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Photo: ©GrackFilms
"The Song of Sway Lake" will have its New York Premiere at the Kew Gardens Festival of Film.

Get ready, movie buffs: The Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema is coming back this summer, and it’s better than ever.

From Aug. 3-12, the festival will showcase 110 independent films from across the globe. After over 350 submissions, the festival has a lineup of films from 23 countries including the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Italy, South Africa and Turkey in a number of genres, including documentaries, narrative features, animations and more.

“Independent films usually get a bad rap from the public,” said Jayson Simba, executive director of the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema. “Our goal to show indie films that are incredible, stunning and compete with high-end Hollywood movies. We want to break the stigma and give them a chance.”

The festival will kick off with the New York Premiere of Ari Gold’s award-winning and critically acclaimed “The Song of Sway Lake.” The screening of the film, which stars Rory Culkin, will take place on at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, at Midway Stadium 9 in Forest Hills.

For their sophomore year, the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema will be moving the screenings from Kew Gardens to the Midway Stadium 9 in Forest Hills. They will also be dedicating time to shine a light on locally made films that shine a light on Kew Gardens and New York City.

“On Saturday there will be screenings dedicated to highlighting the Kew Gardens/Forest Hills area,” Simba said. “The community asked why we didn’t have this last year, and we heard them. Now we can put a spotlight on the neighborhood.”

Click here for a full schedule of screenings and locations.

This year, the festival has partnered with the Queens Museum to start the festivities with A Midsummer Night’s Feast on Tuesday, July 31. From 6 to 9 p.m. at the Queens Museum, guests can come and try food from over 30 vendors from New York City.

“The goal was always to make it bigger than a film festival so the community could come out and enjoy it,” Simba said. “Last year, the Queens Museum had a big food event. We sat down with them and they agreed to make it a part of the festival. We think it will be a great way not just to expand the festival but to attract people who might not be interested in film and have them explore food, art and culture.” 

For $15, guests will be able to purchase food and specialty cocktails from their favorite vendors and explore the Queens Museum art galleries. Guests can also view trailers for the participating films and buy advanced tickets to the festival. Click here to get tickets for the food festival.

Like last year, the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema will host a number of after parties, trivia nights and other networking events. Attendees at the Museum can attend a free day of web series, special presentations by invited filmmakers, and a SAG-AFTRA workshop covering the contracts available for independent films.

On Aug. 9, the Queens Museum will be presenting a festival selected film as part of their Passport Thursdays Outdoor Screening series. On Aug. 10, UA Midway Stadium 9 will host the Festival’s Midnight Madness Grindhouse Horror Night. On Aug. 12, The Center At Maple Grove will host to two panels: A Change Overdue: Diversity in Cinema, a discussion on diversity in independent film, and The Jury’s Out: Meet the 2018 Festival Jurors.

This year, the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema picked up sponsorships from Regal Entertainment and the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, which they believe will help make the festival bigger and better than ever.

“We’re excited that we have the mayor’s endorsement, and now that Regal is involved, we think that it will take the festival to the next level,” Simba said. “We’re very excited for the future of the festival.”

Tickets are $15 for regular screenings and $25 for opening, closing and mid-week premiere screening and also include admission to the open bar after parties following the screenings. For tickets and more information on the festival, visit kewgardensfestivalofcinema.com.

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