Tuesday, August 24, 2021

The 5th Annual Festival of Cinema NYC brings in-person screenings back to the Regal UA Midway in Forest Hills September 24-October 3


John Carlucci & Brandon Laganke’s Drunk Bus Opens the film festival with the directors in attendance, Erin Granat & Machete Bang Bang’s Moon Manor is the Closing Night selection.

 World Premieres include Cristiano Vieira’s A Cisterna (The Well) and Samuel Tressler IV’s Leda, while Pedro von Krüger’s Any Given Day and Vishal P.Chaliha’s Sijou will make North American Premieres

Queens, NY, September 24, 2021 - Festival of Cinema NYC proudly returns for its 5th year, as a live in-person 10-day event, taking place September 24-October 3. Bookending over 120 independent films from around the world with many premieres among them, will be the Opening Night selection of John Carlucci and Brandon Laganke’s crowd favorite Drunk Bus, and the Closing Night screening of Erin Granat & Machete Bang Bang’s acclaimed LGBTQ film, Moon Manor. 

Over 85 filmmakers are expected to attend Festival of Cinema NYC next month which will be hosted once again by the Regal UA Midway in Forest Hills, Queens, famous for their state-of-the-art projection and sound. World premieres include Cristiano Vieira’s A Cisterna (The Well) and Samuel Tressler IV’s Leda, which will mark FOC NYC’s very first RealD 3D presentation, while Pedro von Krüger’s Any Given Day and Vishal P. Chaliha’s Sijou will make North American Premieres at the film festival.

Festival of Cinema NYC Founder and Executive Director Jayson Simba, said, “In our 5th year, and despite the pandemic, we still continue to grow by nearly every metric – submissions, films selected, screenings, and more. We could not be more excited to return to our home at the Regal and to see these amazing films on screen and meet all of the 85 filmmakers we are expecting to join us here in Forest Hills. We pride ourselves on bringing world cinema to the many film lovers here in Queens, and this year’s lineup really delivers on that front.” 

John Carlucci and Brandon Laganke’s raucous comedy Drunk Bus kicks things off on Friday, September 24. The film follows a recent college graduate whose life plan is derailed when his girlfriend leaves him for a job in New York City. However, when he runs into Pineapple, a 300-lb punk rock Samoan who challenges him with a kick in the ass to break from the loop and start living, his life will never be the same. or risk driving in circles forever. Both Carlucci and Laganke will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A. 

Erin Granat and Machete Bang Bang’s Moon Manor will make its Queens Premiere on Saturday, October 2 as FOC NYC’s Closing Night selection. The film focuses on a man

with advancing Alzheimer’s who decides that he will orchestrate a party of a funeral–a FUNeral, prior to his death, showing his estranged brother, salt-of-the earth caretaker, sharp-witted death doula, a novice obituary writer, a cosmic being, and everyone else the proper way to make an exit.

 Leading the premiere-rich lineup are world premieres including; Cristiano Vieira’s Brazilian thriller A Cisterna (The Well), which centers on a successful journalist and popular television host’s fight for survival when she is kidnapped and held inside a well; and Samuel Tressler IV’s Leda imaginative drama about a woman living alone at a large family estate, who begins to lose touch with reality and time, and begins to spiral into a nightmare of madness. Making their North American premieres are Pedro von Krüger’s Brazilian thriller, Any Given Day where a woman’s son goes missing inspiring him to take the investigation and matters into his own hands; and Vishal P. Chaliha’s Sijou, about a boy who becomes a victim of the Feudal Land Tenure System which enslaved people to land holding lords.

For its fifth year, Festival of Cinema NYC is working with the Americas Media Initiative organization to raise awareness of the current societal turmoil and political conditions in Cuba. On Tuesday September 28 at 7:00PM, the festival will be presenting the animated short film Esperanza vs. the U.S. Embargo of Cuba proceeded by Ricardo Figueredo Oliva’s documentary The Singular Story of Unlucky Juan. The screenings will be followed by a 60-minute moderated discussion with guest speakers and activists, Roberto Monticello and Isabel Alfonso leading the conversation. Proceeds from the evening’s presentation will be donated to assist in Cuban Relief efforts. 

This year’s edition of Festival of Cinema NYC is supported and made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Other major sponsors for the 2021 festival include Regal Cinemas, Resorts World Casino NYC, the NYC & Company Foundation, Techsoup, and Final Draft. 

Tickets to Festival of Cinema NYC are on sale now, and are priced at $17 for regular daily screening blocks. Red Carpet Opening and Closing night tickets are priced at $30 and include entry into the after party following those screenings. (Discounts are available, at the door, for Senior Citizens, SAG-AFTRA members, members of the Queens Economic Development Corporation, the Forest Hills Asian Association, the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, the Queens Chamber of Commerce, and members Community Board 6.) Tickets to Tuesday’s Fundraising Presentation on Cuba will cost $35. 

To purchase tickets and learn more information about the festival,  please visit http://www.festivalofcinemanyc.com/




Drunk Bus

Dir. John Carlucci & Brandon Laganke, USA, 100 min

Michael (Charlie Tahan) is a recent graduate whose post college plan is derailed when his girlfriend leaves him for a job in New York City. When the bus service hires a security guard to watch over the night shift, Michael comes face to tattooed face with Pineapple, a 300-lb punk rock Samoan who challenges him with a kick in the ass to break from the loop and start living or risk driving in circles forever.



Moon Manor       Queens Premiere

Dir. Erin Granat & Machete Bang Bang, USA, 102 min

With advancing Alzheimer’s and a determination to do things his way, Jimmy’s decided to throw himself a fabulous FUNeral before his intentional death, showing his estranged brother, salt-of-the earth caretaker, sharp-witted death doula, a novice obituary writer, a cosmic being, and the guests at his FUNeral — that sometimes the art of living just may be the art of dying.




Dir. Craig Singer, USA, 100 min.

The couple arrives for vacation in the quiet island resort called "Bog Grove." To their bewilderment, the sleepy beach town is curiously deserted and they quickly learn about its deadly history that's about to repeat itself.


A Cisterna (The Well)           World Premiere

Dir. Cristiano Vieira, Brazil, 100 Min., World Premiere

Lorena Ribeiro is a successful journalist and popular television host when she is kidnapped and held inside a well.


Angie: Lost Girls     Queens Premiere

Dir. Julia Verdin, USA, 108 min

After escaping from a sex trafficking ring, one teenage girl struggles to reconnect with herself and her family after her ordeal. Ultimately, in order to find herself and rescue her helpless friends, she must confront her own fears and help lead the police to her traffickers - no matter the cost.


Any Given Day           North American Premiere

Dir. Pedro von Krüger, Brazil, 88 min

The festive atmosphere of the first Sunday after the Carnival is soon disrupted when Penha’s son goes missing. Certain that his disappearance can only be the work of the mafia commanded by former police officer Quirino, an old dislike, Penha will soon find out the consequences of doing justice with her own hands.


Dreamover            New York Premiere

Dir. Charlie Roman Olkhovka, Russia, 100 min

When life turns unbearably miserable, a lonely old man takes part in a medical experiment, reviving a long-forgotten story of his love...


Electric Jesus       New York Premiere

Dir. Chris White, USA, 107 min

When a flashy promoter (played by Brian Baumgartner, The Office) sells sound man Erik (Andrew Eakle) and his favorite local Christian hair metal band, 316, on the promise of a bus tour in the summer of 1986, their desire to “make Jesus famous” meets the complexities and confusion of personal ambition, religious conviction, youthful zeal, lifelong friendships, and first love.


The Enemies           New York Premiere

Dir. George Gachava, Georgia, 65 min

In order to escape inevitable death, a Georgian soldier is forced to open the basement door and jump in thus trapping himself underground with the enemy.


Finding Ophelia

Dir. Stephen Rutterford, USA, 73 min.

William Edgar inhabits a strange dream-like reality. His obsession with a mysterious woman leads down a bizarre, dark path of signs and wonders. Sometimes finding the girl of your dreams can be a nightmare.


Lair              East Coast Premiere

Dir. Adam Ethan Crow, United Kingdom, 96 min

When a friend claims to have been possessed by a demonic force, paranormal investigator Steven Caramore investigates, setting off a chain of events that forces a young family and Caramore into a terrifying battle for survival.


Leda       World Premiere

Dir. Samuel Tressler IV, USA, 76 min

Leda lives alone in a large family estate, surrounded by her memories. As her past of loss unfolds and a divine presence seems to haunt her, she begins to lose touch with reality and time. What seemed to be a dream-like world spirals into a nightmare of madness in this reimagining of the Greek myth.


Lightships      New York Premiere

Dir. John Harrigan, United Kingdom, 103 min

Eve’s family is missing: her journal holds the key to locating them. As her world and reality begin to unravel, she must unlock the mystery of the visions and transmissions she is experiencing. Is she a prisoner, a patient... or dead?


Omar and Us     New York Premiere

Dir. Maryna Er Gorbach & Mehmet Bahadir Er, Turkey, 104 min

Ismet is a recently retired Turkish soldier whose last post was as a Commander of the Coast Guard at the Turkish maritime border.  In an unexpected turn of events, he suddenly becomes neighbors with two refugees. Now he must face his prejudices and reexamine his worldview.


Only Human       East Coast Premiere

Dir. Igor Ivanov, North Macadonia, 95 min.

What is Man? HOMO shows six faces, six phases in cleverly-connected, blackly comic episodes as desperate characters meet unwittingly in a modern metropole in the eternal search for the means to survive, and find some kind of love.


The Prince

Dir. Sebastián Muñoz, Chile, 95 min.

During a night of heavy drinking, Jaime, a narcissist 20-year-old, stabs his best friend in what seems like a passionate outburst. In prison he will discover the affections and loyalties of an everyday life marked by violence.


Savage Days

Dir. David Lanzman, France, 80 min.,

Savage Days is the fate of three characters: a student eager for experiences, a drug dealer trying to get out of it, and a trader tired of his loneliness. The world today makes them meet, collide, hurt each other.



Dir. Hunter Hopewell, USA, 82 min.

A poignant tale of longing and loss is revealed when a timeworn journal transports a young girl to a place of enchanting wonders.


Sijou         North American Premiere

Dir. Vishal P.Chaliha, India, 109 min

Sijou’s life takes a drastic shift when the boy becomes a victim of the Feudal Land Tenure System which was in practice in Bhutan till 1958.


The Silent Party              East Coast Premiere

Dir. Diego Fried, Argentina, 87 min

Just hours before her wedding party, Laura sets out on her own, but a violent act changes her life forever.


Ten Tricks

Dir.  Rick Pagano, 88 min., USA

A woman tries to get pregnant.  On her birthday.  Surrounded by men trying to have sex.


Two is the Magic Number                                                   Queens Premiere

Dir. Holger Borggrefe & Stefan Hering, Deutschland, 85 min

A day at the lake. Andrejs ex-girlfriend Nadia pays him a visit. Nadia and Andrej's former best mate Claudius are a couple now. Nadia's request for help confronts Andrej with a common dark secret.




(C)Answers          East Coast Premiere

Dir. Breht Gardner, USA, 90 min

(C)Answers explores the biological and social cancers that plague American society. Filmmaker Breht Gardner takes you inside one man’s emotional cancer battle and discovers that cannabis prohibition is where race, politics, and the business of medicine powerfully intersect. 


Alexandre the Fool        Queens Premiere

Dir. Pedro Pires, Canada, 65 min

Fifteen years after a psychotic event on the South China Sea flipped his life upside down, Alex, a sensitive, refined and schizophrenic man is at a crossroads.


Beer Boom      New York Premiere

Dir. Eric Schleyer & Andrew Coury, USA, 60 min

Craft beer in New York City is big business. But will passion and commitment be enough for a local brewer and his family to make it in the world's toughest city?


Escape from Room 18

Dir. Daniel Brea, USA, 60 min

Two American ex-neo-Nazi Skinheads, one of them Jewish and living in Israel, meet in Eastern European concentration camps to re-connect with each other and make amends for their past after 25 years of silence.


Loving Mona           New York Premiere

Dir. Terry Katz, USA, 71 min

Loving Mona is a personal story of how dogs change people’s lives. It is delightful in its sincerity and smallness of scope, and clearly shows a deep love for its subjects, dogs and people alike. It is inspiring as it is entertaining.


Never Events

Dir. Angela Asatrian, USA, 78 min

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. This documentary shares the stories of individuals affected by preventable medical harm and provides information from advocates on ways to prevent medical errors


Safeguard: An Electoral College Story            New York Premiere

Dir. M.A. Taylor, USA, 76 min

This timely and urgent new public affairs documentary examines the U.S. electoral college system. The film avoids any partisan bickering to ask the questions: How does it work? What happens if we change the rules? Is democracy just “two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner?” or can a democratic system be designed to protect minority rights?


Sex, Drugs & Bicycles            New York Premiere

Dir. Jonathan Blank, The Netherlands, 86 min

Sex, Drugs & Bicycles takes a funny and provocative look at Holland and answers the question: is having month-long double paid vacations, no fear of homelessness & universal healthcare the nightmare we've been warned about? The Netherlands may be best known for its windmills and tulips (and marijuana “coffee shops”), but it’s also a country that is at the forefront of LGBTQI equality, free speech laws, and animal rights. Additionally, the Dutch economy is one of the best in the world, and they’re in the top 5 of almost every quality of life index. Everyone also has excellent health insurance that even covers transgender medical procedures and sex care for the disabled.


The Singular Story of Unluck Juan

Dir. Ricardo Figueredo Oliva, Cuba, 52 min

Divided into chapters covering rations, the marketplace, CUC stores, private business, corruption, economic migration, and future Cuba, the documentary walks us through how each of these affects Juan and those like him.

Check the Festival Website for a full listing of short films 

About Festival of Cinema NYC:

Festival of Cinema, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. The festival was founded by local independent filmmakers with a passion to get movies made and to expand the reach of artists’ work. Recognizing the challenges filmmakers face in the film industry, the festival's aim is to establish a presence, and spread awareness, of cinematic creativity.

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