Representation matters. But unsurprisingly, it’s still lacking in nearly all fields. Especially in Hollywood. Casts, directors and producers are overwhelmingly white and male. So much so that in 2015 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated claims of systematic discrimination against female directors.
Does government surveillance really get your goat? (To be honest I have never really understood that expression but I am just going to run with it.) Is your ideal evening spent watching documentaries on the deep state? If so, then you’re in luck.
In a new film fest running today through Aug. 5 — ominously titled “Spy vs. Us” — the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS) in the East Village takes on national security and the surveillance state. Even better, like last year’s MoRUS-sponsored film and theater festivals, this year’s festival screenings will occur in the lovely environs of several community gardens. Tonight’s opening screening takes place in the roof garden of Alphabet City’s fabled Umbrella House.
The film selection is an eclectic mix of the heavily family-friendly — Beauty and The Beast, Finding Dory, The Lego Batman Movie — and a few edgier selections like Get Out. The series is sponsored by Amazon Studios, who will also be doing previews of two Amazon Studios originals — Landline, the new dysfunctional family dramedy from the Obvious Child team, and Crown Heights, a Sundance drama (adapted from a This American Life episode) about a wrongfully imprisoned man.
Today is the official start of summer and what better way to celebrate than getting excited for outdoor movie season. Williamsburg’s SummerScreen just released some colorful and spacey iterations of movie posters to go along with this year’s series, which kicks off July 5. Seven local artists created the posters for each film that will show in McCarren Park: Mean Girls, Office Space, Donnie Darko, Selena, I Know What You Did Last Summer and an audience choice. So fetch.
Tribeca’s Roxy Hotel has re-launched its much-loved cellar theater Roxy Cinema with new concessions and a big slate of summer programming — including free midnight screenings and events with indie acts like TV Baby and Beach Fossils.
The cinema, which specializes in “first-run, independent, classic, art-house and foreign film, both played on digital and 35mm,” is one of the few locations in New York where you can enjoy good beer, wine, and even champagne during a movie. Cocktails are also reportedly on the way. They’re also beefing up their snacks-and-candy concessions.
If you’ve ever been to Union Square, you’ve seen them: They chant, drum; sometimes they even give you a free copy of their scripture. Hare Krishnas are often shrugged off as an urban oddity on par with clipboard people, but what lies behind those orange robes and endless mantras?
This Friday, June 16, Hare Krishna! The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started It will premiere at Village East Cinema. The documentary tells the story of Srila Prabhupada, a disheveled 70-year-old Hindu who boarded a freighter to the U.S. in August 1965 with little more than three self-translated religious texts and instructions from his guru to “offer spiritual wisdom to the people of the world.”
Cinephiles, take note: the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) opens June 30, and this year’s roster has just been announced. With “just shy of 60 films,” including feature films and documentaries from seven countries, there’s a diverse lineup of films in every genre, from gangster flicks to romantic dramas to experimental stream-of-consciousness softcore porn. Truly, something for everyone.
China and Hong Kong are particularly well-represented, with a slate of popcorn-friendly thrillers, dramas, and crime flicks. Battle of Memories (2017, dir. Leste Chen) follows a novelist who wakes from an experimental medical procedure to discover he has acquired the memories of a serial killer. In Blood of Youth (2016), directed by “self-trained fireman-turned-filmmaker Yang Shupeng,” police and criminals alike race to hunt down a computer hacker.
Chinatown – “one of the lone neighborhoods in Manhattan to preserve its heritage and verve,” we noted earlier this year – takes center stage in two new documentaries.
Biking is having a moment. Citi Bike is expanding, Andy Samberg just released his Tour de Pharmacy trailer, and Bicycle Fetish Day is quickly approaching. Which makes it a great time for the Bicycle Film Festival to roll into town. The fest will bring a week of screenings, live performances, exhibitions, and even a new animation program to Anthology Film Archives.
However, there are some things to look forward to in the summer. One of them is Films on the Green. Cinema buffs – and francophiles – will want to mark their calendars for the popular outdoor film series, which returns June 2nd and runs through the 7th.
Thursday May 11, 9:30 pm at Nitehawk: $12
Perhaps you’ve heard of The Deuce Jockeys, the resident VJs at Nitehawk whose film series has a very specific mission: “Excavating the facts and fantasies of cinema’s most notorious block; 42 Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.” If you’re wondering, that’s the Port Authority Bus Terminal, once the epicenter of violence in Fear City. Around 1970, the Times described the place as a sort of terrifying, tortuous God’s waiting room– another circle of Hades that Dante himself would have considered just a bit too far even for tax evaders. Its occupants went one of two ways: “Some are waiting for buses. Others are waiting for death.”
The Lost City Of Z
Now through Thursday May 11 at Sunshine Cinema: $14
I haven’t seen The Lost City of Z just yet, but what I can tell you is that the film takes place in 1925, a tumultuous time in the Western world when it looked like the sun might very well start to set on the British Empire. In fact, imperial order was starting to collapse around the globe, and would eventually be replaced by a new bipolar world order– divvied up into two supposedly opposite political instincts, nationalism and socialism. (If that sounds like a super mysterious process, that’s because it is. There are tons of fascinating theories about how and why this happened, and about WTF nationalism even is, man– none of which I will go into here.) So even though a bunch of landowning white men still ruled the day at this point, they were probably feeling a little insecure about their privileged position, which they justified by an unshakeable belief in white supremacy and fashionable pseudoscientific ideas/total BS concepts of the time. I mean, now we know that terms like “imperial expansion” and “colonization” are just fancy ways to talk about pirate stuff (e.g., raping, pillaging). Oh, and racism too.