Saturday, September 13, 2008

Up next: the third annual Jackson Heights Film Fest

Beginning this Thursday, 9/18, The 2008 Jackson Heights Film Festival

(together with The Jackson Heights Kid's Film Festival) kicks off its third year of fun and film. Since I've lived here in the Queens, NY, community of Jackson Heights for the past 13 years, I feel duty-bound to push this nice little fest, which concentrates on short films but this year also offers two fine full-length features. This is the third annual fest (for both the films and the kid's films), and each year the events grow, along with their attendance. To see the complete program -- as well as purchase tickets (one of the programs is FREE!) or get your travel instructions, simply click on the underlined "name" links above.

This year's opening night includes a short film, Basket Boy from the Burundi Film Center, and a screening of the enormously well-received Chop Shop directed and co-written by Ramin Bahrani, whose Man Push Cart was an independent critic-pleaser a few years back and whose newest film Goodbye Solo just wowed 'em at the Venice and Toronto film fests. Click the movie-title links above for my GreenCine Guru review of Chop Shop and recent info on festival showings of Goodbye Solo, from the GreenCine Daily Blog (a must-read, by the way, for film fans who want to keep abreast).

Mr. Bahrani himself (above left) will make an appearance after the Jackson Heights screening for a discussion and Q&A. He's an intelligent guy and a fine filmmaker who gives great interview , if this one by David D'Arcy for GreenCine is any example. In it, Bahrani insists that his film is a fine one for children to see. It's not your typical kids' film, for sure, even if it does feature a child in the leading role. But when my daughter was growing up, I'd have taken her in a flash to see something this vital and entertaining, and then discussed the themes and ideas (immigration, child labor, and the importance of having a caring family to help a kid make decisions) with her afterward.

Friday night (8pm) and the Saturday matinee (4pm) will be devoted to the lion's share of short subjects. Then, for the closing night of the fest, don't miss Christopher Zalla's Sangre de mi sangre (also known as Padre Nuestro) which last year won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and was also nominated this year for a Goya Award (Spain's "Oscar") as Best Spanish Language Foreign Film. This movie received a very limited theatrical run last spring and is not yet available on DVD, so for anyone interested, a visit to Jackson Heights is in order -- especially since Mr. Zalla (shown above right) will be there for a post-screening discussion and Q&A.

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