Queens World Film Festival holds screenings in Sunnyside

By Bill Parry

The Queens World Film Festival will help kick off the 3rd annual Sunnyside Restaurant Week on Monday Oct. 19 with a screening of short films at Bliss Plaza, under the 46th St. No. 7 subway station, beginning at 6:30 p.m. QWFF will return with a host of Queens filmmakers for a screening of “Queens-centric” short films at Claret Wine Bar, at 46-02 Skillman Ave., Wednesday Oct. 21, from 7 to 9 p.m.

“We’ll be back on Friday the 23rd with a collection of dark comedy and horror shorts that we’ll screen at the Dog and Duck at 45-20 Skillman Ave.,” QWFF co-founder Katha Cato said. “Dark and twisted, perfect for a Friday night in Autumn. We’re really happy to be doing this in Sunnyside. It’s a very interesting neighborhood.”

Cato, and her husband Don, spent the summer hosting 14 free outdoor screenings for more than 2,500 film aficionados across the borough from the beaches of Rockaway to Hunters Points South Park in Long Island City to their home neighborhood of Jackson Heights.

The cinematic barn-storming by the Catos is all about building the Queens World Film Festival brand. Now heading into its sixth year, it’s become a true international event.

“We’re getting ten submissions a day from places like Serbia, China, Bangladesh, Brazil, Australia and the United Arab Emirates,” Katha said. “And of course from right here in Queens. The quality of the films is just incredible and there are so many submissions that the screening process has grown into a 24-7 operation.”

The Festival is scheduled for March 15 to 20 at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, the Secret Theatre in Long Island City and PS 69 in Jackson Heights. In addition, the Catos run year round programming such as the Young Filmmakers Program and the Old Spice screenings for seniors.

“We’ve expanded our Young Filmmakers Program to include the Central Queens YMCA and to fund that and the other programs we’ve set up an Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign,” Katha said. “Don and I can’t sustain it anymore by ourselves. Some of our programs get partial funding from Danny Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer but for the Festival to truly reach its potential we’ll need more.”

As the QWFF continues to grow she’s hoping to add employees and proper office space.

“It’s too big to be running it from our living room anymore,” Katha said. “This thing has to be a sustainable model to benefit the borough and for that we’ll need 25 full-time employees, from coordinators and technicians to publicists and event planners. You can’t sustain an international event with volunteers.”

Meanwhile, Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and the Ford Foundation are supporting a special free community screening of “In Jackson Heights” on Oct. 23 at PS 69. The Frederick Wiseman documentary is about the neighborhood, one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse communities in the U.S. and the world.

The subject of the film is the daily life of its people, their businesses, community centers, religions, and political, cultural and social lives as well as the conflict between maintaining ties to traditions of residents’ countries of origin and the need to learn and adapt to American ways and values.

The three-hour-long film starts at 6:30 p.m. Wiseman and Dromm will participate in a question-and-answer session after the screening.

To reserve a ticket go to injheights.bpt.me or call 1-800-838-3006. Tickets are limited.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.