The ninth annual Queens World Film Festival has no shortage of local talent from the borough.
Starting this week, the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) in Astoria hosts the two-week film extravaganza, which will screen several films featuring a number of Queens-based actors, directors and producers. On March 18, filmmakers gathered at MoMI to preview the films that would be shown at the festival.
From March 21 to 31, viewers can choose from a cinematic smorgasbord of over 200 films, including films from 31 countries and four New York City boroughs. According to the festival’s artistic director Don Cato, the festival will also feature 79 films by women, 15 films by Asian filmmakers, 14 LGBTQ-themed films and six films “by kids, for kids.”
Here’s a sneak peek at some of the films showing at the Queens World Film Festival starting this Thursday.
The Secret Nobody Knows (8 minutes) – Sunday, March 31 | 6:45 p.m. | MoMI Redstone Theater
Astoria resident Nick Ronan and Rego Park native Erica Camarano are among the Queens talent to have a film at this year’s festival. The pair star in a short narrative film entitled “The Secret Nobody Knows,” written and directed by Ronan. Caramarano also serves as one of the film’s producers.
Inspired by the e.e. cummings poem called [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in], the film is set in 1952 during the Korean War and follows Kate and Tom’s, last day together before Tom departs overseas. Before he leaves, Kate gives Tom a secret message hidden in the cummings poem which “gives a glimpse into their uncertain future.”
“I had heard that poem in 2016, oddly enough, in a German commercial for Parkinson’s and it’s so beautifully shot and powerful in a minute and a half. I fell in love with it and I was like, ‘I don’t know what I want to do with this but I’m gonna do something with it,'” Ronan said.
He got the “OK” from cummings’ estate to use the poem and filming officially started in January 2017. They transformed Ronan’s bedroom to include a 1950s bedframe and vanity and even used mascara and clothing from the era to help them get into their roles.
“All those little details really fed us as actors because it just really transported both of us to that time period,” said Camarano.
AndLife (10 minutes) – Sunday, March 24 | 7:30 p.m | MoMI Bartos Screening Room
On March 24, filmgoers can check out “AndLife”, a climate-change film directed by New Yorker Jean Goto, who also stars in the film alongside Elmhurst/Jackson Heights native and producer Adam Lim. The short film is set in the “near future” after climate changes have caused society to crumble.
“And Life is a short about death and climate change and trying to envision a world in the future where maybe we haven’t made the changes that we need to make and inspire people to talk about climate change and think about climate change in our daily lives,” Goto told QNS.
The film’s message is one that is important to both Goto and Lim who shared that the next generation of people will have to deal with the consequences if we fail to be proactive toward climate change. Lim recalled a recent trip to Jamaica where he noticed that no one was using plastic straws and were instead using reusable cups and travel mugs.
“I have two kids and when you travel around the world, you see how things are,” Lim said. “I realize we take things for granted, so being mindful about how we take care of our planet is really important. So trying to educate my kids and even get them to practice things like recycling little things like plastic straws is really important.”
Goto also earned a nomination for Best Director of a Short Narrative Film, an honor which she described as “amazing and surreal.”
Sanitas Pacifica (62 minutes) – Wednesday, March 27 | 10:15 p.m. | The Zukor Theater at Kaufman Astoria Studios
Astoria resident John Ashe Say is debuting his first feature film “Sanitas Pacifica” which he wrote, directed and produced.
The art film is about an older man who tries to find peace for his past trauma and has an existential experience with a medium while visiting a cabin in the woods. Say shared that the film was shot in the mountains of North Carolina over a period of one week.
“I didn’t sleep at all,” Say recalled. “It was just all day all night. When everybody went to bed, we were up building sets and doing stuff for the next day.”
Post-production took over two years after filming and the Astoria resident said that it was a learning experience for him.
“We learned a few things along the way and it took a long time but we’re very proud of the product. I think you can tell it looks like it cost a lot more money than we spent on it,” Say said.
Say first entered the Queens World Film Festival back in 2016 with his short film “Timshel” and shared that he was excited that his feature work will also be recognized this year.
The Beach House (12 minutes) – Monday, March 25 | 7:45 p.m. | The Zukor Theater at Kaufman Astoria Studios
This year’s festival also raised the bar for Asian representation, welcoming a total of 15 Asian filmmakers from across the globe. Eric Elizaga is a Filipino-American actor and director from Hawaii who moved to New York in 2011 to pursue acting. The short film “The Beach House” is Elizaga’s first foray into filmmaking.
The story follows Korean adoptees Max and Jamie, a couple who were both adopted by white parents. During their time at a beach house with friends, the pair bonds over their experiences of being Asians who “grew up white.”
Elizaga was inspired to create the story based on the leading actor’s story of being a Korean adoptee and his desire to tell his story.
“It’s like the things we talk about in media, we don’t see ourselves reflected a lot, so we came up with this story to put on screen,” Elizaga said.
While writing the film, Elizaga said that a lot of what’s touched on in the film is based on the experiences of friends who grew in communities where Asians were the minority.
“It was a learning experience for me because I’m from Hawaii and Hawaii is a majority Asian community. So for me, it was like this whole other world that I was never accustomed to,” he said.
Visit queensworldfilmfestival.com to find out how to get tickets to these films and others at the Queens World Film Festival.