YONKERS, N.Y. -- The first ever Yonkers Film Festival, known as YoFi, will release its official acceptance list on Monday after sorting through hundreds of submissions from around the world.
The festival, which is scheduled for the second weekend in October, will be held in the Yonkers Riverfront Library and will feature screenings of short, feature-length and student films; panels with industry professionals; discussions; workshops and parties.
The festival's board received submissions from six continents. Many of the board members and some of the accepted submissions also come from towns in Westchester county such as Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Yonkers and Croton-on-Hudson.
Some of the local acceptances include the following:
William Dickerson, of Yonkers, is premiering his feature film "The Mirror" and will be at the festival with the movie’s co-stars.
A short by television screenwriter David Simon of Dobbs Ferry, "That’s News to Me" will be screened.
A documentary by Bronx filmmaker Christian Caputti called "Play Until Your Fingers Bleed-The Story of Kleen Kut" was shot locally and has footage of bands playing inside historic Yonkers bars.
Founder Dave Steck, from Yonkers, designed the festival with Westchester in mind. As a producer and filmmaker, he was tired of always needing to travel to New York City to do work and meet other professionals.
"Westchester has a lot of talent in it. I thought it would be nice to have film professionals be able to do stuff close to home -- because we usually have to go to city," he said.
"I think all of us have been waiting for someone to do something like this. I've received a huge amount of support from industry professionals in Westchester. I would like to Westchester to become a hub for things like this."
Steck and his wife, Patty Schumann, also a producer and filmmaker, want to promote dialogue between filmmakers and audiences.
"Every festival needs an identity or hook that makes it unique," he said. "What makes ours unique is that we wanted to create afestival that really encourages dialogues between filmmakers and audience members. People start to talk and people start to do stuff. It becomes energizing and inspiring."
Selecting the films was a big challenge for the board, because the members endeavored to show as many as possible.
Schumann said, "We have a board of seasoned professionals that screens all the submissions, and I think that most of us just go with our gut. If it feels right for the festival we are trying to create, we keep it in consideration. Of course, we end up with more movies than slots, and it is agonizing to make the decision to cut someone."
She said, "We believe that if someone has put the time and energy and heart into making a movie, and then shares it with us in the hope of having it shown to an audience, that we should at least try and give it a life. That is why we booked more screening spaces and added more programs."
Steck hopes his project will inspire Westchester to generate more arts and activities in the area.
Sponsors of the YoFi festival include Yonkers Contracting Company, Empire City Casino, Cross County Shopping Center, and Yonkers Tennis, and there is also support from the city and county.
"The City of Yonkers has been super supportive, along with the Westchester Office of Film and Tourism. They really helped to make this thing happen. This is our first year, but we hope to continue with programs throughout the off-season and have another festival this time next year," he said.
Tickets, including weekend passes, will be available shortly. For more information, check out the festival's website here.
Check back with The Daily Voice for the full list.