Directed by Jennie Livingston

NewFest2 — World Theatrical Premiere
They call themselves the Children. They are messengers, welfare recipients, salespeople, and prostitutes. By night they are Krystle and Blake Carrington. As Black and Hispanic gay men, the Children inhabit in two worlds – an everyday world of discrimination and poverty, and the world of “Realness,” where through costume and competition, dance and inspired performance, they imitate and transcend the powerful fantasy media that excludes them. PARIS IS BURNING follows a number of the Children as they meet along the piers, where they exchange news and sex and practice the competitive dance called voguing, which combines the acrobatic character of break-dancing with moves based on fashion model’s poses. Each of the Children belongs to the House that suits him best (the House of Chanel, the House of Saint Laurent, the House of Ninja, and others). Monthly fashion balls – the dramatic pivot the film’s action and of the subculture – take place in Harlem or Brooklyn. Members of rival Houses compete for trophies and cash prizes in categories such as High Fashion Evening Ware, Face, Model’s Body, and most curious and serious of all, “Realness.” But what does “real” mean? What is a “real” woman, a “real” man? PARIS IS BURNING is a celebration of this subculture, these contradictions. The film’s striking visual style has roots in traditional documentary photography such as the work of Robert Frank and Henri Carier-Bresson, and in the documentary films such as Errol Morris’s GATES OF HEAVEN and Frederick Wiseman’s MODEL.


Directed by Donna Deitch

One of the first mainstream films to take a friendly and sexy look at a lesbian relationship, this film quickly became a dyke classic. Adapted from Jane Rule’s novel Desert of the Heart, it is a powerful but sensitive story about friendship, love, and self-discovery between two women amid the dude ranches and casinos of Reno, Nevada in 1959. While waiting for her divorce papers, the repressed East Coast professor Vivian (Helen Shaver) is seduced by the local, earthy lesbian Cay (Patricia Charbonneau). Shot entirely on location in Reno and accompanied by a terrific C&W soundtrack, the film includes that rare moment — a happy ending. Not to be missed!

DAISIES (1966)

Directed by Věra Chytilová

Predating the punk movement by a decade, the protagonists of DAISIES are two whacked-out, gumby-bodied heroines on an anarchistic spree. They make their way through male culture by always getting the upper hand. The subversive quality of the film extends to its unique filmic style, mixing animation, live-action, and surreal elements.

“The first films by Věra Chytilová coincided with the emergence in the sixties of the Czechoslovak ‘New Wave’ of which she became one of the most innovative and radical exponents. Apart from this she is also the first, and still the only, overtly feminist filmmaker in Czechoslovakia.” — Women In Film, An International Guide.


Directed by Susana Aikin & Carlos Aparicio

NewFest3 + NewFest27
Drag queens living in disused garbage trucks are the unlikely subjects of Susana Aikin and Carlos Aparicio’s extraordinary award-winning documentary. This group of young men redefines the concept of family, as they share their lives, offering support and companionship as easily as food and condoms.


Directed by Karen Everett

NewFest4 — World Premiere
Using fashion as a social and political indicator, FRAMING LESBIAN FASHION soars through two decades of lesbian threads.

JANINE (1990)

Directed by Cheryl Dunye

NewFest3 + NewFest5
Philadelphia-based video artist Cheryl Dunye brings her fresh, funny, original voice to issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality. In JANINE, Dunye tells of her high school friendship with a white upper-class girl.


Directed by Su Friedrich & Janet Baus

Their mission: Make the world safe for lesbians. This rousing tape records the direct-action group’s first year. Organizing against hate in Oregon, Colorado, and New York’s public schools and taking love to the streets in the legendary Washington D.C. Dyke March— the Avengers are coming!


Directed by Shu Lea Cheang

NewFest6 + Queering the Canon: BIPOC NY (2021)
Taiwanese-born new media visionary Shu Lea Cheang directs this avant-anarcho eco-satire in which a lesbian couple living on Staten Island find themselves ensnared in a conspiracy involving a ghost ship of nuclear refuse, ominous television commercials, and deadly cat food. Envisioning New York City as a toxic waste dump of consumerist detritus, FRESH KILL offers a bracing, queer feminist response to the patriarchal poison of corporate capitalism.

Watch the filmmaker Q&A moderated by Isabel Sandoval

GO FISH (1994)

Directed by Rose Troche

NewFest6 + Queering the Canon: Besties (2024)
“Original, witty and delightful” — Los Angeles Times

The fête of lesbian friendship and community are at the center of director Rose Troche’s landmark debut feature, a clever and sexy matchmaking romance set in Chicago. As Max (co-writer Guinevere Turner) looks to end a 10-month sexless drought, her friends may have a freshly single someone in mind. With lyrical interludes and black-and-white independent panache, Troche carves an indelible film for the unabashed lesbian life of the 90s–and shows how enticing finger-clipping foreplay can be.

Join us for the New York Premiere of the 4K Restoration of this lesbian classic as our Opening Night film for Queering the Canon: Besties 2024! There will also be a pre-screening celebration of Rose Troche & Guinevere Turner before the film at Peaches Prime with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. More details and tickets are available through April 11, 2024.


Directed by Maria Maggenti

NewFest7 + Queering the Canon: Rom-Coms (2022)
“Funny, slick and smart” – The New York Times

Rebellious blue-collar lesbian Randy Dean (Laurel Holloman, THE L WORD) is working her gas station job and struggling with high school grades and bigoted upstate New York locals when she meets Evie (Nicole Ari Parker), a wealthy and sophisticated classmate.

What starts as an unlikely across-the-tracks friendship flourishes into life-changing romance in writer/director Maria Maggenti’s enchanting 1995 film, revealing how young love can still thrive amidst the hardships of class, culture, and coming out to your friends and family.

BOUND (1996)

Directed by The Wachowski Sisters

It’s lesbians versus the mob in this fast-paced sexy crime thriller starring Jennifer Tilly (BULLETS OVER BROADWAY) and Gena Gershon (SHOWGIRLS). With BOUND, the Wachowski sisters successfully exhibit Hollywood’s constant reinventions of moribund and predictable film genres, in this case with the insertion of a sapphic twist. In BOUND, Corky (Gershon) is an ex-con fixing up an apartment in a high-rent building. Corky falls for her next-door neighbor, Violet (Tilly), the coquettish, sexy moll of a Mafia money launderer. Once the two women have connected, both literally and figuratively, the plot thickens and the action escalates as they concoct a plan to steal two million dollars. A hit amongst film industry dykes at its premiere in the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, BOUND is sure to be a source of pure movie entertainment for lesbian audiences everywhere.


Directed by Michelle Handelman

NewFest8 + NewFest32 — New York Premiere
The leatherdykes are coming! The leatherdykes are coming! This “first documentary on the subject” (The New York Times) remains as relevant, and enticing as ever. With salacious delight, intimate access, and wide-reaching research, director Michelle Handelman’s enduring 1995 gem documents the queer outlaws of the San Francisco leather scene. Legendary trans pioneers of the scene like Patrick Califia and Tala Brandeis lead us through the S/M community, from benevolent daddys and greedy pain sluts to performance artist kinksters and reverent bootblacks. With its explicitly educational show-don’t-tell segments and its ties of S/M and queerness to political activation, this is the hottest history lesson you’ll have all year. Captured in the DIY video style of the moment and accompanied by a raucous queercore score, this illuminating piece of queer history is a dangerous, exciting, and ever-topical watch.


Directed by Pratibha Parmar

NewFest11 — Pratibha Parmar received an INDIEtribute 
A celebration of African-American women and their accomplishments, A PLACE OF RAGE features interviews with Angela Davis, June Jordan, and Alice Walker.

In the wake of such renewed brutality against people of color and queer communities, it is particularly fitting that The New Festival is staging a retrospective of the work of Pratibha Parmar— one of the most visible and prolific queer independent filmmakers in Britain. Parmar’s work is a remarkable testament to the various cultural and political movements of women, people of color, and queers over the past decade… Feminist, fierce, and uncompromising in its vision of an antiracist, antihomophobic future, the work of Pratibha Parmar allows us to imagine a queer millennium.

Gayatri Gopinath, Assistant Professor of Women and Gener Studies at UC Davis for our 1999 Program Guide 


Directed by Jamie Babbit

Jamie Babbit, who impressed NewFest audiences in 1998 with her short film, SLEEPING BEAUTIES, returns with her first feature film: a candy-colored satire about he absurdity of “curing” homosexuality. Megan (Natasha Lyonne, THE SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS) is a model high school teenager. She is pretty, popular, a top student, dates the captain of the football team… and she’s a cheerleader! But all is not as perfect as it seens— or so suspect Megan’s straight-laced parents (cameos by the fabulous Mink Stole and Bud Cort). They think their little girl is on the path to lesbianism and the only solution is an intervention, led by Mike (deliciously played by an out-of-drag RuPaul), a counselor for True Directions: a homosexual rehabilitation camp. Before she can even pack her pom-poms, Megan is shipped off to camp and instructed in the art of heterosexuality.

Featuring a highly stylized production design inspired by John Waters and a talented and diverse ensemble cast headed by the young and extremely talented Natasha Lyonne and Clea Duvall, BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER achieves the perfect blend between a sexy, charming love story and a razor-share, topical social satire.

Join us at the Lower East Side Film Festival for a 20th Anniversary screening + Q&A with Jamie Babbit on May 5


Directed by Nisha Ganatra

NewFest12 + Queering the Canon: BIPOC NY (2021)
A woman. Her girlfriend. A sister. Her husband. Their baby. Director Nisha Ganatra (Late NightCosmopolitan) won multiple Audience Awards on the festival circuit for this feature debut – an expertly crafted comedy about Reena, an Indian-American lesbian who impulsively decides to have a baby for her infertile older sister. Reena’s enthusiasm about being a surrogate isn’t matched by her uptight sister and mother (played by real-life mother and daughter Sakina Jaffrey and Madhur Jaffrey) or her girlfriend (Jill Hennessy), however, as the plan goes into action it draws out long-simmering tension from all sides of the family, vividly captured by an excellent ensemble cast.

Watch the filmmaker Q&A moderated by Fawzia Mirza

D.E.B.S. (2004)

Directed by Angela Robinson

D.E.B.S. [kicked] off NewFest16 with style, action, and a hell of a lot of campy fun. Angela Robinson’s first feature is an expansion of the short of the same name (winner of Best Short, NewFest15). Amy, Dominique, Max, and Janet are plaid micro-mini-skirted top secret agents of the government’s most elite paramilitary organization: the D.E.B.S. Selected through a secret test in the SAT designed to identify students who can lie, cheat, fight, and kill, these young women represent the principles of Discipline, Energy, Beauty, and Strength while they kick the asses of evildoers threatening national security. Their current mission: capture the sexy criminal mastermind Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster). But when Lucy meets Amy (Sara Foster), sparks of attraction fly. Robinson has pulled out all the stops with D.E.B.S. — combining a sexy lesbian romance with fantastic girls-with-guns action scenes and a hilarious script to deliver non-stop entertainment for all audiences.

Watch our “Best of Besties in LGBTQ+ Cinema” Panel with Angela Robinson, Jenni Olson, and Joel Kim Booster


Directed by Jenni Olson

“That mouth, those eyes— she makes my heart sink when she says she’ll call me and I know she won’t.” So confesses the lovestruck butch-dyke narrator (BY HOOK OR BY CROOK’S Harry Dodge) of this quiet meditation on love and suicide, desire and lose, in San Francisco. At once an intense rumination of physical yearning, the film is also an inspired study of the dangerous allure of the Golden Gate Bridge. Having lost a beloved friend when he jumped from the bridge ten years ago, filmmaker Jenni Olson asks why the bridge beckons the suicidal. Beautifully photographed and hypnotically paced, the film is a moving tribute to life and all the joys it brings.

Watch our “Best of Besties in LGBTQ+ Cinema” Panel with Jenni Olson, Joel Kim Booster, and Angela Robinson


Directed by Ligy J. Pullappally

Told with beauty, sweetness, and smoldering tension, THE JOURNEY is the first Indian film since Deepa Mehta’s FIRE to seriously and sensitively portray a lesbian relationship. In idyllic Kerala in the south of India, Kiran and Delilah meet as children and become friends. They blossom into beautiful women, though they couldn’t be more different. Kiran is studious and reserved while Delilah is a mischievous free spirit. Their relationship evolves until soon Kiran realizes her sexual attraction to Delilah is something she can suppress no longer. When Delilah reveals her desire for Kiran, the two young women embark on a forbidden romance. Director Ligy J. Pullappally beautifully captures the intricacies of a budding forbidden love amid Kerala’s abundant color, sounds, customs, and natural splendor.


Directed by Zeri Chou

From the maker of SPIDER LILIES (NewFest19), the quietly affecting DRIFTING FLOWERS tells the interconnected stories of three Taiwanese women living in different times. In the first segment, young May experiences jealousy when she spots her sister, a singer, kissing butch fellow musician Diego. Moving into the distant future, the second segment focuses on Lily’s old age, as she struggles with Alzheimer’s and the sickness of an old friend. Going back in time for the third segment, Diego’s adolescence provides the bridge between May and Lily — as a tomboy, Diego binds her breasts and discovers her dual loves; music and women, in the form of Lily, the lovely lead of a touring show.


Directed by Maryam Keshavarz

Maryam Keshavarz’s debut film is a lush, innovative coming-of-age story set in the underground art scene of Tehran. Iranian teenage Atafeh and her best friend, Shireen, are defining the evolving boundaries of their intense friendship when Atafeh’s brother Mehran returns home from a drug rehabilitation center and announces he’s joining the morality police. When he makes the girl’s questionable friendship his target, Atafeh finds herself the victim of her brother’s dangerous obsession.


Directed by Madeleine Olnek

Three aliens travel to Earth to experience heartbreak in the harshest environment possible: the New York lesbian dating scene. While two of them find out the hard way just how needy some Earth women can be, the third, Zoinx, initiates a romance with Jane, an unassuming cashier who doesn’t seem to pick up on the fact that Zoinx is from outer space. Will the women find love before they’re tracked down by the government agents hot on their trail?

LYLE (2014)

Directed by Stewart Thorndike

Leah’s grief over her toddler’s death turns into paranoia when she begins to suspect her neighbors are part of a satanic cult.


Directed by Alexandra-Therese Keining

NewFest27 — New York Premiere
BFFs Kim, Momo, and Bella are bullied by boys at school while their teachers do nothing. On top of that, Kim secretly confesses to Bella she thinks she was born in the wrong body. So when the trio finds a magical plant whose nectar temporarily turns them into boys (with working genitalia), it offers them the thrilling chance to experience freedoms they’ve never known. But when Kim becomes addicted to the plant and pursues a dangerous relationship with a local boy she thinks might be gay, it puts everyone at risk. Though GIRLS LOST is sure to enter the pantheon of lesbian teen films alongside TIMES SQUARE and SHOW ME LOVE, the film is sure to be beloved by everybody.

HER STORY (2016)

Directed by Sydney Freeland

HER STORY is about two trans women in Los Angeles who have given up on love when suddenly chance encounters give them hope. Violet is drawn to Allie, a reporter who approaches her for an interview, while career-driven Paige meets James, the first man she’s considered opening up to in years. Will they risk letting what they are stand in the way of being loved for who they are? Trans women in the media have long been punchlines, killers, indications of urban grit, pathetic tragedies, and dangerous sirens. Rarely have they been complex characters who laugh, struggle, and grow, who share strength in sisterhood, who seek and find love. HER STORY depicts the unique, complicated, and very human women we see in queer communities, and explores how these women navigate the intersections of label identity and love.

PUSSY (2016)

Directed by Renata Gąsiorowska

A young woman spends the evening alone at home. She decides to give herself a treat, but not everything works out as smoothly as she imagined.

RAFIKI (2018)

Directed by Wanuri Kahiu

Bursting with the colorful street style and music of Nairobi’s vibrant youth culture, RAFIKI is a tender love story between two young women in a country that still criminalizes homosexuality. Kena and Ziki have long been told that “good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives” – but they yearn for something more. Winner of the NewFest30 Audience Award for Narrative Feature ❤️

BILLIE & EMMA (2018)

Directed by Samantha Lee

Billie, a teenage rock star, moves to the province and meets Emma, a model and almost the perfect example of a good daughter. Together, they go through the experience of first love.


Directed by Emma Seligman

Through delicately crafted humor, NYU alum Emma Seligman’s feature directorial debut is an exciting new entry into the bisexual canon, as well as a touching and hilarious look into queer Jewish adolescence and finding oneself in the 21st century.

Danielle (Rachel Sennott) is stuck in post-grad ennui — disaffected, unmotivated, and content to live off of her married sugar daddy, while lying to family and friends about the source of her revenue. Her heavily compartmentalized worlds crash into each other at a shiva following a family friend’s funeral, as the arrival of unexpected guests, including former flame Maya (Molly Gordon, BOOKSMART) and her paramour’s wife (Dianna Agron, GLEE), cause her frequently flippant fibs to catch up with her in absurdly raucous ways.

TAHARA (2020)

Directed by Olivia Peace

Sometimes first loves are beautiful culminations of innocent flirtation and yearning sighs; other times, they’re set at Hebrew school after a classmate’s suicide and the result of years of gaslighting. Brooklyn-based director Olivia Peace’s feature debut is a bitingly dark comedy about growing up, growing into queerness, and growing out of toxic, lox-and-shmear-fueled horndog escapades in the synagogue library. Madeline Grey DeFreece shines as the sensitive, sensible Carrie, whose crush on her destructively needy best friend Hannah (NewFest double-hitter Rachel Sennott) is about to be put to the test. With Jess Zeidman’s incisive and brilliant script evoking shades of 2001’s GHOST WORLD, and cinematographer Tehillah De Castro’s perfect portraiture of suburban Rochester, TAHARA was a breakaway hit out of this year’s Slamdance Film Festival. By turns hilarious, deeply felt, and deeply screwed up in the way only teenagers can be, TAHARA is the kind of coming-of-age story some might wish they had before they knew there was life after the bat mitzvah. Winner of the NewFest32 Feature Directorial Debut Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker Award; director Olivia Peace.

Watch the filmmaker Q&A


Directed by Lauren Hadaway

With few friends, mediocre grades, and nothing to lose, queer college freshman Alex Dall (Isabelle Fuhrman) signs up for the rowing team. What begins as an exciting new hobby quickly turns into an unhealthy obsession as she climbs the ranks and gets pushed to her limits.

Winner of the U.S. Narrative Feature prize at the Tribeca Film Festival, Lauren Hadaway’s feature directorial debut THE NOVICE wraps a character study inside a heart-pounding, BLACK SWAN-esque thriller that will keep you gripped until the very end.

PASSING (2021)

Directed by Rebecca Hall

On a stifling summer day in 1920s New York City, Irene Redfield (Tessa Thompson) unexpectedly reunites with her old school acquaintance Clare Bellew (Academy-Award nominee Ruth Negga). With the simple unzipping of a dress and a furtive glance, a Pandora’s box of temptation clicks open in this Sundance Film Festival sensation.

Adapted from Nella Larsen’s beloved 1929 novel, PASSING is a Harlem Renaissance masterpiece 15 years in the making. Full of seduction and psychological drama, director Rebecca Hall’s debut feature explores the mutability of identity and just how easily a once unshakeable truth can unravel.

PARIAH (2011)

Directed by Dee Rees

A decade since its release, this powerful portrait of a young lesbian coming into her own continues to be celebrated as a monumental influence by critics and filmmakers alike. The debut feature from Academy Award nominee Dee Rees (MUDBOUND) remains an enduring exploration of the inner and outer lives of ​​17-year-old Alike (Adepero Oduye, in a breakthrough performance) as she navigates her burgeoning sexuality, familial frustrations, and talents as a poet in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene.

PARIAH occupies an essential place in queer and Black film canon and is undeniably one of the 21st century’s greatest films.


Directed by Alice Wu

Queering the Canon: Rom-Coms (2022)
“A comic gem” – The Hollywood Reporter

Wil (Michelle Krusiec), a dedicated Chinese-American surgeon living in Manhattan, meets and falls for ballet dancer Vivian (Lynn Chen) in this playful and heartfelt feature debut from writer/director Alice Wu (THE HALF OF IT). Following a meet-cute at a community event, their flirtatious romance hits a roadblock when their traditional upbringing clashes with the demands of Wil’s career, and Wil’s in-denial mother (the luminous Joan Chen) reveals her own surprises. Together, they all shake up their chatty community in the process of finding themselves.


Directed by Laura Poitras

Winner of the 2022 Golden Lion, the highest prize given to a film at the Venice Film Festival, this stunning documentary is an epic, emotional, and interconnected story about internationally renowned artist and activist Nan Goldin. Directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras (CITIZENFOUR), the film interweaves Goldin’s past and present through her slideshows, intimate interviews, ground-breaking photography, and rare footage of her fight to hold the Sackler family accountable for the opioid crisis.

ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED is deeply personal and urgently political, anchoring Goldin’s family history and iconic legacy in the art world alongside her blistering and urgent advocacy work.


Directed by Zackary Drucker & Kristen Parker Lovell

NewFest Pride 2023 — New York Premiere
Filmmaker Kristen Lovell, who walked “The Stroll” for a decade, reunites her community to recount the violence, policing, homelessness, and gentrification they overcame to build a movement for transgender rights.

Screening the HBO Documentaries’ film THE STROLL in the heart of the Meatpacking District will highlight the substantial changes that have occurred in the neighborhood over the years, spotlight the role the district played in the history of trans and sex worker rights, and provide an opportunity for a communal celebration of a compelling new documentary at the start of LGBTQ+ Pride Month in NYC.


Directed by Erica Tremblay

After her sister’s disappearance, Jax (Lily Gladstone, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON) takes on the role of caring for her niece, Roki, on the Seneca-Cayuga Reservation in Oklahoma. While tirelessly searching for her missing sister, Jax faces mounting family tensions and the looming threat of losing custody of Roki to her father, Frank (Shea Whigham).

Determined to prevent this, Jax and Roki journey across the heartland to locate Roki’s mother in time for a crucial powwow ceremony they cannot afford to miss. In her remarkable directorial debut, Erica Tremblay delves into the challenges Indigenous women confront in a colonized world and their unwavering strength while navigating an unforgiving justice system.