By Kevin Zimmerman
The creators of the Queens World Film Festival realize the sentiment if you build it, they will come appears to work only in the movies.
“As a filmmaker you finish your film and think the world is going to come knocking at your door to see it,” Katha Cato, festival co-founder, said. “It doesn’t. It’s a noisy, noisy city, and you have to make sure you get to them.”
To ensure people know about the upcoming fourth annual film festival, organizers Don and Katha Cato launched their guerilla-marketing street team Saturday from the Space Gallery in Long Island City.
About a dozen or so volunteers — including New York-based directors from Togo, Nigeria and Russia — turned up to help plaster posters and leave stacks of postcards in businesses from Astoria to Forest Hills.
Katha Cato peppered her pre-game speech with key selling points volunteers should mention when asking businesses owners and managers if hanging a notice in their establishment’s window would be OK.
This year’s festival includes 127 films shown at four venues between March 4 and March 9. The Catos already have commitments from 30 foreign filmmakers that they plan to appear at the screenings of their movies and participate in an audience Q & A session afterwards. But the festival also includes some homegrown talent as well in the form of 18 films made by Queens directors. The biggest bullet point, Katha Cato said, was the festival’s return to the Museum of the Moving Image for its opening night.
At that first screening, the Catos plan to present their Spirit of Queens awards to independent filmmaker Hal Hartley and to Carl Goodman, executive director of the museum.
“We are trying to establish this as a world-class film festival,” Katha Cato said. “We want to bring the world to Queens. We want it to be that if you miss out here, you have to go to Manhattan to see the film.”
Screenings are organized into blocks of features and short films and labeled with names such as Forgiveness, Mindgames, Kvetching and La Familia.
“Our theme is films from around the world and around the corner,” said Don Cato. “We like the things that push the envelope. But we also push for things that the audience will like, movies that are well told, well done enjoyable films.”
The Catos started out volunteering for the ill-fated Queens International Film Festival, which folded in 2009 after financial chicanery caught up with that event’s organizer.
Following that low point, the Jackson Heights husband-and-wife team decided to organize their own movie festival.
One of this year’s highlights includes the screening of the director’s cut of “The Act of Killing.” This documentary, by American director Joshua Oppenheimer, looks at the men who ran the death squads during Indonesia’s revolution in 1965, and their celebrated place in the country today. The movie is nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary category this year.
It’s exactly the type of movie the Catos want to see screened in Queens: one that challenges the audience and gets people talking.
“Our goal is really to put the borough on the map,” said Katha Cato. “If you’re an international filmmaker, wanting to screen your film in Manhattan, where do you land in New York? Queens.”
If you Go
Queens World Film Festival
When: March 4 to March 9
Where: Museum of the Moving Image, Nesva Hotel, The Secret Theatre, PS69 Queens
Cost: $75/festival pass with opening night, $50/festival pass, $10/single programs, $6/single programs seniors and students
Contact: (718) 429-2579