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Newark LGBTQ Film Festival Schedule 

April 14-16, 2023


Opening Reception - 5:30-7:00 pm - Newark Museum of Art

We're kicking off our weekend-long event at the historic Newark Museum of Art! This opening reception is a free event for the community, but you must register to attend. Hosted by the inimitable Harmonica Sunbeam, enjoy a refreshing libation and yummy bites while DJ No Request spins the beats.


Opening Night Film - 7:15 pm - Newark Museum of Art

The Inspection + panel discussion

Inspired by the director’s own experiences, a young, gay Black man, rejected by his mother and with few options for his future, decides to join the Marines. But even as he battles deep-seated prejudice and the grueling routines of basic training, he finds unexpected camaraderie, strength, and support in this new community, giving him a hard-earned sense of belonging that will shape his identity and forever change his life. Directed by Elegance Britton, USA, 135 minutes. Stars Jeremy Pope, Rauìl Castillo and Aaron Dominguez, along with Bokeem Woodbine and Gabrielle Union.


The screening will conclude with a special panel discussion featuring local LGBTQ Veterans touching upon their experiences in the military.


preceded by

Pink & Blue

After a surprise first-time pregnancy, a Trans couple of color wrestles with how the new baby will affect their relationship and how to raise a child in a binary world. Directed by Carmen LoBue, USA, 13 minutes. Stars Kaydx and Jojo Brown.Writer: Kaydx. Producers: Silas Howard, Jonathan Starch, Leslye Headland, Rebecca Henderson and Vanessa Haroutunian




Sakia Gunn: 20 Years - 12:00pm - Essex County College/theater #1

Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project + panel discussion

Twenty years ago, Sakia Gunn, a 15-year-old student was fatally stabbed in a gay hate crime as she waited with her friends at a Newark bus stop. Two men targeted the group, flirting and then propositioning them. The girls rebuffed the sexual advances of the much older assailants. Words were exchanged, a fight ensued, and Sakia was stabbed.


Produced in 2008, Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project depicts the homophobia that led to this murder of a Black, gay teenager, and questions the lack of media coverage it received in the same year that Matthew Shepard garnered national attention. The documentary also follows the reaction within Newark, where several rallies and vigils were held, galvanizing the community and prompting several LGBTQ organizations to form, along with the creation of a memorial scholarship fund in Sakia's name, and the declaration by Newark's Mayor that May 11, the date of Sakia's murder, be deemed "No Name Calling Day."


Unfolding with the testimonies of Sakia's family and friends during the sentencing of the murderer, interviews of Sakia's best friend, Valencia, and exclusive footage of her vigil, Dreams Deferred pays homage to Sakia, and exposes the sensitive issues not often addressed regarding gender identity, homophobia and racism.

Directed by Charles B. Brack, United States, 2008, 58 minutes.


Following the screening, filmmaker Charles Brack, along with members of Sakia’s family and the Newark community, will discuss the ongoing impact of Sakia’s murder and, from the vantage of 20 years later, where we stand today.



Feature Film - 1:30p - Essex County College/theater #2

Black As U R

History has often shown us that Black LGBTQ+ folks are often the cultural and civil leaders for Black liberation in the United States. And yet, through all the progress that has been made, violence against Black queer and trans folks continues to be a painful reminder that Black LGBTQ+ people are still striving to be understood and valued by other members of the Black community.  Directed by Michael Rice, USA, 88 minutes. Producers: Ed Radford and Jerry Oxford



Feature Film - 2:00pm - Essex County College/theater #1

Rule of 3rds

An insensitive, non-committal street photographer, Micki, accidently reconnects with her over-achieving, uptight former lover, Stephanie, when she hails a ride share to pick her up. Though currently dating someone she left Stephanie for two years prior, Micki impulsively invites her ex to tag along for her afternoon photo shoot. Directed by Sabbuur (Saki Bomb) Ikhlas, United States, 71 minutes. Stars Nikki Hewitt, Rachel Thundat and Lea Roequemore. Writer: Sabbuur (Saki Bomb) Ikhlas Producer: Steven Davis


preceded by

Jillian’s Peak

An African American woman who is afraid of marrying a man, deep down Jillian knows that she is a lesbian. For years she has been struggling with the truth that she is gay. Loosely based on the project’s co-creator Charzette Torrence, who recently passed.

Directed by Frank Blenman, United States, 12 minutes. Stars Ariel Paige, Holmes Lindsay IV, Hector Hicks, Thursday Farrar, Nora Smith, Deon Releford-Lee, Kenya Rachelle, Trell Marciano, Stefanie Colon, Hassan N. Farrow and Michael Sanders.


Workshop - 3:45-5:00 - Essex County College/theater #2

Panel: Breaking into Filmmaking


Shorts Program - 6:00pm - NJ PAC Black Box

Date Night (shorts program)

An assortment of loves found and loves lost…and all the points in between.


Lovie Dovie

Marine life enthusiast Dovie St. James must come to terms with her sexuality when she is unexpectedly charmed by the new girl in her class. Directed/animated by Francesca Brescia, United States, 4 minutes.


To All That We Are

Two non-binary young adults embark on a dream-like journey of self-discovery and acceptance as they navigate the complexities of love and identity. Directed by Kristian Cahatol, United States, 5 minutes. Stars Talia Wedin and Kristian Cahatol. Writer: Kristian Cahatol Producer: Mackenzie Leigh and Ryan Ward



Struggling to get over her ex-girlfriend, Gabriela impulsively decides to drop into an old job, where she unexpectedly runs into a friend from her past. Directed by April Maxey, United States, 8 minutes. Stars Marisela Zumbado, Elaine Whae, Jay Dathorne, Darlisa Ali, Scott Bender, Kenzo Lee and Unique Jenkins. Writer: April Maxey Producer: Skylar Andrews


Door Three

Throughout Dae's tumultuous relationship, their friends must figure out how to navigate getting them help without losing their friend in the process. Directed by Hypatia Sorunke and Cortiana Barnes, United States, 10 minutes. Stars Christina Blake, Faith Anderson, Jantel Hope and Anitika Knight. Writer: Hypatia Sorunke Producers: Sanetra Longno, Brian Khan



Two queer Black women on the heels of a break-up find themselves in a game of “Escape the Room,” forced to relive key moments from their relationship if they ever want to leave their once-shared apartment.   Directed by Molly Rose Heller, United States, 13 minutes. Stars Lindsley Howard and Mariah Naomi Sanchez. Writer: Taylor Steele Producers: Isabelle Lopez



When an illicit pic outs the daughter of two conservative Black/Afro-Panamanians, they must finally confront the elephant in the room. Directed by Cami Cruz Thomas, United States, 10 minutes. Stars Florinda Bryant, Hanna de Oliveira, Jose Febus and Bryan Edison. Writer: Darrel Alejandro Holnes Producers: Amelia Acosta Powell, Jacqueline Flores and Darrel Alejandro Holnes


The Birth of a Beautiful Butch

On the day of her school pictures, Alex, a gay high school senior, feels caught between who she is and what she's supposed to be. Directed by Gia-Rayne Harris, United States, 3 minutes. Stars Elena Heuzé. Writer: Andi Obarski Producer: Joss Utting


A Tomboi Love Story

Lost in regret when she lets a fleeting opportunity for love walk away, Quincy prepares herself for the moment she will surely see Jade again. Directed by Toni Branson, United States, 5 minutes. Stars Alexis “Soft” Rondon and Yenni Cerda. Writers: Tiffany Armour-Tejada and Toni Branson Producers: Toni Branson and Tiffany Armour-Tejada



Feature Film - 8:00pm - NJ PAC Black Box

Nana’s Boys

With subtle, vulnerable performances, Nana’s Boys focuses on the intimate life of a couple who are confronted with the fact that their relationship is not as solid as they thought. Directed by Ashton Pina, United States, 78 minutes. Stars David J. Cork and Jared Wayne Gladly. Producers: David J. Cork and Ashton Pina


preceded by

unapologetic me: BLACK | GAY | MAN

A screen-dance that tells a story about the intersectionality of being a Black gay man.  Directed by Justin Dominic, United States, 12 minutes. Writer: Justin Dominic Producers: Justin Dominic, Daniel Calderon and Micaiah Carter





Feature Film - 12:00pm - Rutgers Paul Robeson Center / theater #1

Jewelle: A Just Vision
From Black Power in late-60s Boston, to AIDS activism in mid-80s New York, to marriage equality in early-10s San Francisco, focuses a joyful and hope-filled spotlight on novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and journalist Jewelle Gomez.
 Directed by Madeleine Lim, United States, 64 minutes. Producers: Madeleine Lim and Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project


preceded by

Queer Health: Advancing LGBTQ+ Health Equity

Explores how we can move toward health equity for LGBTQ+ people and populations through research, education, and community-engaged programs such as the one at CHIBPS, a nationally recognized center for the study of LGBTQ+ health at Rutgers.



Shorts Program - 12:15pm - Rutgers Paul Robeson Center / theater #2

Safe Space (shorts program)

In the midst of a renewed assault on the rights of LGBTQ+ BIPOC people, a visit to the past…and a celebration of the spaces where we’ve come together as a community.



Inspired by the real-world Lavender Scare of the late 1950, the tale of Willi, a young queer man whose world is shattered by the mysterious disappearance of his love, Hector. Directed by Jorge Garcia, United States, 14 minutes. Stars Minh Nguyen, Scot Scurlock, Connor Neun and Jana Henry. Writers: Jorge Garcia, Jesse Li White and Haley Mueller. Producer: Logan Sork


Oral History

The true love story behind New Orleans' last remaining gay leather bar.  Directed by Vaughn Trudeau, United States, 15 minutes. Producers: Darcy McKinnon and Jane Geisler



Formed in 1981 with a radical vision to welcome all players regardless of prior experience, the Prospect Park Women’s Softball League remains a place where women meet across differences of race, economic class, sexual orientation, education, religion, and gender identity to play softball.  Directed by Melanie Hope, United States, 21 minutes. Features Yolanda L. Jackson and Donna Lopiano. Writer/Producer: Melanie Hope


No Siren Left Behind

This chronicle of the pioneering Sirens motorcycle club, its place within New York City’s queer culture, and the impact it has had on the lives of its members--now intergenerational and inclusive of trans women--is told largely in the members’ own voices, reflecting the power of sisterhood within a chosen family.   Directed by Shirin Barghi and Martine Granby, United States, 25 minutes. Features Cheryl Stewart, Jen Baquial, KT Ballantine, Andrea Sears and Kim Wetzel.



Shorts Program - 1:45pm - Rutgers Paul Robeson Center / theater #1

All In Family (shorts program)

A range of works explores the trials and tribulations of family life in the LGBTQ-world.


The Butch and the Baby Daddy

Alex has wanted to have a baby almost as long as she can remember. But how is a trans/butch lesbian supposed to get sperm? When she considers asking Mateo, a close gay friend of hers, Alex is forced to investigate what she really values. Directed/animated by Karleen Pendleton Jiménez and Barb Taylor, Canada, 6 minutes. Stars Alexandra Castillo and Jose Arias. Writer: Karleen Pendleton Jiménez  Producer: Madi Piller


How To Raise A Black Boy

In this experimental fairytale, four boys disappear one night, as many black boys do, and find themselves on a fantastical journey to break the curses of black boyhood.  Directed by Justice Jamal Jones, United States, 12 minutes. Stars Rayceen Pendarvis. Writer: Justice Jamal Jones. Producers: Justine Sweetman and Zen Pace



Hardworking moms, Teeni and Cherice don’t ask for much. Like everyone else, they are on the grind, just trying to make a better life for themselves and their cranky, constipated--and apparently magical--toddler.

Directed by Huriyyah Muhammad, United States, 15 minutes. Stars Rene Henry, Mia Gulshan, Adriane Lenox and Leslie Uggams. Writer: Huriyyah Muhammad Producers: Okema Moore, Snyder Derival and Huriyyah Muhammad



An 11 year-old kid growing up in "the hood" secretly dreams of trick-or-treating as Wonder Woman for Halloween. Directed by Javier Molina, United States, 16 minutes. Stars Benji Seigel, Nico Bustamante, Gabriel Furman, Farrah Faucette, Aiveri Wells and Delissa Reynolds.  Writer: Gabriel Furman. Producers: Gabriel Furman, Javier Molina, Paolo Monico and Eva Minemar


TRANSworld Atlanta

Visits the relationships of four Transmen and their inner truths--husbands, activists, career-driven providers--a world where men give birth to babies and love conquers all. Directed by Raquel M R Thomas, United States, 47 minutes. Featuring Malik Brown, Rahkel Henry, Nick Devereux, Shon Jackson, Denise Jackson, Ja'Mel Ware, Alphonso Mills and Tangela Washington. Writer: Raquel M R Thomas Producers: Raquel M R Thomas and Malik Brown


Workshop 2:15-3:45pm Rutgers Paul Robeson Center / theater #2

BIPOC/LGBTQ Casting Workshop For Actors


Closing Film - 4:15pm - Rutgers Paul Robeson Center / theater #1

Mama Gloria

Meet Mama Gloria! Chicago's Black transgender icon, Gloria Allen, blazed a trail for trans people like few others before her. Emerging from Chicago's drag-ball culture in the 1960s, Gloria overcame traumatic violence to become a proud leader in her community. Not only a portrait of a groundbreaking legend who aged with joy and grace, but also a celebration of unconditional love--the love Gloria received from her own mother and the love that she gave to her chosen children, the young, homeless, transgender people around her. Directed by Luchina Fisher, United States, 76 minutes. Writer: Luchina Fisher Producers: Yvonne Welbon and Zainab Ali


Director Luchina Fisher, who was driven by the love she has for her own teenage transgender daughter, Gia, in creating this exhilarating documentary, will be on hand for a post-screening discussion.


preceded by

How Not To Date While Trans

This break-the-fourth-wall, dark comedy follows the dating life of a black trans woman and the problematic men she meets along the way. Directed by and stars Nyala Moon, United States, 12 minutes.

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