of singer and songwriter Alyssa Robbins, BECKS brings the festival themes of uncovering unity and compassion through artistic self-expression full circle and features an extraordinary lead performance from Hall. A special live acoustic performance by Lena Hall will follow the screening of the film, which won the US Fiction Award at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival .
NewFest will run run from October 19 – 24, 2017 at New York’s SVA Theatre, Cinépolis Chelsea, and The LGBT Community Center.
OPENING NIGHT FILM
SUSANNE BARTSCH: ON TOP
New York Premiere
Thursday, October 19
A mesmerizingly expressive portrait of a fiercely individual New York counterculture icon, SUSANNE BARTSCH: ON TOP candidly captures the titular “Queen of the Night” and patron saint of LGBTQ inclusion and advocacy with a commanding voice and sharp wit, much like its subject. More than just a tribute to the “Queen of the Night” and staunch LGBTQ advocate, this dynamic debut from directing duo Anthony&Alex captures the essence of Bartsch’s everyday balance between compassion and control. As Bartsch prepares for an FIT exhibit of her nightlife fashions, she faces the challenges of a changing New York City landscape (as well as the construction within her homestead of many decades, the iconic Chelsea Hotel) while reconciling how her legacy lives on today.
Her ability to bring communities together while promoting LGBT rights and self-expression reached its apex with the star-studded Love Ball in 1989, which she hosted to raise money to fight AIDS and celebrated the Harlem Vogue scene before “Paris is Burning” was released. And she continues to gather and inspire multi-generational crowds at her parties to this day. Featuring superstars and LGBTQ nightlife luminaries RuPaul, Simon Doonan, Michael Musto, and Amanda Lepore, this dazzling documentary homecoming for a living icon who has unapologetically been a champion for all things New York and queer.
The screening will be followed by a talkback with Anthony&Alex and Susanne Bartsch, and moderated by Michael Musto.
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY
New York Premiere
Saturday, October 21
Gritty yet tender, austere yet beautiful, carnal yet romantic–GOD’S OWN COUNTRY is masterfully directed with powerful focus and authenticity by first-time feature filmmaker Francis Lee. Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor) is an overworked 25-year-old sheep farmer who feels as though life has already passed him by. He whiles away the time with drunken hookups in his small community in Northern England. When his ailing father takes a turn for the worse, handsome Romanian migrant Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) is brought in to assist Johnny. Although Johnny resents Gheorghe at first, the two are quickly drawn to each other, and during an excursion to the highlands, they forge an even deeper connection. Winner of Sundance’s World Cinema Directing Award for its beautiful depiction of the English countryside—this assured new milestone marks a bold new epoch in textured, LGBTQ storytelling.
NEW YORK CENTERPIECE
New York City Premiere
Sunday, October 22
Sam (Alan Cumming) is an artist and activist from ACT UP who lived through the early years of HIV/AIDS, struggling with survivor’s guilt. He’s bewildered by the younger generation of gay men, until he meets the seductive Braeden (Zachary Booth, KEEP THE LIGHTS ON) at a bar late one night. Their pants quickly come down and, eventually, so does Sam’s guard. An intergenerational relationship blossoms between them—reawakening Sam’s artistic soul and reviving his wilted heart.
Beyond the beautifully evocative performances and setting, Vincent Gagliostro’s AFTER LOUIE is a love letter to New York City: engaging its rich backdrop while honoring the history of the gay rights movement and the progress that’s been made–reconciling the past so we as a community can look forward to the future.
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
New York City Premiere
Tuesday, October 24
Following a NYC to LA cross country move that ends in a breakup, singer-songwriter Becks (Lena Hall, a Tony Winner for Hedwig and the Angry Inch) returns to her Midwestern hometown, reluctantly moving back in with her mom. The time-warp sensation of being back in her childhood home is interrupted by an unexpected whirlwind affair with self-proclaimed “lonely housewife” Elyse (tenderly played with exceeding warmth by Mena Suvari) who finds inspired new life through the guitar lessons and generous spirit Becks provides.
This electrifyingly effusive film from co-directors Daniel Powell and Elizabeth Rohrbaugh features strong supporting turns by Dan Fogler as her old classmate-turned-drinking- buddy and Christine Lahti as Becks’ former nun mother who is still coming to terms with her daughter’s homosexuality. But it’s Lena Hall, who contributed original songs to the film and delivers a beautifully assured, live-in performance that makes BECKS really sing.
Special live acoustic performance by Tony Award winner and Grammy Award nominee Lena Hall, the star of BECKS.