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Brian on: Local Heroes

The Reeler Blog

Local Heroes

By Mat Newman

There's nothing wrong with the festival season hoopla in New York, but there's always been something alluring about the underdogs. One of those blossoming events -- the Queens International Film Festival -- opens its fifth year tonight in Astoria.

"Part of our goal is to showcase films that are from Queens, shot in Queens or made by filmmakers from Queens," said Joe Lara, the fest's senior vice president. "Manhattan has always been kind of the chic and elite borough. We have our openings and everything, but what we really do is cater to the people. We try really hard to cater to the filmmakers and to the audience; it's a very community-oriented atmosphere. "

Dukes of Queens: (L-R) Robert Davi, Alphonse Mouzon, Chazz Palminteri and Greg London in The Dukes, the opener at this year's Queens International Film Festival (Photo: Doo Wop Productions)

This year's festival is staying true to its roots. The opening-night feature The Dukes is the directorial debut of Astoria-born actor Robert Davi; he'll be attending the screening at the Museum of the Moving Image, and a few other local figures like Chazz Palminteri are expected before the end of the weekend.

There are also two sidebars for native-grown filmmakers (The Queens Cinema Collection) and work from Brooklyn (Brooklyn Takes Over) as well as program elements fulfilling the "international" criteria. One showcase offers a range of films from China, and the festival is launching a new exchange problem with the Greek film festival Platforma. Other represented countries include France, Japan, England and Ireland.

On Nov. 10, the festival will host The Youth Initiative, a panel geared towards under-privileged New York kids. "We bring disadvantaged youth -- people who may not have many avenues open to them, and let them actually sit down with industry people," said Lara, who will serve as one of the panelists. "We've got people from the film industry, the music industry and publishing. Our focus is really to educate and open some doors. We're hoping to give kids a chance to meet people who are professionals, to learn what they've been through and to see how they got to where they did."

The Queens International Film Festival opens tonight and runs through Nov. 11; visit the festival Web site for ticket and program information.

Posted at November 8, 2007 7:48 AM

Comments (1)

Unfortunately, I am out of town this week, so will be unable to attend QIFF this year, which is being held in Astoria, my neighborhood that I recently returned to. Luckily last year, I did get to attend the festival. Here's something I posted from back then:

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