2018 FILMS



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Turning eight in 2018, 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 8th Annual Queens World Film Festival returns to the Museum of the Moving Image in both the Redstone and the Bartos room as well as the historic Zukor Theatre at the Kaufman Astoria Studios located right next door. Strategically placed in the middle 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


   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.

   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.

The QWFF Screening Committee is lead by Artistic Director Don Cato and features filmmakers, writers, muscians and other arts professionals.

   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.


   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.


   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.

   Industry vet Josh Green is the founder of newly formed Jagman Productions, an award winning full service feature and commercial production company. Josh has produced, represented, or distributed more than 50 films in a fifteen year time span. His recent feature production credits include PBS/American Masters documentary By Sidney Lumet, music documentaries Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey (Cinedigm/Independent Lens) and I Want My Name Back (Image/BET), and Lifetime TV movie Seasons of Love. Josh is currently in production on two feature documentaries: one on fan favorite band TLC, the biggest selling female pop act in history; and the second on Judy Feld Carr, who rescued more than 3,000 Jews from Syria over three decades, representing the largest single rescue of individuals since WWII. In addition, Josh is an executive producer on South African western Five Fingers for Marseilles, which wrapped production in the summer of 2016. Josh has several other doc, scripted and TV projects in development.

   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

   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.

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 as a Projectionist is the QWFF7 lead Projectionist. He has Quality Control Expert on AV equipment. He and builds all film playlists and 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.

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.