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5 must-see queer films at NewFest, NYC's leading LGBTQ film festival

The 34th annual celebration of queer media will include in-person screenings in New York City as well as virtual viewings throughout the U.S. 
Jeremy Pope in "The Inspection"
Jeremy Pope in "The Inspection."A24 via NewFest

NewFest, New York’s premier LGBTQ film festival, returns for its 34th annual celebration of queer media. This year’s event, which runs from Oct. 13-25, will feature more than 130 films from 23 countries. 

More than half of the offerings at this year’s festival are directed by women, nonbinary, transgender and Two-Spirit filmmakers, and 64% of the lineup will highlight voices of the disabled, bisexual and indigenous communities, festival organizers said in a news release. 

“We believe that visibility and authentic representation can change lives and even save lives,” NewFest Executive Director David Hatkoff said in a statement. “This year’s festival, presented at a moment when legislation throughout the country is attempting to silence LGBTQ+ people, is an opportunity to loudly and proudly say gay and lesbian and queer and bi and trans and nonbinary with every film we present.” 

This year’s event will be a hybrid one, with in-person screenings taking place in New York City and virtual viewings available across the U.S. 

While there are many must-see films at this year’s festival, here are a five to add to your watch list.

‘The Inspection’

“The Inspection” is the narrative debut from photographer and filmmaker Elegance Bratton. The film stars Emmy-nominated actor Jeremy Pope (“Hollywood”) as a young gay man who joins the Marines after a decade living on the streets. Pope’s character, Ellis French, is based on Bratton’s experiences of being kicked out of his home as a teenager for being gay and then joining the military after years of struggling to find housing. The film, which also stars Gabrielle Union as Ellis’ unsupportive mother, focuses on the main character’s boot camp training, during which he struggles with his sexuality and the dangers of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” era. Previously, Bratton translated his experiences into documentaries about LGBTQ subjects, including 2019’s “Pier Kids,” about queer and transgender youths living at Manhattan’s Christopher Street Pier.

‘My Policeman’  

In “My Policeman,” directed by Michael Grandage, British pop star Harry Styles plays opposite Emma Corrin (“The Crown”) and David Dawson (“The Last Kingdom”) in a period piece about a love triangle between police officer Tom, schoolteacher Marion and museum curator Patrick. The story takes place in two timelines: in 1957, when homosexuality is still illegal in the U.K., and in 1999, when the trio deals with the choices, and betrayals, of their younger selves. 

‘Mama’s Boy’

The HBO documentary “Mama’s Boy,” directed by Laurent Bouzereau, explores the life of Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for best original screenplay in 2009 for “Milk.” In the film, Black, who is married to Olympic diver Tom Daley, discusses his childhood, LGBTQ identity and close relationship with his mother. The film is based on Black’s 2019 memoir, “Mama’s Boy: A Story From Our Americas.” 

‘Nelly and Nadine’

“Nelly and Nadine,” a documentary directed by Magnus Gertten tells the story of two women — Nelly Mousset Vos and Nadine Hwang — who fall in love while in a German concentration camp in 1944. 

‘Chrissy Judy’

“Chrissy Judy,” directed by Todd Flaherty, is a dark comedy about longtime friends and drag queens that are growing apart. The film’s stars include Flaherty, Wyatt Fenner, Joey Taranto and Kiyon Spencer. 

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