The Brooklyn Film Festival premieres this Friday at Wythe Hotel, with the U.S. premiere of Canadian director Sean Garrity’s Borealis, the award-winning tale of an unemployed gambler who takes his estranged, pot-smoking teenage daughter on a dangerous road trip to Manitoba to show her the Northern Lights. That film screening and Q&A is just one of 107 features and shorts from 31 countries that will show at venues Wythe Hotel, Windmill Studios, Syndicated, Made in New York Media Center by IFP and BRIC House between Friday and June 12.

Among the 20 films that will world premiere is Life of Significant Soil (see the trailer above), by Michael Irish. The bartender slash filmmaker will be screening a feature film in Brooklyn for the first time since he moved here from Arizona nine years ago to attend the School of Visual Arts. His film, named after the last line in T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Dry Salvages,” is a soft sci-fi love story that “sort of defines what people go through when they go through a breakup, their resistance, and the pushing and pulling back and forth, not knowing what to do until it just kind of ends,” he told us. So think The Lobster meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He said it was inspired by Milan Kundera’s book The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and “I guess probably a breakup” (although he doesn’t know which ex he can give it credit to.)

Irish (center) leads a production meeting on the L train. (Photo courtesy Michael Irish)

Irish (center) leads a production meeting on the L train. (Photo courtesy Michael Irish)

Expect familiar scenes from Red Hook, coffee shops in Park Slope, and Coney Island, where Irish and his leading actors Charlotte Bydwell and Alexis Mouyiaris actually snuck camera equipment onto the Cyclone to film a scene. “We had to ride it like six times in a row,” said Irish. “Which actually probably made it the most expensive scene in the movie.” Tragically, Mouyiaris passed away before the film could be finished. But Irish hopes to honor his memory by screening Life of Significant Soil for the first time in New York, where he was from, almost three years to the day since they wrapped in 2013.

Irish, Bydwell and director of photography Bradley Buehring will all be available for Q&A following both the June 8 screening at Windmill Studios and the June 11 screening at Wythe Hotel. Be sure to ask Irish about his next project, another Brooklyn-based feature with more fast-talking, situational humor, tentatively titled Strangers from Berlin.

Other special events during the fest include a Filmmakers Party on June 8 at the new Double RL store in Williamsburg, the BFF Exchange series of panels on June 11 at BRIC House (including sessions about the Fair Use doctrine, a doc pitch session, and “Virtual Reality: A Practical Look”), and the June 12 awards ceremony at Windmill Studios.

Full festival pass tickets can be bought for one Benjamin but, considerately, tickets are also being sold as four-packs ($35) or for a single program ($13 for the general public). 

The full slate of features is as follows:

Narrative Features

BAD VEGAN AND THE TELEPORTATION MACHINE, Dir: Antón Goenechea, United States, 89 min, Narrative Feature, WORLD PREMIERE

BOREALIS, Dir: Sean Garrity, Canada, 95 min, Narrative Feature. US PREMIERE
CREEDMORIA, Dir: Alicia Slimmer, United States, 90 min, Narrative Feature, EAST COAST PREMIERE

CROOKED & NARROW, Dir: Neal Dhand, United States, 89 min, Narrative Feature, WORLD PREMIERE

DELINQUENT, Dir: Kieran Valla, United States, 96 min, Narrative Feature, WORLD PREMIERE

EMBERS, Dir: Claire Carre, United States, 85 min, Narrative Feature, NY PREMIERE

FORBIDDEN CUBA, Dir: Art Jones, United States, 80 min, Narrative Feature, WORLD PREMIERE

HELMSMAN, Dir: Majid Esmaeili Parsa, Iran, 86 min, Narrative Feature, US PREMIERE

LAPACHHAPI (Hide N Seek), Dir: Vishal Furia, India, 110 min, Narrative Feature, WORLD PREMIERE

LIFE OF SIGNIFICANT SOIL, Dir: Michael Irish, United States, 71 min, Narrative Feature, WORLD PREMIERE

LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED?, Dir: Kim Rocco Shields, United States, 123 min, Narrative Feature, NY PREMIERE

REMITTANCE, Dir: Patrick Daly & Joel Fendelman, United States, 90 min, Narrative Feature, NY PREMIERE

Documentary Features

CHINA’S 3DREAMS, Dir: Nick Torrens, Australia, 85 min, Documentary Feature, US PREMIERE

CITY OF TREES, Dir: Brandon Kramer, United States, 76 min, Documentary Feature, BROOKLYN PREMIERE

DEPROGRAMMED, Dir: Mia Donovan, Canada, 86 min, Documentary Feature, EAST COAST PREMIERE

FARMER/VETERAN, Dir: Alix Blair & Jeremy Lange, United States, 82 min, Documentary Feature, EAST COAST PREMIERE

HOW SWEET THE SOUND — THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA, Dir: Leslie McCleave, United States, 89 min, Documentary Feature, EAST COAST PREMIERE

THE IF PROJECT, Dir: Kathlyn Horan, United States, 90 min, Documentary Feature, EAST COAST PREMIERE

THE REBOUND, Dir: Shaina Allen, United States, 65 min, Documentary Feature, NY PREMIERE

SUSTAINABLE, Dir: Matt Wechsler, United States, 95 min, Documentary Feature, EAST COAST PREMIERE

SWEET DILLARD, Dir: Jim Virga, United States, 55 min, Documentary Feature, NY PREMIERE