Feb. 26, 2016 Staff Report
The 6th Annual Queens World Film Festival (QWFF) that features films, shorts and narratives kicks off next month.
The popular film festival will take place from March 15 through March 20, with screenings taking place in Astoria, Sunnyside, Long Island City and Jackson Heights.
The festival will host screenings at the Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave.) in Astoria, the Secret Theater (44-02 23rd St.) in Long Island City, All Saints’ Episcopal Church (43-12 46th St.) in Sunnyside and P.S. 69 (77-02 37th Ave.) in Jackson Heights.
The festival will feature a wide variety of films from various countries and filmmakers.
“It will be six days, five screens, four venues, 143 films from 23 nations, 38 feature length films, 85 short films, narratives, LGBTQ, animation and family friendly films, 29 world premieres, 22 U.S. premieres, 29 filmmakers from Queens, 42 female directors, and 30 female producers,” Queens World Film Festival Artistic Director Don Cato said.
On why he believes it has such wide-reaching appeal, Cato explained, “This year’s films come from many of the countries whose diasporas are represented in Queens…There are tender films, heartbreaking films, and several works that are extremely provocative, even disturbing. Taken as a whole, I feel this year’s selection ties us into discussions people are having around the world.”
Executive Director Katha Cato went on to define the ethos that makes QWFF so compelling.
“From the beginning of time we have gathered in darkened caves around flickering lights to share our stories,” she said. “Today, we’ve upgraded the caves, the flickering lights are now zeroes and ones, but the impulse to gather, to tell our stories, remains.”
Each year, the festival seeks to bring in sponsors who wish to help these stories make it to the silver screen, such as long time supporting sponsor Investors Bank. Sr. Vice President and N.Y. Regional Manager Ana M. Oliveira said, “Our company and QWFF truly share the same core values and mission. Everyone at the Bank is impressed by Katha and Don Cato’s incredible energy and passion for the Festival, which has grown in size, scope and importance each year.”
The Museum of Moving Image (MoMi) has also served as one of the principal supporters for many years.
“The MoMi has served as the opening night venue for the Queens World Film Festival since its first year, but since then our partnership has expanded,” Carl Goodman, Executive Director of the museum, said. “This year we’re very proud to be hosting many screenings in the festival.”
In addition to films from all across the globe, some of the films which will be screening were either shot in Astoria, or feature actors or filmmakers who reside in the neighborhood.
Astoria filmmaker Edward Schmit will have his film “Swimlapse” screened at P.S. 69 on March 17 at 10 p.m. The short film focuses on a teenager who is working at his first summer job as a lifeguard. The teenager gets involved in an accident at work that rattles him.
The film is personally connected to Schmit’s life.
“I was a lifeguard growing up, and there’s so much pressure that’s put on these young men and women that some of us are too young to realize,” he said. “You have people’s lives in your hands, so when I wrote this film, I thought about the fears I had when I was a lifeguard at 16 years old.” Tickets are available at this link.
Another Astoria filmmaker, John Say, who has lived in Astoria since 2009, will have his film “Timshel” screened on Friday, March 18, at P.S. 69 at 10 p.m. The film focuses on a young man who wakes up from a long slumber of depression to discover that his best friend and girlfriend have been comforting one another during his seclusion.
Parts of the 22-minute short were filmed at 33rd Street near 23rd Avenue, as well as an alleyway near the Astoria-Ditmars N/Q station made famous by Al Pacino in the film “Serpico.” Tickets are available at this link.
“Living with the Dead”
Christine Vartoughian will have her film “Living with the Dead” screened on Saturday, March 19 at the Museum of Moving Image at 2:45 p.m. The film focuses on a girl who runs away from home after her boyfriend kills himself.
The feature was filmed close by the Astoria-Ditmars stop, at the Hellgate Social bar, and at her friends’ houses in the area. This is Christine’s second time having a film in the festival. Tickets are available at this link.
Independent film lovers, or those who wish to support local creatives and the programs offered by the Queens World Film Festival, can purchase an All Access pass to blocks of their choice at any venue through Brown Paper Tickets.
Note: The Queens World Film Festival is an advertiser of the Astoria Post.