10 International Films to Watch at the NewFest LGBT Film Festival

The Huffington Post

Baby Bump, absurdist masterpiece wowed audiences at the Venice Biennale, where it received a Special Mention from the Queer Lion jury

Starting Thursday, film fans will get an opportunity to experience many aspects of queer life around the world from the comfort of a Manhattan movie theater.

2016’s NewFest, New York’s annual LGBT film festival, begins Oct. 20 with what organizers are calling “the largest and most diverse group of films” in the event’s 28-year history. The five-day festival kicks off with this year’s most buzzed-about film, “The Pass,” which stars “Looking” heartthrob Russell Tovey as a closeted soccer player struggling to come to terms with his sexuality.

It doesn’t stop there, of course. The 2016 lineup also includes “Different From The Others,” a 1919 German film which is believed to have been the first overt depiction of gay life in cinema history. Other highlights include “Baby Bump,” an award-winning Polish movie that’s been billed as a “wild” cross between Walt Disney and David Lynch, and “Women Who Kill,” Ingrid Jungermann’s acclaimed lesbian horror-comedy.

Get a sneak peek at 10 must-see movies from the 2016 NewFest below, then head here for more information on the festival. Movie descriptions provided by festival organizers.

“The Pass”
“It’s the night before a make-or-break championship soccer match, the pressure is high, and two rising star teammates Jason (Russell Tovey) and Ade (Arinze Kene) have an encounter in their hotel room that causes irrevocable consequences. Based on the lauded play by John Donnelly, who also adapted the screenplay, debut director Ben A. Williams’ taut, engrossing drama is split into three acts over the course of a decade; tension and vulnerabilities intensify with each conversation, as secrets are buried deeper and lies become heavier. Themes of fame and sexuality take center field, as Jason weighs the cost of denying his happiness against protecting his public image. Russell Tovey (HBO’s ‘Looking’) originated the role of closeted athlete Jason on stage and he delivers a career-defining, powerhouse performance with top-tier assistance from co-star Arinze Kene.”

“Different From The Others”
“Banned by censors and burned by the Nazis, it is a marvel that ‘Different From The Others,’ cinema’s first overt depiction of gay life, exists today. After a six-year restoration process, during which archivists consulted censorship records, the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project has constructed the most complete and accurate version of the film since its initial release almost a century ago. Co-written by famed sexologist and pioneering LGBT activist Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, the film offers a sympathetic and devastating look at gay life in Germany under Paragraph 175, the law criminalizing homosexuality. Conrad Veidt portrays Kurt, a virtuoso violinist who falls in love with a male student. When an extortionist threatens him, Paul must out himself and face the social and legal consequences. Presented on 35mm film with piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner, this screening is critical for those who seek a full understanding of LGBT film history.”

“Paris 05:59: Theo & Hugo”
“‘Shortbus’ meets ‘Weekend’ in this year’s Audience Award winner at the Teddys, an erotic, dazzling, real-time drama from the directors of ‘Cote D’Azur.’ The titular characters meet at an underground Paris sex club and have a passionate first encounter which is captured in a hypnotic, sexually explicit, and almost surreal 18-minute opening sequence. Afterwards, the two spend the rest of the early morning hours wandering the streets of Paris and getting to know each other in ways that are both lyrical (bicycling through empty streets) and dramatic (waiting for HIV test results at a hospital) in this touching story of lust and love.”

“Women Who Kill”
“New York’s own Ingrid Jungermann, creator of the popular web series ‘F to 7th,’ delivers a delightful debut feature about commitment phobic Morgan and her ex-girlfriend Jean, locally famous true crime podcasters, who suspect Morgan’s new love interest is a murderer. Obsessed with the secrets of female serial killers, Morgan and Jean know that mystery keeps relationships alive. But as their macabre musings become popular around Brooklyn, shady femme fatale Simone may just rip them apart. With a lethal dose of wry wit in the vein of vintage Woody Allen, debut director-writer-star Ingrid Jungermann acerbically sharpens the dull edges of urban complacency into a comedy of manners.”

“Don’t Call Me Son”
“At 17, garage-band-playing bisexual Pierre is presented with a jarring, life-changing piece of information: he was stolen from the maternity ward as a child by the woman he’s called mother his whole life. His real name is Felipe, and his beloved younger sister is from another family entirely, as well. Now Pierre’s wealthy biological family wants him back and he is forced to adjust to living them as certain aspects of his personality become difficult to ignore. Anna Muylaert’s brilliantly droll film, which won the Männer Reader Jury Award at Berlinale, features an incredible performance by the gorgeously androgynous Naomi Nero and is part social-economic satire, part opera of teen angst.”

“Esteros”
“Sexy and heartfelt, this handsome drama explores a second chance at love as childhood friends Matías and Jerónimo reunite in their hometown of Paso de los Libres, Argentina, on the banks of the Uruguay River. The summer before high school, the teens’ close friendship transformed into something deeper, but their mutual attraction never came to fruition. More than a decade later they meet again, and the chemistry between them is palpable, but now Matías has a girlfriend who has traveled to his hometown for Carnival. Seeing his old friend, now so comfortable and confident in his skin, reawakens Matías’ feelings. A powerful film that elicits feelings of nostalgia for our own adolescence and for the long-forgotten romances from our past, ‘Esteros’ offers a satisfying glimpse into what might have been — and what might still be.”

“Teenage Cocktail”
“Anchored by two energetic and gripping performances by Nichole Bloom and Fabianne Therese, ‘Teenage Cocktail’ follows high school lovers Annie and Jules on their scheme to abandon their overbearing parents and confining West Coast town and flee to New York. When they turn to webcamming to fund their escape, the two girls are catapulted into a thriller of drastic, violent consequences. A high school rom-com, a queer coming of age story, and a lovers-on-the-run crime thriller all in one.”

“Baby Bump”
“This outrageous Polish import features Mickey House, an 11-year-old boy coming to grips with his changing body and the surreal world which he inhabits. His ears are getting bigger, and his mother remains a mystery; at least he’s running a successful business at school, selling his urine to classmates for drug tests. Described as a wild collaboration between Walt Disney and David Lynch, this absurdist masterpiece wowed audiences at the Venice Biennale, where it received a Special Mention from the Queer Lion jury.”

“Departure”
“When Elliot and his emotionally restrained mother Beatrice arrive at their French vacation cottage to prepare for its sale in this gorgeous cinematic meditation on language, silence and secrets. Elliot identifies and explores his desire through the courtship and seduction of a local tough boy, while Beatrice confronts her failed marriage and takes the first, halting steps toward changing her life. Featuring breathtaking performance from British actress Juliet Stevenson (‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’) and breakout star Alex Lawther, ‘Departure’ finds visual, verbal and aural means to express the indefinable—and the results are divine.”

“Remembering The Man”
“This elegantly crafted ballad to everlasting love charts the companionship of Tim Conigrave and star of the football team John Caleo, two Australian Catholic school boys fell head over heels for each other in 1976. Their relationship spans sixteen years, overcoming all possible obstacles and inspiring novels and films decades on (including this year’s ‘Holding The Man’). Featuring extensive archival footage of Tim and John’s early years, ‘Remembering The Man’ is an personalized portrait of an epic romance. This is the true story of how Romeo met Romeo and what happened ever after.”

The Huffington Post by Curtis M. Wong

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