The 18th annual Brooklyn Film Festival will screen 108 films from 26 countries, kicking off May 29th at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg.
What sets Brooklyn Film Festival apart from others in New York is its focus on a diverse range of independent, out-of-the-box directors without much previous exposure. Submissions are vetted through an international competition, which means “anyone can participate,” as Marco Ursino, director of Brooklyn Film Festival, says in a phone interview. “The smallest film can win the biggest prize.”
“Unlike TriBeCa, this isn’t a star-studded affair,” Bryce Renninger, Director of Programming, says. “This is festival that prides itself on discovery of first- and second-time filmmakers, or people making things outside of the system and under the radar.” The festival’s poster designs hammer home this “We’re not Hollywood” attitude, illustrating traditional Hollywood film industry-types contrasted with their scruffier Brooklyn counterparts.
Here, a few highlights of this year’s festival.
Manson Family Vacation (Director: J. Davis)
BFF’s Opening Night kicks off with the east coast premiere of this darkly comic feature about two very different brothers (Jay Duplass and Linas Phillips) reuniting, one as a buttoned-up professional and the other as an aimless schlub. They get to know each other again while touring the sites of Charles Manson’s grim exploits and checking up on the serial killer’s contemporary life. The film was acquired by Netflix at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival.
But Not for Me (Director: Ryan Carmichael)
Brooklyn will host the world premiere of this “hip-hop/spoken word musical,” as Renninger calls it, in which a young woman inspires Will, a stunted young writer working at an ad agency as a copywriter, to pursue his true passions for music and philosophy. This New York City film stars Marcus Carl Franklin, Elena Urioste, Maria Vermeulen and Roger Guenveur Smith.
Valedictorian (Director: Matthew Yeager)
Ben, a lost soul in New York City, is forced to confront his feeble connections to those he considers close in this narrative feature. “This film is very much speaking to Brooklyners disaffected with their environment and trying to figure out their place within it,” Renninger says. “It’s about people getting caught up in the grind and getting sick of being in the grind. It’s got a really strong directorial voice.” Starring Brian Dell, Jennifer Prediger and Eleonore Hendricks.
Abby Singer/Songwriter (Director: Onur Turkel)
A trippy, funny narrative feature about a divorced investment banker moonlighting as an anti-folk singer-songwriter, also starring Prediger, along with Turkel and Josephine Decker.
Chameleon (Director: Ryan Mullins)
Ghana’s famously elusive undercover journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas stars in this documentary, but still manages to keep his identity a secret. The charismatic investigator, who has named and shamed various high-profile malfeasants, is dubbed “Chameleon” because he’s always in disguise. “His goal is to expose corruption wherever he finds it,” Renninger says.
Winners of various festival awards will receive a total of $50,000 in prize money.
A full festival pass ($100) gets you into all screenings, parties, and festival events from May 29th to June 7th. A 4-pack pass ($35) is good for any four programs (excluding Opening Night). Single program tickets are $13 for the general public and $10 for students & senior citizens. The nine-day festival will also be hosting screenings at Windmill Studios, Nitehawk Cinema, BRIC Arts/Media House, and Made in NY Media Center by IFP.
Check out the full lineup here.
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