fest preview

Rebels, queens, and fellow travelers: 10 must-see titles from New York’s NewFest 2023

(clockwise from top left) ‘Young Soul Rebels,’ ‘National Anthem,’ ‘Queen Of New York,’ ‘Fellow Travelers’ | Images Courtesy of NewFest

Celebrating its 35th year, NewFest—NYC’s premier LGBTQ+ Film Festival—is back with another banger of a lineup.

From October 12 – 24, NewFest takes over some of Manhattan and Brooklyn’s most iconic theaters with a mind-bogglingly awesome program featuring over 133 films representing 27 countries.

And, even if you’re not able to make it to The Big Apple, the fest is offering virtual presentations of a number of its titles, so film lovers from all over can join in on the fun.

This year’s NewFest roster features an eclectic host of can’t-miss events from world premieres to special screenings to shorts programs, panels, parties, and so much more. Opening night will feature the premiere of the long-overdue Bayard Rustin biopic Rustin—which is already garnering Oscar buzz for star Colman Domingo—plus a star-dazzling festival kick-off party, to boot. There’s also an early peek at the highly anticipated gay historical drama Fellow Travelers, the world premiere of the landmark documentary sequel Beyond The Aggressives, and a closing night gala screening of Andrew Haigh’s sensual, supernatural All Of Us Strangers.

In anticipation, Queerty has assembled a preview of this year’s fest, shouting out 9 of the most exciting feature films (and one hotly anticipated TV preview) you’ll definitely ant to check out. And below that is a list of even more must-see features we’ve previously highlighted on the site.

We have a feeling you’ll be hearing a lot more about these titles in the future, so be sure to add them to your watch list!

All The Colors Of The World Are Between Black And White

In Nigeria, same-sex relations remain a major taboo—it was just this past August that local police raided a gay wedding, arresting 200 attendees—making the slow-burn romance at the heart of this feature all the more poignant and powerful. The first feature from Babatunde Apalowo concerns itself with the trepidatious but no-less passionate connection between a delivery driver and a photographer in the country’s most populous city, Lagos. The film won the Berlin Film Festival’s Teddy Award, the top honor for LGBTQ+ films each year,

Screening Monday, October 16.

All The Fires

This one comes highly recommended from our film programmer friends, and those folks see a lot of movies—so you know it’s good. Young Bruno (Sebastian Rojano) is a struggling teen with a penchant for lighting things on fire. Overwhelmed with grief after his father’s unexpected passing and dealing with confusing feelings from his best friend, he runs away from home in pursuit of a girl he met online. But their connection inspires him to confront his sexuality for the first time in Mexican filmmaker Mauricio Calderón Rico’s stirring feature debut.

Screening Monday, October 15. Virtually available from Oct. 12-24.

Fellow Travelers

We’ve been anxiously awaiting this sexy, decade-hopping historical drama ever since those set photos leaked of stars Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey frolicking shirtless on the beach. Suffice it to say, we can barely contain ourselves until the miniseries’ October 27 debut on Showtime—which is why we’re extra grateful to NewFest for premiering the first episode a whole week early. We simply couldn’t wait another seven days to see Bomer and Bailey’s electric sub/dom dynamic play out on our screens.

Screening Saturday, October 21.

Housekeeping For Beginners

‘Housekeeping For Beginngers,’ Image Courtesy of NewFest

After the witchy folk horror You Won’t Be Alone and this year’s sizzling Aussie romance Of An Age, writer-director Goran Stolevski is rather quickly becoming one of our favorite filmmakers. His next is this Macedonian-language drama about a queer woman named Dita who finds herself forced to raise her girlfriend’s two young daughters. After her home becomes a refuge for other local queer folks, Dita and her makeshift family find themselves in a fight to stay together. It won the top Queer Lion prize last month at the Venice film festival.

Screening Monday, October 16.

May December

Natalie Portman. Julianne Moore. Todd Haynes. Need we say more? The acclaimed gay filmmaker behind Carol and Far From Heaven is back with a slyly funny, catty, and perceptive melodrama—based loosely on the story of Mary Kay Letourneau, a teacher who went to prison for sleeping with her student. Moore plays a role inspired by the controversial figure, attempting to live a quiet, small-town life with her now-grown husband (Charles Melton), with Portman as an actress whose come to study the family for her next screen role.

Screening Thursday, October 19.


The winner of the prestigious Queer Palm at this past May’s Cannes Film Festival, Monster is the latest from celebrated Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters). Playing out in a Rashomon style of shifting perspectives, the haunting and humanist film begins with a single mother who notices odd shifts in her young son’s behavior. Eager to get to the bottom of it, she heads to the school where a new teacher, a stern principal, and a young, effeminate classmate are tangled up in a web of accusations, lies, and misunderstandings.

Screening Saturday, October 21.

National Anthem

‘National Anthem,’ Image Courtesy of NewFest

Filmmaker and photographer Luke Gilford has been documenting America’s growing queer rodeo community for years now, and much of that work can be seen in his excellent art book, National Anthem. Inspired by the people’s he’s met on that journey, Gilford has crafted this original story by the same name, about a young man in New Mexico named Dylan (Charlie Plummer) who’s been struggling to support his family. But when he finds a job with a group of queer ranchers, he begins to view his sexuality—and the American West—in a new way.

Screening Tuesday, October 17.

Queen Of New York

Drag has always been political, but beloved, hardworking drag queen Marti Cummings took that maxim to the next level when they ran to represent their Upper Manhattan neighborhood on the New York City Council in 2021. Just as the city was emerging from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cummings announced their campaign, and this documentary follows along for every speech, every door knocked on, and every shablam, imbued with the same infectious energy and joy that makes their live drag shows so entertaining.

Screening Monday, October 16. Virtually available from Oct. 12-24.

Something You Said Last Night

In filmmaker Luis De Filippis’ knockout feature debut, a trans writer in her twenties named Ren—fresh off of losing her job—reluctantly joins her sister and parents for a family vacation to the beach. Out of her usual comfort zone and surrounded by prying relatives who know how to push all the wrong buttons, Ren struggles to find her confidence while contending with a charming new romantic interest. The dramedy was a breakout hit at Los Angeles’ Outfest, where it won the Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding North American Narrative Feature.

Screening Thursday, October 19. Virtually available from Oct. 12-24.

Young Soul Rebels

Don’t miss your chance to see the brand-new 4K restoration of this 1991 queer classic from trailblazing filmmaker Isaac Julien. Set in East London in 1977, Young Soul Rebels is the story of underground DJs Caz and Chris whose party scene is rocked by the murder of a friend in a popular hookup spot. While the Black community suspects right-wing involvement, the police try to put the blame on Chris, sending the friends on a journey toward exoneration, soundtracked by electrifying music of the era, from X-Ray Spex to Sylvester.

Screening Friday, October 13. Virtually available from Oct. 12-24.

Even More NewFest Films To Look Out For

Beyond what we’ve highlighted above, NewFest will be screening a number of exciting features we’ve previously mentioned in other festival previews, or covered when their trailers have dropped. Details for each are below with links to where you can read more about them on Queerty:

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