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The Reel Queens: Queens-set ‘Blue Valentine’ makes showing at Cannes

Queens will be all over the cinematic map this summer as one of the two American films competing at the Cannes Film Festival was shot in the borough, three of the summer’s potential blockbusters were partially set in its neighborhoods and an Astoria filmmaker just wrapped a high-profile crime drama in western Queens.

The borough’s film production appears to be thriving despite Hollywood studios dropping major film projects to cut costs amid the ailing economy and fears that city and state tax credits will not be extended far enough into the future to attract new television shows.

This year’s Cannes Film Festival, which opened May 12 and runs through May 23, features a much smaller slate of U.S. films than in years before. But this year’s selection includes director Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine,” a romantic drama starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams that premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival.

The film, which will be released Dec. 31, included filming at Steinway Moving and Storage, a warehouse in Astoria, and its owner, James Benatti, appeared in a few scenes.

The only other American film to debut in competition on the Promenade de la Croisette is Doug Liman’s “Fair Game,” which stars Sean Penn and Naomi Watts as Joseph Wilson and outed spy Valerie Plame. That movie was shot in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island.

Other New York films to premiere out of competition at Cannes include Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” and Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” a London-based comedy that represents one of the filmmaker’s few forays out of the five boroughs.

The festival’s lineup boasts Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Biutiful,” Stephen Frears’ “Tamara Drewe,” Jean-Luc Godard’s “Film Socialisme” and Apichatpong Weerasethaku’s “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.”

Hollywood’s blockbuster season is also heavy with films using the borough as a backdrop.

Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man 2” debuted with a $133 million weekend during the first weekend of May, which is considered the kickoff for summer movies. Two of the film’s largest action sequences were set at the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, although the production never actually set foot in the park. The scenes were created through special effects.

But “Sex and the City 2,” to be released May 27, included scenes filmed at Long Island City’s Silvercup Studios, where the sets for the original HBO television show’s interiors were.

And director Phillip Noyce’s spy thriller “Salt,” which stars Angelina Jolie as a CIA officer who must prove her loyalty to her country after being accused of being a Russian spy, filmed at Silvercup but also included scenes on the Queensborough Bridge and at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village. The movie will be released July 23.

Two smaller studio pictures made in Queens set to debut this summer are “Going the Distance” and “Lottery Ticket.” The former is a romantic comedy shot partially in Hollis that stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long as a couple dealing with a long-distance relationship. The latter is a Long Island City- and Astoria-based comedy with Ice Cube and Bow Wow about a man who must avoid his greedy neighbors after winning a Lotto ticket worth $350 million.

Ice Cube’s film will be released Aug. 20 and Barrymore’s will come out Aug. 27.

Several other pictures will make their way into theaters amid the fall’s awards season lineup, including Philip Seymour Hoffman’s directorial debut, “Jack Goes Boating,” which has a scene filmed at Maspeth’s Clinton Diner, and John Cameron Mitchell’s “Rabbit Hole,” a drama with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart that was shot along Bell Boulevard and other locations around Bayside last summer.

Also on the way are “Yelling to the Sky” with Gabourey Sibide, shot in Hollis; “Every Day,” made in Bayside; and “Beware the Gonzo,” which also used the Clinton Diner and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

This year has already seen the release of a number of borough-based movies, such as “Cop Out,” “Remember Me,” “The Back Up Plan” and “The Bounty Hunter.”

Earlier this month, Astoria-born-and-bred filmmaker Dito Montiel completed work on “Son of No One,” which is the story of a young cop assigned to a precinct in the working-class neighborhood where he grew up.

The film, set for release next year, stars Al Pacino, Channing Tatum, Katie Holmes, Juliette Binoche and Ray Liotta. Late last month, Montiel filmed a key sequence under the elevated N train tracks along 31st Street. Hordes of Astorians gathered around to watch Holmes and Tatum film a scene.

The film also shot at Long Island City’s Queensbridge Houses.

Montiel previously made his autobiographical “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” in Astoria and filmed a scene in Flushing for his sophomore effort, “Fighting.”

Read film reviews by Nathan Duke at criticalconditions.net.

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