A group of Queens-based filmmakers will hold a festival in Sunnyside to showcase the work of fellow artists.
The Boulevard Film Festival will take place from July 15 through July 17 at three different venues in Sunnyside including the Thalia Spanish Theatre, Bar 43 and The DOG and DUCK. This year’s festival will showcase short films from a wide array of genres including science-fiction and animation.
The filmmakers’ selection also reflects the diversity of the borough – artists from China, Bangladesh and other countries who now call Queens home are represented at the festival.
Co-founders Amanda Barker and Matthew Carlson, who are both artists and filmmakers, started planning the festival last year. According to Barker, the closing of Sunnyside Center Cinemas in 2014 spurred them to create an alternative space for the Sunnyside community to watch films.
They also partnered with local businesses to screen the films in hopes of boosting foot traffic to these spaces.
“We’ve seen a lot of small businesses [in the community] closing,” Barker said. “We really care about the Small Business Survival Act and we wanted to see if we could [incorporate] small businesses as well as local venues to bring a little more business.”
Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, Sunnyside Artists and the Thalia Spanish Theatre were also crucial in helping to plan the event, Barker said.
Bar 43 and The DOG and DUCK will also offer food and drinks for festivalgoers.
The 23 films were chosen based on technical skill level, length and how they conceptually fit into each screening.
Sunnyside filmmakers such as Bruce Smolanoff and Emilie McDonald are featured as well as filmmakers from other neighborhoods like Astoria. Barker said the collection of films on opening night are “bold and brave” and the co-founders, along with four staff members, wanted to ensure that they exhibit a diverse genre of films.
“Remnants of Man” by filmmaker Rezwan Shahriar Sumit follows a Bangladeshi immigrant who works for a Jackson Heights-based newspaper when he discovers video footage that can incriminate a war criminal in his home country.
The story was inspired by a February 2013 protest of Bangladeshi youth who wanted justice for citizens who experienced torture and murder from the Pakistani military in 1971.
Another film, “Love Express,” is directed in Chinese by Patrick Chen and follows a 7 train passenger who continuously runs into the same woman on the train. They strike up a conversation and form a friendship.
“I want everyone to know that we want this to be a celebration for the community, for the filmmaker – we want this to be a really positive thing,” Baker said. I do also want to say that there were some really great films that didn’t make it in. It’s just that this is the first year and we’re so small.”
Baker said the founders hope to make this an annual event and encourage filmmakers to keep making films and to submit them.
Tickets go on sale this weekend and will be $22 for each night or $65 for all four screenings. On July 15, screenings begin at the Thalia Spanish Theater at 6:30 p.m.
On July 16, screenings will take place at the Thalia Spanish Theater at 1 p.m. and at Bar 43 at 5 p.m.
The DOG and DUCK will host a midnight screening on July 17.
For a full list of short films, visit the festival’s website.