The Queens World Film Festival is gearing up to make its return in April.
After taking a year off, submissions for the 2024 festival opened Friday, and founder Katha and Donald Preston Cato are excited to open their doors to emerging filmmakers from around the world to Queens, New York once again.
The festival will take place at the Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens from April 16 – 28, 2024. You can submit your film for consideration here. The Queens World Festival is also featured on our list of 20 Great Film Festivals for First-Time Moviemakers.
“The festival really is about cultivating supporting developing filmmakers at every stage of their career. We have screened people who are in their 80s, and we have screened fifth graders. We are really, really interested in making sure that we’re also feeding the pipeline into careers in the industry, for all sorts of dynamic young people from all walks of life,” Katha Cato told MovieMaker.
“These cultures that all live here, some of them have storytelling traditions that are thousands of years old, and whose voices are missing from the cultural conversations.”
In the past 12 years, Queens World has screened over 1,800 films from 92 countries, with 281 films hailing from local Queens filmmakers.
Since the inaugural year of the Queens World Film Festival took place in 2011, the Catos have been focused on fostering connections between local and international filmmakers of all ages.
In addition to the annual multi-day film festival, Queens World also offers mentoring and professional development programs like Passion in Action, industry panels, school-based immersion programs, the He Said/She Said blog, the Listening Tour video series, and year-round encore screenings for festival alumni.
Queens World Film Festival — Passion in Action Program
One festival event that happens throughout the year is the Passion in Action professional development workshop. Its goal is to connect young creatives in the Queens, New York area with professionals in their desired field.
The last Passion in Action in-person event was in April, and Cato says the aim is to have the next big workshop event this summer.
“The main goal is to increase the skills of young people in terms of representing themselves in a professional manner, whether they are interested in being biochemists or filmmakers,” Cato says. “Our medium happens to be film — that’s where the greatest contacts that we have are, and the greatest opportunities that we have.”
“The last iteration that we did was a day-long event with 30 some-odd passionate professionals meeting and hanging out all day with over 50 emerging creatives. They helped conduct micro workshops where our young people wrote their mission statement, wrote their elevator pitch, and claimed their positive thought… the one thing they’re going to think of about themselves before they go into an interview.”
To plan Passion in Action, Queens World partnered with Gaia Zine, founded by local high school junior Isabel Tiburcio.
“She was a real strong element in the recent planning process. We’ve known her since she was in elementary school, and we did work with her to recruit young people. We’re cultivating her to start to be the person who would handle our internship workshops,” Cato says. “This young lady can get an internship anywhere she sets her mind to and she’s really developed a great system.”
Other Passion in Action partners include New York Women In Film & Television and the Mayors Office of Media and Entertainment and Epicenter – NYC.
The Passion in Action program represents one of Queens World’s biggest intentions: to foster a sense of connection and support amongst the local Queens filmmaking community.
“Passion in Action is about leaning into your passion and understanding that you must take action. And action is based on the questions that you’ve asked, the beliefs that you have generated for yourself, and the people you have chosen to speak to,” Cato says.
Main Image: Annual Presser at Museum of the Moving Image with 2022 NYC Filmmakers. Photo courtesy of Queens World Film Festival