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June 2, 2004 2:00 AM
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NewFest Set With "D.E.B.S." and "Pink" for 16th Year

NewFest Set With "D.E.B.S." and "Pink" for 16th Year

by Brian Brooks



A scene from Angela Robinson's "D.E.B.S.," which will open the NewFest Thursday in New York. Image courtesy of NewFest.


Angela Robinson's feature "D.E.B.S." will open the 16th NewFest, New York's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Film Festival, this Thursday June 3rd. The action-filled feature is based on the short of the same name that won the best short award at NewFest 2003. NewFest's lineup includes 10 world premieres, 17 U.S. premieres as well as 36 New York City premieres and three "sneak previews."

Sundance 2004 special jury prize winner "Brother to Brother" will screen as a centerpiece film. The feature, directed by Rodney Evans, explores gay African-American identity and history. Also being presented as a centerpiece is Lorene Machado's world premiere of "Revolution" starring Margaret Cho, unleashing what the festival describes as "the same unbridled, unapologetic and uncensored humor that infused her previous two films."

This year, NewFest will inaugurate its "Filmmaker Forums," a three-day program of panels and discussions with filmmakers and members of the film industry addressing a series of LGBT topics. Among the themes to be explored by the series are discussions of sex and violence in queer film, as well explorations of regionalism, sexuality, and the same sex marriage debate in addition to other topics. Films relevant to these issues are slated for screenings during NewFest, which continues through June 13th.

Other film scheduled to take part in this year's NewFest line up include Franco Zeffirelli's "Callas Forever." Zeffirelli, who directed Callas on stage, filmed this project based on the scenario: "What if Callas had come out of retirement and planned a comeback via cinema?"

Also from Sundance comes the New York City premieres of Achim von Borries' "Love in Thoughts," recounting one of the biggest scandals in Weimar Germany, as well as Christopher Munch's controversial steamy story about two brothers, "Harry and Max." Robert Salis' look into the exclusive world of France's elite prep schools is the subject of "Grande Ecole," which screened earlier this year at the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center, while fellow French director Sebastien Lifshitz ("Come Undone") returns to NewFest with "Wild Side."

Veteran gay director Bruce LaBruce returns to the screen with his latest "hardcore porno/agit-prop/satire" about a group of "hapless anti-war, anti-capitalist revolutionaries." LaBruce provides the inspiration for another NewFest feature, "Sugar," directed by John Palmer (U.S. premiere). The film is described by the festival as, "an edgy and bittersweet coming-of-age love story between a restless suburban teen and a seductive street hustler."

From New York City, local filmmaker Casper Andreas will debut his new film "Slutty Summer," a romantic comedy starring Andreas as a jilted writer, turned waiter, who falls for a co-worker. The filmmaker/actor garnered a decent amount of attention for his feature in the local gay press recently, making the cover of HX magazine to promoting his film and the festival.

Closing the festival is Ian Iqbal Rashid's 'tribute to Doris Day and Rock Hudson romantic comedies,' "Touch of Pink." The film debuted at Sundance where it was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics.

"It is a very strong and eclectic line up," commented NewFest executive director Basil Tsiokos in a telephone conversation with indieWIRE yesterday. "The films are very diverse, coming from over 30 countries [in addition to] a fair amount of women and people of color filmmakers, including [titles] in the key slot opening, closing, and centerpiece positions."

[For more information on NewFest and a full line up, visit: http://www.newfestival.org.]

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