Newfest Enters a Third Decade: This is What You Can Expect from LGBTQ Filmmakers

Written by | Screen

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(Image courtesy Shutterstock/Estrada Anton)

For 30 years, the NYC festival of films known as NewFest has acted as a barometer of LGBTQ culture. That era saw queer filmmakers grappling with the defining issues of HIV/AIDS, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and same-sex marriage. That tradition continues today, as artists address our expansion into non-binary expression, coming out abroad in repressive cultures and the pushback at home against marginalized groups via so-called “religious freedom” laws.

This year, as Newfest moves into its third decade, its roster of films is at once more diverse and more inclusive than ever. The festival takes place this week through next, October 23-29 at cinemas across New York.

According to director of programming Nick McCarthy, “Since 1988, NewFest has been distinct in supporting and elevating queer filmmakers.” Over the years, he says, the festival has presented work ranging from Lisa Cholodenko to Todd Haynes to John Cameron Mitchell. In turn, their films have helped the fest serve the community by providing “a platform to premiere their stories in the cultural capital that is New York City, as well as fostering and empowering their boundless talents.”

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The current slate of films represents yet another record-high year for submissions, he adds. “We look forward to sharing the emerging voices behind both local and international films — which include over 160 films from more than 30 countries.” While the films, the voices and surely the concerns and focuses of movies will evolve, McCarthy believes it’s the festival’s mission “to continue to foster and empower emerging queer filmmakers to reach the highest level of visibility and success within the industry, as well as reflect the full spectrum of the LGBTQ+ experience for many years to come.”

But, says executive director David Hatkoff, there’s something the festival provides beyond the movies themselves that can only be experienced by attending the screenings across town this week: connection.

Hatkoff says simply: “These days we all have access to unlimited content right from our couch,” he says. “What NewFest offers, at our annual LGBTQ Festival and through our year-round programming, is an opportunity for members of our community to come together and share experiences — together, in person — around diverse and eclectic queer stories. Creating a space for this kind of meaningful and joyful connection is an invaluable way NewFest helps our community thrive.”

This year’s international highlights include:

And Then We Danced: Sweden’s submission for the Foreign Language Oscar this year – Fresh from its acclaimed debut at Cannes, writer/director Levan Akin delivers a passionate and exceptionally crafted tale of liberation set against the backdrop of Georgian traditional dance.

Tu Me Manques: Bolivia’s submission for the Foreign Language Oscar this year – 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.

For more info, go to Newest.org

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Last modified: October 21, 2019