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2018 FILMS



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Turning nine in 2019, 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 is programmed in thematic blocks with evocative titles, and each program is followed by a post-screening dialogue to engage audiences from the demographically diverse communities that comprise the borough of Queens. Each year the festival has a very robust submission session, with films coming from all over the globe, 63 nations to date, including Cuba, Franc, Spain, Serbia, Korea, Bangladesh, China, Italy, the Ukraine, Iran, Scotland, Belgium, Finland and the UK to name just a few.

In every year’s festival there are tender films, heartbreaking films, and several works that are extremely provocative, maybe even, disturbing and the selections tie us into conversations people are having around the world via the real stars of the festival: the films. It’s about surrendering to the films, without looking for familiar names, titles, scores. It’s about creating the right context for personal, intimate films grouped together for a cinematic experience you will not get anywhere else on the planet.

The 9th Annual Queens World Film Festival returns to the Museum of the Moving Image in both the Redstone theatre and the Bartos screening room as well as the historic Zukor Theatre at the Kaufman Astoria Studios located right next door for 11 days of exciting indie films - March 21 - 31, 2019. Strategically placed between the two venues is the fabled Astor Room with incredible food and special discounts just for QWFF participants and attendees. The festival village is located in the Astoria Arts District which is subway close and easy to find via foot or in your car (Yes, there is street and metered parking!) venues


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. 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.
QPT Queens Express with Don Cato     Be My Oswald

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 one of the year’s Most Exciting Improvisers. For many 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 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.
QPT Power Women of Queens     The joke's by you at special improvisation event in LIC     Katha Cato gets back in the spotlight

Under the guidance of QWFF Artistic Director, a talented group of industry professionals screen the hundreds of films that are submitted each year. Please meet our QWFF 2019 screening committee members

   Crystal has worked as a line producer and production manager on numerous campaigns and live events for MTV International, Nickelodeon, VH1, Oxygen, Food Network, Sundance TV, We Tv and AMC Networks. She has produced three independent short films including the short film version of Barrio Boy and is currently in production on the feature film version of Barrio Boy. Crystal resides with her wife, Ariela and together they are extremely proud to call Jackson Heights, Queens their home.

   (pronounced ‘She’+’yeah’) is a Native New Yorker, Asian Tourist, and Filmmaker at Night. He has been a distinguished finalist nominee to the Fox Global Directors Initiative and NBCUniversal Television Directing Fellowships and his film works have garnered numerous accolades and nominations from Academy® Qualifying and international film festivals. His most recent screenplay “La Grippe” shortlisted at the first European Sundance Screenwriting Lab in Italy and is a member of the Writers Guild of America. In a previous life, Eddie served as a global advertising agency Creative Director creating award winning commercial campaigns for worldwide brands [and also founded the Red Rope Screening and Red Rope Playhouse annual series featuring internationally acclaimed short films and plays with corporate partners including Adidas Classics, Heineken and New York Magazine]. On occasion Eddie also predicts weather with his surgically repaired joints (no app yet).

   Donna Cooper is an active member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA. From Long Island, NY she went to school to become a doctor but graduated from Tufts University with a B.A. in drama instead. She traveled the country doing stand-up comedy spending a year of that time in the Persian Gulf entertaining our military. Getting back to acting she spent 20 years in LA doing just that in movies, on television and in many commercials. Still acting, she's back in NY working with an improv group, a theater company and is soon to be a published author. She's married, loves golfing and helping all live their best lives.

Every year, QWFF welcomes artists, filmmakers, actors and community members as jurors. We are pleased to welcome Vijay Mirchandani to the process. Watch this space for more exciting announcements about our 2019 Jurors!

CYNTHIA LÓPEZ - Feature Documentary
   Cynthia Lopez is a media strategist, executive producer, content advisor and creative consultant. She is the former Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, where she was the steward of the Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting. López implemented strategies to support production of film and TV. Television production in NYC, increased from 29 episodic series to 46 series and feature film production rose from 192 to 253 films during her tenure. López joined the City of New York from American Documentary | POV, where she had worked since 2000. She is the recipient of 11 National News & Documentary Emmy Awards, among many other industry recognitions.

Easmanie Michel - Narrative Feature
   Easmanie Michel has worked continuously in the film and television industry since 2004. She’s currently the Finance and Special Projects Associates at New York Women in Film & Television(NYWIFT). Her responsibilities at NYWIFT includes curating the Women Filmmakers: Immigrant Stories Series and she also runs the Fiscal Sponsorship Program. Michel work on films include Transporter, Hoot and Miami Vice. Television projects include Miami Ink and Burn Notice. Michel has produced and directed several short films and she is working on her debut feature film titled Caroline's Wedding. Her script for Caroline's Wedding was a finalist for the New York University Fusion Film Festival and it was also one of the scripts selected to participate in the Women at Sundance Financing and Strategy Intensive in 2016. In February of 2018 the script was the Grand Prize Winner of the American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest. Michel has a Master's Degree in Cinema Studies from New York University.

JOSH GREEN - Narrative Feature
   Josh Green is an industry vet and the founder of Jagman Productions, an award winning feature film production company based in NYC. Josh has produced, represented, or distributed more than 50 films in a sixteen-year time span with ten years spent as the Head of Sales & Distribution for Ira Deutchman’s Emerging Pictures. His recent feature production credits include PBS/American Masters documentary By Sidney Lumet on the late iconic director; music documentaries Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey (Cinedigm/Independent Lens) and I Want My Name Back (Image/BET) on seminal bands Journey and The Sugarhill Gang, respectively; and Lifetime TV movie Seasons of Love produced alongside Taraji P. Henson and also starring Gladys Knight, Method Man and Letoya Luckett. Josh previously executive produced the IDA nominated Best Documentary, Kassim the Dream, on child soldier turned boxing champion, Kassim Ouma (IFC Films/Sundance Channel/ESPN Films). Josh is currently in post production on the feature documentary TLC: No Introduction on fan favorite band TLC, one of the best selling female pop acts in history. He’s further an Executive Producer on the South African western, Five Fingers for Marseilles, which had its World Premiere at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival and was released theatrically in the US to critical acclaim in Fall 2018 (Uncork'd Entertainment). Josh’s next scripted film is the US/China co-production Confetti, a Chinese mother daughter immigrant story starring Amy Irving, Zhu Zhu and Helen Slater. The film wrapped production in January 2018 and is currently in post. Josh has several other doc and scripted projects in development highlighted by the narrative Effa, on the life of baseball and civil rights icon Effa Manley, who owned a Negro League team in 1930s/40s Newark.

VIJAY MIRCHANDANI - Short Documentary
   Lights, Camera, Action, three words that changed his life, from in front of the camera to behind as an award winning filmmaker. An incredible journey working in India, Dubai, Italy, Qatar, Malaysia, Australia, China and US branded this engineer as a disrupter who took a head start in the early 90’s learning the soup to nuts of Tv broadcasting carving a niche. Vijay is a hybrid creative director with the ability to own a room, who masters in storytelling and content creation. Over the years he has gathered extensive understanding of the entire filmmaking process, from both technical and creative points of view. He has a successful track record in developing relevant and compelling stories that forge strong emotional connections between brand and consumer, attract audiences and satisfy advertisers and distributors. Currently he is a creative consultant on short films, corporate sizzles, CSR’s, documentaries, digital/social media projects, film festivals and distribution. He has received several international awards in promotions, marketing and documentaries. He is on the jury with PROMAXBDA, Queens World Film Festival, Cine Awards, New York Festivals Tv & Film. In 2008, Vijay discovered his passion for storytelling and his directorial documentary on Autistic children in Qatar “They Are No Less” was broadcast on Aljazeera Documentary. His passion led him to Australia where his feature documentary on homelessness “Where The Streets Have No Name” was well received and screened at 33 International film festivals winning 14 awards. This inspirational documentary made a huge impact with the audiences and was broadcast in Germany, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, UK, Australia and US. It is currently up for institutional sales across North America & Canada. A firm believer in giving back to the community by supporting on humanitarian issues that matter, his bilingual doco on “Organic Food and Food Safety In China” is in post-production and international docu-series on “Change Makers” is under development and a few other short films. His mastery in his craft and ideology, “Every idea is a good idea” pushes him out of his comfort zone in making a difference!

ANDI REISS - Short Documentary
   Andi Reiss is filmmaker and video artist based in Oxford, UK and NYC. As an independent producer, director, writer, self-shooter, editor and colourist, photographer, media artist, video painter, cartoonist and lecturer, his work aims to challenge the constraints and conventions of spectatorship and chronicle an emotive connection between people and their relationship to the worlds and scenarios they inhabit. It spans film, installation and performance, employing a range of methodologies in media. Over twenty years of working independently he has won some festival awards and gained experience of most film-making situations, producing many varied types of content from live events, digital videos, long-form observational documentary, short and very short films, to a 90 minute feature and multi-channel video installation, or video variant. He is also a mistake-maker, and for those that consider themselves experienced in the classroom you’ll have learned that it isn't so much about not making mistakes, but instead it’s how you handle them. Outside of professional activities, his interests include trampolining, bubblewrap, Avril Lavigne’s underrated latter work and stone-skipping.

FAIYAZ JAFRI - Animation
   Faiyaz Jafri was born and raised in rural Holland of Dutch and Pakistani descent. He studied at the Technical University of Delft (MSc) and is a self-taught animation artist and music composer. Jafri's art explores Jungian archetypes in the modern world, distilling the pop references of mass media and global popular culture into a visual shorthand of neo-archetypes. His work has been exhibited in the form of print, paintings, installations, animations, and sculptures and Jafri’s award-winning films have screened at prestigious festivals and museums around the world. He is also a part-time professor at Parsons School of Design and Queens College in New York.

   Kaitlyn Musto is not only a 22 year old Cartoonist, an Astoria native, and a lover of the arts, she is an alumni of the the Cato's first Young Filmmakers Program! Having grown up in the creative hub that is New York City, she has been able to dabble in many different kinds of art including Illustration, Photography, Fashion Design and Film, but finds her strongest passions in making comics and telling stories. After being a part of a great art program in middle school, then graduating from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Arts she earned her BFA from her dream college: School of Visual Arts. Her life has been creatively driven for as long as she can remember and she is excited about her new project: a graphic novel about dealing with anxiety as a young person in a big world, with a touch of magic, and a lot of flowers. She anticipates publishing it within the next few years while she explores various other artistic ventures.

DAVID WOON - Narrative Shorts
   David Woon is a director-producer who is based in Los Angeles and New York City. His work explores the power of oral storytelling through hyper stylized reenactments. He is a recent graduate from the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California and was a 2014 fellow at the Tribeca Film Fellows Program. His experimental short Local//Express screened on the billboards of New York’s Times Square throughout April 2014 as a part of Time Square Alliance’s Midnight Moment. Amongst his recent credits includes Diablo Entertainment’s Flower, directed by Max Winkler starring Zoey Deutch.


   A native Astorian, travels the world with his camera capturing his unique images. Coming from a family of Italian painters, Spadoni is known for his artist approach which is evident in a full range of work from portraits of joyous children in the streets of Istanbul to French bicyclists peddling through the gardens of Versailles. Spadoni’s photographic style is also evident in his landscapes and portraits with unique compositions of graphics and color that portray his passionate vision. Spadoni’s love for photography began at the age of 13 when he found his canvas through the viewfinder of a 35mm Nikon Camera. He is a 1975 graduate of F.I.T. with a degree in Fashion Photorgraphy. IN 1977, he photographed Warhol, Wyeth and Neiman’s openings and Studio 54 parties. In addition to shooting fashion during the 80’s and working exclusively with Ford, Zoli, Wilhelmina and Elite Models, his travels in the 90’s took him to the far corners of the globe to capture the essence of 32 nations and he worked as a model represented by the top modeling agencies. His clients include American Express, Bloomingdales, Rizzoli Books, Mastercard, Merril Lync, AT&T, Sony and US Air. He has photographed Sophia Loren, Reggie Jackson, Calvin Klein, Henry Kissinger, Jack Lemon, Kathleen Turner, Richard Branson, Philip Johnson, Jeremy Irons, Pavarotti, Mayor Koch and Geoffrey Holder. He supports Greening Wester Queens, The Long Island City Arts Open, QWFF and is on the committee to permanently illuminate the Hell Gate Bridge for its centennial celebration. He is collaborating on a project with the National Museum of Montserrat donating over 1000 color photographs from 1991 to 1995 for an exhibit titled “Paradise Not Lost – The Ghost Project – after Hugo and before the Volcano. His latest project involves vintage and digital photographs of Astoria/LIC called ''THEN AND NOW-FORTY YEARS LATER'' and his photography is represented by Corbis.Com in over 65 nations.

MARK BANISH - Board Secretary
   Mark Banish got his start with the Queens World Film Festival during his tenure at Amalgamated Bank in 2011, when Amalgamated opened a branch in Jackson Heights. Once he got a taste for what the Cato's were trying to accomplish and seeing the enormous potential of the festival, he knew it was the right fit. Since then, he’s worked every year to secure corporate sponsorship dollars and material support for the festival.
Since moving to New Jersey, he longs for the delicious Indian culinary delights in Jackson Heights, which was another appealing reason to lend his hand to the board of directors as secretary. Mark has a background in East Asian History, Arts and Languages, and has lived in Japan for several years after graduating from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, teaching English and doing a bit of translation work. He’s currently a project manager at Investors Bank in the marketing department, where he enjoys a little slice of everything marketing.

LEIGH MONTVILLE - Board Treasurer
   Originally from Boston, Leigh Montville is a longtime Queens resident, settling in Jackson Heights more than 10 years ago. He became involved with the Queens World Film Festival through volunteering for the festival and then joining the board several years ago. Leigh has held business development and licensing roles in publishing for many years, working for Conde Nast (The New Yorker, Wired, Vogue, Vanity Fair), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The Daily Beast and now at Springer Publishing Company. He is also a longtime volunteer for Big Apple Greeter, Open House New York and his alma mater, The University of Pennsylvania. For many years Leigh served on the board of his co-op, as Treasurer and as President.

   Sandra Schulberg runs IndieCollect, a non-profit organization whose mission is to rescue and re-activate significant American independent films. A longtime indie producer, film financier, and advocate for “Off-Hollywood” filmmakers, she founded the IFP (Independent Filmmaker Project), now celebrating its 40th anniversary, and co-founded First Run Features.
She and the IndieCollect team have restored nearly 30 films, of number of which are in re-release or will be out soon: In The Soup, The Atomic Cafe, The War At Home, Thank You and Goodnight, It Happens To Us, Woo Who? May Wilson, The Believer, Cane River, Seeing Red, Jazz on a Summer’s Day, among others. In 2014, she completed a 10-year effort to restore and re-issue her father’s film, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today [The Schulberg/Waletzky Restoration], now in release through New Day Films with her 130-page monograph, Filmmakers for the Prosecution.
As VP for the PBS “American Playhouse” series, she was involved in the financing of more than two dozen movies, including I Shot Andy Warhol, Angels & Insects, Amateur, Safe, and Julie Taymor’s first film, Fool’s Fire. During her stint at Hollywood Partners, a private German media fund, she executive-produced Oscar-nominated Quills, Undisputed, and Adrienne Shelly’s first movie I’ll Take You There, among others. Under her own banner, she produced John Hanson’s Wildrose and Jill Godmilow’s Waiting for the Moon (Sundance Grand Prize winner); line produced Glen Pitre’s Belizaire the Cajun; and co-produced Ann Hu’s Shadow Magic and Beth B’s Exposed. She also raised finishing funds for Barbara Kopple’s Woodstock film, My Generation. The first two movies she associate-produced – Alambrista and Northern Lights – won the Camera d’Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and she handled the international sales.
Schulberg is an Associate Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of the Arts, where she teaches Feature Film Financing. She holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College, and has done post-graduate study in Public Diplomacy at USC’s Annenberg School on Communications. Born in Paris, she is fluent in French, Spanish and German, and lives in Jackson Heights, Queens.

DON CATO - Board Member


   For the past 14 years he has been involved in both sales and management for two NYC based title insurance agencies. During the 17 years prior to his work in title he held a variety of fixed income sales positions on Wall Street working for Citibank, Drexel Burnham, Dean Witter, Nikko Securities and Chase Securities. He has worked with a start-up institutional mortgage auction dot com and consulted for the mortgage banking industry and is also a voice over professional. After meeting Don and Katha Cato he was instantly inspired by their rich infectious passion to find ways to nurture the Queens World Film Festival. He is a lifelong Long Islander, married with two sons. He had the good fortune of being born into a family that liked laughter – his dad is Ray Goulding of the legendary and beloved comedic pair Bob & Ray. He is involved with LICAN – an organization fighting Long Island’s opioid crisis. Bryant is a graduate of University of Massachusetts where he also played lacrosse.


   Gy Mirano is a New York actress, voice-over artist, and arts advocate originally from South America. She is on the Advisory Board and Film Jury of CUNY’s The Americas Film Festival of New York and the Film Jury of the Queens World Film Festival. Ms. Mirano is an elected SAG-AFTRA New York Delegate, and serves on two national committees representing the interests of Spanish-language actors. Her work as a performer together with her advocacy of Latin American arts and culture in the U.S. was recently recognized with the Gabriela Mistral, Julia Burgos, Frida Kahlo Award. Television and film include: Law & Order, Against the Law, Crime Story, Double Deception, Real Sports, Paragraph 175, Front Line, Dora the Explorer, Les Petites Canailles, 3 Américas, and Rights on the Line. Selected voice acting credits include: Nikon, Avon, Ford, Folgers, Time Magazine, The New York Times, narrations for PBS, HBO, MoMA, Museum of Natural History, El Museo del Barrio, and San Francisco Fine Arts Museums. She was recently the Spanish-language announcer for Hillary’s Clinton presidential campaign and for the campaign of U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. Ms. Mirano also works as a Spanish-language diction and voice acting coach for actors, politicians, and professionals. She teaches voice-over technique and the business of the entertainment industry at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. Gy is honored to be part of Queens World Film Festival Film Jury.

   Elliot Cowan is an award winning animator, painter and sculptor whose work and films have played all over the world. Originally from Australia, Elliot now lives in Queens, The Worlds Borough. He is not only our Animation Juror, he is the genius behind our poster design.

   Liza Wyles is a TV writer/producer of award-winning shortform video content for such networks as A&E, Bravo, IFC, and SundanceTV. She co-executive produced In Deep Shift with Jonas Elrod, a docu-series for Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday. Her personal essays and short humor have appeared in print and digital outlets such as Reductress, the Belladonna Comedy, Self, and Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life. Liza is a native of Jackson Heights, where she is currently raising two children with her husband, Scott.

   With a PhD from Yale, Lieber was a cultural anthropologist and taught at a number of universities but an interest in documentary and ethnographic film and photography led him to feature films. He wrote at Disney, moving on become the first a story editor at New Century Productions and then their V.P. of Creative Affairs and Development. He produced "Flash of Genius" for Universal and recently produced "The House That Jack Built," based on a script by Sundance best screenplay winner, Joe Vasquez. The film has turned out to be a multi-festival award winner with distribution through VegaBaby. 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.

   Christine Burrill has 40 years of experience in filmmaking including documentaries, fiction films, cinematography, directing and writing. Her awards for directing include the Silver Plaque from the Chicago Film Festival and the Grand Prize from the Aspen Filmfest for “The New Maid.” She directed 4 documentaries shown on the Public Broadcasting Service in the US, and her credits as cinematographer include many NOVA’s (PBS) and “Our Brand in Crisis,” a feature length documentary about Bolivia’s presidential race with James Caravelle (Best IDA doc), and “Shut Up and Sing” a feature length documentary about The Dixie Chicks, directed by Barbara Kopple, and the Showtime Biography of Richard Pryor directed by Marina Zenovitch. She has written TV Movies (The Counterfeit Contessa) and ghost-wrote a book for Warner Books. Her still photography has been shown in galleries in Los Angeles and in 5 museums in Latin America.

   An award-winning filmmaker and founder of the 30under30 Film Festival, which is partnering with the UN Women in 2017. He is also developing a feature film that is part of the ifp (Independent Filmmaker Project) in their narrative lab program, No Borders. He is a 2016 CUP (Council of Urban Professionals) Fellows graduate from the Leadership Institute.

   A Syrian-American animator and a filmmaker who was exposed to the traditional art forms of drawing, painting and wood carving early in his childhood. He attended the College of Fine Arts in Damascus, Syria and the Ringling School Of Art and Design in Florida where he majored in Computer animation and minored in Digital Film.Upon graduating in 2008, Lahham worked on multiple featured titles including "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs" and as the animation director on the Academy Award winning short film, "The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore".Currently, Lahham is an animation director in New York city. His short animation Dirty Laundry Day won Best Animation at Queens World Film Festival 2015 and went on to enjoy a strong festival run.!filmmaker/c10fk


   Marija Šajkaš (pronounced as Maria Shay-kash) is a U.S. based writer, media expert and political analyst, and founder of 4 Better Media. Her most recent appearances and projects include work for the Freedom of the Press, Freedom House (2017), High-Level OSCE Chairmanship Conference “Freedom of the Media in the Western Balkans” in co-operation with the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (2017), Mayor’s Office of immigrant Affairs in New York City (2016), Global Freedom of Expression Initiative at Columbia University (2016), CORO- Immigrant Civic Leadership Program (2015). Marija holds an M.S. in International Affairs, with a concentration in Culture and Media Studies, from The New School University in New York, and a BS in Serbian Language and Literature from the University of Belgrade. She is the author of the novel Esther Jovanovich's Scrapbook (Klett, 2013) and co-author of the TV documentary “Missing- the Right to Know”. (2003) -

   Yesim has combined fiction writing, journalism and the film world throughout her career. She started as a film and book critic in an English- language newspaper in Turkey, her home country, and the horizons of her journalism later expanded to include the politics of the Middle East, with an especial focus on women and minority issues. Her fiction career has included two novels in her native Turkish. She's also a member of the core team behind an Istanbul film festival that was the country's first independent one, and remains the biggest. Her contributions there have ranged from programming to blogging and cataloge writing; social media management to press relations; hosting festival guests to organizing events. Freshly arrived in New York, she brings a regional expertise and world film perspective to Queens.

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

   Originally a classical pianist, Michael moved into contemporary and jazz at a young age. Over the years he has studied with the likes of Lennie Breau, Bob Erlendson, Jacki Byard, Joanne Brackeen, Eddie Monteiro and Thelonius Monk. While studying theory and performance at Berklee School of Music, Michael co-founded, recorded and toured with the fusion band Orpheus, blues and big bands, and recently played accordion and keyboards with the original rock band Redux. Working with music production, scores and commercials along the way, lately he has become fascinated with the accordion - both acoustic and digital. He is bringing his unique blend of jazz and world music to the instrument in solo, small group and orchestral environments. But the pull of the American Song Book has always underscored all of his work, and now he is replaying the New York scene and bringing the accordion into it. Varied experience and training has given his art and repertoire a unique color that he has carried into cabaret, arrangement, and vocal jazz work here and abroad.

   Composer/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Ben Musser is the creative force behind BENYARO, the indie roots and soul project started in New York City, now based out of Jackson Hole, WY. The composer and music supervisor for Searching For Fortune (premiering 3/16 at QWFF), Ben and his music have been compared to the likes of David Bowie, Cat Stevens, The Band, Tom Waits, & The Avett Brothers in RELIX, Nashville Scene and papers across the country. In addition to touring and performing 100+ live dates a year, Ben looks forward to catching the ears of more directors and producers to continue working in the world of film and television. and bringing the accordion into it. Varied experience and training has given his art and repertoire a unique color that he has carried into cabaret, arrangement, and vocal jazz work here and abroad.


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.


SAM BERLAND - Projectionist
   Sam Berland has worked with QWFF since the start of the festival and is the lead projectionist. He is a quality control expert on AV equipment and has worked in the film/video and broadcasting industry for many years. . He builds all film playlists 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 and works a Freelance Video Projectionist on the Tribeca Film Festival. He 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.

Don Cato
Patti Lowenhaupt
Richard Calvache
Elizabeth Pasieczny

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.



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Queens World Film Festival, Inc.
Screening Challenging and Exciting Film From Around the World and Around the Corner.