Astoria Filmmakers Club presents first Astor Award Ceremony

By Stephanie Meditz

The Astor Awards honored the winners of the Astoria Filmmakers Club’s first Triborough Film Festival. Suga Ray, judge for the Triborough Film Festival stands beside Dannelly Rodriguez, movement lawyer and activist.

On Feb. 11, the Astoria Filmmakers Club (AFC) recognized the winners of its first ever film festival, the Triborough Film Festival, with the Astor Award Ceremony at The Chian Federation. 

A playful spin on the Academy Awards, the Astor Award Ceremony presented 16 awards in categories such as Best Actor and Best Production Design. 

The evening consisted of several pop-up vendors, followed by the awards ceremony and a VIP after party. 

“[The nominees] push boundaries of genre, of dialogue and storytelling where it’s not cliche. They range from as small as less than five minutes to an hour in length. Every single story that got nominated left you wanting more. And there were not…from a craftsmanship point of view, loose ends,” Phillip Cappadora, AFC founder and president, said. 

The nominees included a range of films and topics, including a musical adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” and a documentary entitled “The Carousel Man” about a Brooklyn man who built a carousel. 

One of the nominees was Fredrick Byers’ musical adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum.”

The film “There Goes The Neighborhood,” which discusses New Yorkers’ fight against gentrification, won the Astor Award for Best in the Borough. 

“Those are the types of stories I like to see because that’s New York. There’s so much talent in this city and filmmaking is a vessel to shine a light on it,” he said. 

When Cappadora founded the Astoria Filmmakers Club in 2019, he never thought it would be as well-received as it was. 

“Things kind of just fell into place this year, where we wanted to just do our own festival just to see if we could do it, but have it just be exclusive for New York City filmmakers. So that’s what we did,” he said. 

The Triborough Film Festival was a two-day battle of the boroughs in which New York filmmakers submitted their films to be showcased at the festival. 

“What we’re creating is the minor leagues before they’re really ready to play in the big league, and the only way you can actually get to that point is with experience, and that’s what we’re looking to create,” Cappadora said. “Just a platform for people to collaborate, get the experience, showcase everything at the festival and go from there.” 

In the future, Cappadora hopes to extend the festival to a month-long event. 

The AFC’s mission is to bring community, creativity and joy to New York City’s community of filmmakers.

The club was founded when, after ten years in the industry, Cappadora began to wonder what he could do differently and decided to take creative control. 

“I thought, how cool would it be if we literally went back to basics and recreated just the idea of a club where it’s all of us just figuring it out, making it up as we go, surround us with the most talented people in their field and then just make something?” he said. “And that’s how it all spawned.”

He posted on Facebook to ask if any Astoria residents would be interested in a filmmakers’ club, and he was shocked that the community gave a positive response. 

“I came to Astoria by accident, it just happened. And it turns out everyone in the industry lives there, but nobody actually knows each other,” Cappadora said. “The next thing you know, I just start doing meetups…we had almost 100 people come…next thing you know, we’ve got a Facebook group. It went from 60 people, and now we’re way over 700 in just three short years, through the pandemic. And now it’s growing even faster because everybody wants community. Everybody wants to be creative.” 

“It’s very similar to a chamber of commerce exclusively for the filmmaking industry,” he continued. “Because what we do and what we’re capable of doing is a form of ministry work. Because we can provide all the financial grants for any film, maybe anywhere…there’s not a single filmmaker that would not qualify for the finances we could potentially provide.” 

Cappadora got involved in film “by accident:” he worked in construction after he graduated from high school, but an injury prevented him pursuing it further. 

He then went to college to study business, when he took a film class as an elective. 

“I got bit by the theater bug, and next thing you know, I took an acting class. At first, I thought maybe it would do well if I knew how to talk in front of people as a business person, so I figured, alright, I’ll give it a shot,” he said. 

After he got recruited for many different acting projects, Cappadora did his first independent film, which got accepted into the Black Bear Film Festival. 

Soon afterwards, he came to New York to study film. 

“It kind of just gave me a life that I never knew I would ever have, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” he said. 

Cappadora said that the AFC is something he needed in 2012 after he finished acting school. 

“This is the space I wish I had ten years ago,” he said. “And I think that’s exactly how it got to where it is right now, because it’s the standard I need in order to have a sustainable life and job that’s easily duplicatable for everybody else.” 

In 2024, the AFC hopes not only to expand the Triborough Film Festival, but host a parade in Queens. 

The AFC intends to be a crowdfunding resource, and before they shoot a movie, they will give the community an audio presentation as to what it is about. 

If community members are interested in the plot, they can make a donation to support the project. 

To support the Astoria Filmmakers Club, learn more about their events and watch a recording of the Astor Awards, visit their website at

The club will start to accept submissions for next year’s Triborough Film Festival in April.

NYPD, FDNY go head-to-head in 2nd annual volleyball game

Game at Maspeth High raises funds, honors fallen heroes

By Jessica Meditz

Both the NYPD and FDNY teams showed good sportsmanship throughout.

Cheers filled the gym at Maspeth High School this past Saturday as members of the community turned out to show their support for first responders.

After last year’s smashing success, the NYPD and FDNY men’s volleyball teams held their annual volleyball game for a second year.

The game is to bring awareness and honor the lives of NYPD and FDNY personnel killed in the line of duty, including Police Officer Adeed Fayaz, Detectives Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera, Firefighters Jesse Gerhard, Timothy Klein, William Moon and EMS Lieutenant Alison Russo-Elling.

It was also a community effort to raise funds for NYPD and FDNY families. Proceeds from the $10 admission ticket and raffle sales went to the Police Benevolent Association and FDNY Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund.

The raffle prizes were all donated by local businesses, including Patrizia’s, Villa Erasmo, Connolly’s Corner, Enchanted Florist & Greenhouse, Oasis Cafe, Cara Mia, Shop & Go Wine & Spirits and Eliot Pizzeria.

Malcolm Brissett-Ortiz, officer at the 77th Precinct and captain of the NYPD volleyball team, organized the event.

“I’m thankful for everyone’s love and support. It’s important we give back to our fallen officers,” Brissett-Ortiz said. “This game is exciting because it’s a lot of fun, and it’s great for morale.”

The afternoon began with a ceremony at 4:30 p.m., featuring the presentation of NYPD and FDNY colors, the National Anthem and a moment of silence for the fallen heroes.

Jerry Matacotta, volleyball coach at Maspeth High School and of the FDNY team, said that the event is intended to be based in community and unity.

“It’s important to get together after a terrible event, recognize the NYPD and FDNY’s work and the heroes that have died this year,” he said. “We wanted to get morale up and help the families.”

The firefighters and police officers on their respective teams are from throughout the city, who have gone on to compete across the country and in the World Police & Fire Games.

Matacotta said they’ll go up to Winnipeg, Canada for this year’s World Police & Fire Games, as well as Battle of the Badges in Massachusetts.

Saturday’s match was played on a best-out-of-five basis, which kept spectators on the edge of their seats.

For the second year in a row, the NYPD reigned victorious – comfortably beating the FDNY 3-1.

They took home a trophy and earned bragging rights once again.

No matter who won or lost, both teams felt a sense of gratitude to see members of the local community so supportive of their work.

“This community supports EMS and the Police and Fire Departments 100 percent. There’s no maybes in this community,” Matacotta said.

“The tradition of the Police and Fire Departments is over 150 years old. It’s not going to end this year, in 50 years, 100 years or 2,000 years from now,” he continued. “People who have served and died for us will always be remembered.”

Forest Hills resident competes on ‘Jeopardy!’

Dan Wohl defeats four-day champion

By Jessica Meditz

Forest Hills resident Dan Wohl (R) with Jeopardy! host, Ken Jennings (L) Photo courtesy of Jeopardy Productions, Inc

Dan Wohl represented Forest Hills with pride last Wednesday on “Jeopardy!”

Wohl, a 36-year-old Forest Hills resident and social studies teacher at Syosset High School on Long Island, threw his hat into the ring against some talented players, including Matthew Marcus, a four-day, $114,000-plus winner.

Although Marcus was looking good in terms of gameplay, Wohl gave him a run for his money – winning his first game and walking away with $26,799.

Wohl scored big by taking a risk during Double Jeopardy, making it a true Daily Double when he had $10,000.

He answered correctly, doubling his score and putting him ahead of Marcus by $7,000.

Wohl said that before that moment, he knew that if he landed on a Daily Double, he would wager all his money unless he was very uneasy about the category.

“That was the most exciting part and the thing I’m proudest of, that I’m sure I will love recounting for the rest of my life,” he said. “When I did the true Daily Double, the audible gasps that it elicited from the audience will definitely be one of my most cherished memories forever.”

Wohl said that going into Final Jeopardy was smooth sailing for him, since he knew it would be impossible for his opponents to catch him.

He doubted himself in the final category, “European Cities,” as shown through the three question marks he wrote in his response. However, he got it right anyway.

“I felt really cool and badass,” he said.

Wohl kept his momentum going into Thursday’s game with a strong performance in the first two rounds, but was met with stiff competition in the form of Mira Hayward, a writer from Portland, Oregon.

He came up short in Final Jeopardy within the category of “Theater History.”

Even though his run was short-lived, Wohl is proud of his achievements and earnings on “Jeopardy!”

It’s not his first experience being on a game show, as he’s appeared on “Cash Cow” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” in the past.

This, plus his teaching experience left him feeling prepared for his “Jeopardy!” run.

“There was an advantage in terms of staying calm and poised (or at least trying to), because that’s a part of teaching and one of the elements I really enjoy,” Wohl said. “That sort of performance aspect of both teaching and Jeopardy! is related.”

As he returned to his life in Forest Hills, teaching history and living with his wife, Marisa, he reflected on his positive experience on the show – meeting host Ken Jennings and all the quick-witted contestants.

“My parents were asking me afterward, ‘What do you want to do next?’ and I told them, ‘I don’t think there is any next. Nothing really beats this,’” he said. “‘Jeopardy!’ is so comforting and it feels good because it’s this tightly edited, 22-minute microcosm of a world that I wish we all lived in, where the important thing is knowledge, intelligence and curiosity.”

No matter what, he’s thrilled to be able to call himself a “Jeopardy!” champion and represent his community.

Queens, NY Profits By Repairing Rather Than Replacing Their Roofing

Ok folks, so here is the deal. Most roofers in today’s day and age are hungry to sell you a new roof. Even if there was an underlying assumption that your roof can be fixed with some high quality roof membranes they would much rather make a quick buck on you. This all goes back to the fact that when you hire a roofing contractor they must be very trustworthy. At the end of the day, just like you trust a Doctor because you have no clue how your internal organs work, you must also trust your roofer to give you sound advice and guidance. With that said, always press your roofer to see if there is an option for a more affordable repair and don’t fall for the “get a new roof” trap without doing your due diligence. Follow my advice and your family will be the Kings & Queens of your roofing.

Roofing membranes, the most common way to repair rather than replace a roof, will now be explained:

Roofing membranes are materials that are used to provide a waterproof and weather-resistant barrier on the surface of a roof. They are commonly used by our beloved Queens roofing contractors in both residential and commercial buildings to protect the interior from rain, snow, wind, and other environmental elements.

The best roofing membranes in the industry can be made from a variety of materials, including:

  1. Synthetic polymers such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), thermoplastic olefin (TPO), and ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM).
  2. Bituminous materials such as modified bitumen and built-up roofing (BUR).
  3. Metal materials such as aluminum and steel.

Roofing membranes are installed on top of the roofing deck and provide an additional layer of protection against moisture and weather damage. They are available in a variety of colors, thicknesses, and textures to meet different building requirements and aesthetic preferences.

Overall, roofing membranes play a critical role in protecting the integrity and longevity of a building’s roof and are an important consideration for any roofing project.

Contributed With Help From The Royal Renovators Inc. Team. Royal Roofing Queens Is A Queens Ledger Featured Roofer: Contact them now at: Royal Roofing Queens 68-38 Main St. Flushing, NY 11367 (718) 489-4009



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