A “Brooklyn Film Preview” is almost as silly an endeavor as a “Los Angeles Film Preview”—Brooklyn is simply a place where filmmakers live, and it would be as silly to talk about a “Brooklyn film scene” as a “Brooklyn literary scene” or a “Brooklyn dog-owners’ scene.” Still, how lucky for us, to have such neighbors, and what is this publication if not a celebration of the creative, ambitious people who roost in Kings County? Many of the filmmakers spotlighted here have built ties with other local filmmakers and institutions, and many put the borough, and its people, up on screen in creative ways. We hope to draw attention to younger local filmmakers living and in many case working within the borough, while also noting a smattering of higher-profile films shot here, and work from local talent that still calls Brooklyn home, even while traveling abroad for stories to tell, or graduate to larger canvases (and budgets). So, from the micro-indie with a modest Kickstarter campaign to the studio-indie platform release (with a less modest Kickstarter campaign), it’s all here.
In compiling this by no means comprehensive list, we’ve relied on word-of-mouth about current projects, and advance word from current out-of-town and upcoming local festivals. We’ve also tried to give a sense—by asking, and by guessing—of when local audiences might expect to see this films: whether via theatrical distribution, or at any of the other local platforms fighting the good fight to earn visibility for locally made, small-scale, niche films: from festivals like New Directors/New Films in spring, and BAMcinemaFest and Rooftop films in summer, to venues like the IFP’s Made in New York Media Center, and streaming platforms like NoBudge and Fandor.
Lucha Mexico The Directors: Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz, documentarians whose last feature was Better Than Something: Jay Reatard; currently relocating to Brooklyn after filming far and wide. The Rundown: Mexican wrestling! Over three years, the filmmakers followed Shocker El 1000% Guapo, Blue Demon, Jr., El Hijo de Perro Aguayo, and Ultimo Guerrero, in and out of the ring at Mexico City’s Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre. The ETA: With the film newly in the can, Hammond and Markiewicz are discussing a fall/winter theatrical release, possibly preceded by a local festival premiere.
Creative Control The Director: Benjamin Dickinson, a Tischie now living in Clinton Hill, made his feature debut with the snowy, upstate postapocalyptic chamber drama First Winter (Tribeca ’12), following videos for LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture. The Rundown: An ad guy uses a pair of “Augmented Reality glasses” to create an alternate version of his best friend’s girlfriend; the near-future of this Black Mirror-ish set-up is an alternate-universe Williamsburg which the film “savagely satirizes,” according to Dickinson. The ETA: Creative Control will have its world premiere at SXSW in early March, with fingers crossed for a distribution deal. Screenings in north Brooklyn seem inevitable at some stage.
Men Go to Battle The Director: Zachary Treitz, his feature debut after two shorts and production work. The Rundown: The ubiquitous indie It Girl Kate Lyn Sheil co-wrote, and co-stars, in a domestic drama shot and set in Kentucky in the first year of the Civil War. The ETA: A local premiere at a spring or summer festival is anticipated.
Naz & Malik The Director: Jay Dockendorf, making his first feature. You can watch his 2013 short Vigilante Copy Editor on NYTimes.com, where it was a featured Op-Doc. The Rundown: Newcomers Kerwin Johnson, Jr. and Curtiss Cook, Jr. star as local Muslim teens whose suspicious behavior of the course of one Friday afternoon draws the attention of FBI surveillance—though in fact, they’re acting furtive because they’re lovers, and not out to their families our community. The ETA: A SXSW world premiere was just announced; advance interest is high.
Valedictorian The Directors:Matthew Yeager (yet another NYU grad), a former publicist, programmer, and microindie producer and editor. The Rundown:Protagonist Ben (newcomer Brian Dell), a vaguely bearded, guitar-playing, rooftop-party-attending North Brooklynite, slowly begins to drop out of his own life, in this study of generational drift. With a score by Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen. The ETA: Valedictorian just had its world premiere in Rotterdam. Yeager used to work at BAMcinématek, so…
The Wolfpack The Director: Crystal Moselleof Fort Greene, whose portfolio includes commercials and music videos for local acts like Color War. The Rundown: Moselle somehow got access to the L.E.S. public-housing apartment of the seven Angulo siblings, whose cult-leader-like father has largely forbidden them from leaving the house their entire lives, but who have nurtured themselves on a steady diet of Hollywood movies—and produce their own home-movie reenactments of the likes of Reservoir Dogs and The Dark Knight. The ETA: Magnolia acquired the film shortly after its buzzy Sundance premiere; a theatrical release is set for early summer.
The “Don’t Be Like Roy” Project The Director: Julianna Schley is a video and performance artist (check out her pieces “Everything I Can Remember from a Single Viewing of Good Will Hunting” and “Fuckingham Palace”), actress and short filmmaker working on her feature debut. The Rundown: In this “dark comedy about fear, control, and 35mm projection,” a woman begins acting out, terrified that her new boyfriend is turning into her old one, an agoraphobic union projectionist. Meanwhile, a “Masked Bandit” is destroying public artworks throughout NYC. The ETA: Currently in post-production, the film will be ready for festival submissions by June, with an out-of-town debut in the fall, and local screenings hopefully to follow soon after.
Queen of Earth The Director:Alex Ross Perry, of Park Slope and our city’s repertory cinemas, late of Tisch and Mondo Kim’s, a micro-indie auteur New York Film Festival-approved at age 30 with last year’s Listen Up Philip. The Rundown:Perry reunites with Philip star Elisabeth Moss, and adds Inherent Vice’s Katherine Waterston for another biting, literary psychodrama shot in 16mm and steeped in film history: A cabin upstate becomes the setting for Polanski-esque claustrophobia and a Bergman-via-Woody investigation of female persona and interiority. The ETA: Queen of Earth debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival in early February to strong reviews; a New York City rollout in the second half of 2015 is plausible.
Tired Moonlight The Director: Britni West, of Bed-Stuy, makes her feature debut after several shorts, as well as A.D. and production designer gigs on recent indies (including Stinking Heaven). The Rundown: West returns to her hometown of Kalispell, Montana (population 20,972, ninety minutes south of the Canadian border on route 93) to capture loosely connected poetic vignettes and landscape footage in 16mm. With a cast of nonprofessional locals ages four and up, and Alex Karpovsky as “Crazy Mike.” The ETA: On the heels of a prize at Slamdance and good reviews at Rotterdam, a place at one of NYC’s spring festivals is almost assured.
Stinking Heaven The Director: Nathan Silver, Tisch ’05, who calls Crown Heights home, has made four previous brief, semi-improvised movies about people living in close, fraught proximity to one another, which generally come and go from Cinema Village before the ink is dry on the Times rave praised their spontaneity and nuance. The Rundown:An 1990-set story with a vintage video look, Stinking Heaven takes place at a “commune for sober living” with all the icky sexual power dynamics, rock-bottom flashbacks, and bootleg kombucha that implies. Silver and his actors moved into the same Passaic house for the duration of the shoot for that too-close-for-comfort vibe. Kickstarter backers pledging $35 or more received a prank call from a cast or crew member. The ETA: Following January’s world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, a place at one of the summer festivals seems likely.
Applesauce The Director: Onur Tukel, of Bushwick, the generously bearded artist, actor, and director of previous features including last year’s vampires-in-Brooklyn comedy Summer of Blood. The Rundown: Tukel has variously described Applesauce as “a very dark comedy” and “a horror film about infidelity, and body parts.” The ETA: The film is currently in postproduction. Summer of Blood played Tribeca last year before opening at the IFP in the fall…
Behind Some Dark Cloud The Director: Chelsea Kane, an SVA grad who lives in Williamsburg when not traveling. The Rundown: A local cast and crew decamped to Kane’s hometown of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, for a 35mm(!) drama about a 20-something sometime-writer, sometime strip-club worker interacting with her off-center family and neighbors, and fighting those little-town blues. The ETA: The film is freshly in the can and off to festivals, with a sparkly-new trailer and social-media presence, and an initial screening anticipated as early as April.