Now that summer heat has descended upon the city, you might be looking for an air conditioned spot to take respite — a movie theater, for example. This Friday kicks off the Brooklyn Film Festival, a week of independent films, mostly shorts and documentaries, screened at Brooklyn Heights Cinema and indieScreen. The festival promises to be cauldron of urban creativity and artistic encounters and features an impressive roster of New York City-inspired films that offer glimpses into undiscovered nooks of the urban landscape and tales of its residents. Here is an Urban Omnibus suggested guide to the many city flicks being screened (see the complete schedule on the BFF website):
Battle For Brooklyn
Friday, June 3, 8pm, Brooklyn Heights Cinema
Saturday, June 11, 8pm, indieScreen
Since its inception, the Atlantic Yards development has stoked the fires of debates over gentrification, economic development and the merits of large scale building over preserving architectural character. Battle for Brooklyn documents a seven-year struggle to determine the future of Atlantic Yards in an “intensely intimate” portrait of a fight between property owners, residents and city government. This “epic tale of how far people will go to fight for what they believe in” is a must see for those interested in planning politics.
Saturday, June 4, 5:30pm, indieScreen
Saturday, June 11, 5:30 pm, indieScreen
Damn!, a documentary by up and coming Brooklyn filmmaker Aaron Fisher-Cohen, centers on a theme we can all relate to — rent is too damn high. Actually, “2 damn high,” as Jimmy McMillan, 2010 gubernatorial candidate would put it. McMillan became a viral success running on a platform of rent reduction, or at least commiseration. Damn! chronicles his race in a “sometimes funny and sometimes disturbing first hand look at what happens when virality, fame, politics, media and money get twisted into one entity.” An opportunity to laugh while pondering the bizarre state of political affairs.
The Brooklyn Bridge
Monday, June 6, 7pm, Brooklyn Heights Cinema
Tuesday, June 7, 6pm, indieScreen
This three minute time lapse of the Brooklyn Bridge from day into night will be a beautiful view of one of the most iconic fixtures in New York City’s skyline.
Bed-Stuy Do or Die
Sunday, June 5, 5:30pm, indieScreen
Tuesday, June 7, 8pm, indieScreen
A hard hitting doc following the Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps (BSVAC) on their rounds through the neighborhood’s gritty streets. The film is a history of the US’s first volunteer ambulance service and their quest to rehabilitate the violent Bed-Stuy streets where, during the late ’80s, drug use, prostitution and slow ambulance response times created a lethal combination. A motivational look into how community based activism can lead to healthier, safer neighborhoods.
Mann v. Ford
Wednesday, June 8, 7pm, Brooklyn Heights Cinema
Sunday, June 12, 5pm, Brooklyn Heights Cinema
This documentary follows the story of Wayne Mann, the leader of the Ramapough Mountain Indians, who organized his community to fight Ford Motor Company after they dumped a mountain of toxic paint sludge on Indian lands outside Mahwah, NJ, relegating the town a Superfund site and causing environmental pollution and health problems. A worthwhile view considering local efforts to clean up other regional Superfund sites.
Saturday, June 4, 3pm, indieScreen
Thursday, June 9, 7pm, Brooklyn Heights Cinema
Reveals the story of the “sky walkers,” the Mohawk Ironworkers who, for six generations, built the nation’s skyscrapers, nimbly moving on steel beams above the city streets. This documentary focuses on their work after 9/11 dismantling the World Trade Center buildings, shedding light on a little known population and their role in the creation of our urban landscape.
A Morning Stroll
Saturday June 4, 5:30pm, indieScreen
Saturday June 11, 5:30pm, indieScreen
Directors synopsis: “When a New Yorker walks past a chicken on his morning stroll we are left to wonder which one is the real city slicker.” This seven minute short promises to amuse.
Caitlin Blanchfield is a freelance writer and Urban Omnibus project associate residing in New York City.