BY JON CRONIN
Kew Gardens Cinemas and the Queens Museum will screen more than 100 films in August as part of the inaugural Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema.
The festival will run from Aug. 4 to 12 at the Kew Garden Cinemas, located at 81-05 Lefferts Blvd., and concurrently at the Queens Museum from Aug. 9 to 12. An awards ceremony will be held on Aug. 13 at Terrace on the Park in Flushing-Meadows Corona Park. Each film will be judged by industry professionals and festival-goers will have the opportunity to participate in Q&A sessions after each screening.
The festival was founded by several local independent filmmakers, including Glendale’s Jasyon Simba, who is the festival’s executive director, as well as John Fallon, technical director and founder of Indie Film NYC Podcast; Oakland Gardens’ Caroline Lim; and Kew Gardens’ Bob Giovanelli, who is the festival programmer.
The quartet of organizers said that they are looking to “establish a presence in and spread awareness of cinematic creativity throughout Kew Gardens and its vibrant and culturally diverse neighboring communities, including Forest Hills, Rego Park, Woodhaven, and Glendale.”
The festival will screen short- and feature-length films from all genres, including dramas, comedies, horror movies, documentaries, animation and experimental films.
Winners in each category will receive a personally engraved statuette at the Grand Awards Gala on the final night of the festival that will take place on the rooftop penthouse of the Terrace on the Park.
“The planning of it came from me,” Simba, 43, said of the festival. “I had this crazy idea about a year ago. I was talking to a filmmaker friend and asked, ‘Could we pull that off in this neighborhood?’ He said ‘yes’ and then I did”
Simba is primarily an actor, but has been making films since 2000 and attending festivals. He said he’s trying to incorporate the best attributes from the world’s top film festivals.
The festival’s team has begun advertising for the festival by launching a poster contest. Business owners, residents and those who work or live in the community can create a poster for the festival and, in a separate contest, create a logo that will be included on the festival’s merchandise.
The festival recently announced that it had added its first three jury members, including independent filmmaker Rodney Ferrer, who is best known for his acclaimed web series “City of Mercy,” as well as Marlene Forte, a film and TV actress who recently appeared on “Fear the Walking Dead” and Sam Adelman, who worked as an editor on “Donnie Brasco,” “Practical Magic” and “Desperately Seeking Susan.” Additional jurors will be announced as the festival approaches.
Simba said that the festival is accepting submissions until April 23. A total of 400 applicants have already submitted their work. The selected films will be announced in early June.
The Queens Museum will host selected programming as part of the festival that will be free to the public as well as an outdoor screening on Aug. 10.
“We are excited to partner with the Queens Museum, the epicenter of Queens history, extending the filmmakers’ full experience of our beautiful borough,” Simba said.
During the festival, Shake Shack will hand out samples of its signature “concretes” at Kew Gardens Cinemas and host a Movie Trivia Night at the chain’s Forest Hills location.
The festival is also offering free services from sponsors of the event. Videomaker.com, the #1 national consumer magazine for video enthusiasts, is offering a free one-year subscription to its website to everyone who submits a film to the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema.
IndiePix Films, an online film distributor, will offer an opt-in distribution deal to multiple recipients of the festival’s Cinema Visionary Award. Soundview Media Partners will offer a one-hour consultation to each of the top award-winning films, while WriterDuet will award its real-time collaborative screenwriting software to top award-winning films.