NewFest, one of the world’s most respected LGBTQ film festivals, will kick off the festival’s 31st edition with the New York premiere of Mike Doyle’s Manhattan-set ensemble rom-com SELL BY, featuring an eclectic cast including Scott Evans (Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie”), Kate Walsh (ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”), Academy Award-nominee and Emmy Award-winner Patricia Clarkson, Michelle Buteau (Netflix’s “Tales of the City”) and Augustus Prew (HIGH-RISE), and will close the festival with the New York premiere of Rodrigo Bellott’s award-winning film TU ME MANQUES, which was recently announced as Bolivia’s Best International Feature Film selection for the 2019 Academy Awards.
NewFest, New York’s leading top LGBTQ film festival, will take place from October 23rd to 29th, 2019.
The festival’s U.S. Centerpiece will be the New York premiere of the stylized period-piece drama TO THE STARS from director Martha Stephen (co-director of the award-winning drama LAND HO!), starring Kara Hayward (MOONRISE KINGDOM), Malin Akerman (Showtime’s “Billions”), Jordana Spiro (Netflix’s “Ozark”) and Emmy Award-winner Tony Hale (HBO’s “Veep”).
NewFest’s Opening Night selection SELL BY is a romantic comedy that follows a group of friends who individually and with each other’s support try to navigate their complicated relationships in New York City. Nobody said love was easy. Adam (Scott Evans) and Marklin (Augustus Prew) seem to have the world in the palm of their hands, but their love life could use improvement. Marklin’s rise as a social media influencer, and Adam’s struggle to switch from ghost painting to creating his own work, has caused a rift between them. As their five-year relationship grows colder, they must decide whether to go all in or explore other options. Meanwhile, Cammy (Michelle Buteau) is failing to find her way in the world of online dating, and Haley (Zoe Chao) has to fend off an almost-legal student who’s hot for teacher.
“SELL BY is a quintessential New York romantic comedy, about the ups, downs, ins and outs of navigating love and life in the city,” says Director Mike Doyle. “It’s a real honor to not only open NewFest, one of the best showcases for LGBTQ film, but to have our New York premiere here as well. It feels like a real homecoming.”
NewFest’s Closing Night selection, the award-winning drama TU ME MANQUES, won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at Outfest this year and is Bolivia’s selection for Best International Feature Film at the 2019 Academy Awards. TU ME MANQUES is Director/Writer/Producer Rodrigo Bellott’s film adaptation of his 2015 play which was originally meant to stage for one night but was extended for an unprecedented four months due to popular demand. The film is an emotional exploration of three men’s struggles to reconcile identity and heritage. Following his son Gabriel’s death, Jorge travels from conservative Bolivia to New York City to confront Gabriel’s boyfriend Sebastian. While the two battle over Jorge’s inability to accept his son, Sebastian channels his grief into a bold new play in honor of his lost love, in which Gabriel’s inner turmoil is transformed into an eye-popping gay fantasia.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have our New York Premiere at NewFest and even more honored to be the Closing Night Film”, says Director/Producer Rodrigo Bellott. “This is a film about a young closeted gay man who immigrates from his conservative, oppressive and homophobic home country and finds love and acceptance to be free amidst the colorful multiethnic sexual diversity of New York City. New York offers the possibility to be unique, authentic and different – and is where I, as a gay Bolivian immigrant, found identity, love, and friendship – where i’ve slowly mended my broken heart and turned the experience into art.”
NewFest’s U.S. Centerpiece Film, TO THE STARS, follows a bespectacled and reclusive teen, Iris, who endures the booze-induced antics of her mother and daily doses of bullying from her classmates in a god-fearing small town in 1960s Oklahoma. Iris finds solace in Maggie, the charismatic and enigmatic new girl at school who hones in on Iris’s untapped potential and coaxes her out of her shell. When Maggie’s mysterious past can no longer be suppressed, the tiny community is thrown into a state of panic, leaving Maggie to take potentially drastic measures and inciting Iris to stand up for her friend and herself.
“I’m elated to bring TO THE STARS to New York City, and I can’t help but long for our queer characters from 1961 rural America to be real and alive today to experience Newfest,” says Director Martha Stephens.
Opening Night Film
Dir. Mike Doyle, USA, 2019, 94 mins
New York Premiere
Delivering laugh-out-loud humor alongside wry truths, SELL BY is proof that witty writing and a strong ensemble are a true treasure of New York City filmmaking. Actor Mike Doyle’s delightful directorial debut explores the lives and loves of a group of friends as they navigate their careers and relationships amidst the beating heart of our vast metropolis.
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 lively and talented cast under Doyle’s assured direction is Kate Walsh (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Academy Award-nominee Patricia Clarkson (HIGH ART). Imbued with a can-do charm so becoming of our great metropolis, SELL BY captures both how we let ourselves go, as well as how we grow closer to those we love.
TO THE STARS
Dir. Martha Stephens, USA, 2019, 109 mins
New York Premiere
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 shining 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.
NewFest’s 2015 Centerpiece CAROL flung us out of space, and this year’s blast from the past takes us on a celestial journey through queer friendship and outcast identity. Filmed entirely in black-and-white, Martha Stephens’ gorgeously textured feature boasts formidable performances by its young cast, in addition to dramatic supporting appearances by Malin Åkerman (“Billions”, “The Comeback”) and Emmy Award-winner Tony Hale (“Veep”, “Arrested Development”).
Closing Night Film
TU ME MANQUES
Dir. Rodrigo Bellott, USA/Bolivia, 2019, 110 mins
New York Premiere
After his son Gabriel passes away, conservative Bolivian patriarch Jorge (Oscar Martínez) 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 own 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 Almodóvar favorite Rossy De Palma). This bold debut, and 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.