Saturday, July 28, 2012

LGBT NewFest 2012 opens, partnering with Outfest & the Film Society of Lincoln Center

In the annals of It's about time! and Congratulations, finally!, NewFest's arrival -- after 24 years -- as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center program, is something to celebrate. At last, New York's LGBT film festival has a venue that's, well, ultra-classy by any standards: The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center. This year NewFest is presented as part of a recent partnership with the long-running Los Angeles-based LGBT media arts organization Outfest, which programmed and will help run this year's event.

After years of floating around the city in various venues, many of which were perfectly OK but never exactly felt like home or some-thing particularly stable, this year's NewFest takes on quite a different glow. And sensibility. And lineup of films. 2012 includes fourteen narrative features, four documentaries and a number of short films. This is noticeably down in quantity from recent years. But perhaps up in quality. While this may exclude some filmmakers whose work might benefit from being shown, it may also give audiences a chance to see a more professional batch of movies. We'll find out after the fest is finished and the smoke has cleared.

TrustMovies has seen only one of the films to be shown (already shown, in fact: last evening) -- the opening-night attraction, FOUR, based on the decade-old but much heralded play by Christopher Shinn, adapted and directed by Joshua Sanchez (his first full-length feature) and acted by a talented and game quartet. I would imagine this film will have a theatrical release of some sort down the line and so will cover it at length at a later time.

For now, I'll just say that some terrific dialog and juicy situations come to the fore as two couples spend the evening in their respective twosomes: an older man and a high-school boy (Wendell Pierce, above, right, and Emory Cohen, left) and a high-school girl and the young man who's enamored of her (E.J. Bonilla, two photos up and below, right, and Aja Naomi King, below, left). One member of each couple is connected to the other by blood. Sexual preferences, race and class come to the fore, as do the ways in which we lie to ourselves, even as we make use of others. Shin and Sanchez are particularly adept at handling teen-age conversation and the fact that, so often, teens either do not know what they want or are simply incapable of owning up to it.

As usual, Newfest will host a number of personal appearances by filmmakers and actors. Closing the event will be Marialy Rivas' acclaimed Chilean film YOUNG & WILD (below). Based on the life of co-screenwriter Camila Gutiérrez, the film -- said to be a sexually-charged, stunning and energetic look at family and youth culture in contemporary Chile -- was the recipient of the World Cinema Screenwriting Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Tickets are on sale now (most of the films will be shown only once), and you can view the entire NewFest program here.

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