When the creator of the Queens International Film Festival was found to be a scammer – Marie Castaldo refused to pay four vendors and was later charged with misdemeanor – two fans of the festival, Katha and Don Cato, used their savings account to keep the festival going in 2009 and 2010. But it wasn’t until 2011, however, that the two used their retirement fund to create a new event – the Queens World Film Festival (QWFF). The third annual edition will be held this March at different venues around the borough.
According to the New York Daily News, the QWFF will screen 104 films from around the globe, as well as movies from 19 local filmmakers. The festival had more than 200 submissions and, starting March 5, will last six days.
What is unique about this festival is the number of independent films. Similar to the idea of the “Pop-up Theater” in Indianapolis, which will only show films that wouldn’t make it to theaters, the QWFF looked for movies that otherwise may not be shown.
“Our niche is challenging films that get in your face and don’t back off,” said Katha Cato. “The audience is going to see films that [they] would never get a chance to see anywhere else.”
The festival is partly sponsored by Queens Council on the Arts, and officials have stated that they believe this event will be good for the borough, both in the local economy as well as by expanding on Queen’s film and arts community.
As the QWFF, and other festivals, grow bigger in submissions and audience members, organizers will need to adjust. One option is using outdoor movie screens. With large outdoor movies, a festival can offer a new environment to view a film, as well as accommodate more viewers. By using different options, film festivals can remain competitive in the expanding industry.