Hundreds of Queer Films

NewFest opens June 1 with “Strangers With Candy”

NewFest 2006, the 18th New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Film Festival, boasts 230 entries from 29 countries—45 features, 40 documentaries, 145 shorts, 36 New York premieres, 10 U.S. premieres, and 25 world premieres. Opening night film will be the New York premiere of Paul Dinello’s “Strangers With Candy,” starring Amy Sedaris and Stephen Colbert.

Feature documentaries of note include “Eye on the Guy: Alan B Stone and The Age of Beefcake,” “Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema,” “Jack Mitchell: My Life is Black & White,” “Kiki and Herb Reloaded,” and “Boy I Am.” While female-to-male transgender visibility has recently exploded in this country, conversations about trans issues in the lesbian community often run into resistance from queer women who view transitioning as an anti-feminist act that taps into male privilege. This film directed by Samantha Feder and Julie Hollar begins to break down that barrier and promoting dialogue through a look at the experiences of three young transitioning FTMs in New York City as they go through major milestones in their transitions—as well as through the voices of lesbians, activists, and theorists who raise and address the questions that many people have but few openly discuss. June 10 at 3:45 p.m.

Among the narrative films, the most peculiar and fascinating selection is Julian P. Hobbs’ “Memoirs of My Nervous Illness,” a portrait of one of the most famed mental patients in history (June 3 at 5:45 p.m.) Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays plays Daniel Paul Schreber, a distinguished German judge who wrote the journal on which the film is based while he was incarcerated in an asylum under the watch of Dr. Emil Flechsig, played by Bob Cucuzza. Schreber’s insanity was characterized by a belief that he directly communicated with God through a secret “nerve language,” and a desire to transform himself into a woman. The film depicts the eccentric man’s descent into his alternate reality; meanwhile Flechsig struggles to maintain control of his patient, finding himself both attracted and repelled by Schreber’s femininity.

Schreber’s detailed journal, printed in 1903, was the source of Sigmund Freud’s theory of paranoia and homosexuality, Jacques Lacan’s theory of psychosis, and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guatarri’s concept of liberated desire.

Fifteen shorts programs and panel discussions called filmmakers forums are also part of the ten-day festival.

A special filmmaker panel presented by NewFest and indieWIRE will take place at the Apple Store Soho, June 8, from 7:30-9 p.m. The panel will include Sedaris and Dinello in a discussion about their film, moderated by director of NewFest, Basil Tsiokos.

Closing night film will be the New York premiere of Ramon Salazar’s “20 Centimeters.”

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