Second annual Newark LGBTQ Film Festival April 26-28

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Scene from feature film
Scene from feature film "The Stroll"

Organizers for the second annual Newark LGBTQ Film Festival have announced the full line-up of events. The festival is the first of its kind in New Jersey to focus on BIPOC LGBTQ Filmmakers. The films, panels, and special events will occur April 26-28, 2024 at various venues throughout downtown Newark.

This year’s festival is a celebration of queer BIPOC films and filmmakers who are often overlooked in mainstream media.

“To know that folks in the LGBTQIA+ community and our allies will get to have this amazing experience right in our backyards means everything — being able to show the works of so many unseen BIPOC Queer Filmmakers and to do it in Newark a place with such rich Queer history is so fitting,” said Denise Hinds, the Festival Co-Chair.

“The stories, imagery, imagination and creativity moves my heart and inspires my work — I am sure that you will find something or someone to connect to and that you will be touched in some way by these films. Come out and see stories of struggle, renewal, love, freedom, and triumph…OUR stories on the big screen — you don’t want to miss it,” said Beatrice Simpkins, Executive Director, Newark LGBTQ Community Center.

Full Schedule:

Friday, April 26 – Newark Museum of Art

The festivities begin with an opening reception on Friday, April 26, 2024 from 5-7 pm at the historic Newark Museum of Art at 49 Washington Street. The reception is free with advance registration.

Immediately following, at 7:15 pm, the festival’s opening night feature, The Stroll (directed by Zackary Drucker and Kristen Lovell), is the history of New York’s Meatpacking District told from the point of view of transgender sex workers who lived and worked there. They recount the violence, policing, and gentrification that led to a movement for transgender rights.

The screening will conclude with a panel discussion featuring director Kristen Lovell and moderated by Jack Mizrahi, Executive Producer of The Ball, a new film that takes an in depth look at Ballroom culture. Mizrahi is known for their work on the TV show Pose and as co- executive producer of Legendary on HBO.

Saturday, April 27 – Express Newark

The festival moves to Express Newark at 54 Halsey Street (2nd Floor) for a full day of programming on April 27, 2024. Beginning at noon there is a free filmmaker meet and greet luncheon where you can join some of the filmmakers from the festival for a free lunch and engaging conversation. The event and lunch is free with RSVP online registration.

Scene from feature film "The Stroll"
Scene from feature film “The Stroll”

At 1 pm there is a set of local short films by Newark and New York City filmmakers. Then at 2:45 pm, Barrio Boy, the story of a Latine barber in a macho world who faces a tough road ahead when feelings develop for a handsome stranger during a hot and sweaty summer in Brooklyn (written and directed by Dennis Shinners).

Later at 5 pm there is a free reception and performance from the New Jersey Symphony Chamber Players. The performance will be introduced with a clip from the film Opulent — a unique opera film collaboration between legendary drag superstar Monet X Change and the New Jersey Symphony.

Then at 6 pm there will be a presentation of Dreams Resurrected: The Other Lives of Sakia Gunn. This filmmaking opportunity was a partnership between the Newark LGBTQ Film Festival and Express Newark’s Community Media Center and will feature the premier screening of two short films inspired by the life and legacy of Sakia Gunn. The filmmakers, Moreena H. Hashim and Laissa Christelle Alexis, were awarded a grant supported by Paramount Global’s Content for Change (CFC) initiative, which seeks to harness the power of content to combat bias and harmful stereotypes, transforming how the world sees people. The screenings will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers.

The festival continues at 7 pm with a screening of the feature length film Beyond the Aggressives: 25 Years Later. In 2005, the groundbreaking film The Aggressives showcased the remarkable stories of Chin, Octavio, Trevon, and Kisha. Now nearly 20 years later, the same four protagonists reunite to reflect on their past and envision new futures. The film will be followed by a conversation with director Daniel Peddle.

The final screening for the night, at 9:10 pm, is the shorts program, Date Night, which serves up an assortment of loves found and loves lost…and all the points in between.

Sunday, April 28 – Rutgers Paul Robeson Center

The festival’s final day of programming takes place at Rutgers Paul Robeson Center, located at 350 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in Newark. Starting at noon the festival will screen the feature film Egghead & Twinkie, an LGBTQ teen coming of age story where, after coming out to her parents, a teenage girl takes off on a road trip to meet her online crush with the help of her nerdy best friend. Local high school GSAs and college students have been invited to this Teen/Young Adult film which is free to students.

At 12:15 pm, in a second theater, Be-Longings is a series of short films focused on the queer immigrant experience, followed at 2 pm with a range of short films that explore identity, self, and the ways in which queer people present themselves to each other and to the world called Being and Becoming.

At 2:15 pm, there is a filmmaker workshop a free event for those looking to learn more about how to tell your own stories and becoming a filmmaker yourself.

The festival concludes at 3:45 pm with Our Son, a heartfelt narrative of a gay couple embarking on the challenging journey of divorce, entangled in a poignant custody battle. The film stars Billy Porter and Luke Evans and is directed by Bill Oliver.

For more information and tickets, visit the Newark LGBTQ Film Festival website. Tickets, passes, and event registration are available via Eventbrite. Admission is free with advance registration to the opening night reception (4/26), the filmmaker luncheon (4/27), the New Jersey Symphony Chamber Players reception and performance (4/27), the Dreams Resurrected: The Other Lives of Sakia Gunn film premieres (4/27), and the Sunday afternoon filmmaker workshop (4/28). Tickets to the opening night screening are $15 general/$10 students and seniors; tickets to all other screenings are $10 general/$7 students and seniors.

All-Access Festival Passes, covering admission to all screenings and events for the entire festival, are available for $50.

The Newark LGBTQ Film Festival is presented by the Newark LGBTQ Community Center and is supported by community partners and major sponsors that include LGBTQ Advisory Council of NJPAC Community Engagement, Express Newark’s Community Media Center, Paramount’s Content For Change (CFC) Initiative, The Newark Museum of Art, North Jersey Community Research Initiative-NJCRI, Rutgers University-Newark, RWJ Barnabas/Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Hyacinth, Newark Pride, Gilead, and Audible.