NewFest is back

The LGBT film festival has something for everyone.

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  • GIRLFRIEND! Cohn, plays a fag hag longing for romance

  • TO THE GUT Bellied boys get frisky.

  • GROWING PAINS Ruby, left, and her sister Rose struggle when their mom leaves home.

GIRLFRIEND! Cohn, plays a fag hag longing for romance

Of all June's Gay Pride traditions, perhaps none offers a more diverse range than NewFest, which has something for everyone in its hundreds of feature films, docs and shorts. Sure, the quality may have always been a little...less than hoped for. But it was an easy trade-off for getting to see ourselves depicted, in such myriad, exciting forms, on the big screen.

So if you've not experienced a NewFest in a while, be prepared: This year's fare is more top-notch than ever. Plus, it has a stylish new presenting sponsor—Marc Jacobs—and a swank new location at the SVA Theater in Chelsea. (And it will still honor its humble roots on opening night by bestowing a lifetime achievement award on Kathy Wolfe of Wolfe Video, the pioneering LGBT film distributor that turned 25 this year).


Violet Tendencies



Dir. Casper Andreas 2010. 100mins.

The closing-night feature is sure to be another crowd-pleaser from cheeky New Yorkers Andreas and writer Jesse Archer (Between Love & Goodbye, A Four Letter Word)—and this time they have star power in the sassy form of Mindy Cohn, better known as Natalie on the now-revered-as-camp '80s series The Facts of Life. She is perfection in the role of 40-year-old New York City fag hag Violet, suddenly panic-stricken over the idea of remaining single for the rest of her life. But when she tries to ditch her friends for a straitlaced lover, emptiness ensues. Will she ever find that elusive "stag hag"? The script is hilarious, the actors are right on and the constant inside jokes for New Yorkers—including a brief cameo by pesky party interviewer Mike Diamond—are alone worth the price of a ticket.


Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls



Dir. Leanne Pooley 2009. 84mins.

Don't worry about having your lesbian cred compromised if you haven't heard of the Topp Twins—an insanely popular twin-sister performance duo that's based halfway around the world, in New Zealand. Just feel lucky that Pooley has let you in on their story in this intimate, surprisingly touching tale of two loving, talented siblings. Using concert footage and interviews with family and fellow performers, this is a funny and soulful portrait that's bound to make you a fan.


Bear City



Dir. Doug Langway 2010. 98mins.

Smooth and svelte Tyler Hall (Joe Conti) is a struggling young NYC actor who is closeted about one thing: He lusts for bears. So when the bearded cameraman he meets on an audition takes him deep into the dens of the hirsute subculture, his formerly twink-filled world is transformed—especially when he finds himself drawn to Roger, one of the most desired hairy hotties in town. The jocular script by Langway and Lawrence Ferber (a sometimes TONY contributor) has a fine, furry cast of characters (including Chris March, in a fun cameo) bringing us into a range of tender relationships. It's a sweet tale worth a "Woof!"


Grown-Up Movie Star



Dir. Adriana Maggs 2009. 95mins.

This dark and moody family drama examines the fraught relationship between a precocious teenager, Ruby (Tatiana Maslany), and her dad, disgraced NHL player Ray (Shawn Doyle), after mom Lillian leaves the family behind to chase her dreams of stardom. Both father and daughter are struggling with issues of sexuality—Ray with his hard-to-repress attraction to men, particularly to the high-school gym teacher; and Ruby with her burgeoning powers of bisexual seduction, which she uses to heartbreaking effect in desperate pleas for attention. The actors move through the stunning Newfoundland backdrop and languid script with a smoldering, subtle power that holds you, deftly, in its fist.


Undertow



Dir. Javier Fuentes-Leon 2009. 102mins.

This NewFest opening-night feature looks at what happens to a young fisherman named Miguel, his very pregnant wife, Mariela, and their tiny Peruvian village when word of Miguel's secret affair with a hot loner artist gets out. Though the plot and its twists are far from plausible, there is something deeply affecting about the passionate, sun-kissed characters and the life-altering decisions they make. Tatiana Astengo is particularly compelling as Mariela, the complex, forgiving wife, and the lusty oceanside romps between the two men are both delicate and fiery.

NewFest begins Thu 3. See newfest.org.

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