Sunnyside Shorts International Film Festival to return for its 14th year in November

Photo credit: Shubhra Breivogel

The Sunnyside Shorts International Film Festival will return for it’s 14th year on Nov. 2 at the Sunnyside Reformed Church, featuring 17 short films from all over the world.

Festival director Sherry Gamlin told QNS that their mission is to showcase films that not only represent cultures from across the world, but also depict communities that are not always represented in the entertainment industry so as to build bridges within the community.

“It’s extremely important that people who are neighbors know about each other and different cultures,” Gamlin said. “It’s very important for people to respect each other and different cultures. We need to have more knowledge of each other, otherwise it breeds discontent and wars.”

In previous years, Gamlin said the festival has not only featured films by professional filmmakers, but also showcased cartoons and live-action shorts created by teenagers, for teenagers. This year, the focus feels particularly tied to the Sunnyside neighborhood.

For their special afternoon event, which will take place from 1 to 3 p.m., the festival will screen six films from previous years and host a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s 1919 classic black and white film, “Sunnyside.”

Tickets for the afternoon event will be free for people over 65 and $5 for everyone else.

On the evening portion of the event, from 7 to 10 p.m., they will showcase 11 films that come from not only the United States but also France, Iran, Spain and Estonia. Tickets are available for $12 online and $15 at the door.

There will be another neighborhood-centric film in the mix as well, also called “Sunnyside,” by director Jihyun Shin, who is a Sunnyside resident.

Gamlin said she actually ran into Shin’s film crew shooting in Sunnyside one day and suggested they submit their short. The film, according to Gamlin, will follow the story of a “beautiful friendship for those two who are unlikely to become friends beyond age, gender and religion.”

After the screening, which will have a 15-minute intermission with light refreshments, the audience will get to vote on their favorite short (which range in length from eight to 20 minutes).

The winner will then receive $200.

“The community loves it,” Gamlin said. “People love getting together in the neighborhood and watching something different, rather than watching videos online at home. And it’s also inexpensive — cheaper than going to the movie theater.”

Although the festival had a five-year break in between it’s inception in 2000, Gamlin made sure to continue the tradition when Shinichi Murota, the creator of the festival, returned to Japan after studying in Queens.

Gamlin, a former actress who appeared on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” several times as an extra, remembered how she found out about the festival.

“I was doing my laundry and in the laundromat there was a sign, that said ‘would you like to make films?’” Gamlin said, “And 19 years later, we’re still doing it!”

She’s supported by a team of volunteers, comprised of graphic artist Teresa Ward; judge and public relations person Teresa Bowers; judges Nicole Matarese, WB and Amanda Rakker; photographer Shubhra Breivogel; film editor Sunit Shukla; Carol Drosopolous and Adriana Tredanari on refreshments; as well as Jim Drosopolous in the front desk.

Gamlin is already thinking about next year. After receiving about 100 submissions for this year’s event, she hopes to expand the program and make it into a two-day festival — one for Queens films and another for international films.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.sunnysideshorts.com.

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