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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

In Context: Almadraba

Spanish guitarist and composer Oscar Peñas blends together jazz and classical music in the world premiere of Almadraba, an ode to the sustainable Andalusian fishing tradition of the bluefin tuna. Like Andalusia itself, a melange of Moorish and Romanesque influences, Peñas melds together these two genres along with the influence of Cuban, South American, and Spanish music to tell the grand tale of this age-old ecological technique. To give you further insight into the production, we’ve compiled resources below and after you’ve attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #almadraba.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Never Stop Dreaming: Q&A with JACK &'s Cornell Alston

By Charity Coleman

How can internal life be rebuilt after trauma? This Next Wave Festival, theater artist Kaneza Schaal joins forces with actor Cornell Alston and artist Christopher Myers to consider reentry into society after prison in JACK &. Learn more about Alston's journey to the stage below and be sure to catch him in the BAM Fisher October 17—20.

Photo: Christopher Myers

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

José Andrés’ recipe for comfort in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

By Vilina Phan

José Andrés knows food. Just look at the multi-hyphenate's accolades from Michelin stars to James Beard awards. But his latest efforts haven’t been in a traditional kitchen—instead, they have been focused on Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Just a few days after the devastation in 2017 he traveled to the island and started cooking—but not just any dish, he wanted the food to remain familiar and local, and so he prepared traditional foods like sancocho, arroz de tripleta, and paella as a way to provide comfort.

Courtesy of World Central Kitchen

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Say It Loud: Cinema in the Age of Black Power, 1966—1981

By Ashley Clark

Wattstax (1973) courtesy of Columbia Pictures/Photofest
Rebellion, radical politics, boundary-pushing art, controversy, and boundless creativity: the age of Black Power had it all, and more. This expansive film series, presented in conjunction with Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power (opening Sep 14), features a kaleidoscopic international banquet of features and shorts produced in this revolutionary climate by some of the era’s most incendiary talents. Confrontational, experimental, and ripe for (re)discovery, these films powerfully evoke their own time and unarguably speak to today’s climate, where black activists challenging widespread racial injustice find themselves targeted by a right-wing authoritarian administration.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Behind the scenes—Howard Tynes, Security of a different stripe

By David Hsieh

Security guards often wear dark suits, conservative ties, and dark sunglasses. But that’s not Howard Tynes’ style. A BAM security guard for the past 10 years, he is known—especially to Fisher building audiences—for his distinctive and nifty garb: freshly pressed suits in all colors and materials, and always with bowties and pocket squares. Anyone who has seen him would not be surprised to learn that he had a career in fashion. More unexpected is his career on the baseball field. Howard Tynes tells us how his three passions intersect.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Women at Work: Radical Creativity

From August 10—16, BAMcinématek invites audiences to celebrate creative expression with “Women at Work: Radical Creativity”—the second installment of an ongoing film series dedicated to highlighting the complex subject of women’s work from a variety of perspectives. Following “Women at Work: Labor Activism” (March 2018), “Radical Creativity”—organized by guest curator Dessane Lopez Cassell—foregrounds the intellectual labor of women artists, activists, and thinkers.

Photo: Courtesy of Reelside Productions 

by Dessane Lopez Cassell

Often undervalued, or altogether overlooked, the contributions of women have had a profound and continuous effect on our cultural and political landscape, drastically shaping not only the way we visualize our world, but also the ways in which we experience it as citizens. “Radical Creativity” highlights the persistent efforts and agency of women in shaping culture, critical thought, and the governing of their own communities.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Beyond the Canon—Set It Off + Dog Day Afternoon

It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white male auteur. Beyond the Canon is a monthly series that seeks to question that history and broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic with a thematically or stylistically related—and equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded from that discussion. This month’s double feature pairs F. Gary Gray’s Set It Off (1996) with Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon (1975) on Sat, Aug 4.

By Fanta Sylla

Has there ever been a right reason to rob a bank? Ever since its genesis, the heist genre—dated almost universally by film theorists and academics to 1950 with the release of John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle—has attempted to answer that morally thorny question. One could also advance that the genre’s persistence and enduring relevance has provided another answer: there has never been a right reason to rob a bank, but the act of theft can make for films of great beauty. Ultimately, the whys have never really mattered, it’s always been about the hows.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

2018 Next Wave Preview—Stories = Life

The Good Swimmer. Photo: James Matthew Daniel
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” —Joan Didion, The White Album

One of the hallmarks of the Next Wave Festival, now in its 35th year, is blurring lines between traditional arts. And the shows comprising the 2018 Next Wave (Oct 3—Dec 23) test the elasticity of genre definitions more than ever, in the final Next Wave Festival curated by outgoing executive producer Joseph V. Melillo. The 27 events, while each unique, all tell a story or reflect some aspect of being human in the world today, sometimes through an ancient filter, and other times using modern technology (or both).

Monday, July 9, 2018

Beyond the Canon—Girlfight + Raging Bull

Girlfight courtesy of Screen Gems/Photofest; Raging Bull courtesy of United Artists/Photofest

It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. Beyond the Canon is a monthly series that seeks to question that history and broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic with a thematically or stylistically-related—and equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded from that discussion. This month’s double feature on July 21 pairs Karyn Kusama’s Girlfight (2000, 110min) with Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull (1980, 129min).

By Monica Castillo

If weighing in for a cinematic showdown, Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull (1980) and Karyn Kusama’s Girlfight (2000) would be seen as radically different contenders. Visually, the films are like oil and water. Scorsese mythologized his star boxer’s legacy on black-and-white film—even the blood and sweat pouring down his character’s face look painterly. His is an epic story of a man’s fall from grace. In contrast, Girlfight doubles down on the grimy sheen of a boxing gym. No corner looks like it’s ever been mopped. The walls are punched in or collapsing. The place surely has a caked-in stench of sweat and moldy gym equipment. The film’s color scheme looks as worn and neglected as the gym. Girlfight is the story of a fighter’s journey up the ranks to an uncertain future.

Kusama’s electric debut stars Michelle Rodriguez as Diana Guzman, a scrappy high school girl in Brooklyn whose fists are ready to punch out the anger she doesn’t speak aloud. Her father pays for her brother to box but forbids Diana from pursuing the masculine sport. Hard-headed and determined to put her temper to good use, she pursues boxing despite the sexist assumptions from the men around her.

Monday, July 2, 2018

BAMcinématek and The Racial Imaginary Institute: On Whiteness

Steve Martin and Richard Ward in The Jerk (1979), courtesy of Universal Pictures/Photofest
by Ashley Clark

“If whiteness gains currency by being unnoticed,” writes academic Sara Ahmed, “then what does it mean to notice whiteness?” The series On Whiteness (July 11—19)—a collaboration between BAMcinématek and Claudia Rankine’s The Racial Imaginary Institute—attempts to wrestle with this knotty question. Comprising works that address issues of ethnic identity, assimilation, racial grievance, passing, and privilege, this collection of films—augmented by talks and guest introductions—invites audiences to consider how whiteness has been deliberately and subconsciously constructed, ignored, and challenged in the history of American film.

The series begins in the heart of Hollywood’s dream factory with Julie Dash’s beguiling, World War II-era Illusions (1982), about an African-American movie studio executive passing as white, and the black singer she hires to dub the voice of a white actress. A profound deconstruction of Hollywood’s power to shape racial mythologies, Illusions screens with the acerbically funny short Free, White and 21 (1980), in which artist Howardena Pindell assumes the identity of a blonde white woman to discuss the racism she experiences as a black woman. Elia Kazan’s Pinky (1949), meanwhile, is one of Hollywood’s earliest attempts to grapple openly with racism. It’s a fascinating melodrama in which a light-skinned black woman (Jeanne Crain, complicatedly, a white actress) passing as white tempts crisis by falling in love with a white doctor.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

“We have to keep on fighting”—Music and Activism at the R&B Festival at MetroTech

The lineup for this year’s outdoor R&B Festival at MetroTech includes new voices and established masters alike, from the worlds of R&B, funk, gospel, soul, jazz, and world music. Performances take place every Thursday at noon through Aug 9, and each concert is FREE and open to the public. Here, Marketing Intern Nadege Nau explores sociopolitical commentary in the work of a few of this summer's featured artists.

By Nadege Nau

If the work of J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and Childish Gambino is any indication, recording artists are seizing the moment to grapple with injustice and musically highlight the downtrodden realities of America. It follows that multiple artists at this year’s R&B Festival at MetroTech are channeling social dissonance in their music, too. Marcus Miller composed the score for the film Marshall (featuring this track performed by Andra Day and Common), while others are leveraging soothing harmonies and live instrumentation to express their grievances.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

BAMcinemaFest 2018

Madeline’s Madeline. Photo courtesy of Visit Films.
June 2018 sees the 10th edition of BAMcinemaFest, an essential selection of new American independent cinema from emerging and established filmmakers. The annual festival, which originally began as a partnership with the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, has blossomed into a force of its own, with critics describing it as “the best barometer of the climate of independent filmmaking in America” (The Village Voice).

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

2018 BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech

Ranky Tank. Photo courtesy the artists.
By Danny Kapilian

Way back on June 15, 1995, the BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech opened with the great Percy Sledge:

“When a man loves a woman
Can’t keep his mind on nothing else
He’ll trade the world
For the good thing he’s found”

Those universal words of love are where our journey began—and now, 240 live performances later, the BAM R&B Festival has sustained that musical message of love with the same deep soul throughout.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Beyond the Canon—Maliglutit + The Searchers

It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. Beyond the Canon is a monthly BAMcinématek series that seeks to question that history and broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic with a thematically or stylistically-related—and equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded from that discussion. This month’s double feature pairs Zacharias Kunuk and Natar Ungalaaq’s Maliglutit (2016) with John Ford’s The Searchers (1956).

Maliglutit (courtesy of Isuma) + The Searchers (courtesy of Warner Bros.)
By Jesse Wente

"I wanted it to be a western genre movie made entirely the Inuit way.” —Zacharius Kunuk

Despite rather obvious similarities, namely the title and central kidnapping plot, it is overly simplistic to describe Inuit directors Zacharius Kunuk’s and Nataar Ungaalaq’s Maliglutit (Searchers) as a remake of John Ford’s iconic western The Searchers. Even calling it a reimagining falls short of capturing how Kunuk’s film upends the very tradition that birthed a film such as Ford’s. To understand the key difference between the two is to confront the disparity in world view that exists between Indigenous peoples and the colonial nation states that now occupy their lands.

Friday, June 1, 2018

In Context: Love and Intrigue

Russia’s Maly Drama Theatre, led by the incomparable Lev Dodin, stages German playwright Friedrich Schiller’s 1787 tragedy of class warfare and courtly intrigue. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #LoveandIntrigue.

Remembering Robin Holland

Robin Holland. Photo courtesy the artist.

BAMcinemaFest pays tribute to photographer Robin Holland, who passed away early in 2018. Holland was a prolific and respected portrait photographer whose subjects included American and international independent filmmakers, award-winning actors, musicians and composers, dancers, artists, and more. Her work was featured on the Sundance Channel and at George Eastman House, MoMA PS1, the Berlin Film Festival, and New York Film Festival. From 2013 to 2017, Holland donated her time and incredible talent to BAM as the official portrait photographer for BAMcinemaFest. View her work at BAMcinemaFest, below.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

DanceAfrica Evolves

Abdel R. Salaam. Photo: Jack Vartoogian

By David Hsieh

For 40 years, the DanceAfrica Festival meant Baba Chuck Davis. As the founder and, until 2015, sole artistic director of the festival, he represented the festival, body and soul. With his 6-foot-5 height, booming voice, and regal dashikis, he was hard to miss on and off stage. Baba Chuck passed away at the age of 80 just before last year’s festival. His successor Abdel R. Salaam, is now writing the next chapter of this beloved tradition.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Eat, Drink AND Be Literary?

On Tue, May 29, we're pleased to welcome Valeria Luiselli–the Mexico City-born author of Tell Me How It Ends and The Story of My Teeth–to BAMcafé for our Eat, Drink & Be Literary series. For those of you who've never attended an EDBL before, we thought it'd be helpful to provide a short overview of the program so you'll know what to expect!

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

By Molly Silberberg

Picture being in your living room with your favorite author. Now add a dinner prepared for you, plentiful wine, a guest list that is taken care of, and an elegant room requiring no clean up by you. Get yourself to BAMcafé for Eat, Drink & Be Literary and you’re set for the evening!

Eat, Drink & Be Literary is not your average book event. Presented in partnership with the National Book Foundation, the series celebrates some of today’s leading authors in an intimate setting that turns the private act of reading into a shared moment of gathering.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

In Context: DanceAfrica

This year’s DanceAfrica performance offers a taste of the rhythm and spirit of South Africa, acknowledging Nelson Mandela’s centennial birthday and the contributions of freedom fighters past and present. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #DanceAfrica. Ago! Amée!

Friday, May 11, 2018

King Lear Community Chorus

Photo: Richard Termine

For last month's production of King Lear, members of the Royal Shakespeare Company traveled from London to perform at the BAM Harvey Theater. But many of the actors in the run came from just a train ride away—all non-speaking roles were cast locally via an open call to the BAM community and were filled by writers, students, BAM ushers, actors, and folks who hadn't performed in front of an audience in decades. We caught up with the members of the Community Chorus during the final week of the run to learn more about their experiences, backstage secrets, and which Lear characters they identify with most.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Beyond the Canon—The Watermelon Woman + Imitation of Life

The Watermelon Woman, courtesy of First Run Features; Imitation of Life, courtesy of Universal Pictures
It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. Beyond the Canon is a monthly series that seeks to question that history and broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic with a thematically or stylistically-related—and equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded from that discussion. This month’s double feature pairs Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman (1996) with John M. Stahl’s Imitation of Life (1934).

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Behind the Scenes—Gina Dyches Superstar!

Gina Dyches (front row, 3rd from right) with most of the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar
Live in Concert
. Photo courtesy the artist.
By David Hsieh

Gina Dyches is a special events coordinator at BAM and an accomplished violinist freelancing around New York City. What do the two jobs have in common? They both require “great organizational skills,” according to Gina. What about another? “They are the coolest!” A case in point: at BAM, she is helping to plan a gala honoring Jeremy Irons and Darren Aronofsky, but as a violinist, she played in one of the biggest TV events of the year—Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, which aired on Easter night on NBC. 

Playing a rock musical broadcast live on network television is not what Gina had dreamed of when she picked up a violin as a shy fourth grader in a Phoenix suburb public school. Nor was living in New York and working at one of the premier contemporary performing art presenters in the world! Gina tells us how she got here.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

In Context: Long Day's Journey Into Night

Sir Richard Eyre directs Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville in Eugene O’Neill’s devastating Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork about love, illness, and addiction. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #LongDaysJourneyIntoNight.

Friday, May 4, 2018

A Different Picture: Women Filmmakers in the New Hollywood Era

This month we're paying tribute to the true revolutionaries of the celebrated New Hollywood: the trailblazing women filmmakers who defied historic inequity to bring their stories to the screen.

Illustrator Nathan Gelgud highlights some of the filmmakers featured in A Different Picture: Women Filmmakers in the New Hollywood Era, 1967—1980 (through May 20 at BAM Rose Cinemas) below.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

What's BMAP?

Photo by Mikal Amin Lee
By Christian Barclay

BAM Education connects learning with creativity, engaging imagination by encouraging self-expression through in- and after-school programs for students and teachers; workshops; and offerings for audiences of all ages. In a continuing effort to develop arts-based, justice-oriented programs that promote engagement and empowerment for young people, BAM Education created the Black Male Achievement Program (BMAP) in 2013. The program, largely funded by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, was inspired by classroom discussions on media literacy, black male identity, and cultural representation.

BMAP functions as a co-teaching model, with two teaching artists working collaboratively in a classroom. During these twice-weekly sessions, the students develop writing, performance, and critical media literacy skills by mining popular cultural texts. In their studies of cultural representations––and misrepresentations––they begin to develop their own view on black masculinity. “This communication is the primary vehicle for critical investigations of the world we live in,” says Marcus Small, a current BMAP teaching artist. “It’s rare that males of color are able to engage in this dialogue absent of tension, danger, and unhealthy consequences.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Manville + Irons

Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville. Photo: Hugo Glendinning
By Harry Haun

In 1941, for their 12th wedding anniversary, Eugene O’Neill gave his wife Carlotta a gift that’s kept on giving—more to the world than to the wife: a quasi-autobiographical “play of old sorrow, written in tears and blood.” When Long Day’s Journey Into Night was publicly unwrapped at last on Broadway in 1956, it won the playwright—posthumously—his fourth Pulitzer Prize (more than anyone else) and his first Tony.

Generally regarded as O’Neill’s masterpiece, the drama has been consistently performed throughout the world. Two years ago, while Gabriel Byrne and a Tony-winning Jessica Lange were charging away on all cylinders in the play’s sixth Broadway production, director Richard Eyre was jump-starting a Bristol Old Vic edition in England with Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville. The trio recently reactivated that version on the West End at London’s Wyndham’s Theater and will be bringing it to the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater May 8—27.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Abdullah Ibrahim: An Illustrated Epistle for a Jazz Apostle

This week, we celebrate the Jazz Epistles—South Africa’s near-mythic bebop band—with two electrifying evenings of music co-presented by the World Music Institute. Each night, superstar pianist Abdullah Ibrahim will be joined on stage by his band, Ekaya, and special guests to play in honor of the revolutionary group he helped form, and in memory of the late great trumpeter Hugh Masekela, who recently passed away. 

The Jazz Epistles were South Africa’s first black jazz band, pioneering a new musical form influenced by bebop and traditional South African music. Inspired by Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, the troupe formed when the Dollar Brand Trio from Cape Town––including pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (“Dollar Brand”), bassist Johnny Gertze, and drummer Makaya Ntshoko––combined talents with alto saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, the late Masekela, and trombonist Jonas Gwangwa. Their first and only album, 1959's Jazz Epistle, Verse 1 brought them international acclaim. However, following the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre and the increasing oppression of the apartheid government (which included the prohibition of jazz music), the band was forced to disband as its members emigrated to Europe and North America. Two of them, Ibrahim and Masekela, would go on to become jazz stars in their own right.

In this series of illustrations, artist Nathan Gelgud pays homage to the Jazz Epistles pioneering bebop spirit.

In Context: The Jazz Epistles

Superstar pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, a revered figure in jazz for over six decades, comes to BAM for two nights only to commemorate the short-lived, near-mythical South African group the Jazz Epistles. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #JazzEpistles.

Friday, April 13, 2018

BAMcinématek's Beyond the Canon—One False Move + Touch of Evil

One False Move, courtesy Sony Pictures; Touch of Evil, courtesy Universal Pictures
It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. This monthly series seeks to question that history and broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic with a thematically or stylistically-related—and equally brilliant—work by a filmmaker traditionally excluded from that discussion.

This month’s double feature pairs Carl Franklin’s brilliant One False Move with Orson Welles’ classic Touch of Evil. Both films exemplify the film noir genre while also investigating interracial relationships on both an intimate and community-wide scale. Guest writer Michael Boyce Gillespie examines the genre and how it relates to, and was born out of, boundary crossing.

By Michael Boyce Gillespie

Film noir remains one of the richest and most difficult film categories to quantify. In More Than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts, James Naremore addresses the lack of a definitive consensus surrounding its origins and status as genre. He suggests that this indeterminacy represents a need to rethink noir and the idea of genre more broadly: “If we want to understand [film noir], or make sense of genres or art historical categories in general, we need to recognize that film noir belongs to the history of ideas as much as to the history of cinema; it has less to do with a group of artifacts than with a discourse—a loose, evolving system of arguments and readings, helping to shape commercial strategies and aesthetic ideologies.” To place Orson Welles’ A Touch of Evil (1958) and Carl Franklin’s One False Move (1992) together is to recognize the crucial ways that borders and crossings constitute a central concern of film noir as the history of an idea. Both screen at BAMcinématek on April 21.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Deluxe Treatment of Love and Intrigue at BAM

Elizaveta Boyarskaya and Danila Kozlovsky in Love and Intrigue. Photo: Viktor Vasiliev
By David Hsieh

Two young people, madly in love. Unfortunately unswayable disapproval from their parents would eventually lead to their tragic deaths. Is this the story of Romeo and Juliet? No. It is German playwright Friedrich Schiller’s 1787 play Kabale und Liebe (Love and Intrigue). The play is rarely seen in the United States (like almost all of Schiller’s work). But New York audiences will have the luck to see it twice this spring, although neither in its original format. St. Petersburg’s Maly Drama Theatre, which has been at BAM previously with four plays, will bring its Russian production to BAM from June 6—16. And before that, the Metropolitan Opera will mount Luisa Miller, an Italian opera by Verdi which was based on the same play. This production will be broadcast worldwide on April 14 and can be seen at BAM Rose Cinemas.

The doomed lovers in Schiller’s play are Ferdinand, son of the president of a small German duchy in the 18th century, and Luise Miller, daughter of a music teacher. For political reasons, President von Walter needs Ferdinand to marry Lady Milford, the ruling duke’s English mistress. Mr. Miller is also wary of this relationship because he does not believe a nobleman can love, let alone marry, a commoner and therefore is sympathetic to the pursuit by the president’s secretary, Wurm.

Monday, April 9, 2018

“Their own images of Africa": The cinema of Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, left, in Bye Bye Africa (1999).

By Ashley Clark

Although the cinema of Mahamat-Saleh Haroun is far less well-known in America than it should be, the Chadian filmmaker is one of the major contemporary filmmakers of the past two decades, crafting a remarkable body of absorbing, experimental, and politically resonant work. In the career-spanning series Mahamat-Saleh Haroun: Modern Griot—which opens with his latest film, the haunting, immigration-themed drama A Season in France (2017)—BAMcinématek is proud to present the first major New York retrospective of this trailblazing artist’s work in over 10 years April 20—25.

The enduring power of Haroun’s cinema is rooted in his own experiences. Having left his home country as a young man in the 1980s as it was being rent asunder by a brutal civil war, Haroun made his way to France, working as a journalist in Bordeaux before settling in Paris with only one thing in his pocket—the address of a Parisian film school. As Haroun explained to The Guardian, “My story sounds like fiction, but it's true. It was like I was a homeless person, and this school is where I belonged.” Haroun’s affinity with refugee life clearly informs A Season in France, screening for the first time in New York at BAM. This timely and understated film stars the brilliant Eriq Abouney as Abbas, a high-school teacher and father-of-two from the Central African Republic who flees his war-torn country for France, where he falls in love with a French woman (Sandrine Bonnaire) who offers a roof for him and his family.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Behind the Scenes—Coco Killingsworth

Photo: Jesse Winter
By Sandy Sawotka

In February 2017, BAM welcomed Coco Killingsworth as its new Vice President of Education and Community Engagement. A longtime Brooklyn resident, educator, parent, and dancer, she is ideally qualified to oversee two newly-merged BAM departments, education and community programs—areas of growth for the institution.

Killingsworth previously served as the deputy director/director of programs for Global Kids, Inc., managing school-based and after-school global education programs in 35 New York City public schools. She also developed a Brooklyn public high school—in concert with the Department of Education, Global Kids, teachers, and parents—featuring interactive curricula in global issues and after-school programs in arts and leadership. Coco was a principal dancer in Brooklyn-based ASE Dance Theater Collective and also a Charles H. Revson Fellow at Columbia University (2010—11). She earned a BA in history and African studies from UCLA and a master’s in education from Harvard University. Originally from Oakland, CA, she has made Brooklyn her home for 18 years.

“BAM is a special and beloved place in a fantastic borough,” Killingsworth said. “As always, but especially now, it’s important for young people, families, and community members to have opportunities to engage with and participate in the arts. I’d like to create more ways for BAM to be a welcoming institution for all.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

In Context: King Lear

The Royal Shakespeare Company returns to BAM Apr 7—29 with this unforgettable rendition of King Lear, starring Sir Antony Sher as the addled patriarch whose reign gives way to ruin.

Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #RSCKingLear.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Behind the Scenes with the Queen of Crowns

Photo by Andrew Fox, courtesy RSC
The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear, starring Antony Sher and directed by Gregory Doran, is at the BAM Harvey Theater from April 7 to 29.

By Christian Barclay

The RSC's archival collection includes more than 2,500 costumes, props, and designs dating from the 1800s to today. It offers an overview of the way theatrical performances have changed over time and how different directors and designers have approached Shakespeare’s work.

Few costumes carry the power of a crown––the gilded accessory that separates a commoner from a king. Kate Freshwater, the company’s senior milliner, talks about the creation of the company’s royal headwear.

How many crowns does the RSC have in its archive and when was the first one made?
We have 60 crowns in our special archive collection––in addition to the ones stored in our costume store, where there are numerous other crowns from past productions. The oldest one we know the confirmed date of was made in 1949 for a production of Macbeth. It was made for Diana Wynyard, who played Lady Macbeth.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

In Context: Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls)

Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls), a multimedia retelling of a ancient Central Asian epic, comes to the BAM Harvey Theater for two nights. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #QyrqQyz and @BAM_Brooklyn.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Apartheid Swing: The Jazz Epistles’ Short-Lived Success

Superstar pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, a revered figure in jazz for over six decades, comes to BAM for two nights only to commemorate the short-lived, near-mythical South African group the Jazz Epistles. Below, learn more about the history of his group in the context of apartheid–and why the government elected to shut it down.

A teenage Hugh Masekela admires the shine of his trumpet, 1956
By Robert Jackson Wood

A “popular, sex-stimulating music” that gratifies “the baser impulses” and “penetrates the soul quicker than more advanced forms.” That was jazz in 1955, at least as described by Dr. Yvonne Huskisson, one of the main gatekeepers of culture in apartheid-era South Africa. She didn’t mean it as a good thing. For a government intent on repressing black unity to preserve white minority rule, any music with such a capacity to rouse—particularly one that symbolized racial integration—was considered a threat. Apartheid meant “separateness,” and it was only four years later, in 1959, that the government would begin forcibly segregating black South Africans by ethnic group, relocating them to the townships or to one of 10 different Bantustans, or “homelands,” far from their actual homes. Encourage allegiance to tribe and not nation, the thinking went, and dissent could be minimized. Jazz was out; the indigenous music of the tribes, disseminated by state-controlled radio stations, was in.

Yet there were the Jazz Epistles, breaking attendance records in Cape Town and Sophiatown, playing to mixed audiences, and making them swoon. Composed of Abdullah Ibrahim a.k.a. Dollar Brand (piano), Hugh Masekela (trumpet), Kippie Moeketsi (alto saxophone), Jonas Gwangwa (trombone), Johnny Gertze (bass), Early Mabuza (drums), and Makaya Ntshoko (drums), the group had formed as an offshoot of two other pioneering all-black South African groups that had somehow managed to thrive: the popular vocal outfit Manhattan Brothers, which featured a young Miriam Makeba, and the pit band for the jazz musical King Kong, about the life of boxer Ezekiel Dlamini.

Friday, March 9, 2018

In Context: Cellular Songs

Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #CellularSongs.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

BAMcinématek's Beyond the Canon—Les Saignantes + A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange and Les Saignantes. Photos courtesy Warner Bros. / Quartier Mozart Films
It is no secret that the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. This monthly series seeks to question that history and broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic (A Clockwork Orangewith a thematically or stylistically-related—and equally brilliant—work (Les Saignantesby a filmmaker traditionally excluded from that discussion.

By Violet Lucca

There’s youthful indiscretion, and then there’s the darkly comic delinquency on display in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s Les Saignantes (The Bloodettes), which has the ability to turn the world upside down. With titles that associate their young protagonists with a subversive juiciness, both films comment upon the present through fiction set in the future. In these artful visions of “the same but worse,” ineffectual, corrupt governments have overstretched themselves to the point of controlling the brains and bodies of their citizens—solutions that solve nothing at all. Although one openly lampoons the failed utopianism of Welfare State Behaviorism and the other covertly carves out dissent inside a post-colonial kleptocracy, it’s the violence, sexiness, quick-wittedness, and wildness of youth that breaks down these zombified orders.

Monday, March 5, 2018

In Context: RadioLoveFest

Context is everything, so get even closer to this year's RadioLoveFest with a curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #RadioLoveFest.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Playing Lear

Antony Sher as King Lear, Graham Turner as the Fool. Photo by Ellie Kurttz
By Christian Barclay

Shakespeare’s tragic monarch is one of the most coveted roles in the classical theater canon–– and it is also one of the most demanding. King Lear’s delirious journey through the play calls for an actor who can plumb the depths of human suffering, portraying a betrayal of both the body and the mind. It has challenged no lesser actors than Laurence Olivier, Paul Scofield, Geoffrey Rush, and in recent seasons at BAM, Frank Langella, Derek Jacobi, and Ian McKellen.

The process that goes into inhabiting a character like Lear is often all-encompassing. For Antony Sher, the acclaimed British actor who will portray the monarch in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s King Lear (April 7–29 at the BAM Harvey), the work took a familiar form––he wrote a book. Sher has documented his character development for several of his roles with the RSC. The books read like diaries, covering not just in-depth rehearsal work, but the everyday occurrences that can lead to unexpected insights.

Year of the Mad King: The Lear Diaries (Nick Hern Books) begins during the summer of 2015 and covers the year-long process of bringing the monarch to life. (A doubly difficult effort considering Sher was also playing Falstaff in the RSC’s King and Country history play cycle (BAM, 2016) during the same time; he received rave reviews in the role.) Here are some excerpts from the soon to be published book.

Performance as a Life Science

Photo: Julieta Cervantes
By Bonnie Marranca

“As artists, we’re all contending with what to do at a time like this. I wanted to make a piece that can be seen as an alternative possibility of human behavior, where the values are cooperation, interdependence, and kindness, as an antidote to the values that are being propagated right now.” After a half-century as an influential figure in the creation of contemporary performance culture, Meredith Monk goes right to the heart of the challenge.

Her spare new work, Cellular Songs, is conceived for five women performers—Monk and her vocal ensemble consisting of Katie Geissinger, Allison Sniffin, Ellen Fisher, and Jo Stewart. Dressed in layers of white and beige-toned clothes, the women sing, dance, play the piano together, and lie on the floor, all the while modeling behavior of care, comfort, companionship, and collaboration. Glorious colors of sound arise from the intricate musical textures. The only words of the piece are in Monk’s song of wisdom, “Happy Woman.” Bodies alone make the landscape.

Cellular Songs inhabits its own special realm of music-theater in its soulful interweaving of music, theater, image, and movement. Monk describes her process in spatial terms: “Some of the pieces have much more dissonance and chromatic kind of harmonies, and the forms are almost like three-dimensional sculptures. Earlier, my music had much more to do with layering. Now you can almost see or hear the piece rotating as if it were a sculpture in space, though it’s just a musical form.” A visual architecture is built into its rigorous structure, which may look deceptively simple. The 75-minute work is scored for piano, keyboard, and violin and the shimmering chorus of women’s voices that animate the space.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Behind the Scenes—Noel Vega, BAM ticket services

Noel Vega. Photo: David Hsieh
Noel Vega is a grandfather, a writer, a life-long Brooklynite, and a 20-year-old veteran of BAM’s ticket services. The staff of ticket services has grown three-fold since he started in 1997, forcing it to move out the Peter Jay Sharp Building to larger offices in downtown Brooklyn. Technological advancements have made remote working possible. But the core of the work remains the same: to ensure ticket buyers have the best answers to their questions, whether by phone or by email. Vega tells us how that’s done.

David Hsieh: What does the ticket services job encompass?

Noel Vega: Our responsibilities include taking orders from people, answering their questions about current and upcoming events, giving them suggestions on where to eat, park, directions to the theaters, etc. People call us for everything—I can’t buy a ticket on the Website, I can’t use my ticket tonight, what do I do? What movie is playing?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Introducing Beyond the Canon

BAM’s senior programmer of cinema Ashley Clark talks about the impulse behind this new, monthly repertory event. Screenings take place at BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Avenue.

Chantal Akerman on the set of Golden Eighties

Starting in February, BAMcinématek invites audiences on a journey beyond the canon. Through a new monthly program, we investigate and challenge how traditional histories of cinema—best-of lists, awards, academic recognition, films deemed worthy of “serious” discussion—have tended to skew toward lionizing the contribution of the white male auteur while overshadowing other groups.

Beyond the Canon will feature two films back-to-back, in an old-school double-bill format. The second film to screen will be an established, well-known classic, more than likely directed by a white male. It will be preceded by a stylistically or thematically linked film that is directed by a filmmaker from an oft-marginalized group: women, people of color, queer people, and the intersections thereof. 

It is worth making one point clearly. There is no slight intended on these canonical titles—they are great films crafted by eminently skilled filmmakers, and they have unquestionably been formative in our film education: that’s why the series is not called “Destroy the Canon”! Rather, a key aim of this program is to place the films in dialogue with each other, spark ideas and discussion, highlight some overlooked gems of world cinema, and provoke thought about how a future, more equitable canon might look. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fight the Power: Black Superheroes Trading Cards

This February, we celebrate the under-appreciated black screen heroes and heroines who challenged the establishment power structures through their sheer existence. From blaxploitation icons to supernatural avengers to anti-colonial outlaws, Fight the Power: Black Superheroes on Film spotlights industry-defying images of black heroism and empowerment in films that are as socially and politically subversive as they are downright fun.

To kick off the series, we collaborated with illustrator Nathan Gelgud to create ten digital trading cards for some of the films' superheroes. Catch them in action Feb 2—18 at BAM.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Wendy's Subway Wrap-Up

Our stages may be dark, but there's still plenty going on here in Fort Greene. The Wendy's Subway Reading Room, for instance, remains on display through this coming Sunday, January 28 and is FREE and open to the public all weekend from 12—5pm. The space, located in the BAM Fisher Lower Lobby at 321 Ashland Place, features literature selected by international, independent, and artist-run libraries, as well as a collection of books selected by last season's Next Wave Festival performers and visual artists. Below, we highlight some of our favorite pieces from the visual and performing artist-curated reading lists. For highlights from donating libraries, be sure to peruse the #WSxBAM hashtag on Instagram.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Qyrq Qyz—Ancient Girl Power, Rejuvenated

Qyrq Qyz. Photo courtesy the artists.
By David Hsieh

Central Asia is landlocked and perennially contested. Containing an area of roughly 1.5 million square miles, it is hemmed in by Russia, China, the South Asia subcontinent, and the Middle East, with some of the most arid places on earth. Deserts and nomadic life have been co-dependent through human history. No wonder this region has produced some of the fiercest warriors on horseback that humankind has known. 

Even though for at least 1000 years Central Asia has been at the crossroads of the east and west, people outside the region seem to know more about what passed through it (Roman coins, Persian glasses, Byzantine icons, Islamism, Buddhism, silk, tea, etc.) than what was produced within it (except, perhaps, those unstoppable warriors). Fortunately scholars, artists, museums, and institutions have begun to correct the ignorance in recent years, most noticeably through the Silk Road Project founded by Yo-Yo Ma. Another piece of knowledge will be proffered when BAM presents a major multimedia music work called Qyrq Qyz (Forty Girls) in March, 2018.

Friday, January 12, 2018

MLK Comes to BK

This coming Monday, January 15, activists, intellectuals, civic leaders, and artists will gather at BAM for the city’s largest public celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2018 marks the 32nd year of this event, but the revolutionary leader has been celebrated in the county that bears his name since the 60s. Dr. King had deep ties to New York City, and visited Brooklyn in 1963 to deliver a sermon at the historic Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights.

Below, illustrator Nathan Gelgud explores Dr. King's 1963 Brooklyn speech and the legacy of the church that helped give voice to the iconic "I Have a Dream" speech.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Black Superheroes on Film

Tamara Dobson in Cleopatra Jones. Photo courtesy Warner Bros./Photofest
By Maureen Masters

Taking inspiration from this winter’s release of Disney’s Black Panther, BAMcinématek presents Fight the Power: Black Superheroes on Film, February 2—18. Drawing from the more daring elements of science fiction, comic book, and Blaxploitation films, the series includes 27 features and a shorts program highlighting the tenacious spirit of black fictional characters while reimagining the textbook definition of superheroes.

The series is programmed by BAMcinématek Senior Programmer Ashley Clark. “Marvel’s Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed), is one of the most hotly anticipated blockbusters of the year,” says Clark, “and is rightly seen as a new high watermark in the representation of black characters in the fantasy genre.”

Monday, January 1, 2018

A New Year's Wish

Photo: Mike Benigno
New Year’s Day is traditionally a day on which we look back and look ahead. We consider the importance of good friends and family, and also assess what we hope to improve—in our lives, our communities, and the world. The first day of a new year always presents a fresh start in our efforts to work toward a better future.

This past year has been a difficult one for so many. Global, national, and local communities have experienced natural disasters, terrible acts of violence, insecurity and fear. Indeed, there are so many people today who find themselves vulnerable. At such time, BAM reaffirms its commitment to being an open and inclusive place, one that respects multiple voices, cultures, and beliefs.

Complex problems can’t be sorted out easily or immediately. What we can do is to offer our home as a place for consciousness raising and communal gathering. Whether by hearing from thought-leaders, engaging in discussion, or by exposure to a variety of artists’ perspectives on our society—expressed on film or on stage—there is strength and support in those moments when we gather knowledge and clarity.

BAM is a home for adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas. To us, adventurousness is showing compassion in the face of hate, courage in the face of adversity, and open-mindedness in the face of ignorance and uncertainty. It’s providing artistic work that both provokes and consoles, which questions preconceptions and opens our minds to ideas beyond our comfort zone or familiarity—and which provides a forum for those voices not often heard, for the widest audience we can reach.

I wish you peace and happiness in 2018, and hope to see you at BAM.

Katy Clark
BAM President