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Queens World Film Festival kicks off with Astoria event

Neha Gautam and Kath Cato (Source: Rodrigo Salazar Photography)

Neha Gautam and Kath Cato (Source: Rodrigo Salazar Photography)

Jan. 31, 2015 Staff Report

The organizers of the 5th annual Queens World Film Festival (QWFF) held their kick-off event on January 18 to provide an overview of some of the films that will be screened this year and to bring many of the actors and film makers together.

The festival will be held from March 17-20 and will feature 116 films that were selected from more than 400 submissions.

The films will be screened at three venues: The Museum of Moving Image in Astoria; The Secret Theatre in Long Island City; and PS 69 in Jackson Heights.

Katha Cato, the executive director of the QWFF who spoke at the event, credited the strength of the festival to the people who come out every year to support it.

“What we’ve done for the last four years is really make sure that we have built up a community around the festival,” Cato said.

Among the attendees at the event, which was held at Monika’s Café–located within the Kaufman Arts District, were some Queens filmmakers whose work was selected for this year’s festival.

Laura Aguinaga, who hails from Woodside, is directing the film “Short Steps,” which is about a man who struggles to move on with life after his marriage collapses.

The cast of Short Steps primarily consists of US-born Hispanic actors.

“We wanted … to show that we can tell [mainstream] stories that are not strictly for Latinos,” Aguinaga said.

The executive producer of Short Steps is Richard Calvache, an Astoria resident. He said that the film is essentially a different take on the classic“boy meets girl” story.

Meanwhile, a Jackson Heights filmmaker is directing the film “Chosen Family,” which deals with the topic of discrimination against LGBT people of color. Indian-born Neha Gautam said her film is about the creation of a safe space that five LGBT women of color created to protect themselves.

Another filmmaker of Queens pedigree who was at the kick-off event was Craig Calamis whose film “The Drifter” will be screened during the festival. He said his film is a thriller based around a troubled character who is on a downward spiral.

For the full list of films that will be screened at the 2015 Queens World Film Festival, click here.

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