EXCLUSIVE: The 31st edition of NewFest, the New York LGBTQ film festival, has unveiled Mike Doyle’s rom-com Sell By as its opening-night film, while Rodrigo Bellott’s award-winning Tu Me Manques will close the fest. In addition, Martha Stephens’ To the Stars will serve as the centerpiece.
This year’s festival runs October 23-29 at SVA Theatre, Cinépolis Chelsea, and The LGBT Community Center in New York.
“As we were reminded during this year’s World Pride and 50th anniversary of Stonewall, New York City is and always has been the epicenter of queer life and queer liberation,” said NewFest executive director David Hatkoff. “We are thrilled to bookend New York’s 31st annual LGBTQ Film Festival, our biggest and boldest yet, with two magnificent films set in our vibrant, diverse, international city.”
Sell By stars Scott Evans (Grace and Frankie), Kate Walsh (Grey’s Anatomy), Michelle Buteau (Always Be My Maybe, Tales of the City), Augustus Prew (High-Rise) and Patricia Clarkson. The Manhattan-set ensemble follows a group of friends who navigate their complicated relationships in the city. Adam (Evans) and Marklin (Prew) seem to have the world in the palm of their hands, but their love life could use improvement. Marklin’s rise as a social media influencer, and Adam’s struggle to switch from ghost painting to creating his own work, has caused a rift between them. As their five-year relationship grows colder, they must decide whether to go all-in or explore other options. Meanwhile, Cammy (Buteau) is failing to find her way in the world of online dating, and Haley (Zoe Chao) has to fend off an almost-legal student who’s hot for teacher.
Tu Me Manques is an adaptation of Bellott’s own 2015 play which explores a trio of men and their struggle to reconcile their identity and heritage. Following his son Gabriel’s death, Jorge travels from conservative Bolivia to New York City to confront Gabriel’s boyfriend Sebastian. While the two battle over Jorge’s inability to accept his son, Sebastian channels his grief into a bold new play in honor of his lost love, in which Gabriel’s inner turmoil is transformed into an eye-popping gay fantasia. The film won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at Outfest this year and is Bolivia’s selection for Best International Feature Film at the 2019 Academy Awards.
NewFest’s U.S. Centerpiece Film, To the Stars, features Kara Hayward (Moonrise Kingdom), Malin Akerman (Billions), Jordana Spiro (Ozark) and Tony Hale (Veep). The story follows a bespectacled and reclusive teen, Iris, who endures the booze-induced antics of her mother and daily doses of bullying from her classmates in a god-fearing small town in 1960s Oklahoma. Iris finds solace in Maggie, the charismatic and enigmatic new girl at school who hones in on Iris’s untapped potential and coaxes her out of her shell. When Maggie’s mysterious past can no longer be suppressed, the tiny community is thrown into a state of panic, leaving Maggie to take potentially drastic measures and inciting Iris to stand up for her friend and herself.
Stay tuned for the complete festival lineup, which will be announced September 19.