New film festival is coming to Kew Gardens

New film festival is coming to Kew Gardens
Photo by Saul Sudin
By Steve Barnes

A new film festival is making its debut in Queens next year, but aspiring borough filmmakers already have a chance to get in on the act.

The Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema will run from Aug. 4-13 at the Kew Gardens Cinema at 81-05 Lefferts Blvd. The festival’s organizers say that while it will be the first-ever film festival to be held in Kew Gardens, the scope of its films will cover the international as well as the local.

“We aspire to draw not only artists and filmmakers from around New York City, but from all over the world,” said Jayson Simba, the festival’s founder and director and a Glendale native. “We are giving the residents of Kew Gardens and its surrounding neighborhoods the opportunity to experience Hollywood in their own backyard.”

Having appeared as the backdrop for such films as “Goodfellas” and “Spider Man” as well as a range of TV shows that includes “The Good Wife”and “Blue Bloods,” Kew Gardens is also known for such home-grown talent as Ray Romano and Rodney Dangerfield. The festival is hoping to add a few new names to that list by the time the festival is over.

Simba emphasizes the spirit of independence that he sees as a central focus of the festival.

“We want to see the work of filmmakers and their teams who have poured their blood, sweat and tears into making their vision come to life,” he said. “Our goal is to remind people why film festivals exist in the first place—to give otherwise unknown filmmakers the opportunity to screen their film in front of large audiences and have their work seen.”

The festival is aiming to show more than 100 short- and feature-length films in such genres as documentary, horror, comedy, animation and experimental. Each film will be judged by a jury of industry professionals.

In addition to screening films, the festival organizers say there will be filmmaker Q&A’s after each screening as well as industry panels featuring some top names in independent cinema discussing strategies for making it in the film business. Industry figures who have expressed interest in participating are Lloyd Kaufman, founder of TROMA films; Larry Fessenden, actor/writer/director/producer with Glass Eye Pix; and Joe Minion, writer of “Vampire’s Kiss” and “After Hours.”

Winners in every category will receive their awards at a gala on the festival’s last night. The event is set to be held in the rooftop penthouse of Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Submissions for the festival are already being accepted. The final submission deadline is April 23, but to get a break on entry fees filmmakers should submit their works by Jan. 8. Entries can be submitted for the following categories: narrative short (40 min or under), documentary short (40 min or under), documentary feature, narrative feature, animation, experimental foreign feature and student film.

For more information on how to submit a film to the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema, or just to find out about its programming, visit www.kewgardensfestivalofcinema.com or check out their video at https://bit.ly/2gIVG65.