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Inaugural Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema to Include Films Featuring Queens

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | July 7, 2017 5:16pm | Updated on July 10, 2017 7:50am
 Kew Gardens Cinemas, at 81-05 Lefferts Blvd., near Austin Street, is currently installing several solar panels on its rooftop.
Kew Gardens Cinemas, at 81-05 Lefferts Blvd., near Austin Street, is currently installing several solar panels on its rooftop.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

QUEENS — "The Witness," a documentary about the murder of Kitty Genovese in Kew Gardens, "Pomonok Dreams" telling the story of a Queens housing project, and "Off the Rails" about Darius McCollum, a Queens man with Asperger syndrome arrested many times for his fixation with trains, will be among more than 150 independent films from 24 countries scheduled to be screened at the inaugural Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema this summer, according to the organizers who announced the lineup Thursday. 

The 10-day long event, slated for Aug. 4 to 13, received nearly 400 submissions representing all genres, from documentary to horror and comedy to animation and experimental, the organizers said. 

The festival will take place primarily at the historic Kew Gardens Cinemas at 8105 Lefferts Blvd., as well as at nearby Maple Grove Cemetery on Kew Gardens Road and the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

“After more than a year of planning, Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema is finally here!,” founder and executive director Jayson Simba said in an email.

“We hope our festival will help this historic hamlet of Queens continue to thrive and prosper both economically and culturally, and plan to keep this tradition going every year hereafter," he added.

A kickoff party is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 4, at Austin’s Ale House’s Trackside Cafe near the Kew Gardens LIRR station.

The party, which is free and open to the public, will feature free beer tastings from various Queens breweries and a plaque dedication ceremony in honor of the late stand-up comedian and actor Rodney Dangerfield, who grew up in Kew Gardens.

Those interested in attending must RSVP by Aug. 3.

The lineup will include several films featuring Kew Gardens and other Queens neighborhoods, including James Solomon’s "The Witness," which will be screened on Aug. 6 at the Queens Museum, followed by a discussion with the director and other guests. 

Festival attendees will also get to see Adam Irving’s "Off the Rails," on Aug. 10 at sundown during a special free outdoor screening on the lawn in front of the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

"Pomonok Dreams," a documentary directed by Terry Katz about Pomonok, a New York City housing project in Queens, told from the perspective of the people who grew up there from beginning in the 1950s, will be shown at the Queens Museum on Aug. 12.

The Center at Maple Grove Cemetery will host three free panel discussions on a variety of topics, including the challenges facing women in independent film, film distribution and production resources.

Winners for every category, including Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Narrative Short, Documentary Short, Animation & Experimental Film, will each receive a statuette at the awards gala held on Aug. 13 at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

To see the full lineup for this year’s festival and to buy tickets go here. For the screenings at Kew Gardens Cinemas, tickets may also be purchased at the box office starting Aug. 4.