Submissions now accepted for 11th annual Queens World Film Festival

File photo by Dean Moses

Jackson Heights residents Don and Katha Cato are accepting submissions for the 11th edition of the Queens World Film Festival.

The leading indie film celebration in the borough is consistently ranked in the top 100 film festivals worldwide by FilmFreeway.com and is the first film festival in the world that was fully realized virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic when it broke out last March.

From June 23 to 26 next year, the Catos will bring the festival to The Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufman Astoria Studios, adhering to all regulations in order to bring indie films to Queens. The festival will be celebrating HOPE: Healing Opportunities Promote Equity.

“The very act of making a film is hopeful,” Queens World Film Festival Executive Katha Cato said. “We are witnessing a changing landscape on every level in front of our weary eyes: friendships, jobs, politics, health … nothing is as it was. All of us could use HOPE.”

In March, just three days after learning that all cultural organizations in New York City were to close as the coronavirus shutdown went into effect, the Queens World Film Festival became the first of its kind to shift nimbly into a virtual format to screen a record number of films — 191 from 32 countries — for 11 days. Eighty-three films were by women, 23 by LGBTQIA+ artists, 11 by children and 26 by filmmakers from Queens. At the end of its virtual run, the festival had the attendance and engagement of more that 30,000 filmmakers and their audiences.

“We are refocusing the conversation onto HOPE with films that examine, explore, defy, contradict and support our theme,” Queens World Film Festival Artistic Director Don Preston Cato said. “Queens World will continue to bring unheard voices forward with waivers for submission fee discounts for BIPOC, women, LGBTQIA+ and other underrepresented filmmakers. We want to hear from you.”

For information about waivers and submissions visit queensworldfilmfestival.org.

While Queens was the hardest hit community in the world by the pandemic last spring, the Queens World Film Festival organized 19 live broadcasts, simply called Wednesday Nights @9, a weekly celebration of community organizations from around the borough who were making a difference during the lockdown. More than 19,000 people from around the world tuned-in to watch past festival films and support organizations including CommonPoint Queens, Minkwon Center for Community Action, COVID Care Neighborhood Network and the Far Rockaway Youth Alliance. Audiences from as far away as Japan, Australia, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, and as close as Kansas, California, Bellmore and Corona joined in those broadcasts.

“Wednesday Nights @9 was our way of saying thank you to community members who were making sure that food was delivered, that young people in distress had someone to turn to, and that our elderly neighbors were taken care of,” Katha Cato said.

Now, with the 11th annual Queens World Film Festival is on the horizon, submissions are already open.

“Within the first 24 hours, we received films from South Africa, Germany, Spain, Croatia, Turkey, the Philippines, a true testament that we are, indeed, the festival that brings films together from all round the world, and around the corner,” Katha Cato said.