FESTIVAL OF CINEMA NYC 2020
St. John’s University, Queens Campus
October 1-4, $35 per car
With theaters still closed for the foreseeable future, film festivals have been taking place online, where cineastes can check out festivals from around the world virtually from the comfort of their homes. For those movie lovers who have access to automobiles, drive-in options have arisen, with films being projected in public spaces in various parts of the city. Instead of going virtual — since its usual home, the UA Midway in Forest Hills, is not available because of Covid-19 restrictions — the fourth annual Festival of Cinema NYC has moved to a giant screen at St. John’s University, where six blocks of works will be presented October 1-4. Admission is $35 per car for up to five people; be sure to arrive early to go through all safety protocols.
Opening night consists of a dozen shorts by New York City filmmakers, including John Gray’s powerful and poignant Extra Innings, about baseball and family, starring Peter Riegert and T. J. Thyne, everything a short film should be; Sean Sakamoto’s The Reception, a politically tinged postapocalyptic tale in which two fathers, played by the terrific duo of Richard Kind and Skip Sudduth, agonize over a wedding between their sons; and Shara Ashley Zieger’s Secret Feminism, in which two young women take a little break from their activism. On October 2 at 7:00, “Crime Capers” begins with Carlyn Hudson’s Waffle, an eleven-minute short about two women exploring a friendship during a sleepover, and is followed by Paul Tanter’s goofy heist comedy Stealing Chaplin, in which a pair of brothers, low-level con men played by Simon Phillips and Doug Phillips, who are not related in real life, attempt to dig up the body of Charlie Chaplin from a Vegas graveyard to help pay off a loanshark; believe it or not, it is inspired by a true story.
On October 2 at 10:00, “Late Night Thrillers” comprises Bob Celii’s fourteen-minute The Keeper, which deals with obsession, and Max Strand’s Goodbye Honey, which explores trauma. Saturday night at 7:00, “Family Night of Animation” delivers Sean Pointing’s Brilliant, Verena Fels and Marc Angele’s Tobi & the Turbobus, and Kirby Atkins’s Mosley, a trio of animated films about self-discovery, with some very unusual creatures. On October 3 at 10:00, “Shorts from Around the World” gathers together seven adult-oriented international fare, from Janina Gavankar and Russo Schelling’s Stucco, about an agoraphobic woman who finds that something very weird is going on behind one of the walls of her apartment (the SXSW selection has more than ten million views on YouTube), to Nora Jaenicke’s Proof, which involves immigration and romance, and Guy Zimmerman’s Hello, Say, in which a home invasion goes wrong. Festival of Cinema NYC concludes on Sunday night at 7:00 with “Eye Opening Documentaries,” with Juancho Rodriguez’s In Human Kind, about sex trafficking, Brianne Berkson and Miguel Gluckstern’s The Difference, which looks at the question of bringing children into this harsh world, and Hasan Oswald’s Higher Love, a Camden-set doc about parenting and addiction.
If you don’t have access to a car, you can still check out Stephen Miller and Bonnie Rose’s Zoom interviews with cast and/or crew members from Waffle, Extra Innings, Jonathan Geffner’s Trillo & Suede, Hello, Say, The Reception, and many others.