Festival organizers said the rebranding will allow the festival to expand its appeal by attracting more attendees and filmmakers from around the world.
“With Regal being our big sponsor now, we wanted to take advantage of the fact that we’ll have a broader appeal,” said executive director Jayson Simba. “Our original idea was to get people to Kew Gardens, but we just weren’t getting enough people.”
Once the festival changed its location from the Kew Gardens Cinema to the Regal UA Midway this past August following a deal with Regal, there was a lot of confusion.
“People were wondering why the festival was called Kew Gardens although we moved it to Forest Hills, and we just didn’t want to change it because it was homage to our roots,” he added. “We’re so grateful for everything Kew Gardens has done for us.”
Festival of Cinema NYC accepts films and media of all lengths, genres and subjects. Each year, there are over 15 categories including Best Feature and Short Narrative, Best Documentary, Best Animation, Music Video & Experimental and Best Web Series.
Past panelists and jury members have included Anna Garduno, executive producer at Netflix, Charles E. Williams, two-time Emmy award winner at CBS, and Doug LeClaire, founder of Asbury Shorts USA.
According to FilmFreeway, a website that tracks and helps to promote film festivals and creative contests, the former Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema rose to the rankings of one of the site’s “Top 100 Best Reviewed Festivals.” Based on attendee reviews, the festival was in the top 2 percent of more than 6,000 film festivals and creative contests around the world.
Currently, festival organizers are trying to attract more sponsors to grow the festival even further. They’re hoping the festival can expand to additional venues in Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Long Island City, Astoria and beyond.
Next year’s festival will take place from August 2 to August 11 at the Regal UA Midway, as well as at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The festival’s 2019 call for submissions is now open.
“We’re figuring out how to expand and keep it fresh and new,” Simba said. “We’re trying to make the festival bigger and better as we go into our third year.”