NewFest, New York’s LGBTQ Film Festival, has announced the titles for its 31st annual edition, which includes a nine Latin American titles, including the Bolivian film Tu Me Manques as closing night, plus a special spotlight on Brazil.
Having its New York premiere, Rodrigo Bellot’s Tu Me Manques starring Óscar Martínez, Rossy de Palma, and Fernando Barbosa is based on the filmmaker’s own electrifying and influential eponymous play, is an inspiring story that celebrates community, love, and storytelling, and excavates both familial and international homophobia with tremendous tact and care. After his son Gabriel passes away, conservative Bolivian patriarch Jorge accidentally Skypes Gabriel’s ex-boyfriend Sebastian, leading him on a journey from Bolivia to New York City in search for the truth about his child.
Screening in the Narrative Feature sections of the festival is the Argentine film Brief Story from the Green Planet / Breve historia del planeta verde by Santiago Loza in its New York premiere. In the eerie early moments of this mesmerizing Teddy Award winner, Tania–a transgender club performer–finds out that her grandmother has died. When she brings her two friends (the depressed Daniela and the dancey Pedro) to visit her late relative’s home, they discover that Tania’s grandmother spent her last years with a very special pal of her own: a small blue alien. Now Tania, Daniela, and Pedro must journey through rural Argentina to bring the alien back home before time runs out for the creature.
Having its world premiere at the New York festival is Rafael Gomes’ Music for Bleeding Hearts / Música para Cortar os Pulsos. Set in present day São Paulo, the film follows a trio of young hearts are about to break. Ricardo has both a steady boyfriend and a wandering eye for a new coworker. Isabella is taking a break from both her boyfriend and best friend Ricardo. And hopeless romantic Felipe has suddenly found himself caught between the two of them. These three have big dreams, yearning passion, and opinionated acquaintances, but they’re all unprepared for what’s to come from Cupid’s arrows.
The Colombian film Second Star on the Right / Segunda estrella a la derecha by Spanish filmmaker Ruth Caudeli will have its New York premiere in the festival. In the blink of an eye, gregarious bisexual Emilia has gone from being a core member of a tight-knit group of women to its biggest burden. As her thirties close in on her, Emilia flits from day job to passion project to romantic interest without wholly committing to any. As the group’s focus shifts from friendship to careers, partners, and kids, Emilia becomes yet another load its members must shoulder.
Having also its New York premiere is the second feature film by acclaimed Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante (Ixcanul). In Guatemala, earthquakes (or tremors) can be a very common occurrence. Temblores explores what happens to an affluent religious family as a rumbling rift symbolically tears them apart after patriarch Pablo (a revelatory Juan Pablo Olyslager) reveals that he’s been sustaining a loving relationship with another man. What follows is a tale of passionate romance, immense inner conflict and devastating tragedy. Separated from his wife, his children and his life of Evangelical tradition, Pablo initially finds a sense of freedom. But how long can he sustain this new and exciting life when he’s fired from his job and his religious creed begins to take over again?
Four Latin American films will have their New York premiere at New Fest: Daniel Nolasco’s Mr. Leather, Mak Ck’s One Taxi Ride, Theodore Collatos and Carolina Monnerat’s Queen of Lapa, and Eliza Capai’s Your Turn.
Brazil’s leather community gets up close and personal in Nolasco’s playful documentary about the titular competition. Nolasco follows judges, past winners, and current contenders for the title of Mr. Leather Brazil, as they prepare for the annual contest, where one participant will win the honor of representing their country at Chicago’s annual International Mr. Leather contest. Combining vérité footage with stylized sequences, Mr. Leather keeps its audience on their toes through its illuminating, playful, and uncompromising depiction of this kinky subculture. Sex, activism, and community-building collide to make Mr. Leather a one-of-a-kind glimpse into São Paulo’s fetish scene.
When Erick was seventeen-years-old, his life changed forever. Ten years after a traumatic taxi ride, he’s ready to reclaim his future and set out on a journey that will not only shift his path, but that of those closest to him. The Mexican-Singaporean co-production One Taxi Ride Tis a thoughtful and delicate look at how sexual violence impacts survivors, their relationships, and their futures. C.K. Mak’s documentary doesn’t turn Erick’s trauma into a source of spectacle, but, rather, a means of healing and honest introspection.
In Queen of Lapa, against the backdrop of political corruption and flagrant transphobia in Brazil, the late, great Luana Muniz—cabaret performer, activist, and sex worker since age eleven—minced no words about the challenges in calling Lapa, Rio de Janeiro home. In her hostel, she provided a rare safe haven and a heavy dose of tough love for the next generation of trans sex workers.
Eliza Capai,’s Your Turn tells the story of Lucas “Koka” Penteado, Marcela Jesus, and Nayara Souza, who were three ordinary high school students whose lives suddenly changed when the state of São Paulo announced plans to close ninety-four public schools. In response to corruption and inefficiency in their government, these teens started to organize. Beginning with protests in which local students occupied their schools for weeks on end, the student labor movement reached extraordinary heights in 2015 and 2016, bringing awareness to numerous injustices in Brazil and remedying widespread problems for the country’s poorest residents. That was until 2018, when Jair Bolsonaro was elected with 55% of the popular vote. As the tides shift against activists and social justice movements, Koka, Marcela, and Nayara are faced with a jarring reality.
Additionally, NewFest will present the program ‘Postcards from Brazil.’ With the election of Jair Bolsonaro in 2018, the world’s eyes suddenly turned to Brazil. But the country’s history with oppression of LGBTQ+, Afro-Brazilian, and low-income communities has been a complicated one for quite some time. ‘Postcards from Brazil’ provides an essential and intersectional platform for the strong voices of marginalized populations, and celebrates the queer and trans lovers, fighters, and everyday Brazilians working toward lives free from discrimination.
The 31st edition of NewFest will take place October 23-29 at the SVA Theatre, Cinépolis Chelsea, and the LGBT Community Center.