NewFest, New York’s leading LGBTQ+ film and media organization, and one of the most respected LGBTQ+ film festivals across the world, has announced the audience award winners for its 35th anniversary edition of the festival. The announcement was made this morning by NewFest Executive Director David Hatkoff and its Director of Programming Nick McCarthy.
This year’s audience award winners, presented by Amazon, included Erica Tremblay’s Fancy Dance, starring Lily Gladstone, for Best Narrative Feature, Sandra Itäinen’s Coming Around for Best Documentary, Fernando Reinaldos’ The End for Best Narrative Short, and Mike Syers’ There Are Things to Do for Best Documentary Short. These awards were voted on by audience members in each category.
Earlier last week, NewFest also announced their juried prize award winners, which included Erica Tremblay’s Fancy Dance (Narrative Feature), Goran Stolevski’s Housekeeping for Beginners (International Feature), Daniel Goncalves’s Acsexybility (Documentary Feature), and Nyala Moon’s Dilating for Maximum Results (New York Short), the winners for the Emerging Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker Grant, as well as the NewFest + NYWIFT Emerging Filmmaker Award and NewFest + Vimeo First-Time Filmmaker Award. NewFest also awarded Academy Award and Emmy Award nominated filmmaker Todd Haynes with the 2023 Queer Visionary Award for his legacy and outstanding contributions to cinema, during a special in conversation event prior to a screening of May December on Thursday, October 19.
Founded in 1988, NewFest is New York’s largest presenter of LGBTQ+ film & media and the largest convener of queer audiences in New York City.
The full audience award winners are as follows:
Presented by Amazon
Winner of Audience Award, Narrative Feature:
FANCY DANCE – Director Erica Trembley
BIG BOYS – Director Corey Sherman
Winner of Audience Award, Documentary Feature:
COMING AROUND – Director Sandra Itäinen
Runner Up (Tied):
HIDDEN MASTER: THE LEGACY OF GEORGE PLATT LYNES – Director Sam Shahid
HUMMINGBIRDS – Directors Silvia Del Carmen Castaños, Estefanía ”Beba” Contreras
Winner of Audience Award, Narrative Short:
THE END – Director Fernando Reinaldos
T-MINUS – Director Emily Lerer
Winner of Audience Award, Documentary Short:
THERE ARE THINGS TO DO – Director Mike Syers
THE DADS – Director Luchina Fisher
U.S. Narrative Feature Jury Awards
The NewFest 2023 U.S. Narrative Features jurors were Tribeca programmer Casey Baron, filmmaker/actor Pooya Mohseni, and publicist Curtis Russell.
Grand Jury Prize winner: FANCY DANCE, directed by Erica Tremblay
Jury statement: “FANCY DANCE explores issues of family and legacy in the Seneca-Cayuga Nation of Oklahoma without tokenization or exoticization. Anchored by the precise lead performances of Lily Gladstone and Isabel Deroy-Olson and crackling with a particular sense of place and culture, director Erica Tremblay’s domestic thriller builds toward a tender and powerful catharsis that rewrites the rules of the genre. At once an indictment of broken systems and a celebration of queer worldmaking, FANCY DANCE is a fierce whisper that speaks volumes. ”
Special Mention: CORA BORA
Jury statement: “CORA BORA maintains a dizzying high-wire balance of cringe comedy and pathos thanks to the light touch of skilled craftspeople on both sides of the camera. Director Hannah Pearl Utt shepherds a game ensemble through the chaos that Megan Stalter’s wounded Cora leaves in her wake, while Senda Bonnet’s humanist cinematography and Kent Kincannon’s razor-sharp editing augment the laughs in Rhianon Jones’ perceptive script. The awkward pansexual horse ranch orgy is icing on the cake.”
International Narrative Feature Jury Awards
The NewFest 2023 International Narrative Features jurors were editor-in-chief at them. Sarah Burke, Cleveland + Trinidad & Tobago programmer Ivonne Cotorruelo, and New York Times writer/critic Juan A. Ramirez.
Grand Jury Prize winner: HOUSEKEEPING FOR BEGINNERS, directed by Goran Stolevski
Jury statement: “His third feature in two years, Goran Stolevski’s “Housekeeping for Beginners” – which the Macedonian filmmaker wrote, directed, and edited – extends a tender embrace outwards even as it holds its characters close. This ode to queer kinship frenetically introduces us to the biological, chosen, and wayward members of a fly-by-night family assembling itself in North Macedonia’s capital against a backdrop of settler colonialism, “passing,” unfriendly healthcare, and the universal clashing of personalities. The excellent ensemble animates Stolevski’s lively sense of atmosphere, tone, and pace, creating a group portrait equal parts considered, cacophonous, compassionate, and current.”
Special Mention: Carmen Madonia, lead performer in SOMETHING YOU SAID LAST NIGHT
Jury Statement:.”Carmen Madonia’s lead performance in the touching road trip movie, “Something You Said Last Night,” is the kind of breakout an actor, and their audience, dreams of, let alone as their screen debut. Madonia creates a character whose witty demeanor makes us desperately want to hang out with her, with a depth beckoning deep wells of feeling, and heralding a strong new talent.”
Documentary Feature Jury Awards
The NewFest 2023 Documentary Features jurors were Coordinator, Documentary Fund at the Sundance Institute Evan Neff and Author/JEOPARDY! Champ Amy Schneider.
Grand Jury Prize winner: ACSEXIBILITY directed by Daniel Goncalves
Jury statement: “Sensual and spirited testimonies are laid bare in this ode to the intersection of sexual life and disability. The film holds its participants in whimsical reverence while expanding the contours of Queer desire and joy. Unconscious biases are unmasked as the viewer is invited to embody the weird, wild, and wonderful.”
Special Mention: MÁ SÀI GÒN (MOTHER SAIGON), directed by Khoa Lê
Jury statement: “A Special Mention is given to MÁ SÀI GÒN (Mother Saigon) for Khoa Lê’s lyrical direction which illuminates the grace in buoyant Queer lives and the enduring care with which we hold our communities.”
New York Short Jury Awards
The NewFest 2023 New York Shorts jurors were filmmaker Frances Arpaia, writer/critic at INTO Joshua Mackey, and SNL writer Celeste Yim.
Grand Jury Prize winner: DILATING FOR MAXIMUM RESULTS, directed by Nyala Moon
Jury statement: “Moon’s short is a detailed comedic depiction of one trans woman’s challenges with IRL intimacy. The jury was very impressed with Moon’s unique form, which combines the rhythm of animation with the emotional reality of live action. This exciting and touching film also succeeds at a very difficult task: making a situation funny for both audiences who have and haven’t experienced it. The jury unanimously agreed that Nyala Moon needs a TV show… Now!!!”
Special Mention: THE DALLES, directed by Angalis Field
Jury statement: “With its subtle dialogue and lingering nature shots, Field’s short is a beautiful coming-of-age story for one young trans man. This compelling short conveys the weight of one small moment with intense empathy for its protagonist and a comforting combination of levity, lust, and longing. (And binder representation!) .
Emerging Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker Grants (part of NewFest’s Black Filmmakers Initiative)
The NewFest 2023 Black Filmmakers Initiative jurors were filmmakers Elegance Bratton and Michael Rice and producer, model, actor and activist, Jari Jones.
Prize: $1,500 per film + 1-year Vimeo Subscription
BECOMING, directed by Tramaine Raphael Gray
Jury Statement: “Becoming is a beautiful mesmerizing cinematic short that defies traditional storytelling conventions and takes audiences on a introspective journey of self-discovery with the lead character Shawn, a young black queer man who finds himself battling toxic masculinity in his community all while balancing his relationship with his brother Rashad. Directed by Tremaine Rapheal Gray, this film weaves together themes of identity, brotherhood, and the power of dreams with a touch of magic and realism, resulting in a thought-provoking narrative. Becoming is a skillful blend of surrealism and grounded reality that should get people in and out of the LGBTQIA community to have conversations regarding family dynamics, self-realizations, homophobia, bullying and a concurring theme of loving one’s self through adversity.”
GIRL BLUNT, directed by Clementine Narcisse
Jury statement: “Girl Blunt represents the emergence of a wonderfully idiosyncratic new voice in queer cinema. Clementine Narcisse’s film is full of promise. From its incredible sense of style through its strong performances by its two leads, and its unexpected visual storytelling choices, Girl Blunt gave us the munchies! The jury is happy to award the prize and can’t wait to see what this filmmaker makes next.”
SIS, directed by Miranda Haymon
Jury statement: “Sis is a love letter to the ever so familiar queer moment of spontaneity and chance, the Black Queer “YOLO” we’ve been waiting for. With its phenomenal leads , Sis strategically and with much complexity gives us a romantic narrative that subverts the hetero, male and white rom-com default we are used to,leaving this newfest audience with an efficacious hunger of what’s next, not only for the characters Michelle & Sadie but for Director Miranda Haymon as well !!! This year’s jury is honored not only to award this grant but honored to witness black queer excellence in cinema. ”
NewFest + NYWIFT Emerging Filmmaker Award
Presented in partnership with New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) to recognize the work of an outstanding emerging filmmaker at this year’s festival.
Prize: $1,000 and 1-year membership to NYWIFT
AS YOU ARE , directed by Daisy Friedman
NewFest + Vimeo Award for First Time Filmmaker
Presented in partnership with Vimeo to recognize a first-time short filmmaker.
Prize: $1,000 and 1-year Vimeo Subscription
THE YEAR LONG BOULDER, directed by Brielle Leblanc
Queer Visionary Award
Awarded on October 19th
Academy Award® and Emmy Award nominated filmmaker Todd Haynes (MAY DECEMBER)