Still from 'TikTok, Boom,' courtesy of Sundance Institute
Jan 23, 2022
8 can’t-miss films by Brooklyn filmmakers streaming at Sundance 2022
From Lena Dunham to a deep dive into TikTok to, well, starfucking, these films are available to stream now through Jan 30
A year ago, just before Covid vaccines were widely available, the Sundance Film Festival swapped in-person screenings for streaming. For last year’s festival we streamed the best movies our borough had to offer, fully expecting to be back in Park City this year for another round of indie films, thin air, booze, and sleepless nights. But Omicron had other plans, so the festival pivoted again to stream a new crop of indie films this year, available nationwide.
You can watch new movies by Brooklyn filmmakers from the comfort of your couch from now to January 30 for $20 a ticket. We found the best movies from across Brooklyn at this year’s festival, and once again, our filmmakers do not disappoint.
“Sharp Stick,” for example, is the first film in 11 years from everyone’s favorite (or favorite to hate), Lena Dunham; Sierra Pettengill’s documentary “Riotsville, USA,” about the Johnson administration’s work to militarize local police in the late 1960s.
We also discovered Brooklyn actor Cole Doman’s new short film “Starfuckers” about twinks out for revenge in the Hollywood Hills, and “Resurrection” by filmmaker Andrew Semans, a surreal horror film about one woman’s past coming back to haunt her.
Below are the films by Brooklyn filmmakers you don’t want to miss:
Director: Sierra Pettengill
“Riotsville, USA” is a furious reflection on rebellions in Chicago, Newark, and Detroit in the late 1960s. This artful, riveting documentary consists entirely of archival footage that was shot by the United States military or appeared on broadcast television.
Director Sierra Pettengill shifts our gaze to unearthed military training footage of Army-built model towns called “Riotsvilles,” where military and police were trained to respond to domestic civil disorder.
Dissecting the anatomy of Lyndon Johnson’s Kerner Commission, which resulted in an explosive increase in federal funding for police, “Riotsville, USA” focuses on American institutional control, urging us to understand how the machine of their power continues to rumble on.
Director: Antonio Marziale
“Starfuckers” stars Brooklyn-based actor Cole Doman (“Uncle Frank,” “Law & Order: SVU”) and L.A.-based actor and director Antonio Marziale (“Alex Strangelove”). It is one of the best projects at this year’s festival, as it follows a revenge plot of two young actors that becomes more surreal as it unspools.
Doman plays an escort for a Hollywood executive who has a messy kink. When Marziale’s character shows up at the house in the Hollywood Hills, a night of sick fun becomes a nightmare for the exec. I’ll save what happens next for viewers bold enough to explore this dark story of abuse.
Director: Lena Dunham
In an exciting return to feature filmmaking 11 years after “Tiny Furniture” and her hit Brooklyn-based HBO show “Girls,” Lena Dunham reestablishes herself as a major voice in independent cinema with “Sharp Stick.”
With her signature unflinching and provocative approach, Dunham explores the vulnerability of her characters, whose dreams and expectations are elusive. Through Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth), who has been defined by her past trauma for too long, Dunham makes a bold statement about body and sex positivity.
With humor and warmth, “Sharp Stick” redefines family and celebrates differences as it follows a young woman’s path to self-discovery.
Director: Sam Green
Award-winning documentarian Sam Green returns to Sundance with a groundbreaking and immersive documentary that explores the elemental phenomenon of sound and how it affects our conscious and unconscious lives.
This indelible, feature-length journey weaves together 32 audio experiences, crafting a cinematic poem about the power of sound to bend time, cross borders, and profoundly shape our perception of the world.
Featuring original compositions by JD Samson, “32 Sounds” is designed to be experienced with personal headphones for a truly unique audio experience. A high-quality headset is strongly recommended for online audiences.
Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver
Directors: Lewie and Noah Kloster
The story is simple: In 1982, the completion of Jim Jarmusch’s sophomore film, “Stranger Than Paradise,” hinged on producer Sara Driver’s willingness to smuggle one of the world’s rarest and most controversial films across the Atlantic Ocean.
That film would be Robert Frank’s personal print of “Cocksucker Blues,” the only one in existence. “Cocksucker Blues” is the 1972 Rolling Stones U.S. Tour film directed by Robert Frank and Danny Seymour, and it’s been litigated out of existence due to the number of drugs and other unsavory things the Stones were depicted doing on camera. We’ll let you discover Jarmusch’s connection when you see the film for yourself.
Directors Lewis and Noah Kloster bring Sara Driver’s story about smuggling “Cocksucker Blues” to life with amazing handmade puppets and narration by Driver.
The Martha Mitchell Effect
Directors: Debra McClutchy and Anne Alvergue
Believe it or not: Late Republican socialite Martha Mitchell was the most controversial woman in America during the Watergate scandal.
Filmmakers Debra McClutchy and Anne Alvergue reveal that “Martha the Mouth” went from helping Nixon win reelection to blowing the lid off Watergate. Mitchell was married to John N. Mitchell, Richard Nixon’s attorney general when Nixon ordered his associates to break into the DNC headquarters.
Martha Mitchell died shortly after Nixon left office and, unfortunately, her contributions were left out of the historical record. This documentary by McClutchy and Alvergue corrects the record.
Director: Shalini Kantayya
Dissecting one of the most influential social media platforms, “TikTok, Boom” examines the algorithmic, sociopolitical, economic, and cultural influences and impact of the history-making app.
The documentary balances a genuine interest in the TikTok community and its innovative mechanics with a healthy skepticism around the security issues, global political challenges, and racial biases behind the platform.
A cast of Gen Z subjects, helmed by influencer Feroza Aziz, hold down its center, making this one of the most needed and empathetic films exploring what it means to be a digital native.
Director: Andrew Semans
Margaret (Rebecca Hall) leads a successful and orderly life, perfectly balancing the demands of her busy career with single parenthood to her fiercely independent daughter. But that careful tightrope walk is upended when she glimpses a man she instantly recognizes, an unwelcome shadow from her past.
Before long, Margaret starts seeing David (Tim Roth) everywhere—and their meetings appear to be far from an unlucky coincidence. Battling her rising fear, Margaret must confront the monster she’s evaded for two decades who has come to conclude their unfinished business.
Brooklyn-based director Andrew Semans has crafted a surreal and deeply disturbing film, blending drama and horror to deftly unearth a nightmare that feels all too real.
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