Queens World Film Fest set to return for fourth year

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (l. to r.), Katha Cato, Don Cato and Councilman Daniel Dromm at last year's Queens World Film Festival. Photo courtesy Katha Cato.
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When the 4th Annual Queens World Film Festival returns March 4, the organizers will depend on donations to run some of their programs this year. The festival’s director Katha Cato has had a bad year medically and the bills have piled up, forcing her and her husband Don to become fund-raisers.

“We used to pay for the extra programs right out of our pockets,” she said.

“Young Filmmakers is a favorite of ours,” Cato said. “An entire fifth-grade class at PS 69 in Jackson Heights gets to work with filmmakers through the entire process.”

The class makes four or five short films and debut them at a red-carpet event the week before the festival. Old Spice is a program offering seniors free lunchtime screenings. And Encore Screenings brings back films from the first three years of the festival for screenings around the borough.

“We know not everyone knows about the festival yet, so we bring films to their neighborhood like a closed street in Jackson Heights or on the sand in Rockaway,” she said.

To pay for the programs the husband-wife team plans a few auctions, but they rely mainly on a crowd-funding website called

“It’s big with the independent film crowd,” Cato said.

A visit to the website shows that people who donate $10 are designated “Fine Human Being” and get a firm handshake and a shout-out on Facebook. Those who donate $100 get a free ticket to the Festival’s Opening Night and an official T-shirt, “And a phone call from me,” said Cato.

For big donors, $500 gets dinner with the festival’s directors, a Don Cato photograph of Eugene Ionesco, two all-access passes to the festival, two T-shirts and names on the official program. “We’ll also announce the donor’s name from the podium on opening night and then we’ll apologize for mispronouncing it,” she said.

Cato said her bout with cancer affected everyone involved with the festival. She is now back to health after losing 75 percent of her liver and her thyroid. She expects to be at full strength for opening night of the Queens World Film Festival at the Museum of the Moving Image March 4.

“March 4th is my favorite day of the calendar year,” Cato said, “because you march forth.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538,

Posted 12:00 am, November 22, 2013
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