New York’s premier LGBTQ film festival, NewFest, is marking its 35th anniversary with a vibrant celebration of queer cinema in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The festival, running from Thursday to October 24, has gathered an impressive lineup that includes some of this year’s top contenders for awards season recognition.
This year’s festival kicks off with Netflix’s “Rustin,” a biopic that explores the life of Bayard Rustin, a gay civil rights activist. Closing the event is Searchlight Pictures’ “All of Us Strangers,” a ghostly love story addressing parental loss, featuring Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott.
NewFest has grown significantly over the years, gaining recognition from studios and distributors who see the festival as a valuable platform for launching LGBTQ-themed films. David Hatkoff, the executive director of NewFest, and Nick McCarthy, the director of programming, both acknowledge the unique energy and audience that a NewFest screening offers.
The festival’s lineup includes world premieres like Emma Fidel’s “Queen of New York,” a fusion of drag and New York City politics, and Daniel Peddle’s retrospective documentary “Beyond the Aggressives: 25 Years Later.” However, it also features buzzworthy titles that use NewFest as a springboard into awards season after making splashy debuts earlier in the year.
This year’s Queer Visionary Award goes to Todd Haynes, the director of “May December,” a film starring Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman that delves into the world of an actor’s unhealthy obsession. NewFest continues to celebrate LGBTQ icons and pioneers like Bayard Rustin, whose biopic aligns with the 60th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.
Under the theme of “then, now, and forever” in queer film, NewFest presents a wide spectrum of experiences, showcasing films that are more than just a passing trend. The festival’s approach to programming has garnered media attention and the support of major industry players, highlighting its growing profile in the LGBTQ film world.
Despite its relatively smaller size, NewFest has achieved financial stability and audience growth, standing out in the festival and nonprofit space. As other film institutions face budgetary challenges, NewFest’s commitment to celebrating LGBTQ cinema’s “forever” is a testament to its enduring impact.
While the future of film may have uncertainties, NewFest remains dedicated to championing queer voices and stories, ensuring that LGBTQ cinema continues to thrive.