NewFest Pride, scheduled for June 2-6 at the SVA Theater and online, offers pre-release screenings of new films and TV series as well as a free flashback film.
The series opens with a sneak preview of out gay director Andrew Ahn’s “Fire Island,” (June 2 at 7:00 pm) — written by and starring Joel Kim Booster — about a group of friends looking for love and sex in the Pines. There will also be a 10 p.m. encore screening. Ahn and Booster, along with out 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 pm) deftly unpacks the legacy of Agnes, a transgender woman who lied to get access to gender-affirming surgery in the 1960s. While she navigated a system designed to exclude her, her behavior also generated 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 trans women using files from the university’s archives to explore how trans people have been sensationalized in American culture. The discussions address Christine Jorgensen, and the networks that trans people developed, to issues of passing, and the paradox of false personas, as well as relationships, risks, visibility and privilege. Considerable attention is spent on “Georgia” (Angelica Ross) who had more limited access than her white peers and was picked up for sex work just for walking down the street. Joynt’s film also features commentary by trans historian Jules Gill-Peterson, who places Agnes and these other trans pioneers’ lives in perspective. The result is a layered and fascinating portrait of trans history. A Q&A with filmmaker Chase Joynt and cast member Stephen Ira Cohen will follow the screening.
Another documentary, “Esther Newton Made Me Gay” (June 5 at 3:30 pm), is a valentine to the titular cultural anthropologist and dog agility trainer. Director Jean Carlomusto traces Newton’s life, from her childhood and self-awareness about her sexuality and butch identity — as well as her first lesbian experiences — to her activism (“The personal is political”). Inspired by Margaret Mead and Gertrude Stein, Newton forged a path for 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 pm) is a charming and romantic drama from Finland about three young women grappling with love, sex, and their very 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 down her guard and gets 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 behave badly because they are inexperienced and scared. The three leads are all engaging and come across as awkward 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, “C.R.A.Z.Y.” (June 3 at 7:00 pm) This deeply emotional coming-of-age film has Montreal teenager Zac (Marc-André Grondin in an outstanding performance) struggling with his sexual identity and trying to find his 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 classic film that demands to be seen (or reseen).
As part of the Television series, NewFest Pride presents an advance screening of the new reboot of “Queer as Folk” (June 6 at 7:00 pm). Set in New Orleans, this series features a cast composed almost entirely of LGBTQ+ characters of color who come together following a shooting in a drag bar. Director and writer Stephen Dunn and writer Jaclyn Moore, along with cast members Johnny Sibilly, Devin Way, Jesse James Keitel, CG, and Fin Argus, will be attending the screening.
Four documentary shorts will screen as part of the program “Authentic Voices of Pride” (June 5 at 3:30 p.m.). Cast members Marti Cummings, Stacey Stevenson, Lilianna Reyes, and producer Alex Berg will participate in a post-screening Q&A.
For those not attending in person, “Wildhood” (Virtual Only, June 2-6) is a tender, enjoyable queer road movie about Link (Phillip Lewitski), a gay Mi’kmaq teen, who hits the road with his younger half-sibling, Travis (Avery Winters-Anthony), to find his long-lost mother. Along the way, they meet Pasmay (Joshua Odjick), a Two-Spirit individual who guides them — and who develops romantic feelings for Link.
Also available online only (June 2-6) are the Season 2 series premieres of the TV shows “Gentleman Jack” and “P-Valley.”
For tickets and more information, visit newfest.org.