NewFest Closes 16th Event Honoring "Brother to Brother" and "On the Down Low"
by Brian Brooks
NewFest, the New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Film Festival closed last week presenting its Showtime Vanguard award to Rodney Evans' look at gay African-American identity, "Brother To Brother," which was recently picked up for theatrical distribution by Wolfe Video. Best U.S. feature went to Tadeo Garcia's Southside Chicago gang drama "On the Down Low," while best U.S. screenplay went to writer director Tennyson Bardwell's coming-of-age story "Dorian Blues."
In other awards, Russian comic love story "You I Love" by Olga Stolpovskaya and Dmitry Troitsky received NewFest's best foreign narrative feature prize, and best documentary feature went to Israeli doc "Garden." Directed by Ruthie Shatz and Adi Barash, the film follows two Tel Aviv prostitutes, one Arab, one Israeli, who only have one another for support. Two films tied for best short: "Talking with Angels" by Yousaf Ali Khan and "The Pool of Desire" by Christopher Boas.
In audience awards, Murray Nossel's "family drama" "Paternal Instinct" won best picture, and "Confession: A Film About Ariel Schrag" took best short. The festival's Vito Russo Award went to "Elliot Loves," a script in pre-production by Terracino. The prize provides funds to a New York-based film project.
"Overall, we had a very successful festival," commented NewFest executive director Basil Tsiokos to indieWIRE last week. "The move to Loews turned out to be very popular with fest goers, [despite] some logistical challenges." NewFest moved its home to midtown at the Loews 34 on 34th Street from its base in downtown Manhattan for the first time this year. "There was lots of interest from our audiences [in the new location] and by general passersby as evident from promotional and sponsorship material that flew off our tables."
The move uptown was seen by Tsiokos as a natural step forward for the festival, now in its 16th year. "It's been something we've been thinking about for years. While we were happy with our previous hosts, in order for the festival to gain a sense of a 'film event,' we decided we needed to move it away from its [previous] academic setting." Both New York University and the New School hosted NewFest in years past.
Going forward, Tsiokos hopes the festival will appeal to others in the gay community who have not yet taken part in NewFest. "We want the festival to be an event that reaches out to other LGBT people that haven't attended before as well as to non-LGBT people, so they can experience the event in the greatest city in the world. We'd [also] like to draw in the same kind of excitement that takes over filmgoers like the Tribeca [Film Festival] does in New York for both our audiences and others excited to see LGBT work." NewFest opened June 3 with Angela Robinson's comedy "D.E.B.S." and closed June 13 with Ian Iqbal Rashid's "Touch of Pink."