Turning five in 2015, QWFF includes an annual multi day/multi venue festival, youth-oriented educational initiatives and year round screening opportunities for QWFF filmmakers, past and present. The festival screens challenging films representative of quality independent cinema from around the world and around the corner. We are especially interested in maverick filmmakers of any sex, orientation, ethnicity, country, region with a point of view and we don't want you to back off. Take a stand and show us something we have never seen before.

Filmmakers can enter any festival in the world, so when an artist chooses to submit their work to us, we don't take it lightly. We make sure that the selected filmmakers have time with their audiences and we build community around the films. A great deal of this festival is about bringing people together. That is why each block is curated and hosted by a QWFF Festival Associate and if a filmmaker is present, there is a Q & A to encourage dialogue.

Executive Director - Katha earned a BA from California Polytechnic University in Pomona, an MFA from the University of Oregon and is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business Executive Education Program. In the 80’s, she moved to New York with her theatre company ‘Forplay Improvised Theatre’ and pioneered the Improvisational Herald format (the long form) into the NY Improv Comedy scene. Katha won a MAC Award (Manhattan Association of Cabarets) for Best Comedy, and two Backstage Magazine Bistro Awards for Best Director and Best Comedy and the NY Post’s Bill Ervolino named her the year’s Most Exciting Improviser. For 22 years Katha served as the Director of After-School and Camp Services at the historic Henry Street Settlement. During her tenure she was recognized by NY State Education in 2008 for exemplary After-School Programming and she received the 2014 PASEsetter Award for her years of leadership in the field. Katha has spent over thirty years developing youth and bringing people together via theatre arts, film and video.

Artistic Director - Don Cato is an experimental and feature film maker with a strong academic background, a BS and BLA in Landscape Architecture from Michigan State and an MLA from the University of Oregon where he also studied extensively in the department of Motion Graphics. His films have screened at an international and eclectic group of venues and festivals: Anthology Film Archives, National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Lincoln Center, the Dylan Thomas Center in Wales (Best Feature for Be My Oswald in 2006), RealHeART Toronto Film Festival (Best in Venue for Be My Oswald in 2007) and Everglades Film Festival, South Africa. He was the Director of the Eugene Filmmakers Cinematique for 4 years while he distributed films from China and in 1978 he was one of the first western filmmakers allowed into China to create an immersion documentary: China: Behind Silk Curtains. Dixie Lanes, a feature film starring Karen Black, Hoyt Axton & Moses Gunn released in over 40 countries in 1989, is now a Turner Classic Movie. Most recently, in 2013 the short My Kansas which he co-directed and co-produced had a respectable festival run with wins for directing. My Day on which he was the Director of Cinematography, Editor, Sound Designer & Co-Producer brought home several Best Actress awards for Judith Roberts & several Best Short awards in both 2013 and 2014. Currently Don teaches at the New York Digital Film Academy and the Buckley School for Boys and under his guidance, over 20 student driven short films are produced each year.

We don't do this alone. There is a dedicated circle of talented filmmakers, community members, industry professionals, neighbors and friends who meet regularly to help us with every detail of the festival


   Josh is partner and producer for Game 7 Films. After serving over 10 years as the vice president of distribution for NY-based Emerging Pictures, Josh Green formed production and distribution services company Game 7 Films. His recent credits include executive producer on Ramona Diaz’s Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, which is currently in release via Cinedigm Entertainment and Independent Lens and producer on hip-hop documentary I Want My Name Back, also in release via Image Entertainment. Green has several new features and docs in development and continues to represent finished films for sale and consult on distribution campaigns. He is a graduate of Columbia Business School and Cornell University.

   After getting his PhD from Yale, Lieber worked as a cultural anthropologist for nine years, and taught at a number of universities. His fieldwork in urban Trinidad focused on how various sorts of street hustlers made a living and construed their lives, and resulted in a book, 'Street Life.' This was followed by a research grant which brought him to the department of dance at UCLA. There he focused on the photographic and film record of Balinese ritual performance and dance. An interest in documentary and ethnographic film and photography finally led him to abandon anthropology, and he turned to feature films. After writing several spec scripts and getting a writing deal at Disney, he joined New Century Productions, first as its story editor, then its V.P. of Creative Affairs and Development. After several years with this company, and after it folded, he turned back to writing, and to film production. He has also taught film at the Otis-Parsons School of Art and Design. He developed and produced "Flash of Genius" for Universal. He's written "Hubert's Freaks," a script about an antiquarian bookseller who bizarrely gets his hands on a treasure trove of lost Diane Arbus photographs. And adapted Henry Roth's famous novel, "Call It Sleep." He's developed, with Walter Parkes and Image Nation, and with Robert Wade & Neal Purvis, the writers of the James Bond pictures, a big adventure picture set in the Sahara, "Indigo." He produced "The House That Jack Built," filmed on location in the Bronx. Based on a script by Sundance best screenplay winner, Joe Vasquez, it is about the conflicts that embroil three generations of a Nuyorican family. This film has turned out to be a multi-festival award winner. He is preparing new projects for production and just completed a screenplay, "Black Mesa," a murder mystery that unfolds in the Navajo and Hopi worlds of the American southwest.

   Don Torrance has been in film distribution for over five years. Starting as an intern at Emerging Pictures in 2006, Don quickly began managing the sales & release of independent features for the full service film distribution company. While there, he oversaw the theatrical release of over 600 docs & narratives. In addition to booking independent film content, he was also responsible for the release of Ballet & Opera in Cinema alternative content productions in the U.S. & abroad. Don became heavily involved with the Brooklyn Film Festival while booking movies at their primary source of business, indieScreen, in Williamsburg. He’s served as a juror of the features category for the past three years & was responsible for picking winners in each category of the festival. He also spoke on a distribution panel at the Brooklyn Film Festival in 2013 & was a volunteer at the Tribeca Film Festival, that same year. He is returning as a volunteer at TFF in 2014 as a filmmaker liaison. He left Emerging Pictures in 2013 to begin his own distribution agency, Maroon Peaks Entertainment.

   Thomas Lowenhaupt is a New York based developer of technologies that empower residents to develop local resources. Over the last decade, working through the nonprofit Inc., he focused on making the .nyc top level domain a tool that would benefit all New Yorkers. He is the board president of a local mental health clinic and former member of Queens Community Board #3. He studied government at Queens College and holds a masters degree for NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.

   Sarah Alli is a New York City native currently living and studying in Boston, MA. Her career in film, television, and photography started at the Academy for Careers in Television and Film. She is now completing her undergraduate degree at Emerson College in Film Production with a focus on Directing and Producing. Sarah serves as a marketing associate and photographer at the Queens World Film Festival. For the first time in 2015, she has been selected as a jury member for the Narrative Short category of the festival. Sarah has had films screen at the Tribeca Film Festival (2010), Queens World Film Festival (2011, 2013), Columbia Gorge Film Festival (2013), Grand Rapids Film Festival (2013), and Austin Film Festival (2010). She is a winner of the youth competition of the 2010 Austin Film Festival and the Silver Key Award at the NYC Scholastic Art Awards. She is also a member of NATAS and the National Honors Society.

   Patrick DiRenna - Native New Yorker. Editor, Producer and Director. President and Founder of Digital Film Academy.


LAURENCE HOFFMAN - Associate Programmer
   LAURENCE HOFFMANN created Wildside Media in 2005 in Switzerland to produce cutting edge projects and produced the internationally renowned “I Only Wanted To Live” with Mimmo Calopresti, Steven Spielberg and his Shoah Foundation which premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. She has produced various other documentaries on social issues for the European market and a short film for the Italian art magazine FMR, along with the creation of the circus school for children Cirillino (godfathered by Daniele Finzi Pasca former director of Cirque du Soleil) and the launch of emerging Italian band, Marti. She has worked at MonteCinemaVerita' Foundation (2000-2004), a not for profit institution in support of African, Asian, Latin American and Eastern European filmmakers - Bela Tarr, Danis Tanovic, Jafar Panahi, Yesim Ustaoglu, Fruit Chan, Abderrahmane Sissako, Lucrecia Martel, Elia Suleiman, Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul, Alexander Sukorov to name a few. She worked as a Production Coordinator at Cinecitta’ Studios “the Hollywood on the Tiber”, where she collaborated with international filmmakers, notably Abel Ferrara and Gregory Crewdson (2006-2009). During that period she created the Multimedia Department for Universo Spa, where she also managed the 100 seats theater (2007-2009). Laurence has attended various international film markets and has been invited as a speaker and jury member around the world. She moved to the USA in 2010 to provide services to foreign and NYC film companies while developing her own projects and programming special events.

JENNIFER GRIFFITH - Associate Programmer
   Jennifer moves between creative efforts as a composer and jazz vocalist. She currently studies with renown avant-garde jazz vocalist, Jay Clayton. Jennifer’s dissertation examines composer/bandleader/bassist Charles Mingus’s reanimations of early jazz, and legacies of vaudeville and minstrelsy and has published articles on Mingus in Jazz Perspectives and (Spring 2015) Black Music Research Journal. She studied composition with Donald Wheelock, Thea Musgrave, David Del Tredici and Tania León, and earned her doctorate in composition at the Graduate Center in New York. Her pocket opera, Dream President, was presented at New York City Opera’s VOX 2004. In 2008 she co-producedOpera After Hours, an evening of opera shorts, directed by internationally acclaimed Christopher Alden. Alden has also directed a staged reading of Griffith’s one-act "green" opera, Beautiful Creatures, produced by Stage|Time in 2011. Commissions include In E for the 2008 Festival Non Sequitur, featuring Newspeak, and The Reed (2010) for the Grace and Spiritus Chorale of Brooklyn. Jennifer has also written for new music ensembles Glass Farm and Cygnus, among others. Current projects include orchestrating Beautiful Creatures for full production (Nov-Dec 2015).

SHELLEY H. MILLER RN - Associate Programmer
   Shelley has made educational films for The Healing Arts Institute, her holistic center founded in Boise, Idaho in 1992. Her feature about the synergy of fire-flies is currently in development alongside a short series based on the ABC's of holistic health: Alignment, Balance and Chi. For QWFF ’14, Shelley has been instrumental on specialty screenings such as the seniors and children's program and understands that bringing a film into fruition is like magic. "No other place in the world is as diverse as Queens, and I suspect no other audience either. It's all about making a difference and QWFF does! I am honored to be on the screening committee. Can't wait to march forth!" -


ANNE O'CONNER - Special Events
   "Idea person" and founder of Zoescope Studio, Ann O'Connor is an urban wanderer, foodie, lover of life and all things "Queens" and authentic New York City. As independent promoter of the arts, Ann brings like-minded people together to do great and fun things. With her partners, she makes art and artisanal work more accessible by creating experiences in alternative venues, while building audiencefor her art partners. Her first project was "In & Out of Time" with local panoramic artist Rafael O. Gonzalez. Before starting Zoescope Studio Inc., Ann made stops at media companies like Scholastic, National Geographic and Meredith, as well as firms, whose clients included: Rizzoli, Leo Castelli, Pace, Art Students League, National Academy, and The Winter Antiques Show. Ann has over 15 years experience in "ideation" and marketing and holds a B.A. in English Literature from Barnard College, Columbia University. Member: L.I.C. Businesswomen, L.I.C. Partnership, Queens Tourism Council. Clients: Diego Salazar Gallery and Antique Frames, Space Gallery, Renaissance Event Hall, Vesta, Pachanga Patterson, L.I.C. Arts Open, Queens World Film Festival, Queens Council on the Arts.

MICHAEL ORDONEZ - Festival Operations Associate
   The Manhattan born, Queens raised son of two Ecuadorian parents. Having been raised in Astoria and Sunnyside, his mother's childhood ties with Queens founded his own and his childhood in Queens sparked his interest in the world's cultures. "A childhood in Queens is like no other. There's isn't another place on our planet where a kid from working-class family can truly get a taste of the world, all within the confines of your home borough." Michael earned his BA in Anthropology at Rutgers University in 2012 and will be returning to Rutgers to pursue an MA in Conflict and Peace studies January 2013. He has a developing interest in the film industry and working on the festival has given him a bird's eye view of the world of indie filmmaking. In the Summer of 2013 Michael traveled to Argentina to work on a feature film by QWFF 2013's Winner of Best Narrative Feature - UOMO. The relationship that began at the festival opened up the possibility of working and learning more. "The festival is a catalyst for my developing interest in the industry and I love it. After living away from the city for more than a few years, being able to work on a project like the Queens World Film Festival is a beautiful, communally integrated way of reconnecting with my youth. And working with such a passionate team only makes the journey that much better. While I will not been as involved as I have been with the festival for the last 2 years, I am still working hard behind the scenes and will be taking time to be at the 2014 festival to once again engage the world in our borough."

MIGUEL SANTIAGO - Social Media Coordinator
   LA born, Manila bred, Miguel Santiago graduated with a degree in Communication Arts at the De La Salle University. His vast knowledge and passion for films, electronic music and the arts inspired him to move to New York, a multicultural hub for most of his passions. He has previously worked at the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Arts and Design. Currently, he is working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art building relationships between the historical museum and its visitors with the membership department. Working in museums allows him to be exposed in various fields of art and enables him to be in a working environment he truly enjoys. He is personally active in various social media platforms and is constantly making connections through his love for art and music. He aims to do the same with the Queens World Film Festival and the community it is trying to foster and grow.

PATTI LOWENHAUPT - Young Filmmakers Program
   Patti Lowenhaupt is a life long resident of Jackson Heights, born and raised. Having attended P.S. 69 as a youngster, Patti is thrilled to be back in the school mentoring students in the QWFF Young Filmmakers Program. Learning by doing is the best way to learn. The experience the students have making a video as an art form and as a form of expression is priceless. The kids have a wonderful time learning with this type of program. Patti is retired from 30 years of teaching in the New York City public schools (as an art teacher), and she truly enjoy her involvement in the QWFF. This complex networking activity is a cultural boost for our borough of Queens and for our neighborhoods of Jackson Heights and Long Island City and she is proud to be a part of it.

ALEXIS PERLAS - Festival Associate
   Alexis Perlas, is a professional actress and has performed & toured on Stage Plays, Musical Theatre, and TV & Film, in CA & NYC since she was a child. Some of her work include the Production & National tour of, "Aladdin", as Princess Jasmine, "Oliver" as Nancy, "Romeo & Juliet" as Juliet, & "Grease" as Sandy, to name a few. She has been trained at, Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, Broadway Dance Center, as well as with the famed, Uta Hagen, and performed as lead actress & dancer in her production of, "St. Nicolas at Christmas Tide". Alexis, is very honored & excited to Host and be a part of, QWFF, once again for the second year in a row.


SAM BERLAND - Projectionist
   Sam Berland has worked with QWFF since the start of the festival as a Projectionist and the Quality Control Expert on AV equipment. Sam has worked in the film/video and broadcasting industry for many years and is the one to call if you want your film to look and sound the way you intended! Sam's newest venture is working as a Freelance TD/Projectionist on David Krakauer's Big Picture tour, traveling around the US and Europe. He is going into another year working as a Freelance Video Projectionist on the Tribeca Film Festival and is the Co-Owner of Play It Again Sam’s Video Productions. Sam also works as a part time Imax/3D Digital Projectionist at The American Museum of Natural History. As an artist, Sam’s artwork has appeared in both fiction and non-fiction books, and he has often been commissioned to create caricatures of TV newscasters and sports personalities. His work has also appeared on children’s clothing, album covers, as well as prominent public murals.

   A Cal Arts graduate, Elizabeth Pasieczny owns and operates Pickleman Productions, an internationally award winning independent film company. The company's mission statement "kindling a light in the mere darkness of being" is the driving force behind every project. Utilizing traditional, hand-drawn animation, stop motion, puppetry and live-action, Elizabeth creates films that are a visual buffet for the eye while tickling the mind and soul. Creating great films with solid stories, that are Kosher for any age, is an unending challenge and goal for Elizabeth. She extends this challenge beyond the works of her company and writes feature length and short screenplays for hire. Sample a taste at or on Elizabeth Pasieczny's IMdB page.

SAMMI COLLIE - Quest Vocalist for the Evening
   Sammi Collie (aka "Samulous") a versatile singer, lyricist, and actor and a Miami native who made his solo debut on the stage of Carnegie Hall in NYC when he was 17, performing a tribute to Jazz Legends.As a Theater Arts major in high school, he had the opportunity to sing for "The Queen Of Funk" when a future benefactor heard him on a talent show. Chaka came into his life as a mentor and adopted him as her nephew, supporting his efforts to expand his musical knowledge and performance style. After high school Sammi immediately dove into a career in entertainment. Performing at night clubs around South Florida, he has brightened stages at private events and weddings since then. Now based in New York, Sammi is writing his own material, and working with other songwriters in putting together his first demo. He's also doing shows and pursuing other interests, including voiceovers for animation and acting.

Don Cato
Patti Lowenhaupt
Jackie Mortimer
Richard Calvache
Mark Johnson

A Festival Associate may be a projectionist, a member of the Screening Committee or one of the talented Hosts that welcome you and introduce the films. Associates might be Staff, Interns or Volunteers, but what they all have in common is a commitment to make sure the festival is something we can all be proud of. They are the nice people in the box office at the venues and the Block Hosts and you will recognize them by their T-shirts, their badges and their positive attitude.



© 2011-2015
Queens World Film Festival, Inc.
Screening Challenging and Exciting Film From Around the World and Around the Corner.