Dec. 11, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
Independent filmmakers will be flocking to the neighborhood next summer for the first-ever Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema.
Local actor and filmmaker Jayson Simba will be hosting more than 100 films over 10 days next August, offering a chance for unknown filmmakers to show their work on the big screen and bring a slice of Hollywood to Queens.
The festival will take place at the Kew Gardens Cinema, located at 81-05 Lefferts Blvd., from August 4 through 13. The event will consist of about 125 films of all genres, though the exact number will depend on the length of the selected films.
Simba said that the festival is accepting film submission of all lengths and genres from all over the world.
“We want to do this because big festivals often become bigger than themselves. The original idea was to give independent films, those that wouldn’t otherwise be seen, a chance,” Simba said.
“Now it is impossible to get in to the big festivals without a big budget, so we wanted to go back to idea of why these festivals existed in the first place. We want to give independent filmmakers who work incredibly hard and struggle to make their films a chance to screen their work.”
Simba and about six other industry professionals will comb through the submissions and whittle them down to determine which films will be screened at the festival.
“We’re not so much looking for popular films or celebrities, but we’re looking for films where producers or directors had to really work hard to put it together and put heart and soul in to it,” Simba said.
He found a perfect partner in Kew Gardens Cinemas, he said, since it is one of the few places left to see art-house and independent films in Queens.
“[The Kew Gardens Cinemas] immediately came to mind because it represented everything that we wanted to showcase at our festival,” Simba said.
“It is known for playing art-house, independent, and foreign films and we thought it would be a perfect fit, and they were all on board.”
The festival will offer attendees more than simply screen films, Simba said.
Throughout the week, there will be at least three panels of industry professionals open to the public, and there will be Q & A sessions with the filmmakers after the screenings. There will also be a mixer on the first day to allow the community to mingle and meet the visiting filmmakers.
The festival will also feature six “spotlight” films, each of which will premiere at the festival with a red carpet and an after party.
The final night of the festival will have a special gala on the rooftop penthouse of the Terrace on the Park, located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
To learn more about the festival or to submit a film, visit http://www.kewgardensfestivalofcinema.com/.