INWOOD — Take two, Uptown.
The first-ever Inwood Film Festival is back bigger and better, doubling in size this year with two feature films, 22 shorter-length films under a half-hour long, two post-feature conversations with directors, after-parties and an award ceremony.
“We have some fun stuff this year,” said executive producer Aaron Simms, adding that the films range in genre and style, from comedies and action to Spanish-speaking films.
“We’ve really expanded, and we’ve experience tremendous growth in a very short time,” Simms said. “My responsibility as a producer is to keep it small, but mighty — and honor everything, but do it good enough to what we can afford to do. We’re still pretty much babies.”
The venue and project was originally the brainchild of Simms and two other Inwood residents, Todd Cerveris and Jason Minter, who wanted to highlights what was unique about Inwood.
The project was so well-received last year, Simms said, that the next natural step was to create a “mothership” that allowed them to house the festival and encourage “positive social engagement, goodwill, and unity through live theater, music, dance, film, new media and visual arts within accessible proximity at the affordable prices or free of charge.”
Inwood Art Works — a newly-formed not-for-profit with a mission to create and curate professional performing and visual arts for the Inwood community through its Films Works, Art Works and Stage Works — absorbed the film festival under its umbrella this year, Simms said.
Minter serves on the board for the film festival and Cerveris has returned to acting, Simms said.
Simms said the film festival features something for everyone, with Inwood still in the center of the work; all films were either shot in Inwood, Simms said, or created by someone from Inwood.
“I always wanted to serve my community, and the fact that we never had anything and I always had to go downtown for entertainment always bugged me,” Simms said, adding that this year’s festival has made it a mission to involve local schools in the programming.
The film festival is working with schools like Good Shepherd, I.S. 52, Inwood Academy, P.S. 278 and Inwood Community Services to create film matinee programs and teach kids the tools of the trade.
“We cover the diaspora of our neighborhood culture, and I’m really proud of that,” Simms said.
The Inwood Film Festival is taking place from Friday, March 17, through Saturday, March 18, at Campbell Sports Center on Broadway and 218th Street. Tickets are $15 for an individual program or $40 for unlimited admission to all screenings.