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  • Dana Piccoli

6 must-see queer titles at Newfest 2020

Festival season looks a lot different this year, but in many ways, that's for the better. Just as this summer's Outfest pivoted to a streaming fest with some drive-in options, so does the 32nd annual Newfest out of NYC.

There is quite a bit of crossover between the films from Outfest and Newfest, so if you missed anything you were dying to see, Newfest probably has you covered. (You'll find reviews of many crossover films here.) Here are films and presentations that I definitely recommend checking out at Newfest as it runs now through October 27th. Streaming passes will run you $95, or $12 for individual films.

Dating Amber

This sweet and funny film is set in early 90s Ireland, where high schooler Eddie (Fionn O'Shea) is just trying to get through the day without being bullied into oblivion, and training to join the Irish Army like his father before him. Amber (Lola Petticrew) is mercilessly harassed as a suspected lesbian by classmates, so when she sees an opportunity to team up with Eddie and pretend they are in a real relationship, she goes for it. A true friendship develops between the teens, and they soon realize that hiding who they are from the world, might not be the most healthy thing for their spirits.

Forgotten Roads

This heartbreaker out of Chile is written/directed by Nicol Ruiz Benavides and tells the story of 70-year-old Claudina (Romana Satt), a recent widow who is forced to move in with her high strung daughter and her adorable grandson. When she meets the alluring woman next door, Elsa (Rosa Ramirez Rios), her entire world changes and Claudina finds a path to herself and happiness she'd never known before. However, the small religious village where she now lives is hardly accepting. Also, UFOS keep appearing!

White Lie

This chilling film about a young queer woman faking a cancer diagnosis will have you on the edge of your seat. Katie Arneson (Kacey Rohl) is a popular dance major who has been raising money for her cancer treatments while at university. Katie's loving and devoted girlfriend Jennifer (Amber Anderson) has been tirelessly supporting her efforts. When Katie's father decides to confront her about her illness, it sets in motion a series of more and more desperate acts to cover up Katie's secret.


In the 1980s, David (Samuel H. Levine), a young Russian Orthodox Jewish man navigates his home of Brighton Beach Brooklyn, while trying to figure out who he is and what he wants. With a loving (and overbearing) mother and an imposing figure of a father, David spends most of his time with his kind grandfather and at Yeshiva. When he steps foot into the local gay bar, everything changes for David and he begins to break out of the insular life that has been created for him.

Breaking Fast

This delightful rom-com will have you smiling ear to ear. Mo (Haaz Sleiman) is a practicing Muslim who is still smarting over his breakup with a closeted man the year prior. When he meets-cute with a guy named Kal (Michael Cassidy), who grew up in the Middle East as an Army brat, the two have instant chemistry but Mo is hesitant to start something new. As Ramadan nears, Kal asks to help Mo break fast nightly and cook the delicious meals he grew up on. If the way to a person's heart is through their stomach than Kal has a masterplan.

Sideways Smile

While not a feature, Sideways Smile is part of Newfest's episodic programming. This hilarious webseries by Hang Nguyen explores both the queer and Asian American experience in NYC. After a lifetime of unsatisfying sexual experiences, Alex (Kathy Huynh-Phan) takes a class on female sexuality and finally has her first orgasm. Her queer best friend, Dara (Diane Chen) is there to root for her the entire way, and of course, hilarity ensues.

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