By Peter Knegt | Indiewire June 8, 2011 at 5:09AM
The 23rd Annual New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Film Festival has set the films for their opening, closing and centerpiece screenings. NewFest will open on July 21st with David Weissman's documentary "We Were Here," a look back at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco. Rashaad Ernesto Green's Bronx-set "Gun Hill Road," a family drama centering on a transgendered teenager, will close the festival July 28th. Marking the beginning of a new relationship, NewFest is partnering with the Film Society of Lincoln Center to co-present the opening and closing night of the festival. Both "We We Here" and "Gun Hill Road" will be screening at the Walter Reade Theater.
In between the two films, Newfest has confirmed both Beverly Kopf's Chely Wright doc "Wish Me Away" and Andrew Haigh's acclaimed British drama "Weekend" as centerpiece screenings. Both will screen at the SVA Theater in Midtown Manhattan.
Lesli Klainberg, the Executive Director of NewFest, said in a statement: "Our new relationship with the Film Society of Lincoln Center will not only help raise the profile of LGBT filmmakers, but it also gives our sponsors a platform on the stage of one of the world's foremost film organizations and provides our audience with a film-going experience that is second to none."
"The Film Society of Lincoln Center is committed to supporting diverse film communities, and we look forward to joining forces with NewFest and helping to promote this wonderful film festival," added Rose Kuo, the Executive Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
In addition to the move to Lincoln Center, NewFest is also expanding to venues across the city with select festival programming at the School of Visual Arts Theater in Chelsea and Cinema Village in Greenwich Village, plus special screenings at a variety of other respected New York cultural institutions including The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side, and Harlem Center Stage.
"As our stellar lineup of gala screenings show, we are committed to bringing a diverse program of quality films from up-and-coming talents to New York audiences all across the city," NewFest Director of Programming Bryce J. Renninger said in a statement.
The full program -- including more than 50 feature-length films and 50 short films -- will be announced later this month.
OPENING, CLOSING NIGHT & GALA SCREENINGS
Thursday, July 21st 8:00pm at the Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center
WE WERE HERE directed by David Weissman
1970s. San Francisco. A promised land for those who had enough of the closet and were looking for a real community that would support them, not disown them. David Weissman's incredibly moving portrait of a moment in time, "We Were Here," follows the story of five members of that loving and affectionate community as they recount their days enduring one of their lives' biggest challenges -- the AIDS crisis. With stories of love, loss, and brother- and sister-hood, "We Were Here", a 2011 Sundance selection, showcases one city's citizens coming together to fight for the lives and humanity of everyone they can.
Friday, July 22nd at the SVA Theater
WISH ME AWAY directed by Beverly Kopf, w/ special appearance by Chely Wright
On May 5, 2010, Howard Bragman, the publicist famous for bringing dozens of stars out of the closet and onto the front pages of newspapers and magazines, said that the world would be shocked by one celebrity's confession that they were gay. When that day came around, country star Chely Wright (singer of the #1 hit "Single White Female") got up early to go on the Today Show and told the world she is a lesbian. With unflinching sincerity, Wright proves she is not pulling off a publicity stunt, and we see the weight of the closet float off her shoulder. Battling the overt homophobia of pockets of the country music world, Wright proves resilient as she stands strong and mounts a comeback.
Sunday, July 24th, 8pm at the SVA Theater
WEEKEND directed by Andrew Haigh
Director Andrew Haigh (Greek Pete) returns with a beautiful and uninhibited story of a one-night stand with long-lasting ramifications. Russell is an introverted twentysomething who longs for a boyfriend but spends his nights hanging out with his straight friends. Glen, on the other hand, is a sexually liberated, outspoken artist strongly opposed to fitting in with ìstraight cultureî. The two surprisingly hit it off at a bar, and spend the weekend getting to know each other, both emotionally and physically. As the end of the weekend draws near though, the boys are forced to make a difficult decision.
CLOSING NIGHT SCREENING AND AWARDS CEREMONY
Thursday, July 28th, 8pm at the Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center
GUN HILL ROAD directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green
Pairing a talented cast with a nuanced script, this Sundance hit is a groundbreaking look at family, gender, and machismo in Latino culture. After a three-year stint in prison, Enrique Rodriguez ("NYPD Blue" star Esai Morales) returns to his family in the Bronx only to discover their lives have changed dramatically. Wife Angela (a dramatic turn for "Scrubs" star Judy Reyes) now seems distant, and their teenage son Michael (captivating newcomerHarmony Santana) is making a new life for himself as Vanessa. While Vanessa is exploring her two new passions, poetry and a new boyfriend, Enrique becomes hell-bent on turning his child into a tough Nuyorican man just like himself.