I’ve never been to the Brooklyn Film Festival but based on their newly announced program, me likey! The lineup is a healthy skim sized 100 films, consisting of 13 narrative features, 5 documentary features and a diverse range of short and medium length films to screen over 10 days. The festival put on by the Brooklyn Film Society, takes place May 31 – June 9 at two venues, Windmill Studios and indieScreen, the latter owned by Festival Directors, Marco Ursino and Susan Mackell who started the festival in 1998 (pka Brooklyn International Film Festival). The selection is programmed by Nate Dorr, short and experimental film programmer, and Nathan Kensinger, Programming Director and Brooklyn’s curious trespassing urban anthro-photographer (love his Camera Obscura pieces for Curbed NY). Recently listed in the top 25 of MovieMaker’s Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, BFF will award competition prizes totaling over $50,000 in film services and products, including a seven-day theatrical release at indieScreen for both the Best Feature and Best Documentary award winners.
The program has a range of down and dirty sexy indie genre. For you grind house fans, there’s the badass Dutch film which previously screened at Austin’s Fantastic Fest, Blackout, a breakneck speed, black comedy Snatch-y crime thriller with an underbelly crime ensemble featuring a delightfully deplorable mob boss who is a ballet dancer and ever cordial switch turn menacing Russian.
There is the darling and dazzling EMANUEL AND THE TRUTH ABOUT FISHES, from this year’s Sundance US Dramatic Competition, written and directed by Francesca Gregorini (Tanner Hall). It’s a fantastically rendered tale about a raised-by- her-single-dad teen played enigmatically by Kaya Scodelario. Our french new wave heroine with unbridled imagination, self-deprecating and biting wit, willfully carries the haunting burden of having killed her mom in childbirth, which opens the door to an unexpected journey of discovery when a new neighbor who looks like her dead mother embraces her. Then, there is the world premiere of HAIRBRAINED which I have not seen but I’m looking forward to watch. Written and directed by Billy Kent in collaboration with his Love Lane Pictures crew (The Oh in Ohio) it’s about Ivy League rejects who mobilize their underdog school Master Mind team to launch a championship coup against Harvard. The young cast is led by newcomer Alex Wolff as Eli Pettifog, Brendan Fraser is Eli, his 41 year old roommate, and Eli’s mother is played by permanently throned Indie royalty, Parker Posey. If documentaries are your jam, I recommend the affecting FUREVER by Amy Finkel which examines the irrevocable bond between a pet owner and their pet, and the absolutely staggering cinematic ETERNAL AMAZON.
The headline however, is that to my absolute delight, the American Latino film SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES, written and directed by Nicole Gomez Fisher will be having its world premiere at the Brooklyn Film Festival. The comedy is the directorial debut of an emerging filmmaker, actor/writer Nicole Gomez Fisher and is produced by Courtney Andrialis. With Gina Rodriguez’s starmeter rising on the heels of Filly Brown’s success, it should help veer the discovery of this charismatic indie gem. It’s so awesome to see the rare female written and character driven comedy unapologetically rooted in variable measures of raw, fierce, sweet and vulnerable feminine nature, especially as seen from the under-represented multi-cultural perspective. Gina plays 30 something Puerto Rican/Jewish Alexis Fish as she undergoes a trying but necessary unhinging following a terrible life ordeal. On a return visit to her old hood, she must bear the humiliation and misperception of her parents’ version of her reality while being constantly reminded of her unmet potential, before she can begin to freshly kickstart a new independent life focusing on herself this time around. Gina is a versatile and exuberant actor and Gomez Fisher gives her a role with lots of legroom to show off her comedy chops. You lucky New Yorkers have the chance to be the first to see this hilarious and heartwarming debut by a talented young female filmmaker. Check out the film’s website, and like on Face to show the love and keep up with future screening announcements.
Also noteworthy in the program is a movie from Cuba. GIRAFFES written and directed by Enrique (Kiki) Alvarez about two young lovers and squatters living invisibly in the middle of Habana’s hustle and bustle. The film premiered earlier this year at Rotterdam yet I can’t find a single review of it (?) I’m dying to watch it. Looks like a daring commentary on Cuba as provocative as the sensual young bodies. Miralo.
Lastly but never least, in shorts, I spy a short called OJALA by Ryan Velasquez about a young Guatemalan pregnant woman who recalls her mother’s journey from Guatemala to LA as she makes her way home, and two shorts from Mexico, CHAOS and THE PHANTOM PAIN.
So there’s your heads up East Coast. Save the date (May 31-June 9) and head to our beloved B-Boy MCA’s hood to scope out these films. Take advantage of the early bird reasonably priced $100 Festival Pass that gives you access to all films and parties.