“It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all” always struck me as a pretty shitty consolation. I guess it depends on who’s doing the losing part, right? Love looks a lot rosier from the side of the jilter than the jilt-ee. I guess the point being that at some stage you get a taste of both. Which is likely why, among the recently announced lineup for the upcoming eighth annual Bushwick Film Festival (Oct 1 to 4), the topic of love pops up so frequently. For this reason, I propose as a counter statement: it’s better to have neither loved nor lost, but rather watched the entire shitshow go down from the comfort of a theater chair. In honor of this newfound epithet, we’ve compiled our list of the films at this year’s BFF featuring the character of love in all her forms.
1. SCORNED LOVE – WALLABOUT
Thursday, October 1, 8pm at Light Space Studios: $12 pre-booked; $15 at door
“Wallabout” sounds like a sort of angst-ridden portmanteau, brought on by the empty feeling one gets following heartbreak. In this instance, the heartbreak belongs to a single woman returning to Brooklyn following a decade spent “abroad as the unrecognized muse to a famous filmmaker.” Been there, right? Ok, maybe not exactly, but certainly one can relate to the giving and taking done in the name of a somewhat abstract emotion. Director Eric McGinty himself has worked as assistant director to the likes of Luc Besson and one wonders if by interrogating his own medium, McGinty is veering toward an art imitating life situation? Either way, Wallabout provides prime fodder for playing a game I like to call “bitter reflections or subtext confessions.”
2. INFATUATED LOVE – AFTER THE WEDDING
Friday, October 2, 6:00pm at Videology:$12 pre-booked; $15 at door
The title really tells you all you need to know about this one. A couple caught up in the excitement of marriage, confronting the precarious concept of monogamy made all the more challenging by their youth. Otherwise understood through food metaphor, it’s a film about the struggle of choosing the food you’re going to eat for eternity before having had a chance to sample the rest of the menu.
After the Wedding is Claudia Cifuentes’s directorial debut. According to her BFF bio, during her time spent apprenticing under Michael Mann she was “inspired by his auteur style of filmmaking,” which would likely explain why she’s also credited as a writer/producer. A young filmmaker herself, Cifuentes is exploring familiar territory; judging by the brief snippet of the film’s trailer, she’s matched by a cast that holds the chops required to deliver.
3. LOST LOVE – KEEP IN TOUCH
Friday, October 2, 7:30pm at Light Space Studios:$12 pre-booked; $15 at door
Keep in Touch deals with losing love, quite literally, through the eyes of a man attempting to “track down his first love, only to discover she was killed many years ago in a car accident.” The story takes a twisted turn when the man’s search brings him to the familiar-looking sister of the deceased, whom he begins dating without revealing past familial connections. Weirdness of premise aside, there seems enough in here to keep your attention through its 105-minute length, starting with a cameo where Reggie Watts plays a doctor.
4. OLD LOVE – Johnny Walker
Friday, October 2, 8:00pm at Livestream Public:$12 pre-booked; $15 at door
This might be the first of the listed films that truly presents – albeit through a bleak lens – a glimmer of hope. At the very least, Johnny Walker appears to offer a nuanced approach to the oft cheese-riddled territory reserved for a love story. That’s not to say award-winning director Kris De Meester’s film is sappy, but rather, at its core, Johnny Walker delivers something resembling a calloused fairy tale. Instead of trapped princess, though, it’s a “washed up Hollywood director” holed up in a castle, whose charming prince in this instance takes the form of a “mysterious woman.” Taking cues from Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground is another way in which Johnny Walker perhaps diverges from the typical rom-com format, questioning whether “living a long life is vulgar, immoral or just plain bad manners?”
Johnny Walker appears as one of the more promising films on the lineup, offering its own key ingredient to tackling love through narrative: make the character an old, cynical bastard.
5. COMPUTER LOVE – SANSKRITI
Saturday, October 3, 4:30pm at Livestream Public: $12 pre-booked; $15 at door
If Spike Jonze’s Her was a documentary set in the present, it might resemble something close to Sanskriti. The film, which spans across China, Kenya, Finland, and the USA, chronicles “the day-to-day experiences of Millennials coming of age in the digital era.” There could be no better reflection of humans’ symptomatic need for love than the vacuum of loneliness, which inspires the modern phenomenon of seeking out connections through the digital sphere. While this sounds more depressing than anything, Sanskriti seems to offer an optimistic view. Well, it’s positive at least for now, that is — until, of course, we reach the year Her is set in, when we can completely outsource our emotional needs to an AI computer.
6. REAL LOVE (?) – SIMPLIFY YOUR SOUL
Saturday, October 3, 4:30pm at Light Space Studios:$12 pre-booked; $15 at door
The love of Simplify Your Soul, as defined by its BFF description, is “not the conquering-all kind but real love, with all its weaknesses, volatility, and egoism.” Demonstrated through the story of Karl and Lisa, Simplify Your Soul presents what seems a gritty, realist take on this whole debacle. Not totally convinced by a plot that veers dangerously close to the rather stock-standard shtick of overcoming obstacles in the pursuit of yadda yadda, Simplify Your Soul will need some solid performances to pull off its claims of “real love.”
7. EXPLOITATIVE LOVE – SAND DOLLARS
Saturday, October 3, 6pm at Anthology Film Archive:$12 pre-booked; $15 at door
Sand Dollars presents love in its most unique form. As per its synopisis: “Every afternoon, Noeli, a young Dominican girl, goes to the beaches at Las Terrenas. Along with her boyfriend, they look for ways to make a living at the expense of one of the hundreds of tourists that wander the beach. As people parade through her life, Noeli has a steady client, a mature French woman who, as time goes by, has found an ideal refuge on the island to spend her last years. Noel’s boyfriend feigns to be her brother and outlines a plan in which Noeli travels to Paris with the old lady and sends him money every month. For Noeli, the relationship with the old lady is one of convenience, but the feelings become more intense as the departure date closes in.”
8. REPLACABLE LOVE – JAKE
Saturday, October 3, 6:30pm at Lightspace Studios:$12 pre-booked; $15 at door
Jake is a refreshing sci-fi take that answers the question: how easily can the love of your life be replaced? Taking the form of an off-beat comedy, such a strange concept is likely safe in the hands of Doug Dillaman, a New Zealander, whose filmmaking brethren are well established for their kook-abilities.
9. LOVE IN A SMALL TOWN – VALLEY INN
Saturday, October 3, 2pm at Light Space Studios:$12 pre-booked; $15 at door
This song above should contain everything you need in deciding whether or not Valley Inn is a film for you.