Queens World Film Festival is my favorite festival. Not just because it happens in my community of Queens. But also because, now in its 9th year, I can honestly say it’s one of the most well-run, supportive and lovingly programmed festivals out there. I travel the country attending festivals regularly, for my own work and my job with Seed&Spark, and Queens World is truly top notch. Katha and Don (the lovely festival directors) curate content that reflects the diverse voices and stories in Queens (and thus from around the world), and they make it a point to get the local community involved through a variety of events surrounding the screenings. They have so much heart and integrity; it's clear that they care about every film and filmmaker that's part of the festival. Don shows such thoughtful nuance in his programming and Katha makes every filmmaker feel seen and appreciated. Their welcoming and encouraging energy is contagious. Being part of the festival really feels like being part of a movement, not just showing up for a screening.
I’ve written many recaps about QWFF because this was my 5th year with a film at the festival (though my first with a feature). I'll keep this one short because I’ve already said so much and because it’s a little different from my usual festival experiences where I show up in a city for that specific event and spend all my time engaging with the festival. QWFF is 11 days long, and this year screened over 200 films. I don’t get to experience it as much as I’d like every year because my daily life is still going on around me. That said, I always attend opening & closing night. And this year I was able to spend 4 of the 11 days at the festival, getting to meet new filmmakers and see & support a few local friends with their films also in the festival. I can confidently say that the lineups are consistently compelling and well-organized. The Q&A hosts did a great job this year in particular of having specific questions for each film, as well as encouraging questions from the audience. And many screenings were packed. It’s really one of the only NYC festivals (other than the top tier ones like Tribeca and NYFF) that get actual audience attendance of not just the screening filmmakers.
As for our About a Donkey screening, we had a solid slot at 5:30pm on a Sunday. Our theater sat 68 people and it was completely sold out. Mostly friends, family and early supporters of the film were there, but also some other filmmakers of the festival and a couple strangers from the local community filled the room. The film looked and sounded spectacular, truly it was maybe out best screening in terms of quality; and it got a lot of laughs and wonderful reactions. Many comments after complimented the ensemble and the hopeful message of the film. One woman in particular thanked us for the non-stereotypical portrayal of struggling with depression, and another highlighted how wonderful it was to see women of different generations onscreen with fully-realized personalities and story-arcs (because it’s still such a rarity in mainstream movies, unfortunately). We also got a great review out of the screening on Unseen Films.
Our Q&A was fun, with a lot of great questions. Watch it below.
And to my surprise and great honor, the festival awarded me the Lois Weber Pioneer Award for leadership . I was genuinely not expecting it and got a little emotional as I gave a probably awkward speech. (See below)
Thanks again to Katha, Don, and the entire Queens World team! I hope to be back again next year with a new project. <3
P.S. If you don’t know who Lois Weber is, fix that here. Also, if anyone has video of Katha’s introduction for the award, I’d love to see it. Her words were really lovely and I feel like I didn’t fully process the end of what she said after my name came onscreen.
Catch the film next at: