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The Tailor
The Tailor

New York State’s longest-running short film showcase will roll into two historic western Queens venues this week.

Asbury Shorts USA will hit the big screen at The Zukor Theatre in Kaufman Astoria Studios on Thursday, Oct. 19, and Friday, Oct. 20, starting at 7:30 p.m. Plus, both nights will end with an after-party in The Astor Room, an affiliated, adjacent restaurant at 35-11 35th Ave.

This 37th annual extravaganza combines internationally renowned favorites from the past with winners of current festivals this year. And attendees can expect everything from comedy to animation to narrative.

A longtime favorite, “Fair d’hiver,” will return. The seven-minute dark comedy, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2003, takes place in a traffic jam on a snowy winter evening in Belgium. The increasingly frustrated protagonist uses his brand-new cell phone to call home with news that he will be late. His young daughter answers the landline and tries to calm his anguish by informing him that her mother (his wife) is upstairs with Uncle Wim. Of course, there is no Uncle Wim in the family.

The Quality of Mercy,” which won Best Short at a Montreal World Film Festival, is also on the list. Directed by Stephen Marro, this 12-minute short stars Tony- and Emmy-winning actress Mary Louise Parker (Showtime’s “Weeds”) as a struggling actress who accidentally shares a café table with the head New York Times theater critic.

Dad in Mum,” a six-minute piece by French director Fabrice Baracq that won the Audience Choice Award at a recent Almería en Corto Festival in Spain, is also on the docket. In this comedy, two incredibly cute young sisters wake up in the middle of the night to strange sounds coming from their parents’ bedroom. They start asking each other questions, and their imaginations soar until they must investigate.

Youth will be served again with Tamar Halpern’s “Death, Taxes & Apple Juice,” which won the Audience Award at a recent Los Angeles Shorts Film Festival. A 9-year-old girl ponders the meaning of life as a similarly aged friend helps her file her taxes in this eight-minute piece.

The old Jewish joke about “Marcus Pincus the Tailor” will be retold in Neil LaBute’s “The Tailor,” which won Best Short in the 2011 Litchfield Hills Film Festival. Done in black-and-white and almost completely silent, two Hasidic boys suspect that the black suits they buy from their tailor, Marcus Pincus, are actually navy blue. They cook up a plan to compare the colors of their suits to those of two nuns’ habits. Later, suspense soars as the boys and nuns approach each other on a Brooklyn street.

Here are some more scheduled works.

  • “Wired,” nominee for Student Academy Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts;
  • “LOOT,” winner of Audience Award for Best Short Film, New York City Short Film Festival; and
  • “Lunch,” Asbury Shorts Hall of Fame Inductee and Sundance Film Festival Jury Finalist.

Asbury Shorts USA was founded in a church basement near Asbury Avenue in Long Island’s Westbury in 1980. At first, the programs consisted of college and indie works with occasional visits by local radio personalities and others in the entertainment industry. In 1987, the event moved to the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. From there, its popularity took off, and now it’s a traveling show that presents at venues such as The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Lake Shore Theatre in Chicago, Central Park’s SummerStage, The AERO Theatre in Santa Monica, Royal Festival Hall in London, and the Leminske Theater in Berlin.

The Zukor Theatre is part of Kaufman Astoria Studios. It is named after Adolph Zukor, who founded Paramount Pictures and used to work there in the 1920s. The Astor Room was the commissary to Zukor’s studio. The Marx Brothers, Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields, and other stars from the era worked at Kaufman Astoria Studios and hung out at The Astor Room. In fact, rumor has it that Valentino’s ghost still shows up for a drink every now and then.

Tickets cost $15. The films are recommended for audiences ages 16 and above.

Images: Asbury Shorts

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