Celebrating its 30th anniversary, this year’s NewFest promises to be a full-blown queer affair. Its more than 140 films, panels and parties attract over 12,000 attendees from around the globe every October, making this New York City fest showcases the year’s best LGBTQ film and media. With films about Montgomery Clift and Robert Mapplethorpe, docs about lesbian filmmaker pioneers and dramas about gay conversion therapy, as well as short programs that run the entire LGBTQ gamut, there is no better place to see the full breadth of the queer experience up on the big screen.
As usual, foreign fare is well-represented. In addition to screening Kenya’s controversial (and banned!) tender romance film Rafiki, the fest will be showing, among others, a Colombian lesbian drama, an Ecuadorian film about a strained father-son relationship, and even a horror flick set in Brooklyn featuring a bevy of late-night stars (including Tejana queen Horrorchata!). We’ve rounded all the Latinx ones you should keep an eye out for below.
Black Brazilian transgender singer Linn da Quebrada weaponizes the trans body and music for political protest. Linn and childhood friend Jup do Bairro use extravagantly costumed performances to dazzle audiences while opposing their country’s white heteronormative order. Figuring her embodied existence as resistance, Linn eschews the role of cis woman, instead choosing a fluid gender identity. Full of funny and intimate moments, the film advocates for personal choice against a society that imposes static gender identity.
Online, Pedro smears neon paint across his body for pay-per-view voyeurs hungry for his webcam erotica. IRL, he rarely sees the sun or speaks to another soul in Porto Alegre. After catching word of a rival ripping off his rainbow-colored act, he ventures from the shadows to settle their score — but finds an unlikely new friend in the process. This Berlinale Teddy Award winner conjures a dark, sensual atmosphere of alienation and discovery.
As his name suggests, fourteen year-old Segundo Paucar (Junior Behar) is his father Noé’s (Amiel Cayo) most devoted apprentice. Together, they craft intricate storyboxes—consisting of a cabinet, hand-painted figurines, and a lot of heart—for Peruvian families. Upon discovering his father with another man, Segundo struggles to accept his father’s delicate touch and its beautiful byproducts. With this award-winning debut feature, Alvaro Delgado Aparicio emphasizes his devotion to the touching and fraught power structure that afflicts fathers and sons. In Retablo, patience in art and relationships might be tragically condemned by society, yet they are fiercely rewarded by family.
Chela (Ana Brun) and Chiquita (Margarita Irun) are a middle aged lesbian couple living in present day Asunción, Paraguay. Descendants of Paraguayan aristocracy, the women have enjoyed a silver spoon lifestyle together for thirty years. When the couple is abruptly hit by financial hardship, they scramble to find work and auction off their respective heirlooms—silver spoons included—to stay afloat. When Chiquita is imprisoned for her fraudulent side hustle, Chela begins working as a taxi driver, gradually building new relationships and autonomy for the first time in her life. Each caged—one by a gutted lovenest, the other by razor wire—an irremediable distance grows between the two women. Set in writer-director Marcelo Martinessi’s hometown, The Heiresses embraces minimal dialogue, a twilight palette, and unconventional beauty to tell a melancholy yet satisfying story of new beginnings.
A Cannes 2018 Official Selection, this France-Mexico co-production is a steamy and seedy ode to cinema and postured pulp from visionary director Yann Gonzalez (You and the Night). Vanessa Paradis stars as a no-nonsense gay porn producer on films such as “Homocide” and “Anal Fury” who’s befuddled by a crush on her editor (Kate Moran) and the fact that her cast and crew are being knocked off one-by-one by a leather-clad madman. Shot on lush 35mm and featuring a pulsating original score from M83 and starring among others, Mexican actor Noé Hernandez, Knife+Heart is a gloriously and gorgeously gory take on the modern slasher flick set in the world of 70s Paris. Celluloid lovers unite—the giallo subgenre has finally gone full-blown queer.
Flaunting lewks and flouting conventional taste, José D. Álvarez’s creation is a deliriously campy romp that dashes through slasher tropes with deadly Brooklyn attitude and a distinctively queer spirit. Following a traumatic experience at “Brooklyn’s Annual Enema Party,” party boy Danny (Alejandro La Rosa) is haunted by a hunky masked stranger who causes a massacre of Brooklyn nightlife. Featuring a bevy of Brooklyn’s biggest drag divas, including Bushwig co-founder Horrorchata, this crass creation of cult fervor is John Waters meets John Carpenter. And watch out–these queens aren’t the only ones who came to slay.
One of the most glaring omissions in the film canon has been the work of queer women. Thankfully this once-hidden population picked up the camera and transformed the visibility of lesbians in cinema through classics such as Go Fish (1994), The Watermelon Woman (1996), High Art (1998). Pioneering filmmakers that include Chicago-born Puerto Rican Rose Troche, as well as Barbara Hammer, Yoruba Richen, Desiree Akhavan, Vicky Du, Cheryl Dunye, critic B. Ruby Rich, Jenni Olson, and others discuss with humor and depth how they’ve expressed their queer identity through film, while also revealing personal stories from their own experiences of looking for themselves on screen. First-time director Caroline Berler expertly balances films clips with candid interviews, making Dykes, Camera, Action! a joyous response to the days of the celluloid closet, culminating in a groundbreaking celebration of empowerment and visibility for the ages.
A portrait of two strong, independent women: a female director and the star of her first film, drawn together by a powerful attraction and their shared desire to take on the movie world. The passion between them creates a seductive and fascinating intimacy. But over time, their relationship evolves, swinging from infatuation to sensuality, which turns to tenderness, and then routine. They never wanted to be a conventional couple, and yet that’s just what they’ve become. Can Eva and Candela withstand the inevitable effects of time to overcome the metamorphosis of their relationship?