The Reel Queens: Many Queens-made films to hit theaters as fall arrives

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The fall movie season kicks off next week with two films shot in Queens and wraps up at year’s end with a likely awards contender set in the borough. But an additional seven movies as well as several series and festivals during the next four months will display the best of what Queens cinema has to offer.

Between September and December, moviegoers will see Bayside, Hollis, Astoria, Maspeth, Jackson Heights and Forest Hills in films, both studio pictures and independents, made for theaters and HBO. At least one film series and another festival will be held in the borough this fall, while one of filmdom’s most prominent institutions, the Museum of the Moving Image, is set to open the doors of its $67 million expansion in the new year.

On Sept. 3, “Going the Distance” will be released nationwide. The romantic comedy, which was shot partially in Hollis, stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long as a couple attempting to navigate the difficulties of a long-distance relationship.

Next week will also see the debut of “The Winning Season,” a comedy centered on a man who is given a second chance when he gets the opportunity to coach a high school’s girls basketball team.

The film, which stars Sam Rockwell and Emma Roberts, was shot in October 2008 at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, but the film is set in Indiana. On Oct. 6, 2008, the school’s gym was filled with camera crews as students watched the sports film being shot.

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s directorial debut, “Jack Goes Boating,” will be released in theaters Sept. 17. The film, which made its debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, follows the story of a limousine driver whose life changes after he agrees to go on a blind date.

“Jack Goes Boating” stars Hoffman, Queens native Amy Ryan and John Ortiz and includes scenes at Maspeth’s frequently filmed Clinton Diner.

Western Queens was heavily used for “Blue Valentine,” one of this year’s Oscar hopefuls. The picture, directed by Derek Cianfrance, is a romantic drama starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple whose marriage disintegrates over a span of years.

The film, which will be released Dec. 29, was shot at Steinway Moving and Storage, a warehouse in Astoria, and its owner, James Benatti, appeared in a few scenes.

Two other Queens films, “Rabbit Hole” and “Today’s Special,” are expected to be released this fall. The former is the story of a married couple coping with the death of their child. The movie, shot on Bell Boulevard in Bayside, stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart and was directed by James Cameron Mitchell, the provocateur behind “Shortbus” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

“Today’s Special,” which was directed by David Kaplan and stars Aasif Mandvi, of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” was shot primarily in Jackson Heights and was originally titled “7 to the Palace.” The movie was shot at the neighborhood eatery Ashoka, on 37th Avenue, and follows the story of a Manhattan chef who returns to his roots in Queens by taking over his father’s Indian cuisine restaurant.

Acclaimed director Todd Haynes (“Far From Heaven,” “I’m Not There”) recently shot a remake of the classic film “Mildred Pierce” as an HBO miniseries with Kate Winslet, Evan Rachel Wood, Guy Pearce and Melissa Leo in Forest Hills, lining up several blocks near Austin Street with antique cars.

A small slate of film series and festivals will also roll out this fall and winter in the borough. Long Island City’s P.S.1 will wrap up its Greater New York Cinema series in mid-October. Independent films from Andrew Lampert will screen at 3 p.m. Sept. 4 and 11, while Trisha Baga will show her work Sept. 18 at the same time.

Several filmmakers will display their work at similar events Sept. 23 to 27, Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, Oct. 7 to 11 and Oct. 15 to 17. Conversations with the artists will take place after their films are screened.

The Queens International Film Festival is not expected to be held in Long Island City this year, but the fourth-annual Sunnyside Shorts Film Festival should return in the fall. Details are yet to be announced.

On Jan. 15, the long-anticipated expansion project at Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image will open to the public. The cultural institution’s new building will include a redesigned new floor, an elevated movie theater, a three-story addition and a new gallery for exhibits.

Its first slate of screenings include work from Alain Resnais, Arthur Penn, D.A. Pennebaker and Vittorio De Sica.

Read film reviews by Nathan Duke at

Updated 6:10 pm, October 10, 2011
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