Community and the urban environment are popular themes at the 2012 Brooklyn Film Festival, which kicks off this Friday, June 1st. This year’s theme is “Decoy,” which the festival organizers describe as “a study on symbolism and metaphors. It is also our personal invitation to read between the lines while questioning the motives behind. Decoy will be a showcase of smart, multi-layered, deceiving, manipulative, yet unseen films coming from all continents in search of a Brooklyn breakthrough.”
The festival runs through June 10th, with films showing at indieScreen in Williamsburg and at the Brooklyn Heights Cinema. More than 100 films (both shorts and feature length) from around the world will be screened, including narrative stories, documentaries and experimental pieces. You can find more information and complete listings at brooklynfilmfestival.org. But first, here are a few highlights that Urban Omnibus readers might enjoy:
My Brooklyn (Director: Kelly Anderson)
7:30pm | Saturday June 2 | Brooklyn Heights Cinema
8:00pm | Sunday June 10 | indieScreen
My Brooklyn documents the dramatic transformation of Downtown Brooklyn and the Fulton Street Mall, where government policies and corporate development joined forces to displace small businesses and longtime neighborhood residents. The film explores the forces reshaping the Fulton Mall — one of the most popular and successful shopping destinations in New York City — and nearby neighborhoods like Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy. The documentary also follows the filmmaker’s personal journey, as a Brooklyn gentrifier, to understand the forces reshaping her neighborhood along lines of race and class.
The Rock (La Roca) (Director: Raul Santos)
8:00 pm | Wednesday June 6 | indieScreen
5:00 pm | Saturday June 9 | Brooklyn Heights Cinema
La Roca is an epic Romeo and Juliet love story between the massive Rock of Gibraltar and its neighboring Spanish city of La Linea. In 1969, Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator of Spain, closed the entrance to the British territory of Gibraltar, isolating 30,000 people without food, water, or telephone lines. Indoctrination on both sides eventually forced the separation of thousands of mixed families, who for over 13 years would meet at the border every Sunday to look through binoculars at their estranged lovers, brothers, parents and babies, screaming messages from a distance.
Mark Lombardi: Death-Defying Acts of Art and Conspiracy (Director: Mareike Wegener)
8:00 PM | Thursday June 7 | indieScreen
7:30 PM | Saturday June 9 | Brooklyn Heights Cinema
Brooklyn based artist Mark Lombardi created graphic artwork portraying the opaque global network of financial and political elites, including their ties to international terrorism. Mark Lombardi: Death-Defying Acts of Art and Conspiracy investigates an artist whose works transformed contemporary power structures into visual art and whose death left many questions regarding this system’s intentions and breadth.
Gut Renovation (Director: Su Friedrich)
8:00 pm | Friday June 8 | indieScreen
5:30 pm | Sunday June 10 | indieScreen
Gut Renovation is Su Friedrich’s epic personal essay film charting the destruction of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. After living in the neighborhood for 20 years, the filmmaker was one of many who were forced out after the city passed a rezoning plan allowing developers to build luxury condos where there were once thriving industries, working-class families, and artists. Filmed over the course of many years, Gut Renovation is a scathing portrait of one neighborhood’s demolition and transformation.
Dear Mandela (Director: Dara Kell & Christopher Nizza)
5:00 pm | Saturay June 2 | Brooklyn Heights Cinmea
8:00 pm | Tuesday June 5 | indieScreen
When the South African government promises to ‘eradicate the slums’ and begins to evict shack dwellers far outside the city, three friends who live in Durban’s vast shantytowns refuse to be moved. Dear Mandela follows their journey from their shacks to the highest court in the land as they invoke Nelson Mandela’s example and become leaders in a growing social movement.
Brooklyn Castle (Director: Katie Dellamaggiore)
8:00 pm | Friday June 1 | Brooklyn Heights Cinema (Opening Night, Sold out)
8:00 pm | Saturday June 9 | indieScreen
Intermediate School 318 is an inner-city school in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where more than 65 percent of the students are from homes with incomes below the federal poverty level. I.S. 318 also happens to have the most winning junior high school chess team in the nation. But a series of recession-driven public school budget cuts now threaten to undermine those hard-won successes.
The festival will also present a number of short films, often grouped together in one program. (Screening dates and times are listed on each title’s page on the Festival website.)
The Cage (Director: Bram Fj Van Alphen)
A visual, poetic portrayal of the basketball court “The Cage” at West 4th Street in NYC. Bystanders stop for a brief minute in their daily rushed life and enjoy a simple game of basketball.
Shift (Director: Daniel Trenkle)
SHIFT shows an architect whose worldview is shifting dramatically. This is a short film that was produced in the spring of 2011 in Nuremberg and Frankfurt, Germany. SHIFT recounts the thrilling journey of Jonathan, an architect. He is disappearing from reality as we know it. Fiction and reality begin to merge slowly. The goal which he pursued with conviction throughout his life was wrong. Or?
Machine Man (Director: Alfonso Moral and Roser Corella)
A reflection on modernity and global development, documenting the use of human physical force to perform work in the 21st century. The film takes place in the capital of Bangladesh, where the “machine men” execute different physical works, a mass of millions of people who become the driving force behind the city.
Shoot the Freak (Director: Bradford Willingham)
Through the Freaks’s musings, this film chronicles the last days of the iconic and abrasive Coney Island attraction, Shoot the Freak. Remaining in masked anonymity, the nihilistic teen indulges in drug-induced daydreams of violence and oceanic abandon. Weaving the fictional with the documentary and the actual with the virtual, Shoot the Freak is a timely, unsentimental memorialisation of a bygone era.
Coulourbleed (Director: Peter Szewczyk)
A young girl, creative and idealistic, dreams of brighter days in a forgotten Eastern European city. Her fate is inextricably sealed when she crosses paths with a scheming, and enigmatic old woman, who harbors a dark secret. What seems like a small act of cruelty between strangers, will fracture the very foundations of a city.
Gamma (Director: Jonathan Gales)
Gamma is a story of urban regeneration in a nuclear irradiated future, following a group of researchers through the ruins of the ’70s utopia, moving across a whole city that consists solely of desolation and total abandon.
Film descriptions courtesy of the Brooklyn Film Festival.
Daniel Rojo is a project associate at Urban Omnibus. He is a designer, writer, and urbanist interested in the power of the urban environment to enrich people’s lives. He lives in Brooklyn.
The views expressed here are those of the author only and do not reflect the position of Urban Omnibus editorial staff or the Architectural League of New York.