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Third Queens World Film Festival opens in Astoria

Filmmakers John Schmidt (l.) and Andrew Lewis, whose film "Family Feast" was featured on opening night of the Queens World Film Festival, review a program. Photo by Ken Maldonado
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The Queens World Film Festival opened Tuesday night on an enthusiastic note as the event kicked off the third year of its existence.

Patrons of the arts and cinema filed in to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria to raise the curtain on the independent film festival, which draws entries from around the world. To open the ceremony festival directors Don and Katha Cato spoke as did City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).

Bramer has been a longtime promoter of the arts and culture and spoke highly of the Catos, since they make a large contribution to the Queens art scene.

As the festival is organized in thematic blocks, naturally the opening night had its own category: “What Lies Beneath.” A series of shorts was shown in two parts, each of them possessing their own elemental twist.

Each film was distinct. Take “Heads Up,” for instance, a tale of a card game gone wrong with a dash of Quentin Tarantino for flavor in contrast with Italian director Luca Gennari’s “The Tits on an 18 Year Old,” about an aging perverted cabbie, which was shot entirely on an iPhone.

We learned that prom is not always what it seems in “At the Formal” from Australia,” and that love is strongest amid the rubble with “Uh La La” from Spain. Among all of their different styles, Katha Cato noted that “other countries are grappling with the same issues as we are … and that is why isn’t the world going in the direction we thought it was going?”

Between sections, QWFF honored longtime actor Karen Black, who stars in the festival’s “Vacationla­nd,” by Jaime Hook. The audience was educated on Black’s illustrious career with a montage of clips from her performances in works from the likes of “Easy Rider” and “Five Easy Pieces” to “House of 1000 Corpses.” Black, who could not attend, sent a message thanking the festival for the award.

If anything, the ceremony served as an exciting preview for what was to come. With such a wide variety of countries exhibiting their films, and dynamic topics being introduced, a solid turnout was expected to materialize as well as provocative discourse.

Katha Cato told the audience that “we think you’ll have a lot to talk about, perhaps even argue about.”

To close she joined Don Cato in reminding the festival-goers that sharing their stories is the most thing important of all, as it keeps us all linked.

The QWFF runs through Sunday.

Posted 8:53 pm, March 7, 2013
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