The Astoria Film Festival returned on Friday, Oct. 1, with a combination of in-person and online events. The hybrid format was an attempt to accommodate all film-lovers while remaining safe and to ensure the following of COVID-19 protocols.
“Astoria Film Festival is very much a hybrid organization, as committed to education and community as we are to excellence in independent filmmaking,” Nina Fiore, founder and executive director of Astoria Film Festival, told QNS. “This year’s festival reflects that.”
The festival hosted a majority of its in-person events from Oct. 1 to Oct. 3 at Kaufman Astoria Studios and Heart of Gold Bar, but will continue to be held online until Oct. 31. Over 90 films, web series and podcasts will be featured over the month of October.
There is only one in-person day planned left, a “Halloween Horror Fest” event at Heart of Gold Bar in Astoria on Oct. 31. Within the festival, there is also an annual Youth Film Festival, featuring films made by those 18 and younger.
“It’s been a rough almost two years, and since we had to do a smaller in-person festival last year, we really wanted to make this one as special as possible,” Fiore said. “So, we plan to honor filmmaking, honor the local community, and just give everyone a really fun weekend — while also keeping everyone safe!”
Major producers are scheduled for the festival this year. A Master Class on the Art of Cinematic Storytelling was held on Saturday, Oct. 2 with Richard Gladstein, the executive director of Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema at Brooklyn College and producer of major films such as “Pulp Fiction” and “Finding Neverland.”
The producer of Oscar-Award winning movie “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Sev Ohanian, will be a speaker, according to Fiore. A private Meet and Greet with all the producers was held at Heart of Gold Bar on Saturday, Oct. 2.
According to their website, the festival is “especially interested in storytelling by groups that are typically ignored in society — disabled people, POC, First-Gen/Immigrants, Indigenous people, LGBTQ+.”
In accordance with this mission, at least one third of the films screened were directed by women, and many films have been produced by and for disabled people.
Events range from workshops for children and adults, film screenings by filmmakers ranging from students to international filmmakers, panels and networking opportunities.
Following New York City COVID-19 regulations for in-person events, admittance into the event required proof of vaccination either from vaccination cards or the NYC Pass. Masks are required for both indoor and outdoor events.
Astoria Film Festival Inc., based in Astoria, is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that also runs in-school filmmaking workshops and provides resources to local filmmakers, according to their website.
A majority of the proceeds from the festival will go towards their workshops, after school community centers and the Astoria Film Festival Fellows Program.