Congratulations to prolific indie filmmaker and renaissance man Melvin Van Peebles, who will be honored with the “Spirit of Queens” Award at the 6th Annual Queens World Film Festival (QWFF) at the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) in Astoria, Queens, tonight.
Each year, the Queens World Film Festival (QWFF) pays tribute to an outstanding filmmaker for his or her body of work. Van Peebles is an American actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, novelist, painter and composer. Successful in every medium, Van Peebles is most famous for his movie Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, which heralded a new era of African-American cinema. It will be screened this evening Wednesday, March 16- 7pm at the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) in Astoria, Queens, followed by a Q&A with the legendary Mr. Peebles, moderated by MoMI trustee Warrington Hudlin, founder of the Black Filmmaker Foundation.
I had the distinct pleasure of being directed by Melvin in Identity Crisis, appearing as one half of the mud wrestling Ninja Twins.
Twenty-nine other films will be screened this evening as well at the 3 other venues. Full Festival passes and Individual Tickets are on sale on line. For the full schedule and to view trailers please visit: www.queensworldfilmfestival.com
The 6th Annual Queens World Film Festival (QWFF) opened last evening at the Museum of the Moving Image. Films will also be screened at the Secret Theatre, PS 69 and All Saints’ Episcopal Church thru March 20. 143 films from 23 countries will be screened over the 5 days including films from Iran, Haiti, Nepal, Germany, England and Finland. Featuring 29 world premieres, 22 US premieres, 38 feature length and 85 short films (Narratives, Documentaries, LGBTQ, Animation and Family friendly) with 29 filmmakers from Queens, 42 female directors and 30 female producers.
To highlight the IndieCollect film preservation campaign, Susan Seidelman’s 1982 movie, Smithereens, will be showcased at MoMI on Closing Night, Saturday, March 19. The Smithereens negative was found by the IndieCollect team in the vaults of DuArt Film & Video after DuArt closed its photo-chemical division, and was placed at the Academy Film Archive for safekeeping. IndieCollect, headed by QWFF board member Sandra Schulberg, is dedicated to saving independent films before they are lost due to neglect, lack of funding and/or faulty preservation strategies. For more info, see: indiecollect.org
Smithereens was the first American independent feature to be shown in the Official Competition at the Cannes Film Festival. The international rights to Smithereens were recently acquired by SHOUT! Factory (shoutfactory.com), and later this year the film will be released into the physical DVD and digital market by The Criterion Collection. Ms. Seidelman subsequently directed the hugely successful movie, Desperately Seeking Susan, featuring Madonna in her screen debut.
The Queens World Film Festival engages audiences with targeted outreach to the diverse communities that comprise the borough of Queens. QWFF Artistic Director Don Cato underlines this: “This year’s films come from many of the countries whose diasporas are represented in Queens, and they promise to move and entertain our audiences. There are tender films, heartbreaking films, and several works that are extremely provocative, even disturbing. Taken as a whole, I feel this year’s selection ties us into discussions people are having around the world.”
Cato programs the films in thematic blocks with evocative titles, and each program is followed by a post-screening dialogue. Alumni are not automatically accepted, and names are no guarantee either. The real stars are the films themselves. “It’s about surrendering to the cinema experience, without looking for familiar names, titles, scores. It’s about creating the right context for personal, intimate discoveries you will not find anywhere else on the planet,” states Cato.
The Festival’s Executive Director, Katha Cato, defines the ethos that makes QWFF so compelling. “From the beginning of time we have gathered in darkened caves around flickering lights to share our stories. We’ve upgraded the caves, the flickering lights are now zeroes and ones, but the impulse to gather, to tell our stories, remains. When we look at a QWFF film, we see that artists and audiences all over the globe are finding exciting ways to tell stories, both old and new. We are proud to be part of that conversation.”
In addition to producing the annual Queens World Film Festival, the organization programs films year-round at a variety of borough venues through its “Encore” and “Old Spice” screening series, and through its “Young Filmmakers” training program.
The Queens World Film Festival is a program of the Queens World Film Initiative, Inc., a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which will screen at the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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