Did you know that in the golden age of agriculture, the 18th century, when new varieties of fruits and vegetables were being discovered or developed and moved around the globe, the center of the North American farming industry was right here in Queens? The sunny hills of Queens – from Jackson Heights to Flushing – made perfect growing conditions and the early settlers in the business of agriculture flourished.
Doesn’t it make sense, then, that Queens should be the home of the Rural Route Film Festival, an event that showcases films telling the stories of rural lives and rural perspectives? Founded in 2002 and most recently hosted annually by the Museum of the Moving Image, the Festival brings together an international selection of films that might otherwise go under the radar or not get included in bigger events. It’s an occasion for filmmakers to receive supportive feedback from their colleagues – and perhaps even get noticed by tastemakers and programmers – all the while enjoying the creatively inspiring offerings of Queens.
You may have attended one of the special screenings around town last month at venues such as the Queens Borough Public Library or Flux Factory. The main event gets started this Friday, August 3 at the Museum of the Moving Image, where all films will be shown, topped off with a final program of shorts appropriately at the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm on Sunday night.
We plan to go to Sunday afternoon’s special sneak preview of Now, Forager (2012). Directed by Jason Cortlund & Julia Halperin, its the story of a married couple living in Jersey City who make a living foraging for mushrooms in rural New Jersey and sell their finds to fancy restaurants in the City. It’s not exactly a steady income, and the film shows the toll such a lifestyle choice has on their marriage. Before the main feature are three bonus shorts, one of which is The Grasslands (2004) from Pema Tseden, an award-winning Tibetan director (trained in Beijing) who made a splash at the last Brooklyn Film Festival with Old Dog.
If you haven’t thought lately about the rural history of Queens, maybe it’s time. Films are free with admission to the Museum, $12. Complete event information can be found in the QueensNYC event calendar.