Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust”
By Nathan Duke
Featuring 135 films of varying lengths from 25 nations, the lineup for the seventh annual Queens World Film Festival is as diverse as the borough it represents.
The festival will run from March 14 to 19 and screen films at Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufman Astoria Studios’ Zukor Theater.
Katha Cato, executive director for the festival, said this year’s slate of movies drew selections from around the world, thereby providing a microcosm for Queens, which is the world’s most diverse county.
“To come to a festival where you can see films from the Philippines, Spain and Sunnyside – you can’t get that anywhere else,” she said. “This is a borough of immigrants and our audience is international.”
This year’s roster includes films from Iran, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Ghana, Belgium, Canada and the United States. And the films’ formats are just as varied, Cato said.
“We have experimental, documentary, narrative, shorts and animation – a few family friendly and a few extremely challenging and offensive,” she said. “We have a broad spectrum.”
Cato said many of the films screened at this year’s festival will not only reflect a diverse array of voices, but also tackle subject matter appropriate to the nation’s current social and political climate.
“The themes this year are very much about the human experience – the disenfranchised, culture clash, immigration, the invisible among us,” she said. “We have 50 films by women. If there’s something that all these films share it’s guts. It’s unbelievable to be involved in an organization that represents every invisible and silent voice, from homeless children to young men trying to decide whether to follow their heart or become a warrior for the cause of their country.”
This year’s offerings include “Adam Green’s Aladdin,” which stars Macaulay Culkin and features an all-cardboard set; “Searching for Fortune,” which stars John Heard and focuses on a woman who tracks down her recently deceased husband’s brother and reveals an old family secret; and “Scumbag,” which stars a variety of punk and No Wave figures, including Nick Zedd and Kid Congo Powers, notorious club kid Michael Alig and adult film star Ron Jeremy.
“It stars all the 1970s punk icons you can cram in,” Cato said of the latter film. “It’s about a slacker and his escapades. It’s very subversive and retro.”
The festival also features a visually lush film titled “Pawo” that focuses on the Free Tibet movement, a picture (“Area”) set in the world of prostitution in a Filipino Red Light District and a drama (“Catch 22: Based on the Unwritten Story By Seanie Sugrue”) set against the backdrop of Hurricane Sandy.
For this year’s Spirit of Queens selection, the festival will screen Julie Dash’s 1991 indie “Daughters of the Dust,” which tells the story of a Gullah community in coastal South Carolina at the turn of the 20th century, on March 15. A discussion with Dash, who was born in Long Island City, will follow the screening.
The festival will also hold a March 18 screening of Dash’s “Illusions,” a 1982 short film about an African American woman passing as white in the film industry during the 1940s. The filmmaker will be presented with the Spirit of Queens Award at 7 p.m. on March 14 during the festival’s opening night VIP reception at the Museum of the Moving Image.
“The films feature unbelievable acts of kindness and unbelievable acts of brutality,” Cato said of this year’s varied slate of movies. “The festival is vibrant and inclusive.”
Tickets for the Queens World Film Festival are now on sale. For more information on the festival’s schedule, visit www.queensworldfilmfestival.com.