Poster design by Teresa Bonner
Dubbed “Yo5Fest” this year, YoFiFest (e.g. “Yonkers Film Festival” for the terminally un-hip) is returning bigger and better than ever.
More than one hundred features and short films will be screened over nine days at the festival’s newly crowned YoFi Digital Media Art Center in the 66 Main building located at — you guessed it — 66 Main Street.
The red carpet reception will kick things off at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 3, followed by the first four features of the festival, including a pre-release screening of writer/director Colette Burson’s Permanent, starring Patricia Arquette and Rainn Wilson. Pass holders will then be welcomed into YoFi’s traditional first night after-party at 10 p.m., just across the street at Zuppa Restaurant and Lounge.
“I like the fact that when you walk out of the movies you don’t have to get in a car,” says Dave Steck, cofounder and Executive Director at YoFi, on the importance of keeping local partnerships as the festival expands. Those partnerships include Empire City Casino, Domino Sugar, Houlihan Lawrence, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Yonkers, Yonkers Brewing Co., Dolphin Restaurant & Bar (hosts of Sunday’s after-party), Nahmias et Fils distillery, and 66 Main itself (whose rooftop bar will host Saturday’s after-party), among others like AT&T and Sound Associates.
“The fifth year of the festival, the fact that we’ve sustained, I’m proud of. This year really is an encapsulation of our mission: to give people an opportunity to see films they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.” He adds, “We really work on creating opportunities for filmmakers and viewers to chat.”
To those ends, what started as a weekend activity at the Yonkers Riverfront Library has expanded to two full weekends and every weekday night in between, hosted at their own year-round media center. Screenings will be interspersed with Q&As and workshops, and select films will even receive repeat showings to support audience members conflicted over concurrent events. “[Before] if you were on site you had your choice of three theaters and one workshop at any given moment,” Steck says.
Celebrities, industry professionals, and film lovers come together at last year’s red carpet reception.
Also new this year: Awards. Steck and cofounder Patty Schumann were surprised to learn filmmakers actually were requesting a more competitive atmosphere. In deference to that sentiment and in celebration of the festival’s fifth year, trophies will be awarded Sunday night for Best Feature, Best Short, Best Feature Documentary, Best Short Documentary, and Best Student Work.
“The Golden YO” was designed by local sculptor Robert Pfitzenmeier from 1mm ilm cans and spools.
When asked if this scale and success is close to what he and Schumann had in mind when they founded YoFiFest in 2013, Steck laughs. “I don’t really know what I thought it’d be. I thought it’d be easier, though!”
Tickets for individual screenings are $10, while passes for the whole festival are $120. Also new this year is the introduction of special three-day and single-day passes, and even a “Commuter Pass” good for all screenings Monday through Friday evenings. These range from $40-$100.
Many of the films are unrated, and as such may not be appropriate for all viewers. Those 16 and under will need to be accompanied by an adult. (After-parties are strictly 21+, I.D. required, but are free to anyone with a pass valid for that day.)
YoFi Digital Media Art Center
66 Main St., Yonkers