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Queens’ summer series offer alternative to popcorn fare

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Summer’s cinematic offerings tend to provide moviegoers with a dose of the reliable, whether it is comic book heroes, sequels or expensive special effects. But Queens’ selection of film−related events from May through August this year is anything but formulaic, giving borough residents a variety of viewing options, such as watching films with the stars or under them.

Cinephiles will have ample opportunity to see short films, new features, classic movies, cinema from around the globe, premieres and discussions with filmmakers and actors through two Queens festivals and events at four of the borough’s top cultural institutions. In addition, four new films that were shot in the borough’s diverse neighborhoods will make their way to cineplexes during the next four months.

The Astoria−based Museum of the Moving Image kicked off its summer screenings Wednesday with “Rudo y Cursi,” a drama featuring Mexico’s Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, who previously starred together in “Y Tu Mama Tambien.” The museum will host the city premiere of documentary “Food, Inc.,” which paints an unflattering portrait of the United States’ corporate food industry. The premiere will take place at 7:30 p.m. June 4 at the Times Center on 41st Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues in Manhattan, as the museum’s Astoria museum continues to undergo renovation.

From June 13−19, Long Island City’s Food Film Festival will hold its third annual selection of shorts and feature films with screenings at the neighborhood’s Water Taxi Beach, as well as at Manhattan’s Astor Center and the new Water Taxi Beach at South Street Seaport.

The festival, which screens films about cuisine, especially hamburgers, will feature a variety of quirky titles this year, including “Buttermilk — It Can Help,” “Beef is Bueno,” “Clam Pie” and “Come and Have an Omelette with Me.” Also screening at this year’s festival will be the critically acclaimed 1996 picture “Big Night,” which stars Stanley Tucci and Isabella Rossellini.

The Food Film Festival was founded by burger chef Harry Hawk and hamburger enthusiast George Motz, who directed the documentary “Hamburger America.” Tickets for the festival can be purchased at nycfoodfilmfestival.com.

The Queens Museum of Art will host two free foreign film events this summer. From May 10 to Sept. 27, the museum will screen films from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in conjunction with “Tarjama⁄Translation,” which is a contemporary art exhibit on the Middle East and Central Asia.

“This series will explore the development of self−determining cultures and the immediate post−Soviet era of the 1990s,” museum spokesman David Strauss said.

The series will screen one film on the last Saturday of each month of the exhibit.

The museum will also hold its annual Passport Fridays outdoor international film, dance and music series near Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Unisphere. A film will screen each Friday from July 10 to Aug. 28 and will be accompanied by a live music or dance performance.

This year’s selection of films will include “Diamonds in the Rough,” which is about Ugandan hip hop, and “Postcards from Leningrad,” a Venezuelan film set in the 1960s, as well as movies from Colombia, Mexico, India and Taiwan.

Socrates Sculpture Park will host its 11th annual Outdoor Cinema series at its waterfront locale at Vernon Boulevard and Broadway in Long Island City. The list of screenings, which will all be free, have not yet been announced. All screenings include a live music performance and inexpensive food from the country being represented on film.

The park’s series will run from July 15 to Aug. 19. All shows will begin at 7 p.m. Past years have included films from Slovenia, South Korea, India, Brazil, Australia, Africa, Greece, Cuba, Poland, Sweden, Mexico, France, Italy, Japan, Palestine and the United States.

The Sunnyside Shorts Festival will screen this year on Sept. 12 at the Sunnyside Community Center. Its roster has not yet been finalized because the festival is still accepting submissions. Last year’s event showcased 15 short films and included discussions with the filmmakers.

This summer’s studio roster includes several films that were shot in the borough. Director Tony Scott’s remake of the 1974 film “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” opens June 12 nationwide. The new version, which featured shooting at Kaufman Astoria Studios and on location in Woodside, stars Denzel Washington as a subway dispatcher who must negotiate with a group of armed men, led by John Travolta, who have hijacked a train.

Woody Allen’s new film, “Whatever Works,” opens June 19 in select theaters. The comedy, which was partially shot at Kaufman Astoria Studios, stars Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood in a May−December romance.

“Julie and Julia,” based and was filmed largely in Astoria, opens Aug. 7. That film, which was directed by Nora Ephron, stars Amy Adams as a woman who cooks her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” during the course of a year. Meryl Streep plays Child in flashbacks.

In early fall, the horror film “After.Life” will be released. The picture, which was shot in Douglaston and stars Liam Neeson and Christina Ricci, follows the story of a young woman who gets mixed up with a creepy funeral director.

Read film reviews by Nathan Duke at www.criticalconditions.net.

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