Festival of Cinema NYC returns to Forest Hills

Showcase includes over 120 films from 25+ countries

By Jessica Meditz


Next week, residents of Forest Hills and its surrounding communities will have the chance to enjoy a fun activity while summer is still here.

Festival of Cinema NYC, a nonprofit organization focused on bringing the works of diverse filmmakers to the community, will return to the Regal UA Midway at 108-22 Queens Blvd. for their festival on August 5.

Featuring 124 independent films from more than 25 countries, the 10-day festival offers locals an opportunity to learn about the world of filmmaking and become engaged with the arts community.

Over 90 filmmakers are expected to attend.

“I hope that residents get a better understanding and appreciation of independent film, especially with all these Hollywood blockbusters coming out. So I hope audiences come out and find a true appreciation for these films, or at least discover these filmmakers and this whole genre of independent films,” Jayson Simba, founder and director of Festival of Cinema NYC, said.

“Because roughly 90 filmmakers have confirmed attendance, we’re hoping that the audience could connect with the filmmakers and learn more about their process,” he continued. “After the film is shown, we do a Q&A with the filmmakers, where the audience can ask questions. Afterwards, everyone can mix, mingle, network, and take pictures together.”

One of these filmmakers is Nicola Rose, director of “Goodbye, Petrushka,” which she describes as a “not quite romantic comedy” about a spunky oddball named Claire.

The film poster for “Goodbye, Petrushka”

Although it is set in Paris, “Goodbye, Petrushka” was actually entirely filmed in New York City—in areas such as Harlem, Washington Heights, and Midtown, to be specific.

“We did the best possible job we could faking Paris,” Rose said.

“Claire puts everything on hold as an au pair over in Paris… Basically everything goes wrong that could go wrong. It’s a complete comedy of errors.”

The character falls in love with a retired figure skater, which is unreciprocated, but Rose said that they needed to meet each other in order to realize where they needed to go in their lives.

“Each of them are at this very different, but similar creative crossroads,” she added.

Exemplifying the diversity of the films selected, another film called “Wishing for Wings” will have its world premiere at the Festival of Cinema NYC.

The director, Kim Johnson, hails from Port of Spain in the country of Trinidad & Tobago, where the film was also shot.

“Wishing for Wings” is based on the 2013 book by Debbie Jacob with the same title, whom Johnson is friends with.

The film centers around Jacob, an American librarian who teaches literature to teenage boys who are in prison at YTC Youth Training Center, located to the east of the city.

Helping to prepare the boys for exams, the newly found teacher/student relationship affects their lives in ways that neither foresaw.

“This is the story of the boys getting accustomed to her, and her getting accustomed to the boys, it was them growing together,” Johnson said.

“Debbie is white, and they are Black. So they were both suspicious and uncomfortable with one another, and they actually came to love one another,” he continued. “It was a very emotional experience for her and for them.”

Kim Johnson in his element.

Although Johnson cannot make it to the festival, he is excited and proud to have his film shown to the diverse communities Queens has to offer.

“I spent all the money out of my pocket for the film and of course, [the screening] doesn’t pay me back what I put into it. But at the same time, it is some recognition that I did something that’s valuable and worthwhile.” he said.

In addition to the festival at Regal UA Midway, Festival of Cinema NYC will offer programming throughout the week, including a pre-launch party at Resorts World New York City’s Bar 360 on Aug. 4, and sessions at the Forest Hills Library from Aug. 9 until the 12.

There will also be an awards ceremony for the filmmakers at Jamaica Performing Arts Center on Aug. 14.

Ticket prices vary for the various events, but general admission is $17. Folks can purchase a 10-ticket bundle for $136 and save 20 percent, or a 15-ticket bundle for $178.50 to save 30 percent. The VIP All-Access Film Badge costs $365.

For a full list of the schedule and more information about the festival, visit www.festivalofcinemanyc.com

Public school film festival coming to parks

Every year, the Parks Department hosts its annual Movies Under the Stars series, bringing new and classic films to green spaces throughout the five boroughs.
Parks is building upon that tradition this year by showcasing some lesser known filmmakers…the students of New York City public schools.
The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and the Department of Education announced that 32 short films created by public school students will be recognized during the 3rd annual New York City Public School Film Festival.
In years past, the student film festival has been held indoors, but this year the event will be held outside and free to the public through the Movies Under the Stars program.
The New York City Public School Film Festival was created to provide an opportunity for students to have their work recognized and consider careers in filmmaking. The films represent the talent and diversity of students citywide, and filmsn were chosen by a panel of teachers and media professionals.
“Congratulations to all the student filmmakers for their insightful and inspiring contributions at this year’s NYC Public School Film Festival,” said Anne del Castillo, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. “We are so proud to partner with the Department of Education and renowned award-winning talents to support these young filmmakers.”
“The unique voices featured highlight the diversity and talent of New York City students, and we’re thankful for our arts teachers and school leaders who support our students’ creativity, artistic skills, and critical thinking every day,” added Maria Palma, executive director for the Department of Education’s Office of Arts and Special Projects.
The film’s showcased during the festival represent a variety of cinematic disciplines, including animation, documentary, and short narrative film. All of the films are between one and five minutes long.
In addition to being a showcase of the best student talent citywide, the NYC Public School Film Festival was created to help emerging student filmmakers consider future careers in the entertainment industry.
To this end, the festival reached out to a variety of professionals in the world of film who will attend this weekend’s events and speak to students about their work.
These include Tamar-kali, the Brooklyn-born composer of the Oscar-nominated Mudbound, and Kemp Powers, the Brooklyn-born, Oscar-nominated co-writer and co-director of the award-winning film Soul and writer of One Night in Miami.
The Public School Film Festival will take place in parks throughout the city. These include a July 9th showing at Travers Park in Queens, a July 10th screening at Central Park in Manhattan, and a July 11th screening at Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
If you are not able to attend in person but still want to watch the work of these talented students, all of the winning films are available to watch online or on YouTube at the NYC Mayor’s Office’s official channel.

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