The 2021 New York LGBTQ+ Film Festival (NewFest) begins tomorrow! While every festival is exciting, NewFest is an LGBTQ+ spotlight for the best in representative entertainment. This year’s festival is, like may others, hybrid (in person and online, featuring a number of exciting projects that have caught my attention. Over the course of the festival, I will be sharing my thoughts on what I have seen through reviews, interviews, and other features.
To start, here are the films that I am most looking forward to in no particular order.
Note: All information, including pictures, has been provided by NewFest unless otherwise noted.
Synopsis: FIREBIRD is based on the true story of two Soviet Air Force recruits who fell in love at the height of the Cold War. Sergey, a sensitive young private, and Roman, a high-ranking fighter pilot with a promising military career, risk their lives and livelihoods to be intimate on and off the base before Roman’s wife comes between them, evoking a toiling tale of love and betrayal. Spanning several decades, FIREBIRD is a forbidden romance both sumptuous and heart-rending.
Why I’m Interested: A true story of forbidden romance, especially in the Soviet Air Force, is sure to be an eye-opener.
Boy Meets Boy
Synopsis: Harry has been partying for 48 hours when he meets Johannes on the dance floor of a club in Berlin. With 15 hours left until Harry’s flight back to London, Johannes offers to help him print his boarding pass, a mundane task that leads to a day wandering the city together. The contrasts in their lives and values force them to confront their own truths in this naturalistic romance.
Why I’m Interested: A whirlwind romance is described in a film that has been referred to as “the next great gay love story” by i-D Magazine. Quite frankly, we need films like this.
Synopsis: Marcos is a struggling director desperate to produce his low-budget queer take on Italian Giallo thrillers. But when the cast and crew begin to die gruesome deaths, he becomes both a prime suspect for investigators and the killer’s potential next target. Marc Ferrer’s vibrant horror-comedy melds mystery and unabashed pastiche with an early Almodóvarian sense of humor. Featuring Spanish icons including Samantha Hudson and La Prohibida, CUT! is a rollicking meta slasher showcasing the weird, wonderful world of queer artists in Spain and Catalonia.
Why I’m Interested: A gay horror-comedy. Need I say more?
Synopsis: Bianca Del Rio, Alaska, Jujubee, Valentina, Manila Luzon, Jinkx Monsoon, and Raja — these are just some of the queens featured in DRAG INVASION, a fascinating and hilarious glimpse behind the glittery curtain. Following the iconic stars of RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE on tour in Peru, documentarian Alberto Castro celebrates the joy of drag culture while examining how mainstream visibility empowers LGBTQ+ communities throughout the world. Spectacular performances and words of wisdom from the queens are interspersed with candid interviews with queer Peruvians, uncovering the real stories behind the fandom in the context of a homophobic society. This ultimate insider experience into the world of DRAG RACE becomes a revealing portrait of the international fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
Why I’m Interested: RuPaul’s Drag Race has taken over the world. More interesting than the actual show, however, may be the lives of the stars that have made it what it is. Drag Invasion promises a peak behind the curtain into drag culture.
Synopsis: While enjoying a visit from his long-distance boyfriend, a closeted Romanian policeman is called to diffuse a heated situation at a local movie theater. Turns out a conservative group is protesting a queer film screening and, to make matters worse, an old flame threatens to out him in front of his homophobic colleagues.Based on true events, POPPY FIELD creates a poignant portrait of a man reconciling his professional and private identities. Director Eugen Jebeleanu builds a pressure cooker of emotions and subverts the conventional thriller format to arrive at deeper truths.
Why I’m Interested. The line “a man reconciling his professional and private identities” hit me as it is something that most in the LGBTQ+ community wrestle with at one time.
Synopsis: Featuring one of the final screen performances from the late, great, Oscar-winning icon Cloris Leachman, JUMP, DARLING tells the story of aspiring performer Fishy Falters (Thomas Duplessie), who is trying to eke out a career at a small-town bar while crashing with his ailing yet still feisty grandmother (Leachman). Leachman’s singular combination of impeccable comic timing and grounded pathos is used to great effect in writer/director Phil Connell’s intimate, genuine story, which features show-stopping musical numbers and profound truths about family dynamics.
Why I’m Interested: The late Cloris Leachman is a national treasure and to feature her in a story about a young man trying to make it as a performer (assuming drag) staying with his grandmother is sure to mix comedy and heart.
More to be added. Learn more about everything showing at this year’s NewFest here.