NewFest Pride, scheduled for June 2-6 at the SVA Theater and online, features preview screenings of new movies and TV series as well as a free flashback movie.
The series opens with a taste of gay director Andrew Ahn’s “Fire Island” (June 2 at 7:00 p.m.) – written and performed by Joel Kim Booster – about a group of friends looking for love and sex in the Pines. There will also be an encore screening at 10 p.m. Ahn and Booster, plus gay cast members Bowen Yang, Conrad Ricamora, James Scully, Matt Rogers, Tomas Matos, Torian Miller, Nick Adams and Zane Phillips are expected to attend.
“Framing Agnes” (June 5 at 7:00 p.m.) deftly unpacks the legacy of Agnes, a transgender woman who lied to gain access to gender-affirming surgery in the 1960s. As she navigated a system designed to rule her out, her behavior also garnered negative attention within the trans community. Director Chase Joynt, (the trans co-director of “No Ordinary Man”), recreates UCLA professor Harold Garfinkel’s interviews with six trans men and women using files from the university archives to explore how trans people have been sensationalized in American culture. Discussions focus on Christine Jorgensen and the networks that trans people have developed, on issues of overcoming and the paradox of false personalities, as well as on relationships, risks, visibility and privilege. Considerable attention is given to “Georgia” (Angelica Ross) who had more limited access than her white peers and was arrested for sex work just for walking down the street. Joynt’s film also features commentary from trans historian Jules Gill-Peterson, who puts the lives of Agnes and these other trans pioneers into perspective. The result is a layered and compelling portrait of trans history. A Q&A with filmmaker Chase Joynt and actor Stephen Ira Cohen will follow the screening.
Another documentary, “Esther Newton Made Me Gay” (June 5 at 3:30 p.m.), is a valentine for the titular cultural anthropologist and canine agility trainer. Director Jean Carlomusto traces Newton’s life, from her childhood and awareness of her sexuality and butch identity — as well as her early experiences as a lesbian — to her activism (“The Personal Is Political”). Inspired by Margaret Mead and Gertrude Stein, Newton pioneered queer studies in academia, writing about drag queens and gender roles. “Esther Newton Made Me Gay” celebrates the life, loves and influence of this pioneering figure in queer studies.
“Girl Picture” (June 4 at 7:00 p.m.) is a charming and romantic Finnish drama about three young women struggling with love, sex, and their highly sensitive emotions. Mimmi (Aamu Milonoff), a lesbian, and her straight best friend, Rönkko (Eleonoora Kauhanen), work together at a smoothie bar. Mimmi is tough and acerbic, but when she meets Emma (Linnea Leino), a figure skater, she lets her guard down and becomes romantic. Emma, whose life has been dominated by sports, falls hard in return and discovers a sense of freedom and rebellion. Director Alli Haapasalo’s film is refreshing for allowing its heroines to make mistakes and misbehave because they are inexperienced and scared. All three leads are engaging and feel clunky and real, which is why the film is so gratifying.
The festival’s Free Friday Flashback is the late Jean-Marc Vallée’s fantastic 2005 feature, “CRAZY” (June 3 at 7:00 p.m.). ) grappling with her sexual identity and trying to find her place in the world in the 1970s. Featuring terrific period music – from the Rolling Stones and David Bowie to Patsy Cline, of course – this highly stylized drama is a classic film that begs to be seen (or seen again).
As part of the TV series, NewFest Pride premieres the new reboot of “Queer as Folk” (June 6 at 7:00 p.m.). Set in New Orleans, this series features a cast made up almost entirely of LGBTQ+ characters of color who come together following a shoot at a drag bar. Director and screenwriter Stephen Dunn and writer Jaclyn Moore, along with cast members Johnny Sibilly, Devin Way, Jesse James Keitel, CG and Fin Argus, will attend the screening.
Four short documentaries will be screened as part of the “Authentic Voices of Pride” program (June 5 at 3:30 p.m.). Cast members Marti Cummings, Stacey Stevenson, Lilianna Reyes and producer Alex Berg will participate in a Q&A after the screening.
For those not present in person, “Wildhood” (Virtual Only, June 2-6) is a tender and enjoyable queer road movie about Link (Phillip Lewitski), a gay Mi’kmaq teenager, who hits the road with his younger half-brother, Travis (Avery Winters-Anthony), to find his long-lost mother. Along the way, they meet Pasmay (Joshua Odjick), a two-spirit person who guides them and develops romantic feelings for Link.
Also available online only (June 2-6) are the series premieres of Season 2 of the TV shows “Gentleman Jack” and “P-Valley.”
For tickets and more information, visit newfest.org.