Turning six in 2016, QWFF includes an annual multi day/multi venue festival, youth-oriented educational initiatives and year round screening opportunities for QWFF filmmakers, past and present. The festival is programmed in thematic blocks with provocative titles. Each BLOCK is followed by a post-screening dialogue to engage audiences from the demographically diverse communities and to introduce them to our local and international filmmakers.
1. Can you tell us about your QAF funded project?
The 6th Annual Queens World Film Festival is set to open on March 15 at MoMI with a 7:00pm Pre-Screening Reception sponsored by Investors Bank and Catered by Station LIC. The 8:00 Opening Night Program will feature our 2016 Spirit of Queens Honoree Melvin Van Peebles and a selection of shorts paired with a feature film from Iran. The next day, the festival will return to MoMI and add three more locations: The Secret Theatre in LIC, The All Saints' Episcopal Church in Sunnyside and PS 69 in Jackson Heights.
We have programmed the festival in thematic blocks, pairing films together to create a specific cinematic experience. 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, the 2016 QWFF roster of festival films reflect the discussions artists are having around the world about belonging, civil rights, love, family and hope.
Out of the 144 films, 40 of them are by women another 40 credit a woman as a producer and 19 of the filmmakers are from Queens. For 1 week in March, we will make sure that every film, every venue and every audience member has the best experience we can provide. We can always sleep in April.
2. How do you think this project will impact the community?
QWFF brings people together on so many levels that are good for the filmmakers, the community, the businesses. One of our driving mottoes is that it's not a good deal unless it's a good deal for everyone. Last year 61% of our ticket purchases came from outside the borough. That is extremely encouraging. People came to the festival and spent money at our restaurants, bars and boutiques. It is important to us that the festival is good for the whole boro.
3. How has QCA been helpful in the grant process?
I wish I had taken more advantage of the support, the bootcamps, the workshops. We are so shorthanded that I haven't even been able to ask for the feedback on our grant application. I know QCA is there for us and helpful, I just haven't been able to take advantage of those support services. The application is very straight forward, easy to navigate and clearly presented. I appreciate that you can return to finish the grant process and can't get timed out.
4. Here is your chance, what do you want everyone to know about your organization?
When we push the button on a projector and the image is crisp and the sound is even, it represents hours and hours of attention to the media, the screening equipment, the transfer and digitizing process. We know how hard it is to create a finished film. We know that more often than not, the filmmaker has juggled conflicting commitments, operated on a budget far less than what is needed, kept their vision alive through countless challenges and still found a way to realize their vision. To us, the filmmaker is our most important client and we spend hours and hours making sure that their work will be seen exactly the way they intended. Especially a filmmaker who has completed their work against all odds. I think many times, the image of a film festival brings to mind parties, red carpets, etc. To us, the festival means satisfying the urge to gather and share our stories. Using the moving image to tell that story resonates with everyone who works on QWFF. The organization is comprised of artists of all kinds, photographers, dancers, animators, college students and retired teachers. The faces of QWFF span a broad range of ethnicity, on a typical day here you will meet a young man from Ecuador, another from Guyana, a young lady from Turkey working along side a Vietnam Vet from Jackson Heights and an intern from Korea.