The virtual film festival circuit rolls on, as last night the Tribeca Film Festival announced its jury awards via an online awards ceremony and today the Brooklyn Film Festival announced much of its programming for what will be a streaming version this summer.
The Brooklyn Film Festival usually occurs at venues in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, but that obviously won’t be happening when the 23rd edition rolls out May 29 to June 7. Instead, over 140 films will be presented online. The good news is: Unlike, say, the Greenwich International Film Festival, which started yesterday and required a $175 “virtual pass,” the movies here can be screened for free so long as you register at Brooklyn Film Festival’s website.
Despite the fest’s name, selections hail from all over the world (there were submissions from 92 countries this year, according to a press release). But the one we’re most looking forward to is a homegrown one, Snatchers, by Brooklyn director John Kingman.
The movie’s creators pitched it on Indiegogo as “a Sci-fi Comedy about an alien invasion in Brooklyn, NY. Alien pods that look like purple corn get spread through Brooklyn’s hipster food truck scene, commandeering people’s bodies and turning Brooklyn, NY into something closer to Suburbia, USA — unless a rogue FDA agent and a rudderless trust-fund millennial can stop them in time.”
The trailer, featuring an appearance by comedian/author/rocker extraordinaire Dave Hill, is as fun as you’d expect. “Everybody is acting weird,” says one character. “And not just Williamsburg weird. Alien weird.”
Snatchers is said to be about “gentrification, immigration, and a relentless monolithic hegemony. Plus, comedy?” Its “invisible enemy” theme (how will the alien-fighters “tell the difference between a Snatcher and a regular Brooklyn weirdo?”) is obviously pretty timely right now, and central to the Brooklyn Film Festival’s theme this year: Turning Point.
“The fear of the ‘invisible danger’ that threatens our life is radically modifying our own life routine and the way we deal with our neighbors,” BFF executive director Marco Ursino explains in the press release. “It is a ‘Turning Point’ in history.”
Courtesy of the BFF, here’s a look at the other programming revealed today, with more films to be announced.
“Before Oblivion” – U.S. PREMIERE
Dir. Iria Gómez Concheiro, Mexico, 103 min.
Facing the threat of an eviction, the tenants of a vecindad (low-income tenement house) join in solidarity to come out of their self-absorption and fight for a common cause.
“Before the Fire” – EAST COAST PREMIERE
Dir. Charlie Buhler, USA, 92 min.
Deep in the throes of a global pandemic, up-and-coming TV star Ava Boone (Jenna Lyng Adams, “The Kominsky Method”) is forced to flee the mounting chaos in Los Angeles and return to her rural hometown. But as she struggles to acclimate to a way of life she left behind long ago, her homecoming attracts a dangerous figure from her past— threatening both her and the family that serves as her only sanctuary.
“Between Wars” – WORLD PREMIERE
Dir. Tom Phillips, USA, 99 min.
“Between Wars” takes an intimate look at the struggle of re-entering civilian life post combat. It follows Veteran Marine Franny Malloy of the Bronx as he struggles with integrating himself back into civilian life post combat in Afghanistan. Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos”) co-stars.
“Black Emperor of Broadway” – N.Y. PREMIERE
Dir. Arthur Egeli, USA, 95 min
In 1921, Eugene O’Neill rejects the use of blackface and casts African American actor Charles Gilpin in the lead of his groundbreaking play “Emperor Jones.”
“Macabre” – EAST COAST PREMIERE
Dir. Marcos Prado, Brazil, 100 min.
“Macabre” is based on the true story of the “Necrophile Brothers,” two youths who are accused of brutal murders in the Serra dos Órgãos during the 1990s. The thriller follows sergeant Teo´s search for the alleged perpetrators, who are hidden in the Atlantic Forest.
“Milkwater” – WORLD PREMIERE
Dir. Morgan Ingari, USA, 101 min.
Seeking direction and purpose, Milo (Molly Burnett, “Younger”) rashly decides to become a surrogate and egg donor for an older gay man she meets in a bar. However, as Milo becomes increasingly attached to him, she starts leveraging the pregnancy as a means of staying embedded in his life.
“Our Own” – U.S. PREMIERE
Dir. Jeanne Leblanc, Canada, 103 min.
When faced with life’s challenges, Ste-Adeline’s community has always stuck together. But this time, a scandal sends shockwaves through the quiet little town’s very foundation, testing its inhabitants. At the center of the storm is Magalie, a teenager with a girlish pout; Manuel, the foster child of the beloved mayor; and Isabelle and Chantale, the powerless yet protective mothers. In Ste-Adeline, appearances are deceptive. And the town’s carefully maintained social veneer will come to crack, slowly revealing the true nature of its residents.
“Right Near the Beach” – U.S. PREMIERE
Dir. Gibrey Allen, Jamaica, 79 min.
When prominent Jamaican sprinter Jeffrey Jacobs is brutally murdered, rumors about the secret life he may have lived create public uproar, causing obstacles to the murder investigation and for Jeffrey’s father, who simply wants justice for his son. Filmed on location with a cast of local Jamaicans, this film is an authentic case study of a country that continues to face the consequences of its turbulent past while trying to confront the new realities of sexuality and equality.
“Rotten Ears” – U.S. PREMIERE
Dir. Piotr Dylewski, Poland, 60 min.
A story about a couple, who go through a crisis in their marriage at a very early stage, resulting from unfulfilled expectations and lack of communication. Janek and Marzena must face their most inner demons, under the watchful eye of an unconventional therapist, whose meticulously crafted therapy plan is slowly getting out of hand. The reality starts to blur and the suppressed grudges and understatements will soon get at the two.
“Snaeland” – N.Y. PREMIERE
Dir. Lise Raven, Iceland/USA, 75 min.
A disgraced German journalist goes to Iceland, and stumbles upon the tabloid story that could redeem his career. A French nanny – once accused of killing a baby, and long thought to be dead – appears to be living in a small Icelandic fishing village. A cool neo-noir, set in Iceland’s midsummer sun.
“Snatchers” – WORLD PREMIERE
Dir. John Kingman, USA, 85 min.
“Snatchers” is a Sci-fi Comedy about an alien invasion in Brooklyn, NY. Alien pods that look like purple corn get spread through Brooklyn’s hipster food truck scene, commandeering people’s bodies and turning Brooklyn, NY into something closer to Suburbia, USA — unless a rogue FDA agent and a rudderless trust-fund millennial can stop them in time.
“Suffocation” – U.S. PREMIERE
Dir. Kenya Márquez, Mexico, 88 min.
After getting out of jail, where she learned to care for the sick, Alma, an albino woman, is determined to recover something much more important than her freedom. In order to do so, Alma must spend her nights taking care of Clemente (a hypochondriac compulsively obsessed with avoiding sudden death). Their relationship moves through suspicion, fear and compassion to tenderness and love.
“The Erotic Fire of the Unattainable” – WORLD PREMIERE
Dir. Frank Vitale, USA, 80 min.
One successful writer, one eccentric Wall Streeter, one feeling ex-con-turned-businessman, a witty literary agent and a sensitive woman – all of a certain age and then some — try to figure out this thing called love.
“The Journey of Murder” – U.S. PREMIERE
Dir. Jun Wang, China, 104 min.
Sha Tao is a village girl with mental disorders who gets involved in a money transaction of a ghost marriage.
“Zoro Solo” – N.Y. PREMIERE
Dir. Martin Busker, Germany, 90 min
A 13-year-old refugee from Afghanistan living in an emergency shelter in Germany joins a Christian boys’ choir to save his father who was left stranded in Hungary, and clashes with the strict choir master.
“Current Sea” – N.Y. PREMIERE
Dir. Christopher Smith, USA/Malaysia, 90 min.
An environmental thriller that follows investigative journalist Matt Blomberg and ocean activist Paul Ferber in their risky efforts to create a marine conservation area and combat the relentless tide of illegal fishing, inspiring a new generation of Cambodian environmentalists to create a better life for their people along the way.
“Higher Love” – N.Y. PREMIERE
Dir. Hasan Oswald, USA, 80 min.
A blue-collar father tries to rescue his pregnant, heroin-addicted girlfriend from the dangerous streets of Camden, NJ. Once their son is born, a new journey begins for the fate of the baby and the family’s sobriety that may split them apart forever.
Winner, Documentary Feature Grand Jury Prize at 2020 Slamdance Film Festival
“Into the Storm” – WORLD PREMIERE
Dir. Adam Brown, UK/Peru, 84 min.
A troubled teenager from a crime-ridden barrio of Lima, Peru, struggles against the odds to realize his dream of becoming a professional surfer and lift his family out of poverty.
“Kingdom of Archers” – WORLD PREMIERE
Dir. Robert Hanson, USA/Bhutan, 77 min.
“Kingdom of Archers” explores a unique cultural tradition in the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan which, due to a combination of internal and external factors, is rapidly evolving — for better or for worse.
“Opeka” – WORLD PREMIERE
Dir. Cam Cowan, USA , 89 min.
An iron-willed Argentine priest inspires hope for an entire nation by teaching people living in Madagascar’s largest landfill to build a highly functional city in their failing African country.
“Sisters: Dreams & Variations” – U.S. PREMIERE
Dir. Catherine Legault, Canada, 85 min.
“Sisters: Dream & Variations” invites us to discover the creative and personal worlds of two distinctive Montreal artists. Tyr and Jasa have Icelandic roots, and they’ve always been artists at heart. Having become a musician and an interdisciplinary artist respectively, they have developed artistic practices that draw on their colourful imaginations and family roots, including the use of audio recordings of their Icelandic great-grandmother.
“The Right Girls” – N.Y. PREMIERE
Dir. Timothy Wolfer, USA/Mexico , 85 min.
At the peak of the 2018 migrant caravan, there were roughly 7,200 people attempting to walk thousands of miles to the American border. Among those making the journey was a small group of trans women. These women, strangers at the outset, formed a community along the way to keep each other safe.
“Twinkle Dammit” – WORLD PREMIERE
Dir. Chuang Xu, USA, 67 min.
In 1971, Margaret Leng Tan was the first woman to earn a Doctorate degree from the Juilliard School. Since then, her five-decade career has made the musician a figurehead of avant-garde music, owing predominantly to her incorporation of the toy piano in her performances. We meet Leng Tan at the age of 71 as she embarks on an iconic collaboration with George Crumb, one of the last remaining avant-garde composers of his era.
“Uncivilized” – N.Y. PREMIERE
Dir. Michael Lees, Dominica, 71 min.
A young man sets off to the forest in search of the simple life of ‘uncivilized’ man, but when Category 5 Hurricane Maria strikes his island, his project takes on new meaning as everyone is sent back to ‘primitive living.’ What lessons will Michael and his comrades learn as they fight to survive in a post-disaster world?