COVID has made the Festival of Cinema NYC a drive-in event instead of one in a movie theater, but the show must go on.
Film fans can drive to St. John’s University from Oct. 1 to 4 to see 28 movies.
The first night will see 11 short films made from filmmakers around the city.
Richard Kind, the character actor familiar to TV and movie audiences, is in “The Reception,” in which two men discuss the deaths of their sons as a dystopian war rages above ground. Kind called it a “stunning piece of writing,” and added that the film is “lovely and quick and heartfelt.”
Kind also joked about his extremely extensive resume. “You never think you’re going to get in heaven unless you have enough keys,” he said.
Sean Sakamoto wrote the script after seeing the riots in Charlottesville, VA and “feeling acutely powerless.”
The idea of the movie, which Sakamoto described as existential, is “What do you do when you don’t know what to do?”
The men note that it was too early to pick up a gun and then it became too late, and now they’re two guys discussing the situation in a basement with a war above.
Veteran TV and movie actor Skipp Sudduth co-stars with Kind.
“Ninety percent of my job was to get out of their way and let their talent take over,” Sakamoto said.
Nicola Rose’s “Gabrielle” is loosely based on experiences she had as a ballet dancer as a young teenager.
“You’re in there with little kids who are starting with younger kids who may have an eye for doing this seriously,” she said.
Ballet serves as a backdrop for the story of an abusive teacher.
“I wanted to tell a story that focused on a child who’s being bullied by an adult and then look a little later into the child’s life to see how she turned out given that this was a shaping event,” Rose said.
She also liked the juxtaposition of telling “a story that looked lacey and frilly and pink but actually has this really hard edge underneath that has to do with resilience over something really toxic.”
“Anonymous,” directed by Forest Hills’ Michael Cutrone, deals with recovering drug addicts getting out of Narcotics Anonymous and trying to live a clean life before running into another addict they knew from their meetings.
“He takes them down a dark path,” Cutrone said.
A fight scene in the film was carefully choreographed.
“We wanted to have a bit of frenetic energy to the fight scene but to actually be able to see what’s going on for the audience to really feel it,” Cutrone said.
The second night will consist of crime capers and late-night thrillers, including “Stealing Chaplin,” in which two petty criminals dig up and attempt to ransom Charlie Chaplin’s body.
“Mosley,” an animated movie, is the highlight of the third night. Featuring the voices of Lucy Lawless and John Rhys-Davies, the film follows a species of creatures known as “thoriphants” who rebel against their life of servitude and embark on a journey to find the fabled city of Uprights. Seven short films from around the world will also be screened.
Highlighting closing night is “Higher Love,” a documentary about a blue-collar father trying to rescue his pregnant, heroin-addicted girlfriend from the streets of Camden, NJ.
Vehicles will enter through St. John’s University Gate 4 on Union Turnpike and 175th Street. The 28 movies will be shown in six “blocks,” with each one costing $35 per car with a limit of five guests per vehicle.
“It’s nice to have film festivals again,” Cutrone said.
Festival of Cinema NYC
When: Thu.-Sun., Oct. 1-4
Where: St. John’s University, 8000 Utopia Pkwy., Jamaica
Tickets: $35 per car for each “block”