BY DANIEL OFFNER
Beginning next week, the fifth annual Queens World Film Festival will showcase 117 short and feature films – 19 made here in Queens – with daily screenings at the Museum of Moving Image in Astoria, the Secret Theatre in Long Island City and PS 69 in Jackson Heights.
Kicking off the week-long film competition, the museum will feature a special opening night tribute on March 17, to Leon Ichaso, a Los Angeles-based director of such groundbreaking films as “El Super,” “Crossover Dreams” and “Paraiso.” He will be presented with the “Spirit of Queens” award from Cynthia Lopez, commissioner with the Mayor’s office for media and entertainment. Ichaso will also be at the museum on March 18 to present his latest film, “Bitter Sugar,” which chronicles the political disillusionment of a Cuban revolutionary.
“The Queens World Film Festival is a vibrant, energetic event, showing an exciting array of new films while also highlighting the achievements of established filmmakers,” David Schwartz, chief curator of the Museum of the Moving Image, said. “We’re pleased to partner with the Festival on the screenings of ‘Bitter Sugar’ and ‘Dukhtar,’ and also to be a venue for many of the other screenings.”
The feature film for closing night – Afia Nathaniel’s “Dukhtar” – is a touching story about the practice of marrying pre-pubescent girls to much older men for tribal, political and economic reasons. The film, which is entirely shot in disputed areas of Pakistan, follows the story of one girl whose mother kidnaps her on the eve of her marriage and they run for their lives. “Dukhtar” features performances from some well-known actors and is fast becoming a festival favorite among fans of art-house films.
“I love picking films for this Festival because we get to bring the world to Queens and Queens to the world,” Queens World Film Festival Artistic Director Don Cato said in a statement.
The 19 Queens filmmakers featured at this year’s film festival include Dennis Shinners, Lisa Melodia, Marc Macaluso, Neha Guatum, Michael Chmiel, E.J. McLeavey-Fisher, Jamil Lahham, Johnny Pik, Neal Hemphill, Christina Raia, Patrick Chen, Jennica Carmona, Conrad Stojak, Laura Aguinaga, Rachel Mason, Lydia Darly, Roberto Reyes, Karin and Eddie Venegas and Joy Shatz.
Each year, the festival awards prizes for the best animation, best LGBTQ short film, best comedy short film, best actress, best actor, best cinematographer, best director, best documentary and best narrative in a short or feature film.
Winners will be announced during the closing night of the film festival, on Saturday, March 22 at the Museum of the Moving Image.
For more information on showtimes, visit queensworldfilmfestival.com.
Reach Daniel Offner at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @DanielOffner.