Annual Queens World Film Festival set for grand return

QWFF is back! This year, they’re showcasing 157 films from 27 nations. Mark your calendars: Their live festival with screenings at five Queens venues starts Nov 1-6, followed by a virtual fest on filmfestivaflix.com from Nov 20 – Dec 4. (Photo by Ken Brown)

It’s nice to see a world united.

Indie filmmakers from around the globe have once again joined their New York counterparts and will soon be sharing their compelling works with film lovers everywhere during the eagerly anticipated 12th annual Queens World Film Festival (QWFF). 

The popular festival is back and more exciting than ever — after its brief pandemic hiatus — thanks to the tireless efforts of executive director Catha Cato and her team. By featuring compelling works from maverick filmmakers of all orientations, ethnicities, countries and cultures, QWFF “is making sure creative expression and a passion for truth is alive and well in Queens,” Cato said.

During the live fest (Nov. 1 – 6), 157 films from 27 nations will be screened at five Queens venues; the virtual festival filmfestivaflix.com (Nov. 20 – Dec. 4) will showcase additional films not included in the live event. Opening night will take place at Queens Theatre; Spirit of Queens Honorees events will be held at Queens Theatre (Nov. 2) and Museum of the Moving Image (Nov. 3); and Queens World Awards (Nov. 6) will be presented at MoMI as well. Attendees will include a ticketed audience, filmmakers, elected officials and others. 

“We were overwhelmed by the response; we received twice as many submissions than we expected! It just proves to us that everyone in the world wants to screen in Queens,” Cato said. “It’s because of QWFF’s commitment to providing their exhibiting filmmakers with a positive and powerful screening experience.”

On Oct.1, local filmmakers gathered for QWWF’s Annual Potluck Kick-off Party at The Local in Long Island City. “We bring local filmmakers together as early as we can, so they have the chance to relationship-build before the festival. Then when it begins, they’re part of the festival community and are ready to help us welcome international filmmakers to the event,” Cato said.  

QWFF’s must-see works will be screened at Flushing Town Hall, Museum of the Moving Image, The Local, Kaufman Astoria Studios and Queens Theatre. There are over 35 blocks (groups) of thematically programmed shorts and features. Prizes and awards will be given in a variety of categories, including direction, screenplay, acting, cinematography and more. 

“We were the first festival in the world to jump online in response to the pandemic on March 19, 2020, with 191 films from 32 nations. We ran for 11 days and got over 30,000 views. Then we launched a weekly live broadcast that celebrated all the [community-based] organizations in Queens that were doing great work,” Cato said.

QWFF’s free online screenings and shows featured discussions with those CBOs and filmmakers about their films’ themes and how they related to the work the CBOs were doing.

Rockaway Sunset. (Photo courtesy of PJ Landers)

In 2021 (June 23 – July 3), viewers enjoyed 198 films online, while 143 films were screened live in five local venues. It was a big success. Then, as the world started to open up in earnest, QWFF volunteered at other organizations’ events, according to Cato.

Don’t miss this year’s offerings: There are 27 films from Queens, two from the Bronx, 18 from Manhattan, 11 from Brooklyn and two from Staten Island. And international filmmakers hail from Spain, India, Canada, Ukraine, Korea, Poland, Turkey, Nepal, Mexico, Italy, Puerto Rico, Croatia and Armenia, to name a few. 

Yashodhara the buddha’s wife. (Photo courtesy of Neha Lohia)

“It is astounding to us to hear from so many filmmakers all over the globe who want to screen in Queens!” Cato said.

This year’s intriguing blocks include: “Moving into Identity: Seven films celebrating the dance of self-discovery”; “Remarkable Women: Six films about women just being who they are”; “It’s Complicated: Five films that dive into who we are” (LGBTQIA+ films); “Voices of India: Two films that speak to our hearts”; and “WTF? (What the Film?): Six films that are full of surprises.”

QWFF will honor five remarkable women as their Spirit of Queens Honorees: Sandra Schulberg, president of IndieCollect; Taryn Sacramone, chair of the Cultural Institutions Group and executive director of Queens Theatre; Sade Lythcott, National Black Theatre’s CEO and chair of the Coalition of Theatres of Color; Lucy Sexton, executive director of New Yorkers for Culture & Arts; and Ellen Kodadek, Flushing Town Hall’s executive and artistic director.

“While many of the arts are supported in the area, and have stages, studios or galleries, filmmakers don’t have a centralized place to show their work,” Cato noted. “QWFF takes pride in bringing local filmmakers to the world stage through curated programming that includes exciting and provocative films from around the world and around the corner.”

For tickets and more info, visit queensworldfilmfestival.org.