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Award-Winning Jackson Heights Filmmaker Showcases Nabe in Movie

JACKSON HEIGHTS — For filmmaker Kim Cummings, the best shooting locations have always been close to home.

A Jackson Heights resident for more than two decades, Cummings has used her neighborhood — and other recognizable Queens locales — as the backdrop for scenes in nearly all of her independent films so far.

"It’s a little bit of a plug for Queens," she said. "It's saying, 'Hey, we have our own history, we have our own cool architecture, and there are a lot of different kinds of people who live here.'"

Cummings is one of several local filmmakers featured in this week's Queens World Film Festival, which kicked off Tuesday night in Astoria and will run through March 10, with screenings at venues in Jackson Heights, Long Island City and Elmhurst.

Cummings' film "In Montauk" is her first feature-length production, and tells the tale of protagonist Julie Wagner, a young photographer from Jackson Heights whose life — and marriage — is turned upside-down when she gets involved with a brilliant musician.

The film, which will be screened Thursday night, has been shown at several festivals and snagged a number of awards, including "Best Director" at the Toronto Independent Film Festival in September.

Half of the movie was shot in its title location of Montauk, but other scenes take place in Queens. Recognizable shots include the Queensboro Bridge, the 7 train, the exterior of Elmhurst Hospital and The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, where her crew converted the lobby into an art gallery.

Cummings also used her own apartment, inside landmarked co-op The Towers in Jackson Height's picturesque Historic District, as the home for her main characters.

"I was excited to show that," she said, saying shooting at home also helps cut back on budget costs. "It's obviously easier to film in your own apartment and where you live."

Originally from Florida, Cummings moved to Queens 20 years ago to be with her husband, a Woodside native, and the couple settled in Jackson Heights, where they live with their twin daughter and son, both 11.

Cummings took a film intensive course at New York University and started making movies more than a decade ago. She is part of an emerging Queens film scene, which is just starting to take flight in part because of events like the Queens World Film Festival.

"We're just starting to connect with each other, the Queens World Film Festival has done a lot to bring that about," she said.

"We tend to be a little more isolated in Queens. It's kind of cool to say, hey, there's a whole bunch of us in Queens making quality films."