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The Reel Queens: Food Film Festival picks up steam for its 2010 menu

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Queens movie lovers and foodies will both have reason to celebrate as the fourth annual New York City Food Film Festival kicks off its savory cinematic selections this June in Long Island City and other sites across the five boroughs.

The festival, which was founded in 2007 by Brooklyn author George Motz and Long Island City chef Harry Hawk, will screen 36 films between June 23 and June 27. Celluloid subjects this year include everything from a famous city diner owner and small beer distributors to pig’s blood popsicles and a soda maker.

“It’s a multi-sensory experience, which you don’t get at a lot of other festivals,” Motz said. “It’s a mixture of a food party and a film festival. People get hungry while watching food on screen.”

This year’s roster comes from a variety of locales, such as Brooklyn, Malaysia, Japan, Belgium, England, Canada, Austria and France. Most of the films are accompanied by samples of the delectables being viewed.

“You can watch a film about ice cream while eating ice cream,” Motz said. “But we don’t want people to think we just show films about hamburgers and hotdogs. We also recreate a pig’s blood popsicle and show a film about a Jackson, Miss. restaurant that makes pig’s ear sandwiches. It sounds disgusting, but it’s amazing.”

Motz underwent extensive research for his 2008 book “Hamburger America,” sampling the sandwich from sites across the United States. Hawk took up burger flipping as a career in 2002 and won the city’s Battle of the Burgers in 2008.

Motz said the festival has grown exponentially since it was founded four years ago

“This year, we had more than 100 submissions, as opposed to the first year when we could barely scrape together 15,” he said.

The festival will open June 23 with an oyster night event at the Water Taxi Beach at South Street Seaport and will continue the following day with an event featuring celebrity chefs at the Astor Center.

On June 25, the festival moves to the Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City and then holds screenings the next day at a drive-in setup under the Brooklyn Bridge, where more than 40 food trucks will line up to serve attendees.

The closing day event includes “It’s Grits,” a 1978 film that will be accompanied by a grits cook off featuring 30 chefs.

“Beer Wars,” a film about how corporate beer companies are squelching smaller brands, will also show that day. Independent brewers from across the city will take part in that event, which will be at a site yet to be determined under the Brooklyn Bridge.

Friday and Saturday’s screenings will be free.

Some of this year’s films include “Eating Right,” a short film about how political campaigns use food to connect with voters; “Flowers, Fruit, Sugar and Spices,” which details the operations of the oldest operating confectioner in Europe; “Night Market Taipei,” a short film on pig’s blood popsicles; and the self-explanatory “Squid Chips.”

Another film to screen is “Florent: Queen of the Meat Market,” a documentary on Florent Morellet, who founded the 24-hour titular Manhattan diner that closed down two years ago.

“He started the restaurant that became a haven for drag queens and provided greasy nourishment to the neighborho­od,” Motz said.

Films range in time from a few minutes to just under 90 minutes.

“As a chef, I’m really excited about our official film selections and all the styles of food we will be presenting,” Hawk said.

Awards will be presented in six categories: features, short films, super-short pictures, best movie made in New York, filmmaker of the year and audience choice.

Tickets for the festival are expected to go on sale this week at its Web site at nycfoodfilmfestival.com.

Read film reviews by Nathan Duke at criticalconditions.net.

Updated 5:50 pm, October 10, 2011
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