The Lower East Side’s new cinephile paradise is joining the city’s summer tradition of (mostly free) outdoor film screenings. Next Tuesday, Metrograph will be showing The Wizard of Oz (the classic one, not that J-Franks nonsense) in Seward Park, at Essex Street. As Metrograph knows, half the pleasure of going to the cinema is to gorge yourself on snacks, so there will be complimentary popcorn for movie-goers to munch on while they watch Dorothy follow the yellow brick road.
It’s been a long time coming, but the Vamp Bikers Tres trailer has finally dropped. After a shooting marathon that seemed more like a roving zombie party than any script-driven film production we’ve ever seen, we can finally start to make some sense of all the crazy shit that’s happened since we first caught up with director Eric Rivas. Back in December, we met Rivas and his crew, including Michael Alig who stars in the film as the King of the Club Kid Zombies, on-location out in deserted off-season Coney Island. As it turned out over the last several months, Alig was just (if you can ever even use that qualifier in a sentence about the notorious ex-party promoter) the beginning when it came to cameos and weirdness.
Nelson Sullivan’s Downtown: ’83 – ’89
Monday July 18, Tuesday July 26 (7:30 pm and 10 pm) at Spectacle: $5
When Nelson Sullivan, the tireless documentarian of the 1980s downtown party scene, died suddenly of a heart attack in 1989, not only did he refuse to go quietly into the ’90s and subsequently save himself from the disappointing developments of the aughts, but he left over 1,200 hours of footage in his wake. It was a “treasure trove of late-night videos,” according to Michael Musto. As the former Village Voice writer whose beat was the ins and outs of the Downtown party scene (he was largely responsible for some of the first coverage of the Michael Alig murder case), Musto should know some good gossip when he sees it.
Probably the best known film to come out of the I Am Eye scene opens with a view from the cameraman’s car as John Heyn and Jeff Krulik pull into a a sweaty asphalt parking lot full of Wayne’s World clones. “I’m ready to rock!” the spandex-clad kids with big hair exclaim un-ironically, throwing up devil horns and alternating between sloshing around beer bottles and back-bent air guitar. The next 15 minutes or so of Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986) is nothing short of sheer brilliance and even though the film– which has won praise as “the original viral video” and “the Citizen Kane of wasted teenage metalness”– is approaching its 30th anniversary, it feels supremely right-now. In a lot of ways, this “sleeper” bootleg hit anticipated the kind of cheeky, ironic tone that today we see everywhere in art-making.
Likewise, I Am Eye, the DC-based “independent film forum” that ran from 1982 to 1991 out of a DIY venue called dc space, was a hotbed for underground filmmakers whose influence is still felt today, even if what they screened back then is seriously hard to find now. But for the first time in 25 years, the founders are gathering up their old reels and holding a screening/reunion at Microscope Gallery in Bushwick that opens this weekend.
Tuesday, June 21 (7 pm) and Sunday June 26 (7:30 pm) at Spectacle Theater: $5
For six months, documentary filmmaker Wang Bing embedded himself in a tiny rural village, Xiyangtang, in China’s Yunnan province, following the lives of three sisters all under the age of 10, orphaned, and living under crushing poverty. Their mother has died and their father, who occasionally pops into their lives, but never long enough to see if they’re even meeting their basic nutritional needs, has gone to the city to work. The family represents some of the major problems for China’s rural residents– an extreme lack of resources that is leveled unevenly by women, and therefore children as well, when men leave to find work in urban areas (China is one of the few places in the world where the suicide rate for women surpasses that of men, and many of the suicides are related to death by fertilizer poisoning).
Between the Lower East Side Film Festival, the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, the DV8 Film Festival, and now even the Porn Film Festival, there’s no shortage of summer film fests in NYC. For the past 15 years, the New York Asian Film Festival has been a part of this cadre, presenting lineups of movies from all across the continent. This year, with 51 picks in its final lineup, the organizer Samuel Jamier is certain that there will be enough varieties of genres to satisfy anyone’s tastes.
As a work-resident of Greenpoint, I feel lucky that I can reap the benefits of the neighborhood without having to pay the increasingly steep average rent. My existence up here is dependent on a fair amount of lying to myself– that I can afford to eat at the nice restaurants here (false), that the nice people who work in the hip boutiques actually believe I’m going to buy something this time around (so false). But what really charms me about the neighborhood are its eccentricities– the picture window on Franklin decorated neatly with dozens of bobble heads gyrating in unison, the Polish bars where you can bet there’s a strange scene going down or at the very least some $1 Jell-o shots to pick at, and of course the ancient bag lady who shuffles along Manhattan Avenue screeching in a mix of gibberish and maybe Old Church Slavonic, sometimes disappearing down into the subway or inside an apartment, knowing that she can safely leave her bags and carts anywhere she pleases.
Looking back, do you miss the days before everyone had a camera in their pocket? The days when getting your hands on the family camcorders felt so special that they could suddenly turn you into a mini-Scorsese? If you love the idea of movies made with less polish and more graininess, then DV8 Film Festival might just have a movie or two for you.
Now in its second year, DV8 began when Rebecca Shapass and Gabriela Granada, two NYU film students decided they were sick of being told there was a correct way to make films. “When you go to film school, you’re taught that movies have to be made a certain way,” Shapass said. “We want to do something else.”
Sitting outside on a balmy summer night and watching one of your favorite films with the Manhattan skyline in the background almost makes the stinking mounds of cooking garbage on the street and the hellish temperatures in subways stations worth it. With that in mind, here are some of the best upcoming outdoor film series this city has to offer. Best of all: Most of these are free!
It was a whirlwind weekend at the second-annual NYC Porn Film Festival. Who knew that getting slapped across the eyes with a regular throng of weens; being inundated with sauce shots, endless bumpin n’ grindin, butt pirates, fet fun, furries; and having to contend with a tarted-up unicorn who happened to have a passion for, well, piss could be so exhausting? It was almost as if we were the ones doing all the porking.
I Am An Animal
Wednesday June 8 at Union Docs: $10
We knew that the last event held by the No Filter Screening Series– which spotlighted the polarizing and always irreverent Reverend Al Sharpton at his most bombastic, big-bellied, 1980s self in Big Al– would be a tough act to follow. But one of the few figures who could hold even a birthday candle to Sharpton’s fiery diction and billowing mane would have to be Ingrid Newkirk. As the founder of PETA, she might just be one of the most controversial activists of our time.