By Nick Christophers
In the quaint town of Forest Hills where the streets are filled with many bars, restaurants and retail outlets, a growing indie film festival has made a mark in the industry. The Festival of Cinema is the brainchild of Executive Producer, Jayson Simba. Jayson, who is an actor himself and has been in three films from 2013-2015, felt he wanted to help build the indie film market in some compacity. Attending many festivals on his own he felt he could organize one himself. In 2017, he did just that giving birth to what was first tagged the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema.
“I felt there was a void in the festival world in my area and I wished to create something different. I got together with some other filmmakers and decided to tackle this idea and get the community involved. The strike did not have that much of an effect on our festival. We found a common ground to make this festival work.”
Since then, the festival grew from first having 100 films screened to the current 450. It is a big step even since the pandemic placed a damper on the industry. The festival runs for ten days and brings together filmmakers from around the globe. Regal Cinemas became a sponsor for the festival in 2017 hence the name change to Festival of Cinema NYC. Films like “Static”, “The Coolest Club” and “How Did That Happen” were featured at the event. One interesting film was “Static” directed and produced by Jamin Mears serves as the backdrop for the band Farewell Fortune and the blend of their music into the project. The festival had a great turnout for the Red-Carpet Gala at the Midway Theatre on Saturday, August 12th.
At the Red-Carpet event they honored Dito Montiel with the Achievement in Filmmaking Award with the screening of his film “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints”. There are many such festivals on the circuit, and it is hard to differentiate one from the other. Yet FOC seems to offer a longer and more solid stable of creatives that viewers and fellow filmmakers can enjoy and be a part of a growing brand that has more to offer each passing year.