BYO Popcorn

Love, laughs and lust: 5 NewFest films to watch this weekend

The Strong Ones

Though it might look just a bit different this year, the 2020 NewFest LGBTQ Film Festival is currently underway and better than ever. The festival features over 120 films, along with panels, Q&As, virtual events, and more, which are all available online thanks to our dear friend, COVID.

This year’s festival features work from Academy Award winners to emerging filmmakers, and below are our five must-see films to stream this weekend. Whether you’re in the mood for love stories, laughs, or lust, NewFest has you covered.

The Festival is running now through October 27th.

Film descriptions courtesy of NewFest.

1. NO HARD FEELINGS

Writer-director Faraz Shariat’s astoundingly confident debut follows Parvis, a second-generation Iranian-German working at a refugee center, as he gets entangled in the fast-paced lives of dreamy Amon and his spirited sister Banafshe. Tired of his conservative family and empty Grindr hook-ups, he immerses himself in his newly blooming queer social life, only to discover that one of his new friends will soon be deported. With gorgeous cinematography and stunning performances across the board, No Hard Feelings is both an incredibly specific critique of modern xenophobia and a timeless story of romance and friendship.

This Closing Night film, which captured the top award at this year’s Teddy Awards, will premiere Tuesday October 27 at 8PM and remain available on the platform for 72 hours.

2. ALICE JÚNIOR

Winner of the top prize at Mix Brasil, this one-of-a-kind charmer infuses the spirit of classic high school films such as Mean Girls and The Perks of Being a Wallflower with an electricity that will leave you buzzing with warmth and energy. Forced to leave the coastal city of Recife when her father gets a job in a small conservative town in the South of Brazil, transgender teenage social media star Alice Júnior’s life is suddenly thrust into uncertainty and drab dread. Although she’s far out of her comfort zone and facing the kind of resistance she never could have imagined, Alice is determined to take on Catholic school (and its uniform) with verve and wit and make the most of her new setting, religious classmates, and budding crushes. In her very first acting role, Anne Celestino Mota infuses Alice with an infectious relatability, inspiring confidence, and nuanced charm that demands great attention and suggests a bright future for the young actress. Powered by a spirited style rife with color, kitsch, and creativity, Alice Junior is a celebration of rebellious youth and the potential for future generations to rethink outdated perspectives of gender, sexuality, and differences as a whole.

3. ELLIE & ABBIE (& ELLIE’S DEAD AUNT)

Top-of-her-class Australian high schooler Ellie (Sophie Hawkshaw) has no problem coming out, really. Like, according to her, five people in her year are gay. Her only issue is finding an acceptably cool way to ask her crush (the über-charming Zoe Terakes, Wentworth) to the school formal. That is, until the dead aunt (Julia Billington) she never knew shows up, determined to share her wisdom as her Fairy Gaymother.

Suddenly, everything Ellie thought she knew about life, love, and family is turned on its head, as she has to re-evaluate what queerness means. Featuring stellar comedic performances from the entire cast, including Rachel House (Hunt for the Wildpeople, Thor: Ragnarok), director Monica Zanetti’s feature debut is a heartfelt love letter to those who came before, the value of intergenerational connections, and a reminder that it’s never too late for the perfect proposal.

4. RŪRANGI

The last thing trans activist and educator Caz (Elz Carrad) wants to do is return to his long-abandoned hometown in rural New Zealand.

But when he reaches rock bottom, Caz finds himself inexplicably drawn back to his dairy-farm upbringing, where he connects with old friends, still-burning past flames, and, most tentatively, his estranged father. Written and produced by a team of trans artists and interweaving themes of environmentalism, Indigenous identity, and the strengths of queer friendship, Rurangi is a compassionate, fearless, and vivacious portrait of coming into your own all over again.

5. THE STRONG ONES

In the mood for love? The Strong Ones tells the romantic saga of a fisherman and an architect in the beautiful landscape of Southern Chile as they find love at the edge of the world. This confidently directed festival favorite, which took home both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Outfest, spotlights the searing sexiness and electric chemistry of the two charismatic leads (Samuel González and Antonio Altamirano), while impressive cinematography highlights the majestic landscapes. This gentle and intimate love tale is the perfect selection for a date night with your own special someone, or perhaps a lover-to-be.

The 2020 NewFest LGBTQ Film Festival is currently running online now through October 27th, and for New Yorkers, there are even some drive-in screenings that are sure to make for a great night out.