The Newark LGBTQ film festival brought inspiring stories to the community

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The Newark LGBTQ Film Festival 2024
The Newark LGBTQ Film Festival 2024

The Newark LGBTQ film festival returned for its second year. After a successful debut in 2023, it is no surprise they came back to put on another full weekend of BIPOC LGBTQ movies for the New Jersey community. The opening night reception took place at the Newark Museum of Art with a DJ spinning some great beats and delicious food. The pre-party helped usher in the start of several days of movies, discussions and special events.

The opening night film, The Stroll, was a great pick.With such a rise in people enjoying documentary content lately, this one proved to be a great crowd-pleaser. The Stroll takes a look at transgender sex workers in New York City years ago. It dives into the oppression they faced and everything they had to rise above.

The venue was in a new location for this year and proved to be a good choice. The afternoon film was a drama called Barrio Boy. The film tells the story of a barber one summer in Brooklyn coming to terms with his sexuality in a hyper-masculine environment. The film ended up being one that had a reminiscent feel of other movies in this genre, such as Brokeback Mountain. A panel discussion followed with the director, casting director, and one of the actors. It was an impactful discussion after a stellar film. 

On Saturday the festival partnered with Express Newark to give two aspiring filmmakers a $5,000 grant to create a short film about the life and legacy of Sakia Gunn. Gunn was a young woman murdered years ago in downtown Newark in an act of anti-LGBTQ hatred. Her story is one of the reasons mentioned by organizers that helped lead to the creation of the film festival.

Filmmakers were asked to send in a treatment about what film they would make if they got the grant. The first short Suppressed was a narrative drama showing that in tense situations, we have the power to not use violence to make things worse. The second short, To Build A Monument, was a touching documentary that explores the mystery and unexpected beauty around death.

The final day of the festival on Sunday did not slow down with its movies. The afternoon feature, Egghead & Twinkie, proved to have a way more lighthearted feel than any of the previous show favorites. This fun road trip coming-of-age story brought many smiles and laughs to audience members throughout the room. To close out the festival, the impactful drama Our Son was shown. Although a bit heavy, audience members were intrigued and amazed by this gripping story.

The Newark LGBTQ film festival proved that only in its second year, it is on the way to being a top film fest destination. Planning for next year is already underway. With so much heart poured into the films and such a well-organized event, it was a great weekend of fabulous BIPOC LGBTQ movies.