April 5, 2021 By Christina Santucci
A documentary series highlighting nonprofits in the borough – and how they have fared during the pandemic – debuted last week.
The series, which was created by the Astoria Film Festival, showcases seven organizations and is being screened on Queens Public Television (QPTV), as well as on YouTube and via social media, this month.
Each episode features two nonprofit groups, with representatives from each organization interviewed. The representatives are asked about the history of their respective group and how they managed during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are also asked about their plans for the future.
The nonprofits that are featured are largely based in western Queens and include the Kaufman Arts District; the Queens Economic Development Council, Entrepreneur Space, the Queensboro Dance Festival, The Chocolate Factory Theater, the Astoria Park Alliance and Socrates Sculpture Park.
Each episode is 30-minutes. The documentary on the Kaufman Arts District is separate and features a segment that delves into Astoria’s cinematic history.
The idea for the Queens Nonprofits project began in July, when two student filmmakers in the Astoria Film Festival’s fellowship program – Kelly Villares and Joseph Rana – were brainstorming with the organization’s executive director, Nina Fiore.
They decided they wanted to help the local community – and sought to create a documentary about the pandemic. They came up with the idea of highlighting the plight of local nonprofits, with the knowledge that many have struggled since they have been unable to have gatherings.
Villares worked as the series’ director of photography, and Fiore served as the executive producer of the show. Three additional fellows – Jonathan Maestre, Jeronique Campbell and Andy Moreta – assisted with editing.
Fiore also said the project received promotional funding from NYC & Company Foundation and the Queens Borough President’s Office.
The series aims to show how nonprofits are “surviving and thriving,” according to its creators.
“Not only have they survived through the lockdowns and pandemic, but they have also become more attuned to what the community needs,” Fiore said.
Audrey Dimola, director of Public Programs at Socrates, was one of the representatives interviewed for the show. “Everything was against all odds,” she said during one episode. “We never closed during this pandemic … and it was such an experience of deep grace of just receiving the community.”
Fiore, whose background is in TV and digital media production, founded the Astoria Film Festival in 2018. The aim of her organization—via the festival and the fellowship program- is to connect students interested in film with professionals in the industry.
The organization produces a festival each year that features movies, web series and podcasts from around the world. Last year’s festival included 90 projects.
The Astoria Film Festival also curates yearly Youth Film Festivals and Halloween Horror Film Festivals. It also runs filmmaking workshops for youngsters ages eight to 18.
“We are very much a hybrid organization, as committed to education and community as we are to independent filmmaking,” the organization’s homepage states.
The Queens Nonprofit episodes were created under the umbrella of the Astoria Film Festival’s weekly QPTV show, Astoria Film Festival Presents. The weekly half hour show has been running since January and highlights the festival’s films, filmmaker interviews, panels, events, and community leaders.
Astoria Film Festival Presents airs on QPTV on Fridays at 12:30 p.m. on Spectrum CH 34 and on Sundays at 7 p.m. on Verizon CH 1997. All episodes are also available on the Astoria Film Festival YouTube Channel.
The Queens Nonprofit episodes are airing on QPTV throughout April and are available on The Astoria Film Festival YouTube Channel.