‘Go Fish’ Restoration, Plus ‘My Own Private Idaho’ and ‘Set It Off’ Screenings Head for BAM and NewFest’s Queer Retrospective

NewFest and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) have announced the fourth annual lineup for their “Queering the Canon” retrospective film series, this year subtitled “Besties.”

This year’s lineup of films screening at BAM in downtown Brooklyn (April 11 – 15) includes a 4K restoration of Rose Troche’s lesbian classic “Go Fish,” the world premiere of the 4K restoration of Brian Sloan’s queer romantic comedy “I Think I Do,” 35mm screenings of Gus Van Sant’s “My Own Private Idaho” and F. Gary Gray’s “Set It Off.” The “Go Fish” screening will be accompanied by a Q&A with Rose Troche in person along with star Guinevere Turner.

The repertory series was created by NewFest, co-curated by NewFest’s Nick McCarthy (director of programming) and Kim Garcia (technical director and programmer), and is presented in partnership with BAM.

The event will also include a panel discussion, “Best of the Besties,” moderated by past IndieWire writer Jude Dry, with filmmakers, critics, and curators on April 11, 2024 at 12 p.m. ET, and available to view both for virtual passholders and on NewFest’s YouTube channel.

The synopses below come courtesy of NewFest. Head here for ticket info.

GO FISH (1994; 4K Restoration). Dir. Rose Troche. With Guinevere Turner, V.S. Brodie, T. Wendy McMillan, Anastasia Sharp, Migdalia Melendez. In-person on April 11, 8:00 p.m., followed by Q&A with the filmmakers

4K Restoration New York Premiere. The fête of lesbian friendship and community are at the center of director Rose Troche’s landmark debut feature, a clever and sexy matchmaking romance set in Chicago. As Max (co-writer Guinevere Turner) looks to end a 10-month sexless drought, her friends may have a freshly single someone in mind. With lyrical interludes and black-and-white independent panache, Troche carves an indelible film for the unabashed lesbian life of the 90s–and shows how enticing finger-clipping foreplay can be.

Go Fish has been digitally restored by the Academy Film Archive and the UCLA Film & Television Archive in conjunction with the Sundance Institute. Funding provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Amazon MGM Studios, Frameline, Sundance Institute, and the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO (1991). Dir. Gus Van Sant. With River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo, William Richert, Udo Kier, Grace Zabriskie, Flea. In-person on April 12, 7:00 p.m. and virtually online

Screening in 35mm. Academy Award nominee River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves star in Academy Award-nominated director Gus Van Sant’s stunning, sensitive tale of two young sex workers. Mike Waters (Phoenix) is a pensive narcoleptic who dreams of the mother who abandoned him, and Scott Favor (Reeves) is a wayward son of the mayor of Portland – and the object of Mike’s complex desire. Navigating a volatile world of clients and thieves, Mike takes Scott on a quest from the grungy streets to the open highways of the Pacific Northwest in search of an elusive place called “home.” Visually dazzling and thematically groundbreaking, My Own Private Idaho is a stirring look at unrequited love, life at society’s margins, and a merry band of outsiders.

SET IT OFF (1996). Dir. F. Gary Gray. With Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox, Kimberly Elise, John C. McGinley, Blair Underwood. In-person on April 13, 7:00 p.m. and virtually online

Screening in 35mm. Frustrated by a system stacked against them, four women join forces to pull off bank robberies. Featuring an all-star cast including Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox, Kimberly Elise, and Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah as an iconic no-holds-barred butch lesbian. Full of exhilarating action set pieces, robust ’90s soundtrack, and snappy dialogue, Set It Off is a powder-keg ode to reclamation and sisterhood.

SUMMER VACATION 1999 (1988). Dir. Shûsuke Kaneko. With Minami Takayama, Tomoko Ōtakara, Miyuki Nakano, Eri Fukatsu. In-person on April 14, 5:00 p.m., with introduction by film historian Jenni Olson

Rare 35mm screening. Four teen boys spend a heartfelt summer together at a remote boarding school in the middle of a forest in this beguiling neo-futuristic tale inspired by the popular manga “The Heart of Thomas.” After an ostensible suicide, a boy appears who looks exactly like the deceased student, igniting confused jealousy, twisted passions, and bubbling romances amongst the group. Director Shûsuke Kaneko boldly casts all teen girls to play the schoolboys, layering textures of genderqueer expression within lush, dreamy visuals. Screening in a rare 35mm print, Summer Vacation 1999 is an unmissable reflection of queer desire in a cauldron of mystery, teen angst, and unwavering friendship awaiting to resurface as a glorious art-house gem. Presented in partnership with Japan Society.

I THINK I DO (1997; 4K Restoration). Dir. Brian Sloan. With Alexis Arquette, Christian Maelen, Guillermo Diaz, Tuc Watkins. In-person on April 15, 7:00 p.m. and online; Q&A with filmmakers to follow

4K Restoration World Premiere. An outrageous contempo 90s screwball comedy with a queer twist from writer/director Brian Sloan. Two college roommates meet up five years after graduation at their housemates’ wedding, and the sparks start to fly as the ex-roommates try to navigate their new dynamic. Featuring Alexis Arquette, Guillermo Diaz, and Tuc Watkins, I Think I Do is primed to endear audiences all over again with its ebullient ensemble, vast array of potential couplings, and hilariously sly takes on friendship dynamics.

STUD LIFE (2012) Dir. Campbell X. With T’Nia Miller, Kyle Treslove. Exclusively virtual from April 11-15, includes a virtual Q&A with filmmakers

Campbell X’s London-set Stud Life is a sexy, young and cool look at a slice of British urban life and a postmodern queer She’s Gotta Have It for the YouTube generation. JJ (charismatic British star T’nia Miller) is a hot black British ‘Stud’ and together with her best friend Seb, a white gay pretty boy, they work as wedding photographers and run around the urban London LGBTQ+ scene. When JJ falls in love with a beautiful and mysterious woman, JJ and Seb’s friendship is tested. JJ is forced to choose between her hot new lover and her best friend. Stud Life is a provocative and edgy take on gender, sexuality and urban street life as it also portrays a wonderful tale of love and friendship.

GYPSY 83 (2001) Dir. Todd Stephens. With Sara Rue, Kett Turton, Karen Black, Anson Scoville. Exclusively virtual from April 11-15, includes a virtual Q&A with filmmakers

Two goth misfits living in Sandusky, Ohio – musician Gypsy Vale (Sara Rue) and her younger queer protege Clive Webb (Kett Turton) – decide to run away to New York City so Gypsy can participate in the ultimate Stevie Nicks cosplay event: Night of 1,000 Stevies. Along the way, they encounter other misfits that pave the way to their salvation including washed-up singer Bambi LeBleau (a scene-stealing Karen Black) and a confused Amish runaway in evergreen charmer from writer/director Todd Stephens (The Edge of Seventeen, Swan Song).

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