The common understanding of the annual cinema calendar holds that summer is for blockbusters, for kicking back at the multiplex and switching off every part of your brain not required to remember which characters appeared in the previous iteration of whatever multimillion dollar franchise’s latest offering you’re now submitting yourself to. It’s fun! And this summer is shaping up to be the most blockbustery yet: Furious 7 is already the fourth highest-grossing film of all-time, Avengers: Age of Ultron is inspiring slut-shaming and feminism debates, and it’s only May 6th. We still have Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World, San Andreas, Magic Mike XXL, Fantastic Four, Mission:Impossible – Rogue Nation, and, uh, Ted 2 to sit through slack-jawed and stupefied.
Some of these movies will be enjoyable. Many of them will feel like colossal wastes of time and money. It doesn’t have to be this way, though, because summer is also the time for the city’s best independent film festival, and one of the best in the entire country: BAMcinemaFest.
The lineup for this year’s seventh annual BAMcinemaFest, which will run from June 17-28, was announced this morning. It opens with the New York premiere of The End of the Tour, director James Ponsoldt’s dramatization of the 2010 book Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, a travelogue recounting a five-day road trip taken by its author, magazine writer David Lipsky, and his subject, David Foster Wallace. Ponsoldt has built a reputation in indie-film circles with Smashed (2012) and The Spectacular Now (2013); this film, which stars Jason Segel as Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky, earned widespread praise at Sundance, despite being disavowed by the David Foster Wallace Literary Estate. Ponsoldt and Segel will be in attendance for the screening.
The closing film is another Sundance sensation: Tangerine, a blackly comedic film starring Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, two trans actresses making their feature film debuts as”two working girls in search of a wayward pimp on a fateful Christmas Eve in Hollywood,” according to the film’s synopsis. It was directed by Sean Baker, of Starlet and Greg the Bunny renown.
The festival’s centerpiece is Queen of Earth, the latest offering from Brooklyn-based filmmaker Alex Ross Perry. It’s a psychological thriller starring Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice) as lifelong friends who discover they’ve drifted apart in alarming ways during a beach house retreat.
Other highlights include: Breaking a Monster, the documentary about the 7th-grade speed-metal band Unlocking the Truth; Nasty Baby, in which a Fort Greene-based artist (Sebastián Silva) recruits his best friend (Kristen Wiig) to have a baby with his boyfriend (Tunde Adebimpe, of TV on the Radio); and Call Me Lucky, comedian Bobcat Goldthwait’s documentary about the trailblazing 1980s standup comic Barry Crimmins.
Check out the entire list here. Tickets go on sale May 26 for BAM Cinema Club members, and May 29 for the general public.