Get ready this week for films that are at once fantastical and grounded in sometimes harsh reality. Our top picks include an art-house sci-fi film that says more about immigration than extra-terrestrials, one werewolf flick that proves the Scandinavians are masters of mixing the banality of small town life and horror, and more. Peep on.
Thursday, Sept. 10, 7:30 pm at Nitehawk: $15
This 2013 British sci-fi film is the first cinematic effort of artist Shezad Dawood, whose work ranges from futuristic sculpture to Star Trek-like immersive installations. The bizarre, super visceral film takes place in Preston, England— which IRL is a place with a high incidence of UFO sightings— where a young Chinese couple have arrived to settle down as new immigrants. Only instead of a welcoming new home, they find that extra-terrestrial aliens have also chosen to settle down in the small Northern England city.
It’s not a stretch to assume that Piercing Light is an exploration of the migrant experience. After all Dawood, whose parents are both immigrants, might know a thing or two about it. If an art piece sounds like an annoying departure from the very specific genre that is sci-fi, it actually doesn’t seem to be. Piercing Light appears to maintain the requisite hint of cheesiness and melodrama at the heart of most sci-fi films, which saves it from taking itself too seriously.
The one-night-only film screening coincides with the opening of the artist’s latest exhibition, It was a time that was a time, which runs from Friday, Sept. 11 to Sunday, Nov. 1 at Pioneer Works. The Red Hook-based art institution also commissioned a film of the same name from Dawood.
The River of Life
Friday, Sept. 11, 7:30 pm at UnionDocs: $9
Through Sept. 13, UnionDocs is screening its very last heap of contemporary Chinese documentaries that have sought to open up a part of the world that still seems to be vastly misunderstood (save for sweeping generalizations and economic assumptions) by most Americans.
The River of Life, just one of the few remaining from Cinema on the Edge: Best of Beijing Independent Film 2012-2014, is the project of Yang Pingdao who UnionDocs calls “one of China’s most exciting emerging filmmakers.”
The documentary, which focuses on two important events for Yang’s family, the birth of his child and his grandmother’s death, floats the line between straight documentary and fictitious account. In this way, Yang is joining a throng of other documentarians bringing a new interpretative artfulness to their work. While his approach is a departure from sober, traditional narrative documentaries, it also highlights the subjectivity present in all filmmaking, documentary or not.
Thursday, Sept. 10, 7 pm at Brooklyn Historical Society: FREE
This is probably the deepest, most thought-provoking Fashion Week-related event you’ll come across this week. Slumflower, a short film by the founders of fashion-blog-turned-ad-agency Street Etiquette, was created to address misconceptions about public housing. The film follows a young boy as he begins to understand black male identity.
We don’t have much to go on, save for this teaser trailer and the fact the film was accepted into the Cannes Film Festival, but then again it seems irresistibly stylish. Also, Wes Jackson, director of the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, will be present to interview the filmmakers, so you’ll get the full story-behind-the-art treatment.
If you can get past the chatter about “branding” that comes with anyone knee deep in “creative agency” work, then we’re betting you’ll find something pretty worthwhile. And, seriously isn’t everything happening this week sponsored by some luxury car company anyway? Just sit back, drink your free-as-hell BMW/Brooklyn-Brewery sponsored limited edition collaboration ale and enjoy the ride. Tell the haters to STFU because you earned it, you.
When Animals Dream (Nar Dyrene Drømmer)
Thursday Sept. 10, various screenings at Village Cinema East: $14
We gotta hand it to them, those Scandinavian filmmakers, they’ve been stealing the show when it comes to horror films as of late. Following in the footsteps of Ingmar Bergman’s psychological thrillers, the Danish screenwriter-director duo have made a film that embraces both the banal and nightmarish. Better yet, it’s backed by a classic werewolf tale.
The film depicts a small town shrouded in darkness. Often a dingy lightbulb or useless flashlight are all that penetrate the interminable Nordic nights. Days flash by in an instant and before you know it, the 16-year-old werewolf in question is putting her father through a special sort of teenage hell.