Did you know that there is a film festival in Westchester? I am constantly surprised by everything Westchester has to offer so I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to learn more about YoFiFest: The Yonkers Film Festival where you can check out a collection of over 150 independent movies—both from around the world and from Westchester–as well as talkback sessions, a mini film school with workshops, parties and more.
Founded by husband-and-wife-duo Patty Schumann and Dave Steck, this “film festival for filmmakers, by filmmakers” is all about community and conversations where you can experience more of Yonkers (and their burgeoning downtown).
Read on to learn more about this exciting film that’s coming back for it’s 9th year this November.
Interview with Patty Schumann of YoFiFest: The Yonkers Film Festival
How did the idea of The Yonkers Film Festival come about?
When we moved to Yonkers from the East Village, we really wanted to see non-commercial movies and, at the time, there was nowhere in Yonkers (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema hadn’t opened yet) and only a couple of places in Westchester to see independent film.
We’re also filmmakers, and we wanted to meet other filmmakers. We discovered that there were a lot of talented filmmakers in Westchester, and thought there should be a place for them, locally, to show their work and get together and talk about movies. At the time, there were no film festivals in Westchester and we thought, “someone should start a film festival here.r” And, eventually, we realized we would be that someone.
What are some things we can expect this year?
As always, we’ll be showing a diverse selection of feature, documentary, animated, short and student films, as well as TV pilots and web series, from around the world and right in our own back yard.
For YoFiFest 2019, we’re adding more parties and networking events, as well as expanding our “mini film school”. This year, as well, we’ll be using our new year round space YoFiDMAC (Digital Media Arts Center) to host events leading up to the festival, like a Trailer Party, free community screenings and workshops, and family events.
What makes your film festival different from what’s out there?
We are a film festival for filmmakers, by filmmakers. We have a pretty good reputation among filmmakers for being a “filmmaker friendly” festival. We’re proud to have been voted one of the top 100 Film Festivals by filmmakers on Film Freeway 9 times.
Being filmmakers ourselves, we have a lot respect for the people that make movies, and we go to great lengths to honor their hard work. We also show truly independent movies, most of which audiences likely won’t see anywhere else in the area.
Tell us about some of the programming for families?
We partner with several local film organizations like The Brooklyn Film Festival’s kidsfilmfest, Jacob Burns Film Center, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, The Untied Nations (Plural Plus) and Pelham Picture House to bring a variety of free, specialized programs to our festival and the DMAC, including several teen, kids and family programs. This year we are adding a pre-festival kick-off weekend in October that will include free screenings and workshops for children and families.
How do you think the festival helps with some common misconceptions about Yonkers?
Yonkers has been going through a renaissance for the last several years, and YoFiFest, along with a bunch of other significant arts and culture organizations, has been working with the city to help make Yonkers an arts and culture destination.
Downtown Yonkers, where our DMAC is located and where the festival takes place, is experiencing a revitalization that includes the development of several thousand new residential units by the end of 2020. New restaurants, bars, art galleries, and other businesses are popping up to accommodate the growth, and our year round screening room, digital media arts center and annual festival are among the many institutions sited by the city as reasons to live, work and play in Yonkers.
Anything else to add?
YoFiFest is a 501(c)3 not for profit. Our mission is to bring arts experiences and education to people throughout Westchester County and beyond. Our Teen Screen, YoFi Family programs, YoFiYouth and several other free community programming allow us to fulfill and expand on that mission, and to continue to offer experiences families might not otherwise have access to.