The film festival I was involved with/ran from 1996-2008, NewFest: The New York LGBT Film Festival, begins its 23rd edition next Thursday, July 21, having moved from its traditional early June date and set up shop at the Film Society of Lincoln Center for its gala screenings. Having shepherded the festival for so long, it means a great deal to me, so if you’re in NYC between July 21-28, check out its offerings, whether you are LGBT or not. Among its 60 feature-length films – by, about, or of interest to LGBT audiences and their supporters – NewFest includes 28 documentaries.
Spotlighted docs include the Opening Night Gala, David Weissman and Bill Weber’s WE WERE HERE (pictured), about the early impact of AIDS on San Francisco; and one of the fest’s Centerpiece films, Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf’s WISH ME AWAY, on country western singer Chely Wright’s coming out, the winner of Best Documentary awards from both the Los Angeles Film Festival and Frameline.
Films screening that I’ve seen and have previously written about include: Gretchen Morning and John Morning’s GONE (pictured), about a mother’s search for answers to the disappearance of her gay son; Eric Brach’s HABANA MUDA, a look at the complex relationship between a deaf Cuban couple and the rich gay Mexican who helps support them; Matthew Bate’s SHUT UP, LITTLE MAN!, on another complicated relationship – one that spawned a cult phenomenon; Marie Losier’s THE BALLAD OF GENESIS & LADY JAYE, a love story between an acclaimed underground musician and his muse; P David Ebersole’s HIT SO HARD, a portrait of former Hole drummer Patty Schemel; and Dori Berinstein’s CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE, loving profile of the legendary performer.
Others that I’ve already watched but that I haven’t had a chance to write about in detail here yet: Travis Mathews’ IN THEIR ROOM: BERLIN (pictured), an often sexually explicit look at what goes in the bedrooms of young gay men in Berlin; Elisabeth Sperling and Trish Dalton’s ONE NIGHT STAND, a fun, behind-the-scenes look at teams of writers, directors, and actors attempting to create and stage four short musicals in 24 hours; Allan Neuwirth’s WHAT’S THE NAME OF THE DAME?, a drag queen appreciation of ABBA, packed with performances; and James Belzer’s THE TENTS, a guide to NYC’s Fashion Week by a fashion industry who’s who.
Also in NewFest’s line-up are a few projects that I’ve been tracking for awhile now and am excited to see in their completed form: Angela Tucker’s (A)SEXUAL (pictured), an exploration of the dawning of a new sexual minority; Jonathan S Lee’s PAUL GOODMAN CHANGED MY LIFE, an attempt to introduce the noted, but somewhat forgotten thinker to a new generation; and Marquise Lee’s I’M FROM DRIFTWOOD PRESENTS, Nathan Manske and Marquise Lee’s attempt to document the lives of LGBT in all 50 states for Manske’s inspiring website.
Finally, other titles I’m hoping to check out include: RENT BOYS (pictured), gay German film pioneer Rosa von Praunheim’s look at the lives of male prostitutes; Kaspars Goba’s HOMO@LV, exploration of the resistance and threats of violence faced by Lativian organizers of a pride parade; and, on the lighter, and likely hilarious, side, Lorene Machado’s latest Margaret Cho concert film, CHO DEPENDENT.