Director's Cut of Oscar-Nominated Documentary Debuting at Queens Film Fest

By Katie Honan on February 25, 2014 7:15am 

 A new version of The Act of Killing, which won a BAFTA and is nominated for an Oscar, will be shown.
A new version of The Act of Killing, which won a BAFTA and is nominated for an Oscar, will be shown.
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Courtesy Queens World Film Festival/ Joel Weber/Beech Tree Images 2013

JACKSON HEIGHTS — The director's cut of an Oscar-nominated documentary will premiere at a Queens film festival that brings movies from around the world to the borough in March.

The Queens World Film Festival runs from March 4-9, will feature documentaries and shorts from countries including Belgium, India, Switzerland and Vietnam — as well as the work of 18 Queens filmmakers.

The flicks will be screened at the Secret Theater and the Nesva Hotel in Long Island City, the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria and P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights.

"These are films that celebrate and play to the actual diversity of our borough, and connect filmmakers to their audiences," said Katha Cato, 59, who runs the program with her husband, Don, 69.

"You can find an audience here for films about any other culture, any other place in the world, and the world is starting to know that."

Filmmakers are also attracted to the festival because their films are replayed throughout the year, like at outdoor screenings in Travers Park, Cato said.

The biggest attraction at this year's festival is a world premiere of the director's cut of "The Act of Killing," a documentary about a group of actors in Indonesia who were also mass murderers in the 1960s.

It recently won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for best documentary and is up for an Academy Award in the same category, to be decided on March 1.

"We'll know whether [the director] won or not — then a week later, it's in Queens," Cato said.

It will play to an audience of more than 400 at the P.S. 69 auditorium, she said, and is one example of how the festival has grown.

"I can't even believe how lucky we are," she said.

This year, the event takes on a particular significance to the organizers. Katha was diagnosed with cancer in May and endured months of chemotherapy, surgeries and recovery, she said.

The festival "sustained us," she said. "It gave us something bigger to think about. And all of our festival volunteers have been in the house cooking for us, cleaning."

The program has grown each year, and Cato's ultimate goal is to continue pulling in a diverse slate of films and directors, deserving of her home borough, she said.

The Catos moved to Jackson Heights 25 years ago, raised their family here and are now happy to bring world-class films to Queens.

"It's a beautiful borough and I'm happy here," she said. "This is exciting."

Passes for the festival are either $50 or $75, depending on whether opening night is included, and day passes are $10 for individuals and $6 for seniors and students under 18. For more information, visit their website.

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