How it’s New York: The movie extravaganza took place in Queens
How it’s Irish: The fest featured films from the Celtic Nations including Canada and The UK
Earlier this month, Queens played host to the inaugural Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema. The Fest, which ran from August 4th-13th, screened over 150 features and shorts at the Queens Museum and Kew Gardens Cinemas, which is the borough’s only operating art-house theatre. There were free panels as well on subjects such as Women in Independent Film and The Dos and Don’ts of Distribution. With the Unisphere close by, it was fitting that the selections came from a veritable United Nations of countries like Canada, Romania, Pakistan, the UK and the US.
Although Ireland didn’t have anything in the fest, the Celtic Nations were well represented. I saw the Canadian feature “Grand Unified Theory”, which won Best Screenplay. In keeping wit the themed programming the organizers created for the fest – science and outer space were the theme for what I saw- was accompanied by a music video from the British band Jenny Got Famous called “Loneliest Hour”. The charming video is about an astronaut in a spaceship made entirely out of cardboard, which director Karl Dixon explained in a Q&A after, took three months to build.
The movie, directed and written by David Ray and shot over 12 days on the north shore of Vancouver, is a fun comedy about Albert, an astrophysicist, and the antics of his family over the course of a weekend. His teenage son Gordon gets into trouble crushing on his sister’s friend and hooking up with a classmate while Albert’s wife Rita has a flirtation with an old friend whose house their daughter Lauren accidentally vandalizes. The frame upon which the unfolding plot hangs is a lecture Albert is giving that includes tongue in cheek chapter titles like “Dark Side of the Universe”, “Annihilation” and “End of the Universe.”
Winning lead actor Scott Bellis, who plays Albert, was there on behalf of the movie and took questions after. He shared that the because of the very fast shooting schedule the cast had no rehearsals, just a cast read through.
The small Fest staff put the whole thing together in a little over a year, which is incredibly impressive. The New York Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival should be on notice that there’s a new contender in town giving movie lovers outside of Manhattan the opportunity to experience a festival of their own.
To see a full lineup from this year’s festival, visit www.kewgardensfestivalofcinema.com.