NewFest, the New York LGBTQ Film Festival, finally unveiled the complete lineup for this year’s 32nd edition of the festival. The festival will kick off with the New York City premiere of Francis Lee’s Ammonite starring Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet and Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan. and will close with the virtual New York premiere of Faraz Shariat’s Teddy Award-winner No Hard Feelings.
The first-ever virtual edition of NewFest, the New York LGBTQ Film Festival will take place October 16-27, 2020, with more than 120 new films accessible to ticket holders nationwide via NewFest’s on-demand platform.
The full program for the festival’s 32nd edition includes three drive-in screenings, 24 narrative features in competition, 14 documentary features in competition, three full-season episodics, one global episodic showcase, and 10 shorts program screenings, including a specially-curated shorts program for LGBTQ-identified high school students in partnership with the New York City Department of Education.
Among the 41 features playing the festival, all are New York City premieres, with one world premiere (NORA HIGHLAND), one international premiere (THE FLASHPOINT), two US premieres (ALWAYS AMBER and DATING AMBER) and one sneak preview (UNCLE FRANK).
This year at NewFest, 63% of films are directed by women and non-binary filmmakers, and 76% of content is about and/or by underrepresented voices (women, people of color, trans, bi and differently abled).
Highlights announced today by the festival include a special sneak drive-in preview of Academy Award winner Alan Ball’s road trip comedy UNCLE FRANK, which follows a teenage girl and her gay uncle who take a road trip back to their hometown. The film, which had its world premiere at Sundance this year, stars Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi and Steve Zahn.
Each night of the Festival will feature a Spotlight film. Spotlight Films include french auteur François Ozon’s drama SUMMER OF 85, a sexy summer romance about two teenage boys who meet on the coast of Normandy, and New Zealand filmmaker Max Currie’s RURANGI, in which a trans activist returns to his hometown to reconnect with his roots and estranged father. Other Spotlight films include topical time-loop drama THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON, New Zealand trans drama RURANGI, recent Toronto (TIFF 2020) favorite SHIVA BABY, hometown hero doc KEITH HARING: STREET ART BOY, stunning supermodel portrait KELET and celebratory lesbian documentary AHEAD OF THE CURVE. NewFest will not screen a Spotlight film on the evening of Thursday October 22 to encourage viewership of the Presidential debate.
Additional highlights include the International Premiere of THE FLASHPOINT, a galvanizing documentary that examines political polarization and the rise of right-wing homophobia in Poland through public art and the symbolic meaning of the rainbow, and a special one-night virtual screening event for NORA HIGHLAND, a feature based on the play with the same name, shot entirely on computers during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The screening of NORA HIGHLAND, which explores the casting process surrounding an iconic and seminal gay character in a new Broadway revival, will be followed by a Q&A with director Ryan Spahn and actor Michael Urie.
The Festival will also host a special 25th Legacy Anniversary screening for Kino Lorber’s BLOODSISTERS: LEATHER, DYKES, AND SADOMASOCHISM, the iconic documentary about the San Francisco leather scene, which had its New York Premiere at NewFest back in 1995.
The full 2020 lineup selections are as follows:
OPENING NIGHT DRIVE-IN; Friday, October 16th at 8PM (Queens Drive-In)
AMMONITE, directed by Francis Lee. (U.K.).
Kate Winselt and Saoirse Ronan star in Francis Lee’s gorgeously crafted new landmark of world cinema.
SNEAK PREVIEW DRIVE-IN; Friday, October 23rd at 8PM (Queens Drive-In)
UNCLE FRANK, directed by Alan Ball. (USA).
A teenage girl and her gay uncle take a road trip back to their hometown in this hilarious and heartfelt tale from Academy Award-winner Alan Ball.
BROOKLYN DRIVE-IN; Saturday, October 24th at 8PM ET (Brooklyn Drive-In)
Brooklyn Boys Shorts
Enjoy four local shorts and a feature! From NewFest alums to bold new visions, these Brooklyn boys are navigating life, love, and identity together
CICADA, directed by Matthew Fifer and Kieran Mulcare. (USA).
Set against the backdrop of New York in 2013, CICADA examines the bond between two troubled strangers who develop an honest connection.
LEGACY SCREENING: 25TH ANNIVERSARY
BLOODSISTERS: LEATHER, DYKES, AND SADOMASOCHISM, directed by Michelle Handelman. (USA).
The queer outlaws of the San Francisco leather scene take center stage in the hottest history lesson you’ll have all year, which had its New York Premiere at NewFest back in 1995.
SPECIAL ONE-NIGHT EVENT (Monday, October 26)
NORA HIGHLAND, directed by Ryan Spahn. (USA). – WORLD PREMIERE
Based on the play of the same name, this adaptation into a screenplay was shot entirely on computers during the COVID-19 Pandemic. NORA HIGHLAND explores the casting process surrounding an iconic and seminal gay character in a new Broadway revival. The original play premiered during the Pride Plays Festival in New York City in 2019.
CLOSING NIGHT (Virtual Only)
NO HARD FEELINGS, directed by Faraz Shariat. (Germany).
Winner of this year’s Teddy Award at the Berlinale, this exhilarating and romantic drama looks at the challenges of young immigrants and celebrates the importance of community and friendship.
INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
ALICE JUNIOR, directed by Gil Baroni. (Brazil)
A teenage trans social media star is taken far out of her element in this charming and spirited MEAN GIRLS-esque high school comedy.
DATING AMBER, directed by David Freyne. (Ireland).
Two queer Irish high schoolers hatch the perfect plan to get their families and bullies off of their backs — become each other’s beards!
DRY WIND, directed by Daniel Nolasco. (Brazil).
A lonely factory worker’s sexual fantasies come to life in this hardcore journey of desire and neon-soaked dreams.
ELLIE AND ABBIE (& ELLIE’S DEAD AUNT), directed by Monica Zanetti. (Australia).
Ellie just wants to ask her high school crush to the prom, but things get complicated (and hysterical) when she’s granted a Fairy Gaymother in the form of her dead aunt to help her do so.
FORGOTTEN ROADS, directed by Nicol Ruiz Benavides. (Chile).
A tender and unconventional tale of a widow who uncovers clandestine loves and finds new purpose in a UFO-obsessed Chilean town.
LOS FUERTES (THE STRONG ONES), directed by Omar Zúñiga Hidalgo. (Chile).
The intimate and romantic saga of two beautiful Chilean men on very different life paths.
MONSOON, directed by Hong Khaou. (Hong Kong).
Henry Golding stars as man returning to his birthplace in this romantic and lusciously lensed Vietnam-set travelogue.
RURANGI, directed by Max Currie. (New Zealand). – SPOTLIGHT FILM
A trans activist returns to his long-abandoned New Zealand hometown to reconnect with his roots, loves, and estranged father in this vivacious portrait of coming into one’s own.
SUMMER OF 85, directed by François Ozon. (France). – SPOTLIGHT FILM
Two teenage boys meet on the coast of Normandy and begin a life-changing summer in a sexy and electric ode to youth from celebrated French auteur François Ozon.
TWO OF US (DEUX), directed by Filippo Meneghetti. (France).
A moving and darkly comic look at two women who find keeping their love secret has its consequences.
TWILIGHT’S KISS (SUK SUK), directed by Ray Yeung. (Hong Kong).
A tender and heartbreaking portrait of two older, closeted Hong Kong men falling in love.
WELCOME TO THE USA, directed by Assel Aushakimova. (Kazakhstan).
A woman wins the Green Card lottery, and must navigate leaving behind the only home she knows in this intimate autobiographical drama.
WHITE LIE, directed by Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas. (Canada).
A heart-racing lesbian character-study-turned-thriller that ratchets up the tension and refuses to let go.
U.S. NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
BREAKING FAST, directed by Mike Mosallam. (USA).
An adorable gay rom-com that spotlights the cultural significance of being gay, horny and Muslim in the U.S. and beyond.
CICADA, directed by Matthew Fifer and Kieran Mulcare. (USA).
Set against the backdrop of New York in 2013, Cicada examines the bond between two troubled strangers who develop an honest connection.
COWBOYS, directed by Anna Kerrigan. (USA).
A sensitive tale that explores the dynamic between conservative families and transgender kids, starring Steve Zahn and Jillian Bell.
GOSSAMER FOLDS, directed by Lisa Donato. (USA).
A heartwarming tale of overcoming prejudice and fostering unexpected connections in the 1980’s Midwest.
MINYAN, directed by Eric Steel. (USA).
A young Jewish man is caught between thrilling private trysts and his repressive family in this thoughtful drama set in 1980s Brooklyn.
THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON, directed by Ali LeRoi. (USA). – SPOTLIGHT FILM
A timely and powerful depiction of a Black high school student forever changed by an encounter with the police.
SHIVA BABY, directed by Emma Seligman. (USA). – SPOTLIGHT FILM
She may be at a shiva, but a self-absorbed recent college grad can only focus on her own bisexual drama in this delightful cringe comedy.
SUBLET, directed by Eytan Fox. (Israel/USA).
Tony Award-winner John Benjamin Hickey stars in a sexy, intergenerational tango between a middle-aged New Yorker and a handsome young Israeli.
TAHARA, directed by Olivia Peace. (USA).
A Jewish teenager navigates toxic friendships and crushes in the wake of her classmate’s suicide in this acerbically sincere (or is it sincerely acerbic?) dark comedy.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
AHEAD OF THE CURVE, directed by Rivkah Beth Medow and Jen Rainin. (USA). – SPOTLIGHT FILM
A triumphant documentary that captures the journey of historic lesbian publication Curve Magazine and its trailblazing founder.
ALWAYS AMBER, directed by Hannah Reinikainen and Lia Hietala. (Sweden).
A unique and fascinating look at genderqueer Amber, thrillingly told through the lens of their own Snapchat, Instagram Stories and DM’s.
CURED, directed by Bennett Singer and Patrick Sammon. (USA).
This fascinating feature-length documentary takes viewers inside the David-versus-Goliath struggle that led the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to remove homosexuality from its manual of mental illnesses in 1973.
THE FLASHPOINT, directed by Wojtek Jankowski. (Poland, India).
An eerie snapshot of rising right-wing bigotry in Poland, this galvanizing documentary examines the symbolic meaning of rainbows and public art.
IF IT WERE LOVE, directed by Matthew Fifer and Kieran Mulcare. (USA).
A stirring hybrid of contemporary dance performance and intimate character study that examines the on-and-off-stage lives of 15 young dancers.
JULIA SCOTTI: FUNNY THAT WAY, directed by Susan Sandler. (USA).
A heartwarming portrait of hilarious 65-year old transgender New York comedian Julia Scotti.
KEITH HARING: STREET ART BOY, directed by Ben Anthony. (U.K.). – SPOTLIGHT FILM
A dazzling and witty look at the iconic NYC artist and the city he loved, featuring never-before-heard archival audio and new interviews.
KELET, directed by Susani Mahadura. (Finland). – SPOTLIGHT FILM
An immersive and inspiring portrait of Kelet, a Finnish ballroom star and trans model who aspires to one day grace the cover of Vogue magazine.
KEYBOARD FANTASIES: THE BEVERLY GLENN-COPELAND STORY, directed by Posy Dixon. (USA).
A tender portrait of a cult electronic music legend enjoying a late-in-life career renaissance.
KILLING PATIENT ZERO, directed by Laurie Lynd. (Canada).
A riveting documentary that unravels the myth of the man scapegoated for singlehandedly spreading the AIDS epidemic to North America.
MAKING SWEET TEA, directed by Patric Chiha. (USA).
An intimate and engaging doc capturing the lives of six Gay men living in the South.
MAURICE HINES: BRING THEM BACK, directed by John Carluccio. (USA).
An intimate look at the legacy of an underappreciated Black legend of New York City’s Broadway.
TRUMAN & TENNESSEE: AN INTIMATE CONVERSATION, directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland. (USA).
The work, lives and personal journeys of two iconic American artists coalesce with creative combustion in this innovative dual-portrait documentary.
YOUR MOTHER’S COMFORT, directed by Adam Golub. (Brazil).
A Brazilian trans advocate fights to keep her community safe from Bolsinaro’s hate-filled regime in this powerful personal documentary.
DINETTE: SEASON 2, directed by Shaina Feinberg. (USA).
A fast-paced New York comedy webseries that spotlights the queer comradery between folks trying to save their beloved eatery.
EQUAL, directed by Stephen Kijak & Kimberly Reed. (USA).
This star-studded four-part HBO Max docuseries honors LGBTQ icons with never-before-seen archival footage and stylistic depictions that bring to life the gripping and true backstories of rebellious leaders and unsung heroes.
SIDEWAYS SMILE: SEASON 1, directed by Hang Nguyen. (USA).
A madcap, style-shifting comedy webseries that explores queer sexuality and the Asian-American experience in New York City.
GLOBAL EPISODIC SHOWCASE
Fall in love with your new favorite, binge-worthy series via our International Episodic Showcase! These global pilots–from NYC all the way to Nigeria–showcase the best of upcoming queer talent in the form of web series, Television series, and docuseries. This is your chance to hit the ground running and humblebrag to your friends that you discovered these binge-worthy shows before anyone else!
BEAUTIFUL BOYS, BEAUTIFUL JOURNEYS
This year’s Boys shorts program focuses on vast journeys of the heart, mind, soul, and body. Not only are these boys and their journeys beautiful, but the filmmaking is as well, in this eclectic and inclusive mix of fun, sexy, groundbreaking, and meaningful films.
BEYOND THE BINARY
BEYOND THE BINARY is back for another year of brief stories made by, about, with, and for trans people. This short program has everything: hitchhiking robots, sad strip clubs, animated dogs in space, and more, resulting in a varied and thoroughly engaging depiction of trans self-discovery and community-wide solidarity.
BLACK FAMILY MATTERS
Family, both the one we’re born into and the one we make for ourselves, is always complex. From an energetic time-traveling short about family secrets to shorts that navigate identity with the sometimes-strained support of loved ones, this shorts program highlights the importance of Black family, friends, and community in these times of civil and racial unrest in the United States and serves as a reminder that all Black lives matter. Forever and always.
DREAM A LITTLE DREAM WITH ME
Nightmares, daydreams, and fantasies collide in this otherworldly genre shorts program best enjoyed with the light firmly flipped off. From vibrant visions of the future to contemporary anxieties coming to life, this collection promises to surprise, delight, befuddle, and bewilder unlike anything you’ve seen before. Welcome to the queer imagination!
EVERY BODY + BOOTY!
Everybody, rock your booty! Rejoice in the loving, intentional, explorative, and kinky relationships queer and trans people have to their own bodies. Shorts include a sexually explicit heartfelt farewell to titties, a moving tribute to breathplay, an animated dive into sex work, a tender thanks-giving for trans yoga, and much more. This program contains sexually explicit content.
FREE TO BE ME
Through an inclusive, celebratory, and inspirational collection of short films, this program is curated specifically for LGBTQ-identified high school audiences, providing access for LGBTQ+ youth to see themselves reflected on screen while promoting media literacy and encouraging self-worth and expression. This program, which is made possible with support from New York City’s Department of Education, features a combination of celebrated shorts from the film festival circuit and debut short films from young filmmakers themselves, capturing a variety of topics that exist across the LGBTQ+ teen experience, including family dynamics, first dates, coming out, self-care, gender expression, and identity.
THE GAG’S ALL HERE 2.0!
The gag’s all here AGAIN with a second helping of queer laughs and good cheer to keep you giggling through tears of joy! From deadpan commentaries on oppressive office culture to a French musical finale (and some uproarious Rachel Dratch in between), this quirky and hilarious bunch of shorts invites you to leave your worries behind and LOL in the comfort of your own home.
GIRLS LAUGHING, LOVING, FIGHTING, F**KING
Who hasn’t loved a messy dyke? This varied collection of Girls shorts runs the gamut from breaking in to breaking up, taking delight in all the complications in between. Ill-advised, achingly romantic, and perfectly chaotic adventures await all ages and relationships, with help from Sappho, personified dating apps, erotic fan fiction, and ayahuasca. Grab your Zoom date and live-text along to this entirely female-directed program.
HEIRLOOMS + HISTORIES
Queer people connect across generations, both in front of and behind the camera, in this intergenerational celebration of identity and wisdom. Whether it’s a bisexual mother documenting her trans son’s birthday wishes, a history of indigenous trans healers that crosses oceans and centuries, or a New York elder concretizing her place in the city, HEIRLOOMS + HERITAGE spotlights the strength and necessity of bonds across ages, and the gifts that can only be exchanged by queer descendants.
TIL WE (CAN) MEET AGAIN
We miss being in the same place as you! The survival of LGBTQ-inclusive physical spaces are essential for our community to connect and thrive, so gather round for this diverse collection of shorts that celebrate a time when we could assemble together to celebrate our creativity, expression, and individuality. From a pan-Asian queer Brooklyn dance party to a Brazilian beachside paradise, you’ll feel right at home living vicariously through these space-specific stories ’til we can meet together again.