The festival will feature more than 160 films from 32 countries over 7 days and there is plenty in store for queer women.
New York’s leading LGBTQ film festival, NewFest, has announced the full lineup of their 31st annual celebration of the year’s best LGBTQ films from around the world and we’re happy to report that lesbians and queer women receive plenty of representation this year, both behind and in front of the camera.
The full program of 27 narrative features, 14 documentary features, 15 episodic series, 8 centerpiece and spotlight screenings, and 100 shorts will screen in New York at the SVA Theatre, Cinépolis Chelsea, and The LGBT Community Center. This year’s lineup is particularly strong in bringing new and emerging voices to the fore with 11 offerings from first-time feature filmmakers.
It also continues the tradition of reaching gender parity, with 54% of films having been directed by women, trans, or non-binary filmmakers. Additionally, 71% of content is by and about women, people of color, trans, bi and differently-abled.
In addition to a diverse slate and the opening and closing night films, this year’s NewFest will feature several galas and special screenings, and three world premieres including a lesbian highlight that we’re keen to see: Alexis Clements’ documentary All We’ve Got, about the disappearance of America’s queer women’s spaces; another exciting lesbian documentary is The Archivettes, about the co-founders of the Lesbian Herstory Archives.
There are many films of lesbian, bi, and queer female interest but we’re especially excited by To the Stars, directed by 35-year-old Martha Stephens. Set in a 1960s Oklahoma high school, where an enigmatic new girl buddies up with an unpopular girl in a feature film that is already drawing acclaim for its standout performances by the young cast.
Billie & Emma, directed by Samantha Lee, is a coming-of-age tale set in the Philippines during the 1990s. Out teenager and rock music-lover Billie is sent to live with her aunt in a rural village where she befriends Emma, an ambitious classmate in their strict Catholic school.
Second Star on the Right is directed by Ruth Caudeli, from Colombia, and centers on bisexual Emilia’s journey to selfhood. Seventeen traces young summer, unexplored love in Austria between two young women.
Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America is a documentary following four asylum-seekers from Syria, Angola, and The Democratic Republic of Congo as they try to start fresh in the United States. Your Turn, directed by Eliza Capai, follows teen activists in Brazil as they face an increasingly oppressive government.
The festival also pays tribute to Halloween season with its scary queer program, HalloKween and the star of this slate will be the queer postmodern feminist vampire flick, Bit. Multigenerational doco Queer Genius pays tribute to late experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer, East Village poet Eileen Myles, and many others who changed the mediums they created in — for the benefit of LGBTQ culture.
Queering the Script shines a light on the many uncredited fangirls who elevated shows like Xena and Buffy to cult classic status through the power of lesbian subtext. And we want to give a shout out to These Thems, is a seven-episode, fully narrative digital series following the lives of four queer friends in NYC. Directed by Gretchen Wylder, the series aims to lead the way in challenging the traditional constraints of gender representation behind and in front of the camera. Watch the hilarious trailer for These Thems here.