NewFest Pride 2023: Celebrating Pride Month With the Most Anticipated Queer Films of the Year
Review by Tatiana Miranda
New York's largest LGBTQ+ film presenter, NewFest, is kicking off Pride Month with NewFest Pride, a 5-day event full of film premieres, filmmaker Q&As, and parties. While NewFest's annual festival is in the fall, NewFest Pride is happening in early June, which allows the festival to take advantage of the spring festival circuit and the plethora of films slated to release in the summer.
NewFest Pride opens with Fairyland, a star-studded film about growing up with a gay father in 1970s and '80s San Francisco. Several other films showing take place in the '80s, including the queer coming-of-age love story Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
Based on the award-winning YA book of the same name, Aristotle & Dante centers around two Mexican-American teenagers as they learn about each other and themselves in return. Produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda and directed by Aitch Alberto, this film gives an honest voice to queer Hispanics.
Problemista is another notable film showing at NewFest Pride from a Hispanic writer-director. Directed by and starring comedian Julio Torres, Problemista tells the story of Alejandro, a Salvadoran immigrant hoping to become a toy designer in New York City. The film also stars Tilda Swinton as an art world outcast and Alejandro's last chance to keep his work visa.
Produced by A24, Problemista has recently gained a lot of buzz from its premiere at SXSW. Surreal and intensely comedic, this movie takes Julio Torres' beloved wry humor from shows like Los Espookys to a new level.
Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott's follow-up to Shiva Baby, Bottoms, was another hit at SXSW. Along with Rachel Sennott, the comedy stars The Bear's Ayo Edebiri. The two play teenagers who start a fight club in order to impress their cheerleader crushes. With Sennott and Edebiri's recent roles and work on Comedy Central's Ayo and Rachel Are Single, it's no wonder that this is one of the more anticipated movies of the festival.
After the screening of Bottoms, there will also be a Women's Night Out Party, which is a chance for both filmmakers and film lovers to mingle and unpack the film. Meanwhile, other films will be followed by a discussion with their respective filmmakers.
Along with the festival's live screenings at SVA Theater, NewFest Pride is hosting virtual showings for attendees to enjoy in the comfort of their own homes. Some virtual showings include 1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture and Before I Change My Mind.
That's just the beginning, as there are even more movies showing at NewFest Pride. From much-anticipated indie comedies to documentaries about queer history, this festival has something for everyone and is the perfect way to kick off Pride Month.
NewFest Pride runs from June 1-5 in New York City.
NewFest 2022: Cinematic Cerebrations
By Tatiana Miranda and Sean Boelman
One of the largest LGBTQ+ film festivals in the United States (and the world, for that matter), the 2022 edition of NewFest is back to take New York City by storm. Featuring a lineup of narrative features, documentaries, and short films made by LGBTQ+ filmmakers or featuring LGBTQ+ characters and themes, this is a showcase of some of the best queer films you will see all year.
We at disappointment media covered NewFest this year, both in-person and remotely. Here are some of our brief thoughts on some of the films we were able to see at the fest:
Review by Sean Boelman
Craig Boreham’s Lonesome is being sold as a modern gay cowboy movie, and while it is about gay lads in the modern-day south, it shares more in common with Mysterious Skin than it does something like Brokeback Mountain. Boreham’s film has some good visuals, but it doesn’t have the story to back it up. Instead, what we get is a barrage of excessive and explicit sexuality and sexual assault. That isn’t to say that sex in film is a bad thing — but there is little point here other than exploiting gay trauma, and it’s just quite unpleasant to watch.
Nelly & Nadine
Review by Tatiana Miranda
Nelly & Nadine is Swedish director Magnus Gertten's third film centered around WWII. However, it isn't a documentary solely about the war, instead spanning across subjects such as family, love, and the LGBTQ+ identities of the past. More a love story than a war story, Nelly & Nadine depicts the lives of Nelly Mousset-Vos and Nadine Hwang, two women who meet at the Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1944. Told through the lens of Nelly's granddaughter as she unpacks the letters and photographs her grandmother left her, this documentary is heartfelt and eye-opening to the fact that love can persevere even in the worst conditions.
Please Baby Please
Review by Tatiana Miranda
Please Baby Please is a pleasant surprise, as it is marketed as a musical but is hardly that, with only one lone musical outburst hidden between the rest of the film's antics. The movie follows two newlyweds, Suse and Arthur, in 1950s Manhattan as they witness a gang's outburst of violence. This leads to a broader discussion between the two and their friends on the topic of gender roles, kinks, and sexuality. While those topics might seem entirely separate from the main plot, they are cleverly interwoven and portrayed by the cast of characters through fantasy sequences and intense monologues that captivate the audience.
The 2022 edition of NewFest runs October 13-25 virtually and in-person in New York City.
By Tatiana Miranda
Before the creation of Studio Ghibli and its groundbreaking animated films such as My Neighbor Totoro, there were the early animated projects from Ghibli co-creators Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki‘s filmmaking careers. In 1974, they worked on the hit animated series Heidi, Girl of the Alps, and then nearly ten years later, they co-created Studio Ghibli, where they would create plenty of well-acclaimed animated features. Well before the height of their careers and after leaving Toei Animation, they worked together to make two animated shorts, Panda! Go, Panda! and Panda! Go, Panda!: Rainy Day Circus. For these shorts, Miyazaki debuted as a writer, and Takahata utilized his new skills in directing. Their collaboration on the Panda! Go, Panda! shorts paved the way for their eventual collaboration when creating Studio Ghibli.
Made during the height of the panda craze in Japan during the seventies, Panda! Go Panda! took inspiration from many different popular influences at the time. The plot’s fairy tale themes are similar to that of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” particularly in the second short, Panda! Go, Panda!: Rainy Day Circus. The short film opens with circus employees searching the main character Mimiko’s house for their lost tiger. As they search, they grow increasingly anxious to discover who lives in the house as they come across the overly large items meant for the anthropomorphic panda character PapaPanda; this is similar to Goldilocks examining the different sized items in the three bears’ home.
Mimiko’s character design, such as her bright orange braids, take influence from Pippi Longstocking, which Takahata and Miyazaki had been working to adapt into an animated series. While some designs are remnants of scrapped projects, others would become an inspiration for later animated films. For example, PapaPanda, the large panda father to baby panda Panny and father figure to Mimiko, has very clear similarities to the design of Totoros from My Neighbor Totoro. Mimiko’s clothing is also very similar to that of Mei and Satsuki from My Neighbor Totoro.
Beyond being an insight into the development of later animated films by Miyazaki and Takahata, Panda! Go, Panda! is also an enjoyable watch in itself. These shorts make the most of their thirty-minute run time, with unique characters and adorable design choices matched with a simple but captivating plot premise. The first installment introduces Mimiko, a young orphan who is fiercely independent, as she creates a makeshift family with anthropomorphic pandas PapaPanda and Panny. These characters have an air of childlike wonder to them as they go on adventures, saving Panny and, in Panda! Go, Panda!: Rainy Day Circus, saving their new circus friends. Compared to later works by Miyazaki and Takahata, the plot of Panda! Go, Panda! is self-explanatory and straightforward, although one could infer something deeper about the forced entrapment of anthropomorphic animals that reoccurs in both shorts.
Almost fifty years after its initial release in 1973, Panda! Go, Panda! has the same charm as modern animated shorts. Currently, a digital restoration of both shorts is being shown at select US theaters just in time for a new DVD and Blu-ray release on June 21.
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