Saturday, September 26, 2020

City Hall (2020) NYFF 2020


Fredrick Wiseman’s City Hall is another marathon examination of an institution, in this case the City Hall of Boston Massachusetts.

Running a couple of minutes past four and a half hours the film follows the city’s mayor and the people who work in the building and use its services.  Even for some one like myself who is a civil servant in his day job it was an eye opening experience.

I find it really hard to critique Wiseman’s films. It’s not that they are bad, it is more how do you critique life.  You really can’t. Especially since Wiseman doesn’t interview anyone he simply sets his cameras and lets them observe. I find that all you can do is really discuss whether or not something is interesting. You could also discuss whether or not the reality Wiseman is presenting us is honestly the way it is.  I mean how much editing was done in each sequence? I’m not going to speculate.

While I found that some sequences ran a bit longer than they needed to, I found this to be one of Wiseman’s more interesting films. Who would have known that municipal meetings could be this interesting? Additionally it helps that the Mayor is such a character. Watching him go through his paces is quite entertaining. You completely understand how he got elected.

With City Hall Wiseman continues to delight me as a filmmaker. While I am not a full on Wiseman fan, I do like many of his films. Actually what really is amazing is that as he  goes on I am finding that the work he is doing is getting better and better,  Where years ago I would find his films a mixed affair,  I realize that the last four or five films have been so good that I would seriously consider picking up copies for my collection.

Currently playing the New York Film Festival City Hall is recommended

John Waters Programs SALO and CLIMAX as Art Movie Hell at the Drive-In for The New York Film Festival

The New York Film Festival not only had John Waters do the poster for the festival they asked him to program a drive in pairing from hell. It's going to play in a drive in the Bronx (details here) and it full of art house exploitation films. Its a pairing that is not for all audiences, or even most audiences. What follows is a repost of my review of Pasolini's SALO from 2013. And my thoughts on Gaspar Noe's CLIMAX which I recently caught up with on Amazon Prime

Everyone fixates on the steamed chocolate but Pasolini’s film is more than that. Yes it’s a difficult catalog of cruelty but there is something more to it. If you want to be sure of it consider that the film is still be talked about forty years on. Yes on some level the film can be compared to women in prison film, but outside of the exploitation crowd who seriously discusses those? Well yes some of us do, but they don’t cross over to a wider audience.

Pasolini’s film is based on a book by the Marquis de Sade but reset into the 120 day period toward the end of the Second World War when Mussolini was out of power and the Salo government ruled the country. It tells the story of the a group of rulers who go insane and indulge their every twisted whim until the populace revolt and kill them.

As I said at the start the film is a catalog of increasing nasty set pieces of abuse. The film is alternately boring and horrifying. I’ve seen the film any number of times and I’ve been troubled by it each time. On some level the film can be easily dismissed much like films like say the Ilsa films starring Dyane Thorne. Some of the political posturing is trite and the violence is over the top and aimed to simply shock, but at the same time Pasolini is working on a deeper level. He is making us complicit in the events on screen. We may not be taking part but we are witnessing and the longer we stay the more complicit we are. It’s as if Pasolini is trying to find out how long will we watch these terrible things. Apparently as long as he shows them to us.

He is also giving a warning that while people will, for a while kowtow to those in power this is a point where they will hit back.

I don’t particularly like the film, I don’t know if you can, and I think we should probably worry about anyone who does. It is a film I admire a great deal.

I first saw the film because I had to see if the film was a horrifying as I first heard. In a weird way I was disappointed (and to be honest, I still am). Sure there were atrocities on screen but outside of that the film really is boring. I finished the film and pretty much dismissed it as an art film of the most pretentious sort. Then something happened, I started to revisit the film now and again, and eventually picked up the Criterion edition. It’s not that I particularly like the film, rather the film makes me to think and ponder things. I’m engaged with the film on more than the visceral or emotional level, it’s a film that gets my mind going. I’ll come across something and it will trigger something that will make me want to take another run by the film.

The film is not for all audiences, or even the majority of audiences, but for those who can handle dark graphic places and don’t mind pretentious art films mixed with Grand Guigol blood and poo I think you might want to give the film a go. I have no idea what you’ll think, however many years on I’m still trying to figure out what I think, but its worth a shot.

Gaspar Now continues his slide into boredom with a film with more pretentious bullshit then anything substantive.

The plot has a bunch of dancers going to an abandoned school (or a couple of room there in). After they dance for about an hour the LSD that was in their wine kicks in and everyone goes crazy.

A pure form over content mess is full of deliberately staged sequences, dull overhead shots and lots of dancing. It's a film where Noe is hiding the emptiness of his plot and themes with "look ma ain't I great" wizardry. Yea some of the shots are cool and the music kicks serious ass but the rest of this is really boring. 

Why are we watching this? I don't know. I only think I was there because the director said it important to be there. I think he is wrong. There is nothing here, worse anything that Noe had to say he had said before and better.

Forgive me but Noe has been in a slide since he burst on the  stage. I STAND ALONE was a wake up call. IRREVERSIBLE is arguably his best film. His segment in REDISTRICTED is stupid. ENTER THE VOID is an intriguing idea that just goes on way too long. LOVE is dull porno that exists just for bad 3D sex and now  CLIMAX which is useless.

Noe is of very little interest to me now. He is like the pretentious artists I used to come in contact with when my brother was part of various artists associations. These are the people who would do things like spray painting a beer cooler with a can of paint and then sell it to stupid people for  several hundred dollars because they needed rent money and knew they had suckers on the line. Noe is the artist and anyone giving him money or paying to watch his film are suckers.

Not worth your time or money- even for free.

Stay AT Home Fest Bonus Films: weird

Friday, September 25, 2020


 The Collaborative Virtual Festival From Boston Underground, Brooklyn Horror, North Bend, Overlook, and Popcorn Frights 

Festival to run October 8-11th, with select films available until the 14th

World Premiere of Sarah Paulson Led Thriller RUN to Open, Quentin Dupieux’s MANDIBLES to Close, as well as Featured Conversations with CANDYMAN director Nia DaCosta, Mary Harron on the 20th Anniversary of AMERICAN PSYCHO, and Dinner With The Masters Of Horror Hosted by Festival Honoree Mick Garris Alongside Iconic Guests Headlining Impressive Events Slate

Highlights include the World Premiere of Ryûhei Kitamura’s THE DOORMAN starring Ruby Rose, a spotlight on Indonesian Horror feat. the Intl. Premiere of Timo Tjahjanto’s MAY THE DEVIL TAKE YOU TOO, and events hosted by Peaches Christ, A QUIET PLACE’s Beck/Woods, and directing duo Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson

September 24, 2020 // -- NIGHTSTREAM is thrilled to unveil its program of films and special events set to take place virtually next month. Formed as a banner uniting five US genre festivals — Boston Underground, Brooklyn Horror, North Bend, Overlook, and Popcorn Frights — who have all been affected by COVID-19, the initiative was first announced last month and will have scheduled programming from October 8-11th, with films available to view on the Eventive platform until the 14th. 

The virtual festival will open with the world premiere of Hulu’s hotly-anticipated thriller RUN, starring Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story) and Kiera Allen and directed by Aneesh Chaganty, who helmed the breakout Sundance hit SEARCHING and close with the North American Premiere of MANDIBLES, the latest from Quentin Dupieux, the French filmmaker responsible for singular features such as RUBBER and DEERSKIN. The four-day festival includes a line-up of feature films selected by all five festival programming teams, alongside eighteen distinct short blocks and an impressive slate of events, panels, and masterclasses headlined by conversations with filmmakers Nia DaCosta on CANDYMAN and Mary Harron for the 20th anniversary of AMERICAN PSYCHO, as well as Beck/Woods, the screenwriting team behind A QUIET PLACE. Celebrated horror filmmaker Mick Garris will be recognized as festival honoree and host a very special Dinner With The Masters Of Horror event with guests that include Joe Dante, Mike Flanagan, John Landis, Ernest Dickerson, and more.

All proceeds from NIGHTSTREAM will be shared with the filmmakers and artists involved, donated to charities and businesses locally owned and operated in each festival’s home city, and help the founding festivals recoup losses incurred by COVID-19.

The festival will feature seven World Premieres, nine North American Premieres, and seven U.S. Premieres, alongside 164 short films and a spotlight on Indonesian Horror with a companion panel hosted by Sam Zimmerman, director of programming for Shudder. Highlights include the world premiere of Ryûhei Kitamura’s THE DOORMAN starring Ruby Rose, who will appear for a post screening Q&A, as well as the world premieres of Jesse Blanchard’s FRANK & ZED, Nicholas Payne Santos’ IT CUTS DEEP, Devereux Milburn’s HONEYDEW, Jake Mahaffy’s REUNION and Terence Krey’s AN UNQUIET GRAVE.

NIGHTSTREAM will bring the spirit of festivals to your screen with its exciting off-film programming, including a one-time-only event hosted by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, the directing duo behind beloved genre hits THE ENDLESS and SPRING, who will share an intimate and engaging look at their never-before-seen early work, joined by special guest Issa Lopez (TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID). The fest will also feature iconic drag performer and horror expert Peaches Christ who will offer a deep-dive into campy horror history, in addition to hosting a glamorously blood-drenched festival party. Plus, every night will have a unique happy-hour social in Evening Rituals Presented by IFC Midnight, with a parade of hosts that include Elijah Wood beaming in virtually from their homes, and with a new delicious cocktail to share.

Access to film screenings will be geo-locked to the US with ticket bundles on sale on the website ($65 for 5 features or short film programs and $99 with 10 features or short film programs, both bundles come with unlimited access to events and panels, while event-only badges will be made available worldwide ($25) and a virtual festival social hub will be freely accessible to all. To order a badge, visit: 


Indie Memphis Announces Preliminary Slate for the 2020 Indie Memphis Film Festival, October 21st-29th Online and Outdoors

 (September 25, 2020 | Memphis, TN) Indie Memphis Film Festival, presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc., is pleased to announce the full slate of films for its 2020 incarnation, spanning from October 21st - October 29th, 2020. Adjusting to the changing landscape, this year’s festival will be “Online and Outdoors” as film lovers from all over the world will participate in the virtual screenings and events. The 2020 festival will screen over 230 feature films, shorts, and music videos, with most screenings followed by filmmaker Q&As. Memphis audiences will also enjoy in-person screenings at the Drive-In and outdoor lawns.

This year’s festival will give focus to BIPOC and women filmmakers. This year, especially, there is a focus on politics, but with a myriad of approaches to what that means and how someone can engage. There are films about aging, weed legalization, electoral politics, activism, unhoused LGBQT+ youth,  and more. In this difficult moment, the festival seeks to reflect the community and the world, with a wide range of filmmakers tackling themes that matter to their communities. 

More talks and events will be announced in weeks to come, including Indie Talks and new events for the digital edition of the festival. Festival Artistic Director Miriam Bale says, “We hope to bring people together, in person and online, and provide inspiration and an outlet. In order to counter Screen Burnout, we’ll be offering a series of what we call ‘Groundings’ throughout the digital festival, including a meditative film called ‘A Still Place’ by festival alumnus Christopher Yogi.”

This year also marks the final year that Executive Director Ryan Watt will be at the festival. Watt says of stepping down from his role, "This year is a truly unique festival experience to keep our audience safe and entertained while online and outdoors. My sixth and final festival at the helm is bittersweet, I'll be soaking in every bit of the incredible program our team has assembled."

The festival also features many film premieres including the World Premiere of Trimiko Melancon’s documentary What Do You Have to Lose?, which explores the history of race in America and the U.S. Premiere of Anthony Banua-Simon’s documentary Cane Fire, which examines the past and present of the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. This year’s Opening Night film will be Memphis-born Lynne Sachs’ celebrated documentary A Film About a Father Who, comprised of 35 years of footage that Sachs’ captured of her father as she attempts to uncover his secretive past.

In addition, the festival features a host of festival favorites including Mario Furloni and Kate McLean’s Freeland, starring Krisha Fairchild (Krisha) as an aging pot farmer facing extinction and Emma Seligman’s culture clash comedy Shiva Baby. The Retrospective section will include a new restoration of Joyce Chopra’s Smooth Talk in Laura Dern’s breakout role, and classic titles such as Sidney Lumet’s The Wiz starring Diana Ross and the Richard Pryor comedy Car Wash, in tribute to filmmaker Joel Schumacher, who died earlier this year and wrote both films. 

Passes to the public are available on the Indie Memphis website here and new programming additions will be announced in the coming weeks leading up to the festival!  

2020 Indie Memphis Film Festival Slate

Films Are Alphabetical by Section

Mangrove (2020) NYFF 2020

MANGROVE is Steve McQueen's portrait of Frank Crichlow who opened The Mangrove cafe in Notting Hill in London. The police didn't like a black owner business and constantly raided it and harassed the owner and it's patrons for no reason other than their skin color.  When a rally was held in support of the cafe  and against the police, the cops waded in and arrests were made. The 9 people put on trial...

For the second time at this year's New York Film Festival Steve McQueen hits one out of the ballpark with a true story that is still echoing today. Very much a film of the moment MANGROVE says volumes about the state of the world today. If you don't see the parallels then there is something seriously wrong with you. 

Unlike many of his earlier films McQueen allows the emotion to flow through the film to fantastic effect. Where in many of his films McQueen kept us at a distance, here like in this film's sister LOVERS ROCK the director used a real feeling for the people on screen  to draw us in and connect with. The result is this becomes a film we love and want to watch again instead of just respect and give lip service to (I mean do you really want to watch SHAME again?)

I love that we see the human toll of the trial. For example we watch how Crichlow waivers in continuing his fight. At another point  we watch as a normally loving couple fight about taking care of their child and we see the nerves fraying. 

If there is anything remotely amiss with the film  it is a kind of limitation with the medium. In compressing the constant raids down to rapid series of events the horrific police are made slightly cartoonish. The evil that these men represent is not a cartoon and McQueen never intends it to be, however because we only see it in a concentrated form so it could seem slightly overdone. Make no mistake racism of this sort if far from cartoony and much more insidious

Regardless of my quibble MANGROVE is a great film. Even if it wasn't of the moment it's a hell of a film on it's own terms and an absolute must.


 Section 4: THERE ARE WORLDS THEY HAVE NOT TOLD YOU OF is a wonderful collection of short films. Where most of the other sections I've run across attempt to create a sense of place or a head space these films actually succeed by using a seeming science fiction or fantasy bend to things and making it so we slip into things more easily. Hands down the best group so far and it is highly recommended.

LABOR OF LOVE has stroboscopic images colliding with a narrative that takes us somewhere else other than here. I suspect the trippy flashing images create a unique headspace. (If flashing images effect you stay away)

LOOK THEN BELOW is by Ben Rivers. I am not a huge fan of Rivers however this science fiction tale drops us into another world we are ready to explore from the first frame.

FIGURE MINUS FACT's mixing of sound and image didn't really work for me. It all seemed too random.

WHILE CURSED BY SPECTERS at first didn't work for me and then suddenly is clicked with its images  of emptiness married to to the sound of life just off the frame. It's a heady exercise that is a small gem.

IN THE AIR TONIGHT is a reimagining of the Phil Collins song into a story about Collins. Its a goofy doodle that some how works because we really can't believe  it's working.

LX 2048 (2020)

In a dystopian future a father with a heart condition has to fight to stay alive and the clone that is set to take his place

Okay science fiction drama about virtual reality and the future of mankind. It is a mix of a lot of ideas that never quite blend together, largely because the world never feels integrated. It feels like pieces and not a whole It also kind of feels a bit cheap as if the choices were made to hide a low budget.

While the plot is never bad it never really feels like it has it's own point of view. Much like the physical world it has a lot of ideas that feel like they were borrowed from other films. Perhaps this might have worked in a slightly shorter film, but LX 2048's run time of just under two hours is a bit much. There are lulls that test our patience.

While never really bad, it never really rises above just being ok. With the result that I can only suggest this might be worth trying for dystopian scifi fans. All others need not apply

Stay At Home Fest Bonus Film 25 unsolved mysteries in almost four hours

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Night Of The Kings (2020) NYFF 2020


Night of Kings is the first of the New York Main Slate Films that feels like it belongs on the Main Slate. An arresting tale that puts New Yorkers (and audiences) in a place they never had been before. It engages us on various levels and makes us go WOW at the sheer audacity of what we are seeing.  While it may not be perfect it is a cinematic meal that knocks our socks off.

The premise has a young man being brought to a prison. He is raw meat and the prison is essentially the wild west where the guards let the  prisoners govern themselves. The head man inside is dying and he knows his days are numbered. He has plans for the young man who he declares is the new “Roman” or storyteller.  The young man will have to entertain everyone.  What the Roman isn’t told, at least not right away, is that if he ends his story before morning they prisoners will kill him. Desperate to stay alive he begins to spin out the tale of his friend Zama, a notorious crime lord who was just killed.

What follows is pure magic. This is a tale about stories and survival and life that spins out in so many different ways. This is a film that uses every type of storytelling device it can muster to suck us in and drag us along. Because the film essentially blends stories, recreations and reality with song and dance (the prisoners will spontaneous move or chant in response to the tale)  I’m guessing this is going to be something that ends up on the stage.  I was amazed at every turn.

While I don’t think the film is perfect, I think it get s a bit too mystical toward the end, I still think this is a glorious piece of filmmaking. This is the sort of film that I go to the movies for…and in truth this is the sort of film that I go specifically to the New York Film Festival for.  Getting to see earthshaking, eye opening films like Night of Kings is why NYFF remain relevant and why it is a festival I return to every year.

Highly recommended.

The Human Voice (2020) NYFF 2020

The Human Voice should be called Tour de Tilda because it’s a 30 minute masterclass in acting by Tilda Swinton.  Kenji Fujishima says that i was wrong and that it should also be called Tour de Almodóvar because of his technical virtuosity- and he is dead on point , but I am going to stay with the alliteration of Tour de Tilda.

The film is an adaption of Jean Cocteau’s  play of the same name about a woman on the phone with her lover who is leaving her for another woman. Largely set in a apartment created on a sound stage we watch as Swinton waits for her lover’s call…and then we watch as she tries to extend the call.  It is a film of rolling emotions that anyone who has ever been in love and dumped can relate to.

Almodóvar has made a true work of art. The look of everything is perfect. The camera moves and shifts into and out of “reality are as masterful as you will ever see.  Look for this film to be in the hunt for an Oscar.

Speaking of Oscar- Swinton’s performance is such that I’m guessing were it a feature it too would be in the Oscar hunt. It’s real and raw and moving and very very funny in the right mixture.

I had a blast.

One of the treasures of the NYFF.




The latest Guy Maddin film is a collaboration with Evan Johnson and Gaen Johnson and concerns a carnival guesser who has things go sideways. Its a strange Massin movie that is strange out there and more than a little disturbing (Disprove heredity and marry my sister). If you're a Maddin fan you are going to eat this up.


Two part film is a mixed bag. The first half of the film is a collection of clips from Raoul Walsh films connected by various themes such as getting on a horse. The second part is an essay about  film professor trying to remember information for a lecture.

Mixed bag film has an over long first half  that tempers our reaction to the second. Because the endless clips of the first half has us searching for some sort of connection and point (I'm not sure there really is despite being told there is) it takes a little bit for us to fall into the second's intriguing tale. Watching the second spin out I was intrigued by the seeming shaggy dog tale that links up memory, numbers and how we connect up things that aren't always meant to be connected. 

Worth a look more for the second half than the first (especially at NYFF where you get the Guy Maddin film)

Stay At Home Fest Bonus: Lady in The Morgue

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The best film festival I covered this year- Cabane A Sang has a TV Show

 Yesterday I found out that Cabane A Sang has a TV show highlighting the best horror shorts. Knowing Frank and the festival programmers this is going to be must watch TV. Details below.

MONTREAL, 22nd of September 2020 /Cabane a Sang/ - Starting on the 30th of September, La Cabane a Sang will air on french Canadian horror TV station FRISSONS TV. La Cabane a Sang, a spin-off of the Montreal based film festival by the same name, is hosted by Frank Appache and his loyal sidekick Martin Richard, curating a variety of short horror films and genre satires. Each uniquely themed episode will offer interviews with the creators of the films being showcased. You can expect locally-based films from around Quebec, as well as Canada, the USA, and a multitude of other countries. The adrenaline-fueled show will be sure to feed the viewer's nostalgia with its 90s late-night television vibes.

To view the trailer, please click here

About Frank Appache

Independent filmmaker and director for nearly 10 years, Frank Appache has discovered film making thanks to a work reinsertion program. Since then, his films have traveled the globe while some of his comedy skits have been featured on American television. He is also a regular at the Fantasia International Film Festival.

Passionate about all genre cinema released on VHS format, Frank plays particular attention to the over the top sensationalism of the 70s exploitation cinema, the aesthetics of 80s horror cinema, and 90s television. These influences can be felt both visually and narratively through his work.

About Frissons TV

FRISSONS TV is a specialized Francophone channel with content entirely dedicated to genre cinema where vampires, werewolves, zombies, alien invasion, monsters, serial killers, demons, and killer creatures come together for an uninterrupted 24/7 programming, sure to please any horror hound.

The channel is available to subscribers of Bell, Videotron, Shaw, Cogeco, and several independent distributors in Quebec and the rest of Canada. FRISSONS TV can be included in your current package at no additional cost. The channel is also offered a la carte. For more details, visit the channel's website at

Full Lineup Announced! - 43rd Asian American International Film Festival

 SEPTEMBER 22, 2020, NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Presented by Asian CineVision, the 43rd Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF43) is announcing their full lineup, which in addition to the previously announced feature films includes 14 short film blocks and over 16 workshops, masterclasses, and special events. Tickets can be purchased or reserved at

Every day of the festival will feature over 3 hours of live-streamed panels, Q&As, and performances, all accessible as pay-as-you-wish programs. Highlights include a conversation with director Andrew Ahn and the cast of DRIVEWAYS, and a Filipino Filmmaker Roundtable to kick-off Filipino American History Month. The festival also introduces a two-part conversational series on the urgent issue of anti-racism in storytelling - Anti-Racism: Storytelling in Education and Awareness and Online Activism Campaigns. The complete lineup of events is available at 

Two special events celebrating the various forms of storytelling make a return this year. Music Night Out interweaves musical performances and our official music video selection to highlight the collaboration of API musicians and filmmakers, while Comedy Night offers performances by top API stand-up and sketch comedians.


Our nine jury prize award winners will be determined by a lineup of leading industry professionals, including actor/producer Sung Kang (FAST AND FURIOUS), actress Rosalind Chao (STAR TREK, MULAN), director/writer Jeff Chan (PLUS ONE), producer Karin Chien (dGenerate Films), filmmaker Bao Nguyen (BE WATER), filmmaker PJ Raval (CALL HER GANDA), editor Faroukh Virani (HUNTERS), actress and host Sherry Cola (GOOD TROUBLE), actor/producer Vinny Chhibber (THE RED LINE), Third World Newsreel Executive Director and filmmaker JT Takagi (AMERICAN MASTERS), Bravo Digital Media EVP Lisa Hsia, director/producer Smriti Mundhra (INDIAN MATCHMAKING), Universal Kids coordinatorSam Cheung, screenwriter Jay Vaida (THE HARDY BOYS), producer Cecilia Mejia (YELLOW ROSE), filmmaker/visual artist Maggie Jung, Goldthread Editor Gavin Huang, actor/YouTuber Mike Bow (THE MAZE RUNNER), writer/director Kevin Lau (WESTWORLD), actor Chase Tang (JUPITER’S LEGACY), CAPE Executive Director Michelle Sugihara, musician Bohan Phoenix, rapper and activist Jason Chu, director Marie Jamora (FAMILY STYLE), and The Song Collective. 



Directed by Asian American Film Lab - U.S., South Korea - English 

The 72 Hour Film Shootout is a worldwide competition in which filmmakers have 72 hours to write, shoot, and edit a short film. The projects in the Top Ten Selection are based on the theme “Going Viral” and the mystery prop “Toilet Paper.”



NEWFEST’S NEW YORK LGBTQ FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FULL FILM LINE-UP FOR 32nd ANNUAL EDITION - RUNNING OCTOBER 16-27, 2020The festival will showcase New York, US and World Premieres of more than 120 films and episodic series from 29 countries

Highlights include:

Opening Night: NYC premiere of Francis Lee’s AMMONITE, with Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet presenting Lee with the inaugural World Queer Visionary Award

Closing Night: NYC virtual premiere of Faraz Shariat’s 2020 Teddy Award-winning film NO HARD FEELINGS  

Special sneak preview of Academy Award-winner Alan Ball’s UNCLE FRANK

Spotlight screenings of celebrated French auteur François Ozon’s romantic drama SUMMER OF 85, as well as THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON, RURANGI, SHIVA BABY, KELET, AHEAD OF THE CURVE and KEITH HARING: STREET ART BOY 

World premiere screening of NORA HIGHLAND, shot entirely during the pandemic

Festival Trailer:

NEW YORK, NY (September 23, 2020) - NewFest, New York’s leading LGBTQ film and media organization and one of the world's most respected LGBTQ film festivals, has announced its full line-up for The New York LGBTQ Film Festival’s 32nd year. The festival will kick off with the New York City premiere of Francis Lee’s highly anticipated AMMONITE starring Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet and Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan. Winslet will also present Lee with the festival’s inaugural World Queer Visionary Award ahead of the special drive-in screening, taking place at the Queens Drive-In at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The festival will close with the virtual New York premiere of Faraz Shariat’s Teddy Award-winner NO HARD FEELINGS. The announcement was made today by NewFest’s Executive Director David Hatkoff and Director of Programming Nick McCarthy. 

The 32nd edition of The New York LGBTQ Film Festival will take place October 16-27, 2020, with more than 120 new films accessible to ticket holders nationwide via NewFest’s on-demand platform. Individual tickets and all-access passes are on sale now at

The first-ever virtual edition of NewFest will include a robust lineup of panels and conversations surrounding LGBTQ+ topics, in addition to its regular programming of new features and short film premieres, and will incorporate virtual live events as well as select drive-in screenings. Introductions to the films will be shot in front of historic LGBTQ sites, community organizations and queer-owned businesses throughout New York City. 

“With the Presidential election right around the corner and a Supreme Court seat now open, it is more urgent than ever that queer stories be told and celebrated,” said Executive Director David Hatkoff. “We have created an 11-day event that will meet and speak to this moment, delivering a thought-provoking, inspiring and joyful look at the LGBTQ community and the unique challenges it faces, while also paying homage to the incredible queer legacy that exists in NYC. We can’t wait for audiences around the country to view these incredible films, and hopefully be inspired to raise their own voices in pride and protest on November 3rd and beyond.”

“Featuring the newest work from leading international auteurs, Academy Award winners, and emerging LGBTQ filmmakers premiering their work for the first time, this year’s line-up channels themes that inform our community and society at large while confronting the edges of democracy and celebrating our strong history of LGBTQ ancestry that broke barriers before,” said Director of Programming Nick McCarthy. “By highlighting portraits of hometown heroes and unsung global icons, celebrating the clear fact that All Black Lives Matter, standing up for the visibility of our LGBTQ siblings around the world, and encouraging intergenerational dialogue within our community, our 32nd annual program will raise human spirits by uplifting our diversity of voices.”

The full program for the festival’s 32nd edition includes three drive-in screenings, 24 narrative features in competition, 14 documentary features in competition, three full-season episodics, one global episodic showcase, and 10 shorts program screenings, including a specially-curated shorts program for LGBTQ-identified high school students in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. 

Among the 41 features playing the festival, all are New York City premieres, with one world premiere (NORA HIGHLAND), one international premiere (THE FLASHPOINT), two US premieres (ALWAYS AMBER and DATING AMBER) and one sneak preview (UNCLE FRANK).

This year at NewFest, 63% of films are directed by women and non-binary filmmakers, and 76% of content is about and/or by underrepresented voices (women, people of color, trans, bi and differently abled).

Highlights announced today by the festival include a special sneak drive-in preview of Academy Award winner Alan Ball’s road trip comedy UNCLE FRANK, which follows a teenage girl and her gay uncle who take a road trip back to their hometown. The film, which had its world premiere at Sundance this year, stars Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi and Steve Zahn.

Each night of the Festival will feature a Spotlight film. Spotlight Films include french auteur François Ozon’s drama SUMMER OF 85, a sexy summer romance about two teenage boys who meet on the coast of Normandy, and New Zealand filmmaker Max Currie’s RURANGI, in which a trans activist returns to his hometown to reconnect with his roots and estranged father. Other Spotlight films include topical time-loop drama THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON, New Zealand trans drama RURANGI, recent Toronto (TIFF 2020) favorite SHIVA BABY, hometown hero doc KEITH HARING: STREET ART BOY, stunning supermodel portrait KELET and celebratory lesbian documentary AHEAD OF THE CURVE. NewFest will not screen a Spotlight film on the evening of Thursday October 22 to encourage viewership of the Presidential debate. 

Additional highlights include the International Premiere of THE FLASHPOINT, a galvanizing documentary that examines political polarization and the rise of right-wing homophobia in Poland through public art and the symbolic meaning of the rainbow, and a special one-night virtual screening event for NORA HIGHLAND, a feature based on the play with the same name, shot entirely on computers during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The screening of NORA HIGHLAND, which explores the casting process surrounding an iconic and seminal gay character in a new Broadway revival, will be followed by a Q&A with director Ryan Spahn and actor Michael Urie. 

The Festival will also host a special 25th Legacy Anniversary screening for Kino Lorber’s BLOODSISTERS: LEATHER, DYKES, AND SADOMASOCHISM, the iconic documentary about the San Francisco leather scene, which had its New York Premiere at NewFest back in 1995. 

 Individual tickets for virtual films ($12 regular, $10 for members) and drive-in tickets (starting at $45 per car) are now on sale for purchase on, with all-access virtual passes starting at $95. For more information, to purchase tickets/passes, or to become a member, go to

NewFest is presented by WarnerMedia, and would like to thank Signature Sponsors Hyundai and Ogilvy; Premier Sponsors Amazon Studios and Netflix; Major Sponsor Gilead; and Supporting Sponsors Amida Care, Comcast NBCUniversal, Wolfe Video, and Barefoot Wine.

NewFest is grateful to the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), the New York City Council, and the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) for their generous support of our programs.

The full 2020 lineup selections are as follows:

Push (2019) opens Friday

Push will make you physically ill. An exploration of the housing markets across the globe it shows how the real estate market is causing a crisis in housing by making it nigh impossible for anyone to either own a home or even rent an apartment. The film looks at why this has happened, what is doing to society and how it can be stopped.

I don’t know what to say but this film had me staring at the screen talking to no one I particular. Living in a town where the real estate firms are constantly trying to drive the market higher (A house in your town just sold for millions, why not sell your home for millions too?) I am watching what is happening first hand. I’ve seen the families being driven out and the death of communities (most of my home town’s business district is owned/occupied by the local bank because they are the only one who can pay the rents). I’ve witnessed the creation of dead zones as mega ritzy apartments have been built where no one lives because no one can afford the rent. Seeing it on screen my heart was broken.

This is a great film that lays it all out and probably make you angry enough to try and do something.

Highly recommended.

Brief thoughts on We Are One (2020) hits virtual theaters Friday

Excellent documentary looks at the world wide marches against the Iraq War that took place on February 13th 2003. The film explains how the war happened, why and what happened afterward.

Full of great talking heads, many of whom are unexpected (John LaCarre, Danny Glover and Mark Rylance) this film gives us a fantastic look back when we were not yet mired in seemingly never ending wars. One of the  great things is that the film simply lays everything out in a way that engages us and makes us know why the marches happened and how they changed the world. In all honesty the way this film explains things is to be applauded, more so considering the number of films I've seen recently that simply can't lay the proper groundwork to make us truly understand.

This is a great film and a must see

The Tango of the Widower and Its Distorting Mirror (1967/2020)

“Something Started Must Be Finished”

Begun and abandoned in 1967 by Raul Ruiz it was picked up and finished five decades later by other hands after the great director died. The result is a time capsule new film that feels like one made when it started.

The film concerns the story of a professor whose life goes strange after his wife commits suicide and his dreams seem intrude on reality.

Looking and feeling like an inde film from the late 1960’s (say Night of the Living Dead anyone?) the film is very much a product of it’s time. Watching it was kind of like comfort food in that I haven’t seen many films like this in a long while.

Taking the film on it’s own terms it’s an interesting doodle. I don’t know why Ruiz abandoned the film. Forgive me for not running that down, it didn’t seem important to me. What it feel like is a cinematic napkin sketch from a great artist. It feels like it’s a bunch of things that he was playing with rather than a finished film. You can feel how bits ended up in other places.

For fans of a Ruiz the film is a must. For everyone else it’s worth a look, especially if you like films with a bend toward the art house.

Stay At Home Fest Bonus Films: Ed Wood Double Feature