Festival of Cinema NYC returns for fifth year in Forest Hills

Festival of Cinema NYC in Forest Hills returns for the 5th year. (Photos courtesy of Festival of Cinema NYC)

The Festival of Cinema NYC, a 10-day film festival event, has returned to the Regal UA Midway in Forest Hills.

The event, which returns for its 5th year from Sept. 24 to Oct. 3, will include over 120 independent films with over 85 filmmakers expected to be in attendance.

The opening night film selection included John Carlucci and Brandon Laganke’s crowd favorite “Drunk Bus,” and the closing night screening of Erin Granat & Machete Bang Bang’s acclaimed LGBTQ film, “Moon Manor.” There will be multiple world premieres, including Samuel Tressler IV’s “Leda,” which will mark FOC NYC’s first RealD 3D presentation.

Tressler IV’s “Leda,” which will be showing Oct. 2 at noon, offers a unique cinematic experience with lots of experimental aspects. The psychological thriller is based off of the “Greek myth of Leda and the Swan,” which is a story about the Greek God Zeus impregnating Leda with a modern twist.

“LEDA” film. (Photo courtesy of Festival of Cinema NYC)

It will tell the story of “A woman and her interactions with a divine swan that leads her down a path of mental deterioration.”

Another film to look forward to is Brandon Chi-Wei Chen’s “Blue Lanterns,” a coming-of-age crime drama about “two teenage boys who slowly get involved with the Hong Kong triads and how it affects their relationship.”

For Chen, this project came with “a lot of firsts.”

This is Chen’s directorial debut and the film’s East Coast premiere. The main cast is made up of mostly first-time actors.

“Blue Lantern” is inspired by Chen’s own life as well as other friends’ experiences. He noted that it’s a “coming of age story about brotherhood, family, and friendship.”

“Growing up, I always valued friendship. The bond I had with my friends was what got me through tough times and to betray that relationship is something I cannot even imagine,” Chen said. “As I grew older, my circle of friends began to expand and I found myself becoming influenced by the wrong people. I realized that I was losing my way and how easy it was to blur the lines of one’s moral compass. When I look back on my own experiences, it seems impossible to pinpoint when I lost my innocence as if it happened in my sleep.”

“Blue Lanterns” film poster. (Photos courtesy of Festival of Cinema NYC)

The film, which is entirely in Cantonese, will be shown on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 5:15 p.m.

On a lighter note, Emmy award winner and standup comedian Alyse Kenny’s “Happily Ever Ally” will be screening Saturday, Sept. 25 at 2:45 p.m.

Kenny, who has appeared in shows such as “Orange is the New Black,” “The Tonight Show,” and the Netflix show “Halston,” says the film is based on experiences in her own life.

Kenny, who starred and wrote “Happily Ever Ally,” said it is “what the world needs now — a feel good comedy to help people escape.”

“It celebrates diversity, is nostalgic, relatable, and written and directed by women. It’s about never giving up against the backdrop of New York City and is just good ol’ fashion fun,” Kenny said.

“Happily Ever Ally” poster. (Photos courtesy of Festival of Cinema NYC)

Britney Lee Hamilton, a former birthday party princess of 9 years, is the creator, writer and star of the film of the short “#PrincessProblems.” Hamilton’s film Follows a birthday party princess and “questions if princesses are still good role models for little girls.”

The film stars actress Shyrley Rodriguez, who also appeared in the critically-acclaimed “Knives Out.”

Hamilton runs a studio in New Jersey called The Studio B. Lee Productions and teaches private acting and voice lessons. All of the child actors in “#PrincessProblems” happen to be her students.

#PrincessProblems will be showing on Monday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.

“#PrincessProblems” film poster. (Photos courtesy of Festival of Cinema NYC)

Festival of Cinema NYC Founder and Executive Director Jayson Simba, said that in their 5th year, they “continue to grow by nearly every metric – submissions, films selected, screenings, and more,” despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We could not be more excited to return to our home at the Regal and to see these amazing films on screen and meet all of the 85 filmmakers we are expecting to join us here in Forest Hills,” Simba said. “We pride ourselves on bringing world cinema to the many film lovers here in Queens, and this year’s lineup really delivers on that front.” 

Tickets to Festival of Cinema NYC are on sale now, and are priced at $17 for regular daily screening blocks.

Red Carpet opening and closing night tickets are priced at $30, and include entry into the after party following those screenings.

Discounts are available at the door for senior citizens, SAG-AFTRA members, members of the Queens Economic Development Corporation, the Forest Hills Asian Association, the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and members of Community Board 6.

Tickets to Tuesday’s Fundraising Presentation on Cuba will cost $35.

 To purchase tickets and learn more about the festival, visit www.festivalofcinemanyc.com.

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