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Boy Erased
Boy Erased

Following the big announcement of Yen Tan’s award-winning AIDS drama 1985 as Opening Night Film, NewFest today announced the full lineup of more than 140 LGBT films from around the world for their 30th annual celebration. The festival runs from October 24 to 30 at the SVA Theatre, Cinépolis Chelsea, and The LGBT Community Center in New York City.

This year’s NewFest will feature several other galas and special screenings, including the New York Centerpiece screening of Ondi Timoner’s MAPPLETHORPE, starring Emmy®-nominee Matt Smith (“Doctor Who”, THE CROWN) about the iconic queer artist; and the U.S. Centerpiece screening of Joel Edgerton’s BOY ERASED, starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton, Troye Sivan, Cherry Jones, Flea and Xavier Dolan.

Other gala presentations include the International Centerpiece and New York premiere of Wanuri Kahiu’s groundbreaking love story RAFIKI, which screened at Cannes and was originally banned in its home country of Kenya for depicting a relationship between two young women, and the New York City premiere of Documentary Centerpiece film DYKES, CAMERA, ACTION!, which will be followed by a conversation on female representation in the film industry and lesbian visibility in cinema.

The festival will close on October 30th with the New York premiere of Robert Clift and Hillary Demmon’s documentary MAKING MONTGOMERY CLIFT, which is co-directed by the late Hollywood star’s nephew and features exclusive archival footage and audio interviews from the family’s archives.

This year’s edition continued in the tradition of receiving submissions from around the world, with films and episodic programming coming from 32 countries. In addition, 60% of content is by and about underrepresented voices (Women, People of Color, Trans, Bi and Differently Abled). Overall, the festival will screen 46 feature length films (including over 80% of feature works from first-time feature filmmakers, such as, Caroline Berler Tchaiko Omawale and Jonah Greenstein), 89 shorts and 9 episodic series, including the French Canadian production FÉMININ/FÉMININ by Chloé Robichaud, for a total of 144 selections.

The International Narrative Features section includes the New York premieres of Anne Fontaine’s Venice Film Festival Queer Lion winner REINVENTING MARVIN (featuring a turn by Isabelle Huppert as…Isabelle Huppert) and 2018 Berlinale Teddy Award for Best Feature winner HARD PAINT from Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon (NewFest alums for 2016’s “The Nest”), as well as 2018 Berlinale Teddy Award for Best First Feature winner RETABLO from Alvaro Delgado Aparicio. Other premieres include the New York premiere of two films submitted for next year’s Academy Awards®: Marcelo Martinessi’s THE HEIRESSES from Paraguay and Blerta Zeqiri’s Kosovoan entry THE MARRIAGE; as well as Jamie Patterson’s TUCKED, another New York premiere, which picked up multiple awards at this year’s Outfest, including the Best Narrative Audience Award and the International Feature Grand Jury Prize which it shared with HARD PAINT.

This year’s Documentary Features section is particularly strong and features some of the best new trans and non-binary stories from the U.S. and around the world, including T Cooper’s MAN MADE, about trans fitness models, which picked up the Best Documentary Feature Audience Award at Outfest 2018, Kiko Goifman and Claudia Priscila’s BIXA TRAVESTY, about the political activism of black Brazilian transgender singer Linn da Quebrada (Teddy Award for Best Documentary/Essay Film, Berlinale 2018), and SIDNEY & FRIENDS, Tristan Aitchison’s look at an underground network of trans and intersex people fighting to survive on the edge of Kenyan society.

Also featured are the North American premiere of Gustavo Sánchez’s I HATE NEW YORK (Spain, 2018), which features New York nightlife luminarie Amanda Lepore; the East Coast premiere of Matt Alber and Jon Garcia’s ROOM TO GROW about what it means to be an LGBT teen in today’s world, and Jeff Kaufman’s EVERY ACT OF LIFE, a profile of multi-Tony Award®-winning playwright Terrence McNally, featuring appearances by Meryl Streep, Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski, Bryan Cranston, Patrick Wilson, Angela Lansbury and Rita Moreno.

A hallmark of every NewFest is the bringing of new work to New York audiences, highlighting the emerging voices of queer cinema and 80% of the films in this year’s U.S. Narrative Features section are either New York, East Coast, or World premieres, and 9 of 10 films are from first or second-time filmmakers. In addition, in keeping with this year’s emphasis on inclusion, diversity and representation, 4 of the 10 films have female directors and 6 feature female leads.

NewFest’s commitment to bringing new films from around the world to New York audiences has never waivered and this year’s edition is no different. With the ever decreasing cost of technology and ever increasing reach of the Internet, previously underrepresented countries and communities are finding their voices like never before. As a result, more and more films like Wanuri Kahiu’s RAFIKI, a story (written with Jenna Cato Bass) about the first love between two women in Kenya are seeing the light, as well as films like Christiaan Olwagen’s South African Apartheid-set musical CANARY and Ruth Caudeli’s EVA + CANDELA (Colombia), to name but a few.

Of course, no NewFest would be complete without a few frightfully scary queer offerings and this year’s HalloKween sidebar is no exception! Featuring the New York Premiere of Drew Bolton’s KILLER UNICORN, a satirical stab at the slasher flick featuring a bevy of Brooklyn drag queens; NewFest alum Yann Gonzalez’s Cannes competition entry KNIFE + HEART (starring Vanessa Paradis); and the New York premiere of CARMILLA: THE MOVIE, based on the lesbian vampire web series sensation.

Continuing its long tradition of working with many New York City organizations, this year NewFest partnered with over 100 organizations across the city to bring audiences some of their most exciting programs, including HIP TO BE QUEER: Youth Shorts, presented by the NYC Department of Education and in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment; a Spotlight Screening & Conversation of Dir. Gabriel Silverman and Fiona Dawson’s multiple award-winning TRANSMILITARY presented in partnership with GLAAD, and a screening of CONVERSATIONS WITH GAY ELDERS: DANIEL, a new film from NewFest alum David Weissman (WE WERE HERE, THE COCKETTES), presented in partnership with The Generations Project.

2018 NewFest Full Lineup


New York Premiere
Dir. Yen Tan, USA, 2017, 85 mins
Writer: Yen Tan
Cast: Cory Michael Smith, Virginia Madsen, Michael Chiklis, Jamie Chung, Tina Parker, Bill Heck, Ryan Piers Williams

Set during the early AIDS crisis, Adrian (Cory Michael Smith, GOTHAM, CAROL) returns to his Texas hometown for Christmas, keeping quiet about his sexuality and HIV status. Award-winning writer-director and NewFest alum Yen Tan (PIT STOP, CIAO) delivers a poignant period piece about a gay man tying up loose ends—whether it’s with his conservative parents (Academy Award-nominee Virginia Madsen and Emmy Award-winner Michael Chiklis), a high school ex-girlfriend (Jamie Chung), or his younger brother (Aidan Langford, BOSCH), who shows an interest in Madonna and may be following in Adrian’s footsteps.

Shot on crisp black-and-white super 16mm film and featuring career-best performances from its cast, Tan’s powerfully textured 1985 is a new queer classic—addressing the AIDS crisis in a sensitive, reflective and, most importantly, modern light.


New York Premiere
Dir. Wanuri Kahiu, Kenya/South Africa/Germany/Netherlands/France/Norway/Lebanon, 2018, 83 mins
Writers: Wanuri Kahiu, Jenna Cato Bass
Cast: Sheila Munyiva, Samantha Mugatsia, Patricia Amira, Muthoni Gathecha, Jimmy Gathu, Nice Githinji, Charlie Karumi, Patricia Kihoro, Neville Misati

Fresh from its triumphant Cannes premiere, RAFIKI is a must-see film that delivers a beautifully acted, nuanced portrayal of being queer in Nairobi. This vibrant romance follows the burgeoning relationship between Ziki (Sheila Munyiva), the playful Beyonce-wannabe who lives in the city’s affluent Skyview Towers, and Kena (Samantha Mugatsia), the shy, responsible tomboy who hangs out on the overcrowded Slopes estate with the local Boda Boda (motorcycle taxi) boys. The film’s delicious pink-hued color palette is part of the African film aesthetic known as the afrobubblegum movement, and sets the joyous tone for this rare look at first love between two women in Kenya.

Banned in its home country of Kenya for its positive depiction of two young women in love, RAFIKI is a global call to action that proves a work of art does not have to be explicit in order to stir resist in the face of oppression.


Boy Erased
Dir. Joel Edgerton, USA, 2018, 114 mins
Writers: Joel Edgerton, Garrard Conley (based on the memoir Boy Erased by)
Cast: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton, Cherry Jones, Flea, Xavier Dolan, Troye Sivan, Joe Alwyn

Set in the uber-conservative suburbs of Arkansas, this grippingly vital drama stars Academy Award-nominee Lucas Hedges (MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, LADYBIRD) as a young gay man sent to Refuge, a church-run conversion therapy program that aims to “cure” homosexuality, upon the insistence of his Baptist preacher father (Academy Award-winner Russell Crowe) and religious yet conflicted mother (Academy Award-winner Nicole Kidman). Based on the memoir by Garrard Conley and adapted for the screen by director and featured actor Joel Edgerton, this urgent drama stirs a challenging yet compassionate portrait of a family—and perhaps country—at odds with its differing ideas of empathy and identity.

In addition to powerhouse performances by Hedges, Kidman, and Crowe, the ensemble includes stellar supporting turns from multitalented queer artists Troye Sivan, Xavier Dolan, and Cherry Jones. BOY ERASED is at once an evocative coming of age story about finding your voice, and a compelling tale of personal survival and family reconciliation in the face of ignorance.


Dir. Ondi Timoner, USA, 2018, 102 mins
Writer: Ondi Timoner, Mikko Alanne
Cast: Matt Smith, Marianne Rendón, John Benjamin Hickey, Brandon Sklenar, McKinley Belcher III, Mark Moses

Emmy-nominee Matt Smith (DOCTOR WHO, THE CROWN) plays renegade queer artist and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Set in the gay leather communities and highbrow galleries of New York City in the 70s and 80s, Ondi Timoner’s biopic is an unflinching look at the life and career of the icon made famous for his striking black-and-white images of phalluses and flowers. This film takes a chronological look at the influences and practices that captured male homo-erotic desire so poignantly in the face of the devastating toll of the AIDS crisis.


Making Montgomery Clift
New York Premiere
Dir. Robert Clift and Hillary Demmon, USA, 2018, 88 mins

The iconic Hollywood actor Montgomery Clift—described in many accounts as “tragically self-destructive” and “tormented” by his sexuality—is brought to new light by his nephew Robert Clift, who uncovers never-before-seen footage and exclusive audio interviews collected by the filmmaker’s father. The viewer gains insight into a fresh portrait of the legendary actor who was unashamed of his sexuality, maintained a great sense of humor, and even defied the studio system. Robert’s access to interviews with family and close friends of Monty turn against the faulty narrative made popular by previous biographies and documentaries that considered him “the slowest suicide in Hollywood history.”

Thoroughly well-researched and edited, Robert—along with co-director Hillary Demmon— brings to the surface a personal account of his uncle Monty and his father Brooks Clift that forces us to ask: Why was so much of Monty’s story left out? How were previous accounts so wrong? Who do we trust to write our history? MAKING MONTGOMERY CLIFT brings the star out of the archive, and further out of the closet.


Dykes, Camera, Action!
New York City Premiere
Dir. Caroline Berler, USA, 2018, 60 mins
Cast: Barbara Hammer, Jenni Olson, B. Ruby Rich, Rose Troche, Desiree Akhavan, Cheryl Dunye, Su Friedrich, Vicky Du, Yoruba Richen, Lesli Klainberg

One of the most glaring omissions in the film canon has been the work of queer women. Thankfully this once-hidden population picked up the camera and transformed the visibility of lesbians in cinema through classics such as GO FISH (1994), THE WATERMELON WOMAN (1996), HIGH ART (1998), all of which premiered in New York at NewFest. Pioneering filmmakers Barbara Hammer, Su Friedrich, Rose Troche, Yoruba Richen, Desiree Akhavan, Vicky Du, Cheryl Dunye, critic B. Ruby Rich, Jenni Olson, and others discuss with humor and depth how they’ve expressed their queer identity through film, while also revealing personal stories from their own experiences of looking for themselves on screen.

First-time director Caroline Berler expertly balances films clips with candid interviews, making DYKES, CAMERA, ACTION! a joyous response to the days of the celluloid closet, culminating in a groundbreaking celebration of empowerment and visibility for the ages.

This screening will be followed by a conversation on female representation in the film industry and lesbian visibility in cinema with featured cast, moderated by Terry Lawler (Executive Director, New York Women in Film & Television).


Fish Bones
New York City Premiere
Dir. Joanne Mony Park, USA, 2017, 82 mins
Writer: Joanne Mony Park
Cast: Cristina Tamez, JooHyun Kim

In her debut feature, director Joanne Mony Park delivers a sensitively-drawn portrait of Hana (Joony Kim) a young woman caught between two worlds; the expectations of her Korean family, and her own needs and desires as a university student and model discovering her queer identity. The film’s quiet attention to detail captures charming moments of self reflection and attraction, as Hana falls for Nico (CRIS GRIS), a charismatic Latina who lives without the self-consciousness that holds Hana back. The chemistry between these two leads captivates the viewer and heralds the discovery of a bold and exciting new directorial voice to watch.

Lez Bomb
New York City Premiere
Winner of the 2018 Bentonville Film Festival
Dir. Jenna Laurenzo, USA, 2018, 90 mins
Writer: Jenna Laurenzo
Cast: Elaine Hendrix, Cloris Leachman, Bruce Dern

Lez Bomb is a multigenerational comedy of errors following Lauren, a young woman who comes home for the holidays with some life changing news. Little does Lauren know, the eccentric cast of characters that make up her family have their own string of surprises as well. As it turns out, there is no good time to drop the “lez bomb.” Produced by Bobby Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary) and featuring Cloris Leachman, Bruce Dern and Steve Guttenberg.

Two in the Bush
New York Premiere
Dir. Laura Madalinski, USA, 2018, 97 mins
Writer: Kelly Haas, Laura Madalinski
Cast: Sarah Mitchell, Travis Delgado, Caitlin Aase

After losing her job, Emily arrives home early from work to find her girlfriend in the throes of passion with someone else. In an instant, her entire life is turned upside down. Moving in with her best friend, Emily lands a new gig working for a dominatrix, and promptly falls for her new boss, and her boss’s boyfriend. In this wise and witty look at the world of bisexuality, polyamory and dungeons, filmmaker Laura Madalinski asks us to consider what risks are worth taking for love.

Jules of Light and Dark
New York Premiere
Dir. Daniel Laabs, USA, 2018, 85 mins
Writer: Daniel Laabs
Cast: Betsy Holt, Tallie Medel, Robert Longstreet, Liz Cardenas

In present-day Texas, teenage Maya and her on-again, off-again girlfriend Jules total their car after a night of backwoods raving and mischief. They are rescued from the wreckage by Freddy, a divorced oil worker whose stoic facade crumbles as he comes to see himself, and his repressed desires, in Maya. As Jules recovers, Maya and Freddy develop a rapport that eases their small-town lives. Together, they subtly encourage one another to chase after what they want the most (or at least figure out what that might be). JULES OF LIGHT AND DARK is an iridescent coming-of-age story boasting the rural isolation of Deb Shoval’s AWOL and the wanderlust of Andrea Arnold’s AMERICAN HONEY. Defined by earnest, full performances and composed in a blue palette, Daniel Laabs’ first feature solidly articulates the universality of queer loneliness and uncertainty across genders and generations.

Bitter Melon
Dir. H.P. Mendoza, USA, 2018, 95 mins
Writer: H.P. Mendoza
Cast: Jon Norman Schneider, Patrick Epino, Brian Rivera, Josephine de Jesus, L.A. Renigren, Theresa Navarro, Sohr Picart, Amelia Anima, Anne Ishida, Corey Jackson, Ryan Morales, Safiya Fredericks, Vint Carmona

Who knew that the insensitive way some of his Filipino-American family members treat his sexuality would be the least of Declan’s worries when he returns home for the holidays? As he and his siblings tiptoe around his freeloading brother’s volatile personality, long-buried secrets are revealed to set in motion a hilarious plan of revenge. A black comedy with heart, the latest from H.P. Mendoza (FRUIT FLY) deftly explores toxic masculinity and abuse— emotional and physical—with absurdity and true empathy.

New York Premiere
Dir. Tchaiko Omawale, USA, 2018, 88 min
Writer: Tchaiko Omawale
Cast: Hope Olaide Wilson, Lynn Whitfield, Glynn Turman, Chelsea Tavares, Luke Rampersad, Sydney Bennett

A visually arresting debut from director Tchaiko Omawale, this dark and dangerous coming of age tale tackles themes of mental wellness while exploring the confusion of an adolescent crush. Recently orphaned teen Sole (Hope Olaide Wilson) is sent to live with her estranged relatives. Quickly becoming infatuated with the rebellious girl next door, Sole falls in with a crowd of queer misfits that light up her dark days. Emmy-winner Lynn Whitfield delivers a satisfying turn as deeply hypocritical Aunt Irene, and emerging artist Syd (of R&B group The Internet) will satisfy those with their finger on the pulse of music from the margins.

For Izzy
Grand Jury Prize, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2018
Dir. Alex Chu, USA, 2018, 84 mins
Writer: Alex Chu
Cast: Michelle Ang, Jennifer Soo, Elizabeth Sung, Jim Lau

A warm, heartfelt film about blending families, featuring powerhouse performances from its all-Asian cast. Beloved late actress Elizabeth Sung plays Anna, a successful business-woman and single mother struggling with a strained relationship with her 20-something queer daughter Dede (Michelle Ang). Her widower neighbor Peter (Jim Lau) is the caretaker of his millennial daughter Laura (Jennifer Soo) who is on the Autism spectrum. When Laura and Dede form an unlikely friendship they each bond with the other’s parent, ultimately bringing Peter and Anna together to find an unexpected later-in-life romance.

The Skin of the Teeth
East Coast Premiere
Dir. Matthew Wollin, USA, 2018, 80 min
Writer: Matthew Wollin
Cast: Pascal Arquimedes; Donal Brophy; Tom Rizzuto; Chuja Seo; Greg Barker; David Cruz; Chris Raffaele; Kathryn Shasha

This sinister drama-thriller evokes the feel of a contemporary film noir, with a shades of GET OUT-meets-Grindr. When Josef arrives at John’s apartment for a date, their prickly energy slowly gives way to an unusual and genuine chemistry. But after Josef takes a pill with unclear effects, the night takes a shocking turn, and he is plunged into a surreal interrogation of just who and what he is. Pascal Arquimedes’ compelling lead performance keeps the viewer holding their breath from beginning to end.

World Premiere
Dir. Jonah Greenstein, USA, 2018 75 mins
Writer: Jonah Greenstein
Cast: Alexander Horner, Thomas Jay Ryan, Ashley Robicheaux

A homeless man survives in New York by sleeping with men he meets on Grindr. Longing for a better life but also intimacy, he becomes a hustler and falls in love with one of his clients. Gorgeously shot and displaying intimate moments that are at once passionate and melancholic, DADDY explores themes of poverty, sex as currency, and what it is to be human. Filmmaker Jonah Greenstein’s feature debut paints a portrait of gay New York City through the lens of a young man and his encounters.

Devil’s Path
New York Premiere
Dir. Matthew Montgomery, USA, 2018, 87 mins
Writer: Matthew Montgomery, Stephen Twardokus
Cast: Steve Callahan, Brandy Elliott, Jon Gale

While searching for his missing brother in a remote gay cruising park, Noah (Stephen Twardokus) sets his sights on a handsome stranger (JD Scalzo). When Noah is viciously attacked, he and his new companion escape through the woods with two menacing thugs in hot pursuit. Lost and frightened, they begin to turn on each other and slowly unravel the truth of what’s really going on around them. This moody, picturesque psychological thriller from first-time director Matthew Montgomery features unexpected twists and turns, and seamlessly blends sharp, opposing perspectives about sex and love with suspenseful set pieces filled with existential dread.


Hard Paint
New York State Premiere
Berlinale 2018 – Teddy Award for Best Feature Film
Dir. Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon, Brazil, 2017, 117 mins
Writer: Filipe Matzembacher, Marcio Reolon
Cast: Shico Menegat, Bruno Fernandes

Online, Pedro smears neon paint across his body for pay-per-view voyeurs hungry for his webcam erotica. IRL, he rarely sees the sun or speaks to another soul in Porto Alegre. After catching word of a rival ripping off his rainbow-colored act, he ventures from the shadows to settle their score — but finds an unlikely new friend in the process. This Berlinale Teddy Award winner conjures a dark, sensual atmosphere of alienation and discovery. We’re proud to welcome this young filmmaking duo back to the festival for the third time after their previous feature Seaside and mini-series O Ninho (THE NEST).

A Moment in the Reeds
New York City Premiere
Dir. Mikko Makela, Finland, United Kingdom, 2017, 107 mins
Writer: Mikko Makela
Cast: Janne Puustinen, Boodi Kabbani, Mika Melender, Virpi Rautsiala

In the Finnish countryside, Leevi, who is home from studying abroad to help his father renovate their lakeside house, encounters Tareq, a Syrian asylum seeker they hire as a handyman. Leevi’s father returns to town on business as tension builds between the two young men, and they give in to their mutual attraction. One of the first LGBT-themed films made in Finland, Mikko Makela’s intimate drama places at its center the freedom and acceptance of sexual and ethnic minorities amid the backdrop of the breathtaking Finnish landscape.

New York City Premiere
Teddy Award for Best First Feature, Berlinale 2018
Grand Jury Prizes for Best First Feature, Frameline & Inside Out
Dir. Alvaro Delgado Aparicio, Peru/Germany/Norway, 2018, 95 mins
Writer: Alvaro Delgado Aparicio, Héctor Gálvez
Cast: Amiel Cayo, Junior Béjar Roca, Magaly Solier

As his name suggests, fourteen year-old Segundo Paucar (Junior Behar) is his father Noé’s (Amiel Cayo) most devoted apprentice. Together, they craft intricate storyboxes—consisting of a cabinet, hand-painted figurines, and a lot of heart—for Peruvian families. Upon discovering his father with another man, Segundo struggles to accept his father’s delicate touch and its beautiful byproducts. With this award-winning debut feature, Alvaro Delgado Aparicio emphasizes his devotion to the touching and fraught power structure that afflicts fathers and sons. In RETABLO, patience in art and relationships might be tragically condemned by society, yet they are fiercely rewarded by family.

New York City Premiere
Dir. Marcel Gisler, Switzerland, 2018, 124 mins
Writer: Marcel Gisler
Cast: Max Hubacher, Aaron Altaras, Jessy Moravec, Jurg Pluss, Doro Muggler, Andreas Matti

Mario, a German soccer player, faces a harrowing decision when he must choose between pursuing his career on the field or his forbidden love for Leon, his roommate and a new player on the team. As rumors unfold in the locker room and spread to higher ranks, Mario attempts to deny them, and asks his girlfriend Jenny to pretend they are together. The torment caused by this macho world is reflected in Mario’s mother, who, in one memorable scene, refuses to be photographed during a magazine photoshoot with Jenny and her son, her eyes consumed with anguish.

Eva + Candela
New York State Premiere
Dir. Ruth Caudeli, Colombia, 2018, 90 mins
Writer: Ruth Caudeli
Cast: Silvia Varón, Alejandra Lara, Roberto Cano, Luna Baxter, Kristina Lilley, Cristina Warner, Carlos Carvajal, Ana María Cuellar, Andrés Estrada

South America’s evocative answer to BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR, this stirring portrait captures the dynamic interplay between two strong, independent women: a female director and the star of her first film. The two are, drawn together by a powerful attraction and their shared desire to take on the movie world. The passion between them creates a seductive and fascinating intimacy. But over time, their relationship evolves, swinging from infatuation to sensuality, which turns to tenderness, and then routine. They never wanted to be a conventional couple, and yet that’s just what they’ve become. Can Eva and Candela withstand the inevitable effects of time to overcome the metamorphosis of their relationship?

New York Premiere
Dir. Jamie Patterson, United Kingdom, 2018, 80 mins
Writer: Jamie Patterson
Cast: Derren Nesbitt, Jordan Stephens, April Pearson, Steve Oram, Lucy-Jane Quinlan, Ruben Crow, Joss Porter

When veteran drag queen Jackie Collins receives a diagnosis with six weeks left to live, all he wants to do is perform his long-running act, and behave as if all is normal. But between a surprising new friendship with a rising young queen and unfinished business with his estranged daughter, he may just have the most eventful month and a half of his life. A feel-good film with charm and humor as well as surprising insight into our evolving understanding of gender identity across generations, this crowd-pleaser marks the first queer film from prolific young British director Jamie Patterson.

Canary (Kanarie)
New York City Premiere
Dir. Christiaan Olwagen, South Africa, 2018, 124 mins
Writer: Christiaan Olwagen, Charl-Johan Lingenfelder
Cast: Schalk Bezuidenhout, Hannes Otto, Germandt Geldenhuys, De Klerk Oelofse, David Viviers, Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Francois Jacobs, Andrico Goosen, Ludwig Binge, Jennifer Steyn, Tinarie van Wyk-Loots

Drafted during apartheid by the South African Army, teenage Johan’s love for Boy George and Depeche Mode lands him a spot in the Kanaries — the military’s traveling choir. But soon, romance on the battlefield forces him to reckon with his long-repressed sexual identity. Examining the effects of nationalism on the soul, while also exploring the tender brotherhood among misfits, this musical comedy revels in the discovery of finding your voice and learning to fly.

Reinventing Marvin
New York Premiere
Dir. A nne Fontaine, France, 2017, 116 mins
Writer: Anne Fontaine, Pierre Trividic
Cast: Finnegan Oldfield, Isabelle Huppert, Vincent Macaigne, Gregory Gadebois

This sweeping drama captures a life in the theater, as we see timid young Marvin (Jules Porier) blossom into adult Martin (Finnegan Oldfield, NOCTURAMA) — with a little help along the way from Isabelle Huppert, playing herself, and an older mentor who encourages him to acknowledge his sexuality and exorcise his pain by putting it all on the stage. Director Anne Fontaine (THE INNOCENTS, COCO BEFORE CHANEL) masterfully spins a powerful tale that reminds us that no matter how far we get from our upbringing, a piece of it remains with us always.

The Heiresses
New York City Premiere
Dir. Marcelo Martinessi, Paraguay, Germany, Brazil, Uruguay, Norway, France, 2018, 97 mins
Writer: Marcelo Martinessi
Cast: Ana Brun, Ana Ivanova, Regina Duarte, Margarita Irun

Chela (Ana Brun) and Chiquita (Margarita Irun) are a middle aged lesbian couple living in present day Asunción, Paraguay. Descendants of Paraguayan aristocracy, the women have enjoyed a silver spoon lifestyle together for thirty years. When the couple is abruptly hit by financial hardship, they scramble to find work and auction off their respective heirlooms—silver spoons included—to stay afloat. When Chiquita is imprisoned for her fraudulent side hustle, Chela begins working as a taxi driver, gradually building new relationships and autonomy for the first time in her life.

The Marriage
New York City Premiere
Dir. Blerta Zeqiri, Kosovo/Albania, 2018, 97 mins
Writer: Blerta Zeqiri
Cast: Alban Ukaj, Adriana Matoshi, Genc Salihu

A decade after the bitter Kosovo war and unaware if her parents survived, Anita’s wedding plans with Bekim slowly come together—until his best friend comes back to town. Tensions grow, as a triangle of love, lust, and drunken nights spilling secrets form. Kosovo’s Oscar submission for Foreign Language category is a culturally infused drama about unforgettable partnerships an isolated society struggles to accept, giving a tiny glimpse of hope that embracing who you are should be the norm.


East Coast Premiere
Dir. Christian Sonderegger, France, 2017, 78 mins
Cast: Coby, Jacob Hunt, Sara Mound

A paramedic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Coby shares a satisfying life with his supportive girlfriend Sarah, their pack of dogs, two brothers, and his parents. Nearly a decade after transitioning, the quotidian movements of his day-to-day—from receiving a shot of testosterone from his girlfriend to escorting a toddler to the ER—are quietly yet candidly documented by French director Christian Sonderegger. A contender in the ACID program at Cannes, COBY revolutionizes the use of the now-ubiquitous YouTube transition video as a conduit for telling the stories that rest in the silent white space between video updates.

Man Made
New York Premiere
Dir. T Cooper, USA, 2018, 98 mins
Writer: T Cooper, Allison Glock-Cooper

From surgeries and T parties to the struggles and joys of transitioning, follow four men as they prepare for Trans FitCon, the only bodybuilding competition exclusively for trans men. Glimpse the intimate relationships between these men and their partners, family, and children as they train throughout the year. This powerful documentary from director T Cooper and executive producer Tea Leoni culminates in a triumphant gesture of acceptance and an understanding of the shared struggles among them as they take the stage and embody their true selves.

Cherry Grove Stories
East Coast Premiere
Dir. Michael Fisher, USA, 2018, 72 mins
Writer: Scott Lawrie

This fascinating documentary captures the unique community of Cherry Grove, Fire Island – from its early days as a center for drag culture to the present day – featuring interviews with residents, old-timers, and captivating new and archival footage. Starting in the 1950s, Cherry Grove provided gays, including the likes of Tennessee Williams, with a safe space to express themselves at a time when interactions by people of the same sex were often the target of police raids. Michael Fisher’s oral history navigates the rich history and unknown stories of this vibrant beachfront community.

I Hate New York
North American Premiere
Dir. Gustavo Sánchez, Spain, 2018, 75 mins
Writer: Gustavo Sánchez
Cast: Amanda Lepore, Chloe Dzubilo, Sophia Lamar, T De Long, Bibbe Hansen, Io Tillett-Wright, Katrina del Mar, Linda Simpson

From 2007 to 2017, Gustavo Sánchez followed seasoned transfemme artists Chloe Dzibulo, Sophia Lamar, and Amanda Lepore around Manhattan’s rapidly-changing East Village,

with a humble Sony Handycam, Sánchez captured hundreds of hours of footage. I HATE NEW YORK is the result of these intimate conversations between the debut filmmaker and his triptych of captivating and driven female artists. In yellow cabs, Tompkins Square Park, and impossibly small apartments, Dzibulo, Lamar, and Lepore offer their unfiltered thoughts on everything from success and rivalry to gentrification and the utter pointlessness of nostalgia. These interviews are supplemented by commentary from the women’s fellow Village characters and creatives, including Penny Arcade, Bibbe Hansen, T De Long, and iO Tillett Wright.

Through patient and devoted direction, Sánchez has created a documentary that offers unprecedented access to three transwomen who not only made their mark on New York’s ephemeral underground, but lived to see middle age . Despite its name, I HATE NEW YORK is a hopeful love letter to a hostile city and the transwomen who’ve called—and continue to call—NYC home.

Every Act of Life
Dir. Jeff Kaufman, USA, 2018, 92 mins
Writer: Jeff Kaufman
Cast: Terrence McNally, Meryl Streep, Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski, Bryan Cranston, Patrick Wilson, Angela Lansbury, Rita Moreno

Playwright Terrence McNally has redefined contemporary gay theater with an extraordinary body of work that includes The Ritz, Corpus Christi, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, and Love! Valour! Compassion!, to name just a few. But his life offstage has been just as fascinating, encompassing activism, addiction, romance, and the constant pursuit of artistic excellence. McNally shares his story onscreen with the help of friends and colleagues like Angela Lansbury, Rita Moreno, Nathan Lane, F. Murray Abraham, and many more, as captured by documentarian and NewFest alum Jeff Kaufman ( THE STATE OF MARRIAGE).

New York City Premiere
Dir. Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kastebring, and Christina Tsiobanelis, Sweden, 2017, 94 mins
Writer: Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kastebring, Christina Tsiobanelis
Cast: Silvana Imam

Years before Hayley Kiyoko and King Princess refused to apologize for being out in love and art, Silvana Imam climbs Sweden’s charts as an openly lesbian creator and one of her country’s only female rappers. Born to Lithuanian and Syrian immigrants, Imam is furiously political and playfully queer, taking her country to task for its racism while spitting verses about lesbianism. Silvana is many films in one: a travel log, a tour diary, an experimental film, and a public service announcement on one of the European Union’s flawed superpowers.

Filmed from 2014 to 2016, Mika Gustafson, Olivia Kastebring, and Christina Tsiobanelis’ portrait of the artist is an intimate time capsule of the feminist artist’s meteoric rise to superstardom and the early days of her relationship with a fellow musician, the Swedish pop star Beatrice Eli.

Room to Grow
East Coast Premiere
Dir. Matt Alber and Jon Garcia, USA, Canada, 2018, 87 mins

For many queer people, some of our toughest years were when we were teenagers living at home. Homophobic parents and school environments often made life unbearable. Now meet the next generation of queer youth, as they forgeing a path of love, with the support of their families. In the face of one of the harshest political climates, with homophobia and racism on the rise, these fearless teenagers are claiming their identities and taking the world by storm. ROOM TO GROW is an intimate look into what it means to be an LGBTQ teen today.

Love, Scott
New York State Premiere
Dir. Laura Marie Wayne, Canada, 2018, 75 mins
Writer: Laura Marie Wayne
Cast: Scott Jones

After being violently attacked on the street, openly gay musician Scott Jones is left paralyzed from the waist down. Told through the eyes of Scott’s close friend, this heartbreaking and inspiring portrait of grief traces the journey from convalescence to recovery to finally forgiveness. As Scott revisits the location of the attack and rebuilds his life as a choir conductor and public speaker. This poignant documentary depicts the universal struggles of LGBTQ people and the people who love them through an incredibly intimate and personal story.

Bixa Travesty
Teddy Award for Best Documentary/Essay Film, Berlinale 2018
Dir. Kiko Goifman and Claudia Priscila, Brazil, 2018, 75 mins
Writer: Linn da Quebrada, Claudia Priscilla, Kiko Goifman
Cast: Linn da Quebrada, Jup do Bairro

Black Brazilian transgender singer Linn da Quebrada weaponizes the trans body and music for political protest. Linn and childhood friend Jup do Bairro use extravagantly costumed music performances to dazzle audiences while opposing their country’s white heteronormative order. Figuring her embodied existence as resistance, Linn eschews the role of cis woman, choosing a fluid gender identity instead. Full of funny and intimate moments, the film advocates for personal choice against a society that imposes static gender identity.

Sidney & Friends
New York Premiere
Dir. Tristan Aitchison, Scotland/Kenya, 2018, 75 mins
Cast: Michael Daviot, Awuor Onyango, Charles Ouda

Six people from Nairobi share their candid reality of what it’s like to live as a targeted gender minority, in a region known for the prejudice and discrimination against its LGBTI population. When his family tries to kill him, Sidney, who is intersex, flees to Nairobi where he befriends an underground community. Documentarian Tristan Aichitson discovered this network of trans and intersex people fighting to survive on the edge of Kenyan society, and spent three years capturing their voices in interviews. These are their stories.


Episodic Showcase

Some of the most well-crafted LGBTQ characters these days can be found in episodic content. This sampler platter of seven new shows gives an authentic, unfiltered look at our community, without the censorship of the networks. Catch them here first, and decide which series to add to your must-binge list.

Total run time: 87 mins
Q&A with filmmakers and select cast to follow


Official Selection, Cannes Film Festival 2018
Dir. Yann Gonzalez, France, 2018, 110 mins
Writer: Yann Gonzalez, Cristiano Mangione

Cast: Vanessa Paradis, Nicolas Maury, Kate Moran, Jonathan Genet, Khaled Alouach, Félix Maritaud, Noé Hernandez, Thibault Servière, Bastien Waultier, Bertrand Mandico, Jules Ritmanic, Pierre Pirol, Dourane Fall, Romane Bohringer, Elina Löwensohn, Yann Colette, Jacques Nolot, Florence Giorgetti

A Cannes 2018 Official Selection, this steamy and seedy ode to cinema and postured pulp comes from visionary director and NewFest alum Yann Gonzalez (YOU AND THE NIGHT). Vanessa Paradis stars as a no-nonsense gay porn producer on films such as “HOMOCIDE” and “ANAL FURY” who’s befuddled by a crush on her editor (Kate Moran) and the fact that her cast and crew are being knocked off one-by-one by a leather-clad madman. Shot on lush 35mm and featuring a pulsating original score from M83, KNIFE + HEART is a gloriously and gorgeously gory take on the modern slasher flick set in the world of 70s Paris. Celluloid lovers unite–the giallo subgenre has finally gone full-blown queer.

Killer Unicorn
New York Premiere
Dir. Drew Bolton, USA, 2018, 74 mins
Writer: José D. Álvarez
Cast: Alejandro La Rosa, Dennis Budesheim, Markus Kelle

Flaunting lewks and flouting conventional taste, this deliriously campy romp dashes through slasher tropes with deadly Brooklyn attitude and a distinctively queer spirit. Following a traumatic experience at “Brooklyn’s Annual Enema Party,” party boy Danny is haunted by a hunky masked stranger who causes a massacre of Brooklyn nightlife. Featuring a bevvy of Brooklyn’s biggest drag divas, including Bushwig co-founder Horrorchata, this crass creation of cult fervor is John Waters meets John Carpenter. And watch out–these queens aren’t the only ones who came to slay.

The Carmilla Movie
New York Premiere
Dir. Spencer Maybee, Canada, 2017, 94 mins
Writer: Jordan Hall and Alejandro Alcoba
Cast: Elise Bauman, Natasha Negovanlis, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Cara Gee

THE CARMILLA MOVIE picks up five years after the events of the award-winning global phenomenon digital series CARMILLA . Laura (Elise Bauman) and former vampire Carmilla’s (Natasha Negovanlis) domestic bliss is interrupted by an unknown supernatural threat when Carm shows signs of re-vamping and Laura starts having ghostly dreams. Catch up on seasons 0-3 on YouTube and then join us to celebrate the power of the audience, as our favorite lesbian vampires are reunited in this fan-demanded feature film.


Boys Shorts
From a fast-paced chase to a lazy summer day, this year’s Boys Shorts explore what it means to bring your full self to both the mundane and the extraordinary moments in life. In cities across the globe, these films capture the contemporary lives of a panoply of gay men from many different backgrounds in 2018.

Total run time: 89 mins
Q&A with filmmakers and select cast to follow

Girls Shorts
From friendship to dating to marriage, these shorts look at love and intimacy through many different lenses and paint a picture of strong, vulnerable, funny, and stubborn women who shine on the big screen. The heartbreak and joy of everyday life weave together in this collection of stories that span cultural and generational gaps too often overlooked in film.

Total run time: 94 mins
Q&A with filmmakers and select cast to follow

Drawn This Way 2.0
Intimate and inspiring, this collection encapsulates the complexity of the queer experience in all of its brilliance. Both narrative and non-fiction stories utilize the illusion of movement to reveal personal truths, explore new boundaries, and create connections with one another. An inventive and eclectic array of perspectives and forms come together in moving ways.

Total run time: 94 mins
Q&A with filmmakers and select cast to follow

Feminist Shorts “The F Word”
When you think about feminism, do you think about subverting gender stereotypes assigned to female bodies, female athletes succeeding at the top of their game, or small town societal structures being reshaped? Do you think about women and young girls coming into their own? The beauty of the F word is that it means many different things to each of us, and in a post #MeToo world, we have the power to continue to explore feminism through art, reinterpreting and redefining it for ourselves.

Total run time: 85 mins
Q&A with filmmakers and select cast to follow

HalloKween Shorts
Real and mental demons plague our protagonists in this Halloween-focused line-up. From a hospital psych ward to high school hallways, and from online conversations to inner-monologues, we cover the scariest grounds on earth in this program of horror shorts.

Total run time: 95 mins
Q&A with filmmakers and select cast to follow

Hip to be Queer: Youth Shorts
Through an inclusive and vibrant collection of short films from around the world, the program provides access and empowerment for LGBTQ+ youth to see themselves on screen while promoting media literacy and encouraging self-expression. The collection of short films will range from comedies to dramas, and vary in topics that cut across the youth experience, including interpersonal relationships, bullying, family, gender, identity, self-care, and cultural divides.

Open to all students and staff within The New York City Department of Education, this event will be a specially-curated film program of Youth Shorts at NewFest’s 30th Annual New York LGBTQ Film Festival.
Presented by the New York City Department of Education and in Partnership with Partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment
Total run time: 91 mins
Q&A with filmmakers and select cast to follow

Trans and Non-Binary Shorts
A blend of documentary and fiction films showing an inclusive array of protagonists facing personal obstacles and experiencing universal life lessons. These endearing films show us the humanity within our community and the various ways we can transcend gender.

Total run time: 86 mins
Q&A with filmmakers and select cast to follow

Wigged Out: Drag Shorts
In celebration of Emmy-winning show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and its tenth year of taking the untucked revolution to TV, we exalt the art of drag and the fearless queens who inspire and wow us with their jaw-dropping talents and vital stories on and off the runway. By turns hysterical and moving — and starring beloved queens such as Bob the Drag Queen and Latrice Royale — these films add up to one enormous eleganza extravaganza that will leave you gagged.

Total run time: 78 mins
Q&A with filmmakers and select cast to follow

Three’s Company
Enjoy the experience of polyamory without all the drama in this queer collection of threesomes. As relationships evolve, so must our art. And this collection of powerful films about modern dating is an example of how to use art to push back on societal norms and redefine the lives we want to live.

Total run time: 86 mins
Q&A with filmmakers and select cast to follow

Queer Jewish Shorts
From the U.S. to Israel, this program brings together six short films that examine what it is to be queer and Jewish, and how religion can be a guide for some but an obstacle for others.

Total run time: 98 mins
Q&A with filmmakers and select cast to follow

Our Queer History
Histories are reconstructed then deconstructed in magnificent textures and styles to celebrate and reflect on the narratives of lives on the fringes: from Italian exiles on a remote island in the 1930s, to British farmers in the early 21st century, to families and spaces intimately shaped over years by HIV/AIDS. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of NewFest, we look back on the past three decades and further not only to remember but also to discover.

Total run time: 101 mins
Q&A with filmmakers and select cast to follow


Audience Award, SXSW 2018
Dir. Gabriel Silverman and Fiona Dawson, USA, 2017, 93 mins
Writer: Jamie Coughlin, Gabriel Silverman
Cast: Laila Ireland

At the risk of being discharged and losing their livelihoods, trans service members come out to top brass at the Pentagon to challenge the transgender military ban. From 2015 to the present day, we follow four trans service members—Senior Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace, and First Lieutenant El Cook—as they fight to defend their equal right to serve their country.

This screening is co-presented in partnership with GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) will be followed by an extended conversation with the filmmakers and subjects, and moderated by Zeke Stokes.


GIA (20th Anniversary Screening)
Dir. Michael Cristofer, USA, 1998, 123 min.
Writer: Michael Cristofer, Jay McInerney
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Faye Dunaway, Mercedes Ruehl, Elizabeth Mitchell

It’s been 20 years since Angelina Jolie chronicled the life of supermodel Gia Carrangi in Michael Cristofer’s now-classic HBO movie. Carrangi, who rose to meteoric fame in late 70s New York, was known for her trademark temper and bold, unapologetic fashion style, but died young from AIDS-related complications. While the film has long been considered essential LGBTQ viewing, it’s rarely enjoyed on the big screen. Revisit it with us, your NewFest family and soak up the sultry scenes between Jolie and costar Elizabeth Mitchell, as well as revelling in supporting roles from icons Mercedes Ruehl and Faye Dunaway as Gia’s mother and modeling agent respectively. An HBO Original Film.

CONVERSATIONS WITH GAY ELDERS: Daniel Maloney (partner event with Generations Project)
East Coast Premiere
Dir. David Weissman, USA, 2017, 67 min
Cast: Daniel Maloney, David Weissman

“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Director,” says New Yorker and subject Daniel Maloney, 77; and so begins the start of a stimulating interview between Maloney and director David Weissman (WE WERE HERE, THE COCKETTES). A principal dancer with Martha Graham in the 1970s, Maloney recounts his experiences facing racism, serving in the army, moving to New York, and first sexual encounters–all the while carrying on the art so closely linked to culture, community, and civilization: oral tradition. This film is part of a documentary series in which Weissman collaborates with a young editor–in this case, Jake Stein, 24 and newly out–to capture illuminating stories from elders that represent a cross-section of the LGBTQ community.

Dir. Tung-Yen Chou, Taiwan, 2017, 61 mins

Explore the mysteries of dating apps in this charming, infectious documentary that lays all the sexy details out on the table. Young Taiwanese filmmaker Tung-Yen Chou searches for a love of his own, as he questions gay men around the world about their intimate experiences on hookup apps. Can Grindr lead you to the love of your life? This refreshingly raw and far too relatable look into digital romance is a snapshot of the moment.

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