By Tammy Scileppi
A 10-day event will transform vibrant Forest Hills into a movie mecca, as Kew Gardens passes the torch to its neighboring community when the 2nd Annual Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema launches an exciting lineup of 110 films created by talented filmmakers from the borough and beyond.
The festival will be moving into its new home at Regal Entertainment Group’s UA Midway Stadium 9 in Forest Hills — located at 108-22 Queens Blvd. — where, from Aug. 3 to Aug. 11, guests can enjoy a variety of independent films screened by state of the art projection and sound equipment in the comfort of Midway’s recliner seats.
Fans can catch the opening night film at the theater, the New York premiere of Ari Gold’s award-winning and critically-acclaimed “The Song of Sway Lake,” starring Rory Culkin, Friday, Aug. 3 at 6:30 p.m. On Sunday, Aug. 12, the festival’s Awards Dinner Gala returns to Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The Festival of Cinema and Queens Museum are teaming up for an event like never before in Queens. Visit the museum July 31 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for A Midsummer Night’s Feast: A Celebration of Food, Art, and Cinema, featuring the most diverse eats this side of New York City.
In collaboration with Yelp and Edible Queens, more than 30 restaurants and food vendors will be on site to satisfy your inner foodie.
Tickets to the event are $15 and it’s open the public. Attendees are invited to peruse the Museum’s artwork and the world-famous Panorama. One exhibit will be Mel Chin’s, “All Over the Place.”
Guests will also be treated to trailers from films participating in the upcoming Festival of Cinema inside the Museum’s theater and network with filmmakers who will be in attendance. Expect great food, great music, great art and great cinema.
While there is an entry fee, all proceeds generated by door sales will act as a donation to help raise awareness for arts and arts education in the borough and allow the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema to continue annually.
This event is strictly for adults ages 21 and over and ID will be required at the door.
Several local filmmakers and a few who live and work elsewhere, contributed a slew of intriguing, must-see works, touching on compelling and contemporary subjects.
“Nothing Changes, Art For Hank’s Sake”
Director: Matthew Kaplowitz
Aug. 4, from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., at Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park
“I spent two years following around my uncle as he went on his daily routine of making art for no one other than himself, learning how this 88-year-old man could commute from Woodhaven to Union Square five days a week, in spite of poor health and low income,” said Kaplowitz, a Bayside native. “I am hoping the Herculean efforts of my uncle will inspire those who watch him to pursue their dreams and do what they want in life, without letting themselves be held back by negative thoughts. Making the film helped my uncle and I become closer and I know he will enjoy seeing the documentary in the borough he has called home since 1953.”
Director: Cady McClain
Aug. 4, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Midway Theater
“Butterflies” is about a mixed-race, female teenager who is inspired to fight back against bullies after studying the life cycle of a butterfly. McClain’s film examines the rich inner life of a person who has to seek solace from within.
The Los Angeles resident is a two-time Emmy Award-winning actor, filmmaker, musician and writer, whose professional career spans more than 30 years.
Director: Seth Fein
Aug. 4, at 12 p.m., at Queens Museum
A Brooklyn native who now lives in Jackson Heights, Fein teaches Film at Brooklyn College at its Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema.
“I am excited to show the film at the center of the world it addresses, in the Queens Museum, opposite its principal subject, the Unisphere,” said Fein, an audiovisual historian and filmmaker who works “at the intersection of scholarship and art,” which is where he has built Seven Local Film in Queens.
“I’ve been screening and tweaking my experimental documentary ‘Between Neighborhoods,’ which transhistoricizes — rigorously relates present and past — the place of Queens in New York City, the Americas, and the world across the last half century, between the ages of Donald Trump and Robert Moses.”
“Murder Made Easy”
Director: David Palamaro
Aug. 6, from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., at Midway Theater
For this Queens native who lives in Los Angeles, going to the Festival of Cinema will be a homecoming.
“This is a one-location Agatha Christie-style murder/mystery feature. The festival is our East Coast premiere and we are very excited to be a part of such a vibrant, supportive community of film lovers and filmmakers,” said Palamaro, an award-winning filmmaker whose work has gained international theatrical release, digital distribution and festival acclaim.
“The Song of Sway Lake”
Director: Ari Gold
Aug. 3, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Midway Theater
“I am honored and thrilled to be playing at Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema. My movie is about that class of grand Manhattan people who used to ‘summer’ in the Adirondacks. So, the festival is kind of right in between those two places,” said Gold, an internationally-acclaimed writer and director, and winner of a student Oscar. “We’re a proud New York production telling a story of love, nostalgia, a lake, and a song that might unlock the past.”
“Horror Movie: A Low-Budget Nightmare”
Director: Gary Doust
Aug. 5, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Queens Museum
This film asks the question: how far would you go to follow your dream?
“I’m super excited for my feature documentary to screen at the Kew Gardens Film Festival in Queens – the coolest city in the world,” said Doust, who has established himself as the ‘go-to guy’ for quirky Australian documentaries.
“Path of Dreams”
Director: Tamara Ruppart
Aug. 8, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at Midway Theater
“I am very excited about returning home to Queens to screen ‘Path of Dreams’ as part of the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema, as I grew up in Forest Hills,” said Ruppart. “Set in poetic Japan, ‘Path of Dreams’ tell the story of Komachi, a beautiful poetess, who strikes a tantalizing bargain with Shosho, a charming and eager suitor. If he comes to write poetry with her for 99 nights, she says they will create a love more beautiful than poetry. Only on the 99th night will she take him as her lover.”
Director: Mateo Márquez
Aug. 8, from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., at Midway Theatre
“As a native of Queens, a borough of great diversity, I hope ‘The Invaders’ will make audiences think differently about Islamophobia,” said Marquez, a Kew Gardens resident. “I am excited to return to [the festival] and to the community it has created.”
His previous film, “La Sangre en Nuestras Venas (The Blood in Our Veins)” screened at the inaugural Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema in 2017.
“Us, Forever Ago”
Director: Irina Varina
Aug. 8, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., at Midway Theater
“Our film is a 70-minute, genre-bending documentary-narrative hybrid by and about women artists that plays with perceptions of memory, belonging, insecurity and what it means to be a creator,” Varina said. “I hope that the film would give audiences an opportunity to reflect on their own past and present, on what they truly value in the world, and how they make sense of their failures and longings.”
The Uzbekistan filmmaker currently splits her time between New York and Philadelphia. Her films have screened at many festivals, including the Queens World Film Festival.
Tickets to the Festival of Cinema are priced at $15 for regular daily screenings. Opening, closing and mid-week premieres are priced at $25 and include entry into open bar after parties held in Kew Gardens following the screenings.