‘Cowboys’ and ‘Welcome to the USA’ Take Home Top Prizes at NewFest LGBTQ Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

Jazz Tangcay
·3-min read

“Cowboys and “Welcome to the USA” were awarded the top prizes at the 32nd annual NewFest LGBTQ Film Festival.

Top honors went to writer and director Anna Kerrigan for “Cowboys,” who took home the Grand Jury Prize for narrative feature, while director Assel Aushakimova’s “Welcome to the USA” won the Grand Jury Prize for international feature.

Director Posy Dixon’s “Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story” took home the documentary feature prize, and “Queenie” director Cai Thomas won for New York short.

The announcement was made today at the festival’s virtual award ceremony by NewFest Executive Director David Hatkoff and Director Of Programming Nick McCarthy.

The jury members — Rhys Ernst (filmmaker, “Adam”), Dino-Ray Ramos (editor, Deadline), and Isabel Sandoval (filmmaker, “Lingua Franca” — who nominated “Cowboys” said, “Through its warmth, its nuanced approach to moral complexity, and its sensitive direction, this film gave us the feels. This film’s wonderful cast was directed with generosity and grace, and its characters defied stereotypes about both trans issues and small-town America.”

The NewFest 2020 Documentary Features jurors were Tre’vell Anderson (journalist); Whembley A. Sewell (Editor-In-Chief, them); Barbara Vasconez (Programs Manager, NYWIFT; Documentary Programmer, New York Latino Film Festival) said, “We don’t often get to hear the stories of our trans elders through their own words, and to know that we have a living elder whose creativity and gifts have been given the big-screen treatment is awe-inspiring. For uplifting an ongoing tale of Black queer and trans history, our Grand Jury Prize goes to Keyboard Fantasies.”

International Feature jurors Ed Gonzalez (Co-Founder & Film Editor, Slant Magazine); Jazz Tangcay (Variety) and Kathy Tu (The New York Times) said, “We would like to award the International Feature prize to ‘Welcome to the USA,’ directed by Assel Aushakimova. This was a film that we admired, that we felt was a film in the lineup that truly showed us something about gay lives in a corner of the world that we’ve never seen before in film. Adding to that, there is such a beauty to the way that Assel shot the movie, from beautiful intimate close-ups to long takes, following Alia who wins a green card to America.”

The Festival also introduced three new juried cash-prize awards as part of NewFest’s new Black Filmmakers Initiative, which was created in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and in recognition of the need to create opportunities for queer Black artists and amplify their voices. The Emerging Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker Award, decided upon by a jury of Black LGBTQ+ film industry professionals, was awarded to three separate directors whose short films screened during NewFest’s 32nd edition of The New York LGBTQ Film Festival.

The three filmmakers who received the Emerging Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker Award, which is accompanied by a $1,000 cash prize and Vimeo Pro Account, were writer/director/producer Blanche Akonchong for MERCURY AFROGRADE, co-writers/producers/directors Elegance Bratton & Jovan James for BUCK, and writer/director Terrance Daye for SHIP: A VISUAL POEM.

The Initiative’s Directorial Feature Debut Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker Award, announced earlier this week, awarded by NewFest programmers to a Black LGBTQ+ filmmaker whose directorial feature debut is being presented at NewFest’s 32nd edition of the festival, went to filmmaker Olivia Peace for TAHARA. The prize comes with a $2,000 cash prize and a Vimeo Pro Account.

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