It gets bigger every year. The 2013 Brooklyn Film Festival begins tonight and runs through June 9th. After receiving submissions from 119 countries, the festival will showcase over 100 feature-length and short films towards its mission to advance public interest in film, draw worldwide attention to the borough as a center for cinema, encourage local residents’ access to film, and promote artists without censure. This year’s theme is “Magnetic,” which the organizers term “a study on all those invisible forces that bring people together or push them apart.”
If you are eager to escape the summer heat and take in a narrative, documentary, or experimental piece, ticketing information and complete listings are available on the festival’s website. Here at Urban Omnibus, we are similarly concerned with making visible the unseen systems and interactions of the city. See below for some festival selections UO readers might particularly enjoy.
The Rink (Director: Sarah Friedland)
6:30pm | Friday, June 7 | indieScreen
4:00pm | Sunday, June 9 | Windmill Studios
The Rink is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of one of the last remaining urban roller rinks in Newark, New Jersey. At first glance, the exterior resembles a fallout shelter; however, the streamers and lights of the interior tell a different story: a space cherished by skaters, and a city struggling to move beyond its past and forge a new narrative amidst contemporary social issues. The film retells moments of Newark’s fascinating history, including urban renewal in the 1950s, resistance and the 1967 uprising, and contemporary downtown gentrification. The Rink is a tribute to the remaining affordable recreational spaces that are central to life in American cities — places where people can create community and enjoy life.
Soft in the Head (Director: Nathan Silver)
8:00pm | Friday, June 7 | Windmill Studios
4:00pm | Sunday, June 9 | indieScreen
Soft in the Head is the story of Natalia, who is thrown out of her New York City apartment and relies on the kindness of friends and strangers for a home before ending up in a shelter run by genuinely good Maury, who takes an interest in making her life better — but life is not that simple, and tragedy ensues. With a menagerie of New York characters, set against the backdrop of a homeless shelter, a religious household, and the cacophonous streets of New York, the film is a look at how easy it is to lose one’s head in the big city, particularly for those already lost.
Eternal Amazon (Amazônia Eterna) (Director: Belisario Franca)
3:00pm | Saturday, June 1 | indieScreen
6:00pm | Monday, June 3 | Windmill Studios
Amazônia Eterna is a lyrical, poetic documentary that presents a critical analysis of how the world’s largest tropical rainforest is understood and utilized. Exploring the Amazon’s five million square kilometers — which are home to countless plant and animal species, and 20% of the world’s freshwater reserves — the film asks whether it is possible for humans to make sustainable use of the rainforest by examining the work of executives, politicians and environmentalists working together with indigenous tribes and riverbank communities currently constructing a model for using nature that can extract its resources while generating work and income, with minimal environmental impact.
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.)
Caffe Capri (Director: Casimir Nozkowski)
Caffe Capri is a movie about an Italian coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, run by a brother and sister-in-law for almost 40 years. A truly one-of-a-kind establishment, this documentary captures their regulars, their history and their incredibly high standards for iced coffee – so good you have to drink it year round. The neighborhood changes around Sarah and Joe – the owners of Caffe Capri – but they stay the same.
Not For Sale (Director: Matthew C. Levy)
Not For Sale is the story of Native New Yorker Anthony Pisano, who has lived in Manhattan’s East Village for over thirty years in an antique shop where nothing is for sale. Attracting people from all over the world, he invites them to step inside, play piano, and satisfy their curiosity. None of these items are for sale, but if he senses something inside you, he graciously gives an item away.
The Undertaker and the Lifeguard (Director: Matthew Booras)
The Undertaker and the Lifeguard is a short satire set in Coney Island over the course of a day that illustrates the exploits of a nefarious undertaker alongside those of an adolescent lifeguard, culminating in a conversation between the two.
In Springtime (Director: Joel Schlemowitz)
In Springtime is a short experimental film that documents the change of seasons in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.
Milkin’ It (Director: Astrid Edwards)
Milkin’ It documents two days in East Oakland, California. Filmed over two days in East Oakland, California, Milkin’ It shows the vibrancy and hope of a community slammed with the label of “broken,” through turf dancing and music.
Fibonacci Bread (Director: Danijel Zezelj)
Fibonacci Bread is an animated short following Fibo the baker as he makes bread and rolls every night, and in the morning rides his bicycle through the labyrinth of the city to take them to his customers. During an afternoon nap, a dream reveals to him the geometrical golden rule behind the pattern of his daily routine. This discovery leads to the encounter with the city’s secret and most unusual visitor.
Film descriptions adapted from those provided by the Brooklyn Film Festival.
Jonathan Tarleton is a writer, activist, and urbanist with aspirations to contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive urban environment. He is a project associate at Urban Omnibus and has made his way to Brooklyn from his roots in Georgia and North Carolina.
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.