‘Swallowed,’ ‘The Blue Caftan’ win top NewFest LGBTQ+ Film Festival awards
NewFest, New York’s leading LGBTQ+ film and media organization and one of the world’s most respected LGBTQ+ film festivals, has announced the recipients for the juried award winners for the festival’s 34th year. Top honors went to director Carter Smith for Swallowed (Grand Jury Prize, Narrative Feature), director Maryam Touzani for The Blue Caftan (Grand Jury Prize, International Feature), director Juliana Curi for Uyra – The Rising Forest (Grand Jury Prize, Documentary Feature), as well as director Nyala Moon for How Not to Date While Trans (Grand Jury Prize, New York Short). The announcement was made today at the festival’s award ceremony in Brooklyn by NewFest Executive Director David Hatkoff and Director Of Programming Nick McCarthy.
In addition to these juried awards, the festival presented several awards through its Black Filmmakers Initiative, which was launched in 2020 to address pipeline issues Black LGBTQ+ filmmakers face in getting their work made and seen. The Black Filmmakers Initiative is sponsored by Chevrolet and Blackstone. The inaugural Chevrolet Changemaker Award – given to a Black LGBTQ+ director that includes a $2,500 cash prize – was awarded to Director Michael Rice for his feature documentary Black As U R.
The Blackstone Emerging Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker Awards, chosen by a jury of Black LGBTQ+ film industry professionals, was awarded to three separate directors whose short films screened during this year’s flagship festival. The three filmmakers who received the Blackstone Emerging Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker Award, which is accompanied by a $1,500 cash prize, were director Michael Donte Jemison for The Spirit God Gave Us, Rashaad Newsome for Build or Destroy, and Olive Nwosu for Masquerade (EGUNGUN).
This year’s NYWIFT & NewFest Emerging Filmmaker Grant, which is presented each year to a female filmmaker and carries a $1,000 cash prize, went to director Karina Dandashi for her feature Dress Up.
As previously announced, Director Elegance Bratton was also presented with NewFest’s inaugural Breakthrough Queer Visionary Award prior to their screening of The Inspection on the evening of Thursday, October 20.
“Queer cinema is thriving, transcendent and stronger than ever, as the recipients of our juried awards demonstrate,” said NewFest Executive Director David Hatkoff and Director of Programming Nick McCarthy. “These varied films showcase our expansive community’s stories as well as the highest caliber of cinema. We’re particularly excited that select recipients come from genres too often under-celebrated for their craft such as comedy and horror. We are thankful to our esteemed juries and sponsors of these awards for their diligence and expert insights, and congratulate the award recipients and all of our filmmakers at NewFest34.”
The audience awards for the festival, which will include Best Documentary, Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Short and Best Narrative Short, will be announced after the festival closes on October 25th.
NewFest’s New York LGBTQ+ Film Festival runs in person from October 13 – 23 and will run virtually at home nationally through October 25, having premiered more than 130 new films and series, including 22 narrative features, 15 documentary features, 4 retrospective features, 8 episodic series, and 11 shorts program screenings. Screenings are accessible to ticket holders nationwide via NewFest’s on-demand platform, as well as locally in NY theaters.
The full winners and awards are as follows:
International Narrative Feature Jury Awards
The NewFest 2022 International Narrative Features jurors were journalist Monica Castillo, Columbia University professor Mayukh Sen, and Criterion guest curator/critic Caden Mark Gardner
Grand Jury Prize winner: THE BLUE CAFTAN, directed by Maryam Touzani
Jury statement: ““Maryam Touzani’s THE BLUE CAFTAN exudes the best qualities of classic and old-fashioned narrative storytelling with grace, restraint, and quiet confidence. This elegant queer film set in Morocco recalls some of the best of Merchant & Ivory in showcasing three wonderful, fully-realized performances from Saleh Bakri, Ayoub Missioui, and Lubna Azabal; characters who through each other’s love and warmth confront their fears and desires in a part of the world where many of those truths must remain largely unspoken and private. The International Narrative Features Jury is proud to announce THE BLUE CAFTAN as the Grand Jury Award winner.”
Special Mention: Rodrigo de Oliveira for writing/directing THE FIRST FALLEN
Jury Statement: A carefully wrought, clear-eyed reconstruction of the start of the AIDS epidemic in 1980s Brazil: In Rodrigo de Oliveira’s deft hands, what may seem like a bleak narrative becomes a tender, hopeful tribute to the many queer lives who fought to preserve the spirit of community in the face of devastation.”
U.S. Narrative Feature Jury Awards
The NewFest 2022 U.S. Narrative Features jurors were Sundance programmer Ash Hoyle, Vanity Fair journalist Chris Murphy, and FIAF’s Maureen Masters
Grand Jury Prize winner: SWALLOWED, directed by Carter Smith
Jury statement: “The Grand Jury Prize is going to a film that is completely arresting for its stark originality. It is such a rare and exquisite achievement for a film to be as singular, impressive, and unforgettable as this one. For its transgressive boldness, conceptual and tonal uniqueness, and complex, layered approach to queer storytelling, characters, and aesthetic, we award SWALLOWED the Grand Jury Prize.”
Special Mention: The ensemble cast of UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS
Jury statement: “The cast in the Jury Special Mention winner deliver performances that offer a great breadth of variety, explosive humor, and palpable chemistry. For their performances that constitute the human and emotional backbone of UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS, we award its cast the Jury Special Mention.”
Documentary Feature Jury Awards
The NewFest 2022 Documentary Features jurors were IDA’s Kristal Sotomayor, book editor and journalist Jackson Howard, and filmmaker/editor Niq Lewis
Grand Jury Prize winner: UÝRA – The Rising Forest, directed by Juliana Curi
Jury statement: “The jury selected UÝRA – The Rising Forest for its intricate weaving of environmental activism, indigeniety, performance art, queerness and Transnesss. The director’s meditative and experimental filmmaking honors the spirit of our luminous central character who, with reverence and playfulness, inspires us to cultivate optimism and perseverance for the future.”
Special Mention: BLACK AS U R, directed by Micheal Rice
Jury statement: “The jury selected BLACK AS U R for Special Mention because it underscores the urgency of amplifying Black queer stories.”
New York Short Jury Awards
The NewFest 2022 New York Shorts jurors were filmmaker Jane Schoenburn, PBS POV producer Robert Chang and artist/activist/talk show host Junior Mintt
Grand Jury Prize winner: HOW NOT TO DATE WHILE TRANS, directed by Nyala Moon
For pairing its compelling and honest narrative with its masterful blending of conventional and experimental forms to examine person navigating not only the expectations and prejudice of others, but also the effect it has on one’s own self image and value, we’re honored to award The Grand Jury Award to Nyala Moon’s How Not To Date While Trans.
Special Mention: MONSIEUR LE BUTCH, directed by Jude Dry
Jury statement: “For its playful and subtly daring experimentation with form, and for its empathetic exploration of the relationship between a mother and child trying to understand one another, we’re excited to award an Honorable Mention to Jude Dry’s MONSIEUR LE BUTCH.”
Chevrolet Changemaker Award For A Black LGBTQ+ Director
Presented as part of NewFest’s Black Filmmakers Initiative, sponsored by Chevrolet
BLACK AS U R, directed by Michael Rice
Blackstone Emerging Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker Awards
Presented as part of NewFest’s Black Filmmakers Initiative, sponsored by Blackstone
The NewFest 2022 Black Filmmakers Initiative jurors were Twiggy Pucci Garcon (filmmaker, artist, activist), Faridah Gbadamosi (Senior Programmer, Tribeca), DaShawn Usher, (Director, Communities of Color and Media, GLAAD)
Prize: $1,500 per film
THE SPIRIT GOD GAVE US, directed by Michael Donte Jemison
BUILD OR DESTROY, directed by Rashaad Newsome
MASQUERADE (EGUNGUN), directed by Olive Nwosu
NewFext x NYWIFT Emerging Filmmaker Award
Presented in partnership with New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) to recognize the work of an outstanding filmmaker at this year’s festival
Prize: $1,000 and 1-year membership to NYWIFT
DRESS UP, directed by Karina Dandashi
Breakthrough Queer Visionary Award
Awarded on October 20th
Writer/director Elegance Bratton (THE INSPECTION)