The Reel Queens: Long-running shorts series makes first visit to Queens

The Reel Queens: Long-running shorts series makes first visit to Queens
By Nathan Duke

The city’s longest-running short film exhibition will make a stop in Queens next month as it celebrates its 30th anniversary with a screening of 11 award-winning movies in Flushing.

Asbury Shorts, which was founded in 1980 on Asbury Avenue in Westbury, L.I., will show 11 short films from around the world as well as live music at Flushing’s Center Stage Oct. 9.

Doug LeClaire, director of Asbury Shorts, said the event would be the series’ first of its kind in the borough.

“Asbury Shorts is New York City’s longest-running short film exhibition,” said LeClaire. “This is our 30th anniversary year. And in all our years, we can’t remember ever doing a show in Queens before.”

LeClaire said the exhibition was not a festival, but rather a “short film concert.”

“The films we are going to show are award-winning films from the past and present — old hits and new honorees,” he said. “These are international films, Oscar nominees and Sundance winners. But it’s done as entertainment, not a competition. It’s a fun event where viewers can see action, drama, comedy and animated shorts.”

Each film ranges from four to 17 minutes and hail from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Belgium.

This year’s titles include “Yours Truly,” an animated short film from London that was directed by Osbert Parker, and “The Bloody Olive,” a 1996 comedy crime short by Belgian director Vincent Bal.

Also screening will be “Pretty Big Dig,” a Canadian film; “Super Powers,” a six-minute comedy by director Jeremy Kipp Walker; the British short “Gone Fishing”; and “Backwards,” a love story by director Aaron Hughes that is told completely in reverse, including the dialogue.

LeClaire said he picked the films from the lineups of other festivals. He based some of the choices on whether the films won awards or were popular at the festivals.

“A lot of them have played in our show before and we’ve brought them back to celebrate the anniversary of the show,” he said. “We look at other film festivals and pick some of their winners. We specifically look for films that win awards for being audience favorites. Some filmmakers seek us out, so they can put their films in our show. These are some of the elite short films of the world.”

While Asbury Shorts was created on Long Island in 1980, the show has been based out of Manhattan since 1987. The group has toured 11 cities in the United States as well as parts of Europe during the past 10 years.

The exhibition has an annual show in Manhattan. This year’s performance will take place Nov. 12 at the New York Institute of Technology’s auditorium at 1855 Broadway.

“It’s fast-paced and very funny,” LeClaire said of the show. “It’s more of an off-Broadway type of show than a normal type of film festival …. We want the general public to come, not necessarily the film festival crowd. We want people who do not usually get to see short films to come out.”

The show, produced by Dana Humphrey, will play at Center Stage, a Flushing theater company and music school at 135-32 38th Ave., Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for the performance will be $12 for general admission. To purchase tickets, call 718-510-6929.

Tickets can also be bought on the day of the show at the door. For more information, visit asburyshortsnyc.com.

The performance will last about two hours and 15 minutes and will include an intermission. The show will open with a jazz performance by an artist still to be announced by Center Stage.

Read film reviews by Nathan Duke at criticalconditions.net.