4th Annual WILLiFEST block party on Grand Street
by Andrew Shilling
Sep 25, 2013 | 1523 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hailey and her brothers Brandon and Dylan Borrero with their grandmother Iris Mavarro.
Hailey and her brothers Brandon and Dylan Borrero with their grandmother Iris Mavarro.
It was a weekend of music, food, fun and film throughout north Brooklyn, and the 2013 Williamsburg International Film Festival (WILLiFEST) was right in the middle with its annual block party on Grand Street.

Dozens of film lovers were out for the festival, while local residents also joined in the fun with food from local vendors, a mobile basketball camp set up by the Brooklyn Nets, and a lineup of local music acts like Billy ‘n’ Gabi, Stephen Brock and Mary-Elaine Jenkins, to name a few.

“It’s good for the kids,” said Iris Mavarro, who brought her grandchildren to Saturday's event.

Grandson Brandon Borrero said he had a lot of fun on the large outdoor trampoline with his friends, while his older sister Hailey said the festival is important to the community because it brings people together.

“It’s a neighborhood thing, so it’s nice just getting to know the people you knew from elementary (school) and seeing them again,” she said. “I like just watching my brothers having fun.”

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez joined a number of local elected officials in praising WILLiFEST founders for their work bringing the arts to Williamsburg for yet another year.

“It really showcased the greatness of Williamsburg, especially in the area of art and culture,” Velazquez said. “We want to support the artistic community of this neighborhood, especially independent filmmakers.”

Antonio Reynoso, who recently won the Democratic Primary in his bid to replace Councilwoman Diana Reyna, said he was excited to be at the festival and plans on supporting them in the future.

“Williamsburg, for a long time in New York, has been the hub for artists and people really using their creative minds,” Reynoso said. “For WILLiFEST to come out and really build a foundation for the artists, especially in the film industry, it’s remarkable.”

Reyna added that the festival is reminiscent of how the neighborhood has grown over the years.

“It can certainly be intimidating, but this is a celebration of community, most of all, and we hope that in the years to come people want to support this organization,” she said.

WILLiFEST founder Michael Helman said he is already looking forward to next year and expanding the block party and bringing in more films, music and additional elements, such as a talent show.

“Most of our planning this year has actually been on year five, but you still have to have a year four,” Helman said. “We want to bring in other elements of art.”

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