LIC’s Chain Theatre hosts second annual film festival

By Kevin Zimmerman

The late comedian George Carlin used to have a bit about the rampant misuse of labeling an event as a first annual.

Nothing could be a first annual anything, Carlin reasoned. It would have to make it to year two before it could legitimately be dubbed annual.

In Long Island City, the Chain NYC Film Festival has achieved that milestone and is currently in the middle of its second annual event.

“Everyone enjoyed it last year,” said Kirk Gostkowski, co-founder of The Chain Theatre. “We have doubled the number of people entering films.”

Audience members will have an opportunity to view about 100 movies, both feature films and documentaries from the United States and around the world, at this year’s event. Many of the screenings will include a Q&A with directors, producers, writers or actors.

Although officially the festival lacks a theme, unofficially the 2014 edition could be called Women in Film, Gostkowski said.

One of the highlights should be a retrospective of Karen Black’s artistic career. Black, who died last year, appeared in such classic movies as “Easy Rider” and “Five Easy Pieces.”

Gostkowski planned to run a retrospective of her films and a new documentary about how she worked titled “Karen Black: On Acting.”

But after speaking with the documentary’s director, Russell Brown, Gostkowski connected with Black’s husband, who offered to share a different aspect of her career.

“I asked if we could do a reading of one of her plays,” Gostkowski said. “So we’re going to have Sean Young, Andrea McArdle and Gail Brown [reading]. They are doing it for Karen.”

Adding a live-theater component to the proceedings was something Gostkowski wanted to do last year. He is glad to have the opportunity now, but acknowledges the festival’s focus will remain on film and video creations.

On tap will be the U.S. premiere of the Australian program “Virgins Wanted.” The six-part series follows a young Brazilian woman and a young man from South Africa who agree to sell their virginity to the highest bidder and have the whole process filmed.

It was a controversial project that prompted many overseas viewers to insist it was scripted, but after watching the episodes that will be shown, Gostkowski believes it is 100 percent real.

“It shows the most amazing human emotions,” he said. “They both think the show is going to be one thing, but it is not. It is so real.”

But there will be plenty of made-up tales as well.

“The Widowers,” a movie set in New York City about a spousal loss group, has already sold out one of its festival showings, Gostkowski said. A three-minute short by Steve Baker, “The Video Dating Tape of Desmondo Ray Aged 33 and 3/4,” mixes animation and live action and has been compared to the works of Tim Burton.

“This guy has a unique vision and a unique voice,” Gostkowski said. “This guy does in three minutes what most people can’t do in two hours.”

The Chain NYC Film Festival runs through Aug. 17. For schedules and tickets, check the theater’s website at chain-theatre.org

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