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Greek Films at the 9th Annual Queens World Film Festival, March 21-31

The National Herald Archive

Filmmaker Heather Taylor with the poster for her film Pay to Stay. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

ASTORIA – The 9th Annual Queens World Film Festival (QWFF) held its press event on March 18 at the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) in Astoria with many of the filmmakers in attendance to meet with the media to help spread the word about their films and this year’s festival. MoMI Executive Director Carl Goodman and the 2019 Spirit of Queens honorees filmmaker Nancy Kelly, former MoMI Curator David Schwartz, and IndieCollect Director Sandra Schulberg were among those present along with 50 local and international filmmakers screening their films. QWFF Executive Director Katha Cato and Artistic Director Don Cato spoke eloquently about the festival and the filmmakers, clearly demonstrating their passion for and their dedication to cinema.

This year’s lineup includes over 200 films which showcase a great variety of themes, styles, and genres. QWFF is once again a celebration of diversity with films from a multiplicity of countries, among them Greece.

The special event entitled, Exciting Greek Work, takes place on Saturday, March 30 at 3:30 PM with the screening of five films celebrating the epic Greek imagination at MoMI’s Bartos Screening Room, 36-01 35th Avenue in Astoria. The screening begins with the documentary Yia Yia: A Portrait, directed by Greg Sego and continues with the short narrative films Vous, directed by Pari Antoniou, Play, directed by Vangelis Liberopoulos; Semele, directed by Myrsini Aristidou; and Fig, directed by Nicolas Kolovos.

The National Herald Archive

Queens World Film Festival Executive Director Katha Cato and Artistic Director Don Cato posed for a photo with the filmmakers, MoMI Curator David Schwartz, and the 2019 Spirit of Queens honorees Nancy Kelly, David Schwartz, and Sandra Schulberg. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Greek-American filmmaker Greg Sego told The National Herald, “I am thrilled to share with you and your audience my documentary film Yia Yia: A Portrait. Furthermore, I am honored to have it included in this year’s Queens World Film Festival. “This documentary was a collaboration between me and my late grandmother, Mary Vorgia, and since has become a cherished family item. On paper, Mary's story may not read unique, being one of the millions of Europeans forced to flee their homes for safety during World War II, but it is in the experience of having her recount the details of her odyssey through life that makes it all so affecting.

“This project began as simple recording sessions between my grandmother and I, as I wanted to capture the definitive versions of certain stories that have become sort of family myths over the years. Soon I realized that I had a wealth of audio material that could be visualized in an interesting way.

“I encourage everyone to pursue similar projects, that being capturing family stories and history from older relatives. Any relatives. Even yourself. You and future generations will cherish them,” Sego said.

Another Greek-American filmmaker at this year’s QWFF, Tom Soter (Soteropoulos) spoke to TNH at the press event about his documentary film The Arc of a Life which he produced with his friends Tom Sinclair, Alan Saly, and Chris Doherty, over 50 years. Soter told TNH that his roots are in Mani and Methoni. The Arc of a Life makes its East Coast premiere at the QWFF on Tuesday, March 26 at 7 PM in the Zukor Theatre at the Kaufman Astoria Studios 34-12 36th Street in Astoria. The film is an official selection at this year’s QWFF.

The National Herald

Queens World Film Festival Executive Director Katha Cato and Artistic Director Don Cato posed for a photo with the filmmakers, MoMI Curator David Schwartz, and the 2019 Spirit of Queens honorees Nancy Kelly, David Schwartz, and Sandra Schulberg. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

The film follows the journey of four friends who met in grade school and began imagining a new world. It was a world of the written word, of Super-8 film, and audiotapes. Starting in 1968, they published their own magazines, filled with spaceships, English detectives, and talking warthogs. They produced over 300 recordings of 15-minute audio shows (including one 24-episode series called "Planet of the Nuns"). And they shot nearly two-dozen movies in New York's parks, in subways, and on buses, and even to the top of the Statue of Liberty. The movie examines their creative endeavors and follows their lives as friends, coping with alcoholism, drug addiction, Parkinson's disease, and mental illness in an uplifting tale of a 50-year friendship.

Soter has Parkinson’s disease but continues to write and edit as well as teaching and performing in improv. He said, “I was pleased to work with Chris Doherty again; he shot it with the same keen eye that he used (and can be seen) in the clips from the 1970s films. Although there are a lot of guns and shooting, we always felt it was absurd, cartoon-like violence and never thought twice about it; maybe we should have, but we were only 14.”

Tickets are now on sale for all films at both the Museum of the Moving Image and the Zukor Theatre via queensworldfilmfestival.com.

The National Herald Archive

The 9th Queens World Film Festival, March 21-31, at the Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufman Astoria Studios. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

The National Herald

The 9th Queens World Film Festival, March 21-31, at the Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufman Astoria Studios. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

The National Herald Archive

Filmmakers Tom Soter and Christian Doherty spoke to TNH about their documentary film The Arc of a Life. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

The National Herald

Filmmakers Tom Soter and Christian Doherty spoke to TNH about their documentary film The Arc of a Life. Photo by Eleni Sakellis