Interview with Festival Director Jayson Simba (KEW GARDENS FESTIVAL OF CINEMA)

Already being hailed by The Wall Street Journal as New York City’s next major film event, and as mentioned on The Huffington Post, Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema is a non-profit organization established to support the development of and help expand the audiences for independent cinema from around the globe. The inaugural festival will take place Aug. 4-13, 2017.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Jayson Simba: Simply, our festival is succeeding in getting filmmakers films in front of the right people at the right location. We wanted to make sure we were able to present films in an actual theater, giving them the proper environment in addition to optimal sound and visuals. We are also working extremely hard to have audiences attend and have a very active campaign on social media as well as various print outlets. Finally, we want to assure that filmmakers are comfortable and confident with their submissions, so along with obtaining great sponsors that are offering amazing opportunities, we guarantee that every film is watched by a board member in its entirety.

What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

Attendees and participants can expect to experience an event, not just a film festival. We are not only concentrating on the Films, but we want to offer filmmakers and attendees a great time, so you can expect Movie Trivia Night, Happy Hours Specials at various Bars and Restaurants throughout the area. We also will be having an outdoor screening in Flushing Meadow Park under the famous Unisphere presented by The Queens Museum!

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

The ONLY qualification is that the film isn’t backed by a major studio. Other than that, anything and everything goes! We have already received over 350 amazing films which include subjects and genres such as Horror, Drama, Fantasy, Noir, Thriller, Action, LGBT, Docs, Animation and Experimentation.

Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Absolutely without question. With the rise in popularity in ‘independent film’ A lot of major studios have developed divisions that fund and produce these films, usually with a budget of $10 million plus. It’s become unfortunate that film festivals which have gone on to become some of the biggest in the world, seem to have forgotten the true purpose of a film festival and generally seem to cater to films with multimillion dollar budgets and A list actors – something that the truly independent film rarely if at all has access to. There are some amazing films out there (as our festival is setting out to prove) that do an amazing job without the large budget and A list celebrities.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Honestly it’s the love of film. Our festival was formed by filmmakers who have the experience of creating content that has been rejected by major festivals for the very same reasons as others. Knowing at the end of the day that we are providing an great service, presenting great material and allowing everyone to fully enjoy this festival as an event, makes it all worth doing.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Filmfreeway is only one of the five platforms where we are accepting films. But FilmFreeway is #1. Alone we have surpassed 200 submissions!

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

My personal vision is to have this event become a NYC staple. An event that people plan and book in advance because its “THE” place to be in August.

What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Oh wow. That’s tough. I’m a huge cinephile and have been since as long as I can remember! (As a kid, my mom and I would go to the local videostore and rent 5 movies at time!) …..But If I must claim ONE – I’d say its probably the original Clash of the Titans and/or Star Wars – I knew both films VERBATIM.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?


How is the film scene in your city?

In our CITY – the film scene is intense. Besides all the multiplexes and over 200 film festivals, I’d say NYC has one of, if not the largest film going population in the world….Now if you ask me about the film scene in QUEENS? That’s another story – and we are about to change that!


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed
Screenplay CONTESTFIRST SCENE (first 10pgs) Screenplay CONTEST
Submit the first stages of your film an

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