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Friday, June 28, 2013

BAMcinemaFest Brooklyn Map

by Andrew Chan

We've finally arrived at the closing night of the fifth annual BAMcinemaFest, so it seems like a perfect time to express how proud we are to have showcased such a diverse array of Brooklyn talent and to have been hailed by The L Magazine as a "hometown festival." So many of the filmmakers who were a part of our line-up this year have called BAM their favorite local movie theater and have packed our festival screenings with family, friends, and collaborators. While a handful of films took place in various locations in Brooklyn (It Felt Like Love and Mother of George among them), we've mapped out where these local filmmakers call home to give you a visual representation of the exciting creative community residing in our borough.

Hover over the map below and click on the white dots for Q&As with the different Brooklyn filmmakers.

Directors Lana Wilson & Martha Shane
Lana lives in Ditmas Park
Directors Lana Wilson & Martha Shane
Martha lives in Prospect Heights
Director Andrew Dosunmu
Lives in Downtown Brooklyn
Director Sebastien Silva
Lives in Fort Greene
Director Zach Clark
Lives in Greenpoint
Director Ben Nabors
Lives in Greenpoint
Director Shaka King
Lives in Bed Stuy/Bushwick
Director Nick Bentgen
and Producer Lisa Kjerulff
Live in Crown Heights
Director Omar Mullick
Lives in Fort Greene
(co-director Bassam Tariq lives in Queens)
Director Eliza Hittman
Lives in Gravesend
Directors Jeff Reichert & Farihah Zaman
Live in Park Slope

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

BAMcinemaFest 2013: Q&A with Destin Cretton

by Andrew Chan

This year we round out our BAMcinemaFest line-up with our Closing Night selection, Destin Cretton's Short Term 12, which won the Narrative Feature Grand Jury Award at SXSW and just racked up another prize at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Boasting acclaimed performances from United States of Tara's Brie Larson and The Newsroom's John Gallagher, this powerful drama captures life within a foster care facility, slowly uncovering the troubled past of a 20-something counselor who has a knack for connecting with her at-risk patients. Filmmaker Destin Cretton speaks with us about the filmmaking process, his upbringing in Maui, and what he's been watching recently.

Short Term 12 screens on BAMcinemaFest Closing Night on Friday, June 28.

1. When and how did you come to know you wanted to make movies?

I grew up in a small town on Maui called Haiku. Our TV could only catch three channels and my parents didn’t let us watch it much, so it forced my five siblings and me to be outside a lot, creating our own entertainment. We loved making plays and dance routines and choreographed ninja fights. Then my grandma let us borrow her VHS camcorder for a weekend, and we were hooked. I’m not sure if we ever gave it back.

In Context: Kate's Kids

Kate's Kids, Rufus and Martha Wainwright's musical tribute to their legendary mother, comes to the Howard Gilman Opera House on Wednesday, June 26. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of articles, videos, and original blog pieces related to the show. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech:
Stooges Brass Band

By Robert Wood

The BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech—BAM's free summertime showcase of heavy hitters from R&B, reggae, funk, and other genres—runs this year through August 8, with concerts happening (almost) every Thursday at noon. That means lunchtime for most, so for the full MetroTech experience, we suggest bringing takeout from a nearby restaurant and making an afternoon (or a long lunch break) out of it. Check back every week for these previews, which will also suggest appropriate eats to enjoy along with the music, and pigeons, in Downtown Brooklyn.

Stooges Brass Band
Thu, Jun 27 at 12pm
MetroTech Commons | map

In a nutshell:
A tuba-driven brass outfit that nudges the exuberant New Orleans parade sound squarely into R&B and hip-hop territory.

Straight-up Mardi Gras parade music, hip-hop over tuba bass, R&B

What to Know:
They recently won the Best Brass Band title at New Orleans’ Red Bull Street Kings Contest. But what’s really impressive about this group is how nimbly they go from more traditional second-line sounds (like this) to songs that could easily top the R&B and hip-hop charts (like this). Hardly a French Quarter tourist attraction, this band is a living, breathing embodiment of a new New Orleans.

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Alfred Hitchcock

by Cynthia Lugo

Always remember to signal: Hitch at Cannes.

From the cool blonde to the wrong man, Hitchcock's influence on culture is inescapable. With the recent biopic Hitchcock, the television series Bates Motel, and Vertigo overtaking Citizen Kane as the greatest film of all time, Hitchcock fever has reached an all-time high.  Yet much of the public is unaware of his prolific silent output, and these films have lapsed in relative obscurity compared to his later work.

With The Hitchcock 9, the British Film Institute gives these films their rightful due. The series boasts all nine of Hitchcock’s surviving silents, painstakingly restored with newly commissioned scores. For film lovers, this series offers the chance to analyze the artistic development of one of world's most important directors.

In honor of The Hitchcock 9, here are nine things you may not have known about the Master of Suspense.

1. He started working in the film industry as a title designer on silent films in 1919—ironically at an American film studio that would later become the London branch of Paramount pictures.

2. He made the first British talkie, Blackmail, in 1929. You can watch a hilarious sound test with Hitch and the leading lady here.

BAMcinemaFest 2013: Q&A with Shaka King

by Allison Kadin

Already named a “rising star of Sundance” (ScreenDaily), Shaka King just keeps getting higher. His debut feature, Newlyweeds, “a charming independent venture that takes chances,” (Indiewire) will be released by Phase 4 Films this September. Come take the first hit of this romantic comedy on June 28 for its New York premiere at BAMcinemaFest. 

Lyle and Nina are living the modern Brooklyn dream: drifting from mediocre day jobs into languid, plant-enhanced nights. While a tale centered on hazy, young Brooklynites may feel familiar to BAM locals, the film reveals the less than idyllic results of a relationship built on smoky foundations. In this  Q&A, find out why King shirked being an “underpaid, overworked, New York City educator” to direct stoner romcoms and develop a TV series about a teenage contract killer.

1. When and how did you come to know you wanted to make movies?

During my senior year of college I made a short documentary called Stolen Moments about rap, race, and capitalism. The film sampled clips from music videos and movies (Transformers, Bush Mama by Haile Gerima) juxtaposed with original interviews. I remember sitting with my then and present editor, Kristan Sprague, having such a blast as we manipulated what at the time was an imaginary audience. From that moment it was on.

Monday, June 24, 2013

BAMcinemaFest 2013: Q&A with Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq

by Andrew Chan

Listed by Filmmaker magazine as two of "25 New Faces" on the cinema landscape in 2012, Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq have crafted one of the most visually breathtaking films in this year's BAMcinemaFest line-up. Originally intended as a portrait of revered Pakistani humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi, These Birds Walk evolved during the filmmaking process into a heartbreaking but life-affirming chronicle of youth, poverty, and street life in Karachi. In the Q&A below, the directors talk about their influences, the difficulties of shooting in a foreign country, and their favorite recent films.

These Birds Walk screens in BAMcinemaFest on Wednesday, June 26.

1. When and how did you come to know you wanted to make movies?

Omar: I always loved movies and thought I knew what they were about, but a good friend in college showed me Husbands by John Cassavetes. Like many people seeing his films for the first time, I found it unwatchable; but I couldn't shake it off and the second time I tried, I thought it a miracle. I walked home knowing I wanted to go for that—whatever it was he was going for.

Bassam: I was a poor college student trying to find ways to make money. I picked up a friend’s camera and started doing small promotional videos. From those small non-profit videos, I learned how to edit and shoot video. I realized I was finding cool ways to tell these otherwise really boring stories. Around then, the idea of making films seemed a little more possible.

Q&A with Martha and Rufus Wainwright

Rufus & Martha Wainwright. Photo: Lian Lunson

The musical world of Kate McGarrigle will be celebrated in Kate’s Kids: An Evening of Music with Rufus and Martha Wainwright, a concert with special guests including Emmylou Harris and Norah Jones, on June 26 at the Howard Gilman Opera House. On June 25, Sing Me The Songs That Say I Love You, a film tribute to McGarrigle directed by Lian Lunson, will be screened at BAM Rose Cinemas. Proceeds benefit the Kate McGarrigle Foundation. BAMbill asked the siblings a few questions.

How did your mother influence the music you create?
Martha Wainwright: In every way, really, even if in a reactionary way... Kate and Anna’s [her sister] style of music—their taste, their influences, their voices, and the chords—were what music is and was. I sound like Kate sometimes, which always makes me happy. I was purposely different than them when I started writing music because I knew I had to be.

Rufus Wainwright: She noticed that Martha and I, both at an extremely young age, showed talent, and proceeded to nurture it. In her dreams I imagine she would have liked us to be doctors or mathematicians (she had a degree in science) but having heard the little voices, she knew!

How did you decide who you wanted to participate in Kate’s Kids?
Rufus: It’s a very interesting lineup; it really spans her whole career. Emmylou Harris she worked with in the beginning, Norah Jones in middle age, and Mark Ronson she only met once or twice. It shows the expanse of her musical life.

Emmylou is our soul mother and Norah a soul sister, perfect for the family vibe that we always want to achieve and that we can’t seem to shake. Of course these two ladies are also in the film so it’s a way to connect back to the film and gel these nights together completely.

How have musicians responded to participating in this production at BAM?
Rufus: Everyone really loved my mom; even if you didn’t know her that well she left an idelible impression. Her music has that same unique effect, the songs stay with you. I imagine the musicians are pretty thrilled with such fine material.

Martha: Everyone is excited to play BAM. The room is so beautiful and it’s a big honor for everyone involved. Of course Rufus has a history with BAM and I live just down the road!

BAMcinemaFest 2013: Q&A with Nick Bentgen & Lisa Kjerulff

by Allison Kadin

The crunch of snow, the fast-paced breathing of a runner on a winter’s night, the slow buzz of a snowmobile racing across the white expanse—these are the sounds and images that give Northern Light its impact. Without voiceovers or interviews, the film does all the talking. The annual snowmobile marathon in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula frames a moving portrait of middle-class America, where the quotidian is at once exciting and pointless. 

From the Sunshine State to the frigid landscape of a Midwest winter, producer Lisa Kjerulff had to make some big adjustments while making Northern Light, including purchasing her inaugural pair of snow pants. She and first-time director, Nick Bentgen, remained true to the vérité documentary style despite frozen temps and close to frozen bank accounts. With the help of a successful Kickstarter, the film came to fruition and recently received the Most Innovative Feature at Visions du Réel Festival. Check out their Q&A below where they expound on the process of making a documentary without an initially defined plotline.

1. When and how did you come to know you wanted to make movies?

Nick Bentgen: I saw T2 and became obsessed.

Lisa Kjerulff: When I was growing up, my dad was a steadicam operator before he started his own video production company and my mom was always behind the VHS camcorder directing my brother and sisters and me, narrating everything we did. So making movies has always been a part of my life, nothing else ever made as much sense.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

BAMcinemaFest: Q&A with Zach Clark

by Susan Yung

How is it that around the holidays you can be surrounded by cheerful humanity and yet feel utterly alone? Zach Clark's White Reindeer (screening June 23 as part of BAMcinemaFest) stars Anna Margaret Hollyman (Gayby) as a Virginia real estate agent dealing with personal tragedy at the worst time of year. She strains to put on a good front in her encounters with swinging neighbors, strip joints, and garish department stores. It's a subversive look at this emotionally fraught season and the desperate measures people take in search of fulfillment. Drawing comparisons to the films of Douglas Sirk and John Waters, White Reindeer was an official selection at SXSW and winner of Best Feature at the Boston Underground Film Festival. Zach Clark reveals his cinematic inspirations and details about his newest project.

1. When and how did you come to know you wanted to make movies?
I saw Tim Burton's Ed Wood when I was 12 and started renting from an indie video store when I was about 14. I got into cult movies, Euro-art-house, and auteur Hollywood stuff and around that time inherited my grandfather's video camera. Haven't stopped since.

BAMcinemaFest 2013: Q&A with Ben Nabors

by Claire Frisbie

In 2001, Malawian teenager William Kamkwamba built a windmill from scrap metal and a worn out tractor blade, bringing electricity to his town of sixty families. This caught the eyes of the TEDGlobal conference, and specifically an American entrepreneur named Tom Rielly, who took William under his wing and transformed him into a media darling with a bestselling memoir, a movie deal, and a scholarship to Dartmouth.

In his beautifully shot documentary William and the Windmill, Brooklyn filmmaker Ben Nabors follows William and Tom for five years, focusing less on William's initial accomplishment and more on his subsequent growth and struggles, and the crucial role Tom has played throughout. Through interviews with William, Tom, William's family, teachers, and others, the film touches upon numerous issues surrounding activism and aid in developing countries, Western interpretations of success, and the complicated pressures and expectations that come with fame.

William and the Windmill received the SXSW Grand Jury Prize for best documentary, and screens this Saturday at BAMcinemaFest at 1:30pm. Nabors will participate in a Q&A following the screening.

1. When and how did you come to know you wanted to make movies?
I always wanted to make movies but I never considered it to be a realistic option. Making movies seemed too far-fetched, or too fantastic. I grew up in a small town, and that probably checked my aspirations a bit; people didn't make movies where I lived. Storytelling, in the general sense, seemed like a more tangible goal, so I spent my time writing rather than using the family camcorder. When I moved to New York in 2004, filmmaking was more of a reality.

Friday, June 21, 2013

BAMcinemaFest 2013: Q&A with Michael Bilandic

By Nathan Gelgud

Is director Michael Bilandic the Kanye West of movies? Well, he certainly could have called his latest comedy My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Actually, he probably couldn’t have called it beautiful: While rapper West polishes his blemishes until they look like gems, Hellaware is rough enough to scrape the eyeballs. While shot by skilled cinematographer Sean Price Williams (who lensed BAMcinemaFest favorite The Color Wheel), it sometimes looks like it was filmed with outdated technology by a demented amateur. In a good way. Sort of.

More importantly, like His Yeeziness, Bilandic makes stuff that you feel he had to make. He makes images and tells jokes that are struggling to get out of him. Sometimes with other young filmmakers it seems that they decide to make a movie first, then figure out what it should be about. Not Bilandic—he’s a filmmaker possessed. The rough look of Bilandic’s work feels both like a result of its urgency and a considered aesthetic decision. In this Q&A, finding out that the culture he most wants to contribute to consists of movies like Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid and Sleepaway Camp III confirms this impression.

Hellaware has its world premiere at BAMcinemaFest on Saturday, June 22.

1. When and how did you come to know you wanted to make movies?

Hanging out at Tower Video in junior high, seeing VHS boxes for movies like Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid, Kamikaze '89, Liquid Sky, and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland. I knew I wanted to contribute to that culture... And I still do!

BAMcinemaFest 2013 Opening Night Party

Film artists and aficionados alike flocked to the Harvey Theater and Skylight One Hanson last night for the opening night of BAMcinemaFest 2013, the fifth anniversary of the annual festival.

The evening began with the premiere of David Lowery’s gritty drama Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, starring Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, and Ben Foster. Audiences were also introduced to the brand-new Steinberg Screen, BAM’s newest artistic expansion, which transforms the historic Harvey Theater into Brooklyn’s largest movie palace.

Guests watching the premiere of Ain't Them Bodies Saints on the brand new Steinberg Screen in the Harvey Theater
After the film, guests were ushered down the street to Skylight One Hanson where they were treated to a fair-themed extravaganza in the beautiful and unique venue. DJ Monk-One set the tone with an eclectic mix of dance music while partygoers snacked on the sweet and savory treats displayed in the candy bar at the center of the room. Décor designer Fleurs Bella mixed towering greens and enormous blooms with silver balloons, and caterer Great Performances served up pulled pork sliders and nachos.

BAMcinemaFest 2013: Q&A with Martha Shane and Lana Wilson

by Jessica Goldschmidt

After Tiller is the feature-length directing debut of Martha Shane and Lana Wilson, two Brooklyn-based filmmakers and friends who teamed up to chronicle the abortion-rights battle. The film follows the only four doctors left in the US who still perform third-trimester abortions, painting a wrenchingly honest, unbiased portrait of the dangers they and their patients have faced every day since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in 2009.

After Tiller screens at BAMcinemaFest on Saturday, June 22.

1. When and how did you come to know you wanted to make movies?

Martha: I decided that I wanted to make movies when I was working on Bi the Way, a documentary that I started producing the year after I graduated from college. I was standing in a field full of longhorn steer, asking a rancher about his opinions on bisexuality, and I just couldn't think of anywhere I'd rather be.

Lana: I had always fantasized about becoming a filmmaker one day, but had never had the courage to act on it. In 2009, I became obsessed with why the news media was only covering the Dr. Tiller assassination story in such a polarizing, political way, always painting him as this dramatic symbol of controversy rather than as a complex human being. I started asking myself, “When is someone going to make a film that looks at this Tiller stuff in a different way?” I was ranting endlessly about how someone should do this Tiller film, when finally my exasperated then-boyfriend said, “Lana, the only thing stopping you from becoming a filmmaker is just making a film.” It turns out that he was right.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

BAMcinemaFest 2013: Q&A with Eliza Hittman

by Andrew Chan

This year's BAMcinemaFest lineup features an incredibly strong selection of films about adolescence, each told from its own unique perspective. Eliza Hittman's South Brooklyn-set debut feature, It Felt Like Love, has already earned praise from The New Yorker for its "incisive and surprising dialogue... quietly vulnerable performances, and well-conceived and emotionally demanding way with the camera." Bringing to the American indie an emotional intensity reminiscent of great European filmmakers like Maurice Pialat and Catherine Breillat, the film burrows into the subjective experience of its young heroine, fearlessly evoking the turmoil of adolescent sexuality. In this Q&A, Hittman discusses her experience as a first-time filmmaker and the challenges of depicting such sensitive subject matter.

It Felt Like Love screens in BAMcinemaFest on Friday, June 21.

1. When and how did you come to know you wanted to make movies?

I started out working in theater, directing small, unconventional plays in New York. I knew I had an interest and passion for directing, but my enthusiasm for theater died. I always loved American independent film. I used to cut classes in high school and see movies by myself at the Angelika. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was exposed to a few Columbia student short films. I was really tempted to make something, but I was intimidated by the technical side of filmmaking. I had also never written anything before. I decided to go to graduate school at CalArts, to challenge myself and see if I could make films.

BAMcinemaFest 2013: Q&A with Farihah Zaman

By Cynthia Lugo

Remote Area Medical is a film that captures, with brutal honesty, the sickening reality of uninsured patients who rely on a pop-up medical clinic set up annually at Bristol, Tennessee's NASCAR speedway. Filmed over a three-day period, the husband and wife team Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman chose to concentrate on the emotional stories of individuals who cannot afford basic medical and dental care. It is through these troubling stories that the larger problems of the American healthcare system come into laser-like focus.

Zaman was kind enough to answer a few questions for us in advance of the screening on Sunday, June 23 at 1:30pm. Directors Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman will participate in a Q&A.

1. When and how did you come to know you wanted to make movies?

Both of us had a love of cinema from a very young age. My parents were into old Bollywood movies, but I felt like my eyes were really opened when they showed my sisters and I the films of Satyajit Ray. Jeff’s parents owned a small art house movie theater when he was growing up, and from the tender age of eight he would help out, taking tickets and ushering in audiences.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BAMcinemaFest 2013: Q&A with Matthew Porterfield

By Alexandra Siladi

I Used to Be Darker, director Matthew Porterfield’s deceptively delicate portrait of divorce, captures a feeling of June gloom in the best possible way. Co-written by Amy Belk and Matthew Porterfield, the film tells the story of runaway Taryn (played by lithe newcomer, Canadian actress Deragh Campbell), who shows up unexpectedly at her aunt and uncle’s house, not knowing she has arrived right in the middle of their separation. Much like the filmmaker’s previous critical success Putty Hill (which screened in BAMcinemaFest 2010), the cast is comprised of actors whose lives become intertwined with those of their characters, so that the boundaries of reality and fiction are blurred.

The songs created by the film’s stars and accomplished real life musicians Kim Taylor and Ned Oldham fit perfectly into the story of the couple they play, a pair of artists whose heartbreaking music provides an understated backdrop that blends seamlessly into the film’s emotional score. Taryn and her cousin Abby, played by Deragh’s real life best friend Hannah Gross, attempt to navigate the confusion of reconnecting and disconnecting. Dreamily shot by Jeremy Saulnier, the Baltimore summer landscape is a satisfying contrast to the darkness embraced in this unique family drama.

I Used to Be Darker screens at BAMcinemafest on Friday, June 21. The screening will be followed by a live concert with star Kim Taylor at BAMcafé. The film will be released by Strand later this year. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

BAMcinemaFest 2013: Q&A with Chad Hartigan

by Andrew Chan

A hit on this year’s festival circuit and the winner of the Best of NEXT Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Chad Hartigan’s sophomore feature This Is Martin Bonner has earned praise for its “evanescent, secular spirituality” (Variety) and “empathetic honesty” (The Hollywood Reporter). The tale of a divorced, middle-aged Australian expat adrift in his new adopted home of Reno, the film chronicles his unexpected, fast-growing friendship with a just-released felon and the kinship they share in their sense of loss. Hartigan, who will participate in a Q&A after the screening of his film at BAMcinemaFest this week, took the time to answer some of our questions:

1. When and how did you come to know you wanted to make movies?
It was really while attending North Carolina School of the Arts for undergrad film school. In high school, I was really into theater and wanted to be a movie star but had no interest in going to college for acting, so I went to film school as a backdoor way into film acting. But then I actually fell in love with the process of directing and my good looks started to fade anyway so it worked out great.

2. What would you be doing if you weren't a filmmaker?
My dream was to always be a professional soccer player. I grew up in Europe and have always loved the game, but I stopped playing when we moved to the States because I got asthma from the humidity in Virginia. So if film or the arts weren't an option, I would definitely try to find work in the football world. I still aim to one day make the first great soccer film.

Monday, June 17, 2013

BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech Preview:
Kaleta & Zozo Afrobeat

By Robert Wood

The BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech—BAM's free summertime showcase of heavy hitters from R&B, reggae, funk, and other genres—runs this year until August 8, with concerts happening (almost) every Thursday at noon. That means lunchtime for most, so for the full MetroTech experience, we suggest bringing takeout from a nearby restaurant and making an afternoon (or a long lunch break) out of it. Check back every week for these previews, which will also suggest appropriate eats to enjoy along with the music, and pigeons, in Downtown Brooklyn.

Kaleta & Zozo Afrobeat
Thu, Jun 20 at 12pm
MetroTech Commons | map

In a nutshell:
A 13-member Afrobeat ensemble in the tradition of the great, politically outspoken Nigerian bands from the 70s and 80s.

Afrobeat, Nigerian juju, highlife, funk

What to Know:
The group’s leader, the Benin-born singer and guitarist Kaleta, grew up playing guitar in Fela Kuti and King Sunny Adé’s bands. In other words, Zozo's music has been washed in the blood of the Nigerian groove gods themselves.The group also carries on the Afrobeat tradition of pull-no-punches political commentary, speaking out against the injustices of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, the proliferation of guns, and other relevant topics. “Politics is essential to Afrobeat music,” says Kaleta. “We speak truth to power.”

Kaleta performs songs in no fewer than seven languages: English, Pidgin English, Yoruba, Goun, Fon, Ewe, and French.

You might like them if you like:
Fela Kuti, Antibalas, Tony Allen, King Sunny Ade

Appropriateness for getting down / getting it on:
90% / 10%

What to do about lunch: 
Without any Nigerian food in the neighborhood, you’ll have to get creative. How about this: “Zozo” comes from the Goun and Fon word meaning “something hot,” so we suggest Mexican. Fast & Fresh Burrito Deli (84 Hoyt, between Atlantic and State) is cheap and good, serving chorizo tortas, adobo and jalapeno-smothered pork tacos, and plenty more that fits the spicy bill. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Big Screen Gem

by Adriana Leshko

The Godfather. Photo courtesy Photofest
The BAM Harvey has long been one of the most unique and beloved theaters in New York, hosting the likes of Cate Blanchett, Alan Rickman, and Fiona Shaw. Starting this June with the kickoff of BAMcinemaFest there is a new star in the house: a 35-foot wide, 19-foot high movie screen gifted by Joseph and Diane Steinberg, Brooklyn philanthropists with a long relationship with BAMcinématek. The Steinberg Screen will be the largest 5D screen in all of Brooklyn, with superlative sound to match: 42 permanently mounted surround-sound loudspeakers are fixed to the side and rear walls of the theater, and adjustable acoustic panels have been added to provide a high-end, first-run cinema experience for all patrons.

It will also be among the city’s only venues expressly tailored for live arts as well as cinema, a kind of cultural one-two punch. In short, BAM is setting the stage for a movie-going experience as extraordinary as the setting in which it will take place: a turn-of-the-century vaudeville house turned movie palace whose current iteration as a home for world-class theater was the result of a great bond between two legends: when director Peter Brook sought a suitable BAM home for his nine hour English-language version of The Mahabarata, inspiration struck former BAM President and Executive Producer Harvey Lichtenstein on his daily walk past a boarded up old movie theater at 651 Fulton Street (see timeline, below). The rest was performing arts history.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

BAM Takes it to Manhattan for the Ignite Gala

Last Tuesday we celebrated the very first Ignite Gala: Benefitting Arts Education at BAM.

Guests celebrated in Skylight’s beautiful new event space, Skylight Modern in Chelsea, alongside some of the students that they were helping to support. The evening was hosted by Alan H. Fishman, BAM board chair; Karen Brooks Hopkins, BAM president; and Joseph V. Melillo, BAM executive producer. The gala co-chairs were Brigitte Vosse and Pedro Jose Torres & Cecilia Picon.

The evening began with cocktails and a preview of our Charity Buzz online auction, where guests were welcome to place bids on items like a walk-on role in an episode of IFC’s Portlandia and a week in a luxurious Amanyara villa on the island of Providenciales. The auction, which benefits arts education at BAM, will continue online through June 18th.

Monday, June 10, 2013

BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech Preview: Bobby Rush

By Robert Wood

The BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech—BAM's free summertime showcase of heavy hitters from R&B, reggae, funk, and other genres—runs this year from June 6 until August 8, with concerts happening (almost) every Thursday at noon. That means lunchtime for most, so for the full MetroTech experience, we suggest bringing takeout from a nearby restaurant and making an afternoon (or a long lunch break) out of it. Check back every week for these previews, which will also suggest appropriate eats to enjoy along with the music, and pigeons, in Downtown Brooklyn.

Bobby Rush
Thu, Jun 13 at 12pm This event has been canceled due to inclement weather. NOTE: Bobby Rush will perform Thu, Jul 24 as part of the 2014 R&B Festival at MetroTech.
MetroTech Commons | map

In a nutshell:
Tell-it-like-it-is former Chitlin’ Circuit star and Chicago bluesman who tends towards the bawdy.

Dirty funk and backroom electric blues

What to Know:
During live performances of his single “I Ain’t Studdin’ Ya” (see below), it isn't uncommon for Rush to address large portions of the song to his backup singers’ backsides, which have been known to respond in turn. Also telling: Rush’s single “Chicken Heads” was a perfect fit when used in the Samuel L. Jackson/Christina Ricci film Black Snake Moan, a racy piece of pulp cinema in which Ricci spends a significant amount of time chained to a radiator. But bawdiness aside, Rush absolutely owns the stage, and his consummate showmanship and bluesy funk are not to be missed.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Kindred Spirits: Maeterlinck, Freud, and The Master Builder

By Robert Jackson Wood

Ibsen and Maeterlinck

In 1892, the great Belgian poet Maurice Maeterlinck wrote a lengthy article in The New York Times proclaiming Ibsen’s The Master Builder to be a new, very special kind of drama. Dispensing with “the useless clamour of violent art,” the play involved no heroic conquerors or barbarians, no poisonings or murdered kings. Instead, The Master Builder was a drama “almost without action,” “one of the first,” he wrote, that “presents to us the gravity and the tragic secret of ordinary immovable life.”

Maeterlinck was referring to the way so much of the play revolved around tortured architect Halvard Solness’ paralyzing internal struggles rather than around his outer travels and travails, an observation that made sense coming from a proponent of the Symbolist movement (Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Mallarmé were also in the club).

As a reaction against the Realist and Naturalist schools, which had favored  gritty, scientific descriptions of external reality over any concern for the inwardly spiritual, Symbolism embraced the more enigmatic dramas of the soul, whose mysterious truths, it insisted, could never be evoked directly. This meant that in Symbolist artworks (or those judged by its criteria), looks could be deceiving. The point was less the words and actions themselves and more what existed, ineffably, between them: the intimations of the soul that no word or symbol could ever adequately convey.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Building The Master Builder, or Dylan Explains It All

By Cynthia Lugo 

The Master Builder is about an architect at the height of his powers, so we thought it only fitting to shine a spotlight on the set designer and the production team challenged with executing his vision. You may have seen our video interview with legendary set designer Santo Loquasto, who explains the aesthetic and the concept behind his evocative, polysemous designs.   

Turning such complicated plans into a reality is no small task, and requires a talented and experienced crew. Enter Dylan Nachand, the production supervisor who coordinates the technical elements of everything onstage. Dylan got his start working on New York City music events like the River to River Festival and then gradually transitioned to theater. Loquasto's incredible level of insight into the process made it a dream to work with him on The Master Builder. Dylan said, "There’s a high level of craftsmanship to be able to put this together. And it’s the same for the model—to be able to put it together so accurately and [for it to be] so close to his vision. It’s impressive that it was fully realized. There wasn't a lot of back and forth. We were impressed when we saw [the set designs] were hand drawn. We found that throughout the process, whenever we had a question about something, we usually found that the answer was there and we had just missed it the first time around. And his plans ended up being almost exactly what went to the shop."

Here, Dylan takes us through the Santo's set designs (which are hand-drawn by Antje Ellerman), explaining the the major elements and the challenges in constructing them. In addition to being the production supervisor, Dylan also fearlessly served as John Turturro's stunt double—that's him looking at the moon in the first picture!

So what's the best part of his job? According to Dylan, it's "feeling like you’ve been a part of a great team and helped play a part in getting something up on stage that looks really great... and helping the designer do what they really want to do on stage and seeing how good it looks. That’s a good reward." The audience would agree. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Way We Are/Were: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia

by Keith Uhlich

A man adrift in a film adrift: A spectral fog hovers over the Tuscan countryside as the Russian writer Andrei Gorchakov (Oleg Yankovsky), along with his translator Eugenia (Domiziana Giordano, a pre-Raphaelite beauty in modern dress), arrives at an isolated abbey. “Speak Italian,” he insists to his escort, attempting to bridge the first of this haunted movie’s many divides. But something is holding him back. Though he’s here to research the life and death of the expatriate composer—and his countryman from centuries prior—Pavel Sosnovsky, Andrei finds it difficult to connect to his surroundings. The sepia-tinted rural flashback playing under the movie’s opening credits hints at the longings, soon to be explored with maximum surreality, that plague him. He can never quite reconcile where he is with where he was.

There’s another Andrei involved—Tarkovsky, the cowriter and director of Nostalghia (1983). His objective, as he notes in his manifesto Sculpting in Time, was “to make a film… about that state of mind peculiar to our nation which affects Russians who are far from their native land.” “State of mind” encapsulates the experience of this filmmaker’s penultimate feature, a story about borders (of the brain, the soul, the body politic) that tries its damnedest, fool’s errand though it may be, to abolish them. Like his lead character, Tarkovsky had his life upended by Italy. During one of his several journeys there, he and Nostalghia coscreenwriter Tonino Guerra made Voyage in Time, a documentary about the cinematic creative process—before deciding while filming this project to abandon his Soviet homeland for Europe.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Russian-English Glossary for Irina Korina’s Chapel

by Brian Droitcour

Irina Korina's Chapel. Photo by David Harper

Irina Korina’s sculptures address the bitter undercurrents of faith and nostalgia—the frustration that comes with longing for things that can never be seen or touched. She uses monumentality to conjure the grandness of collective belief, but she emphasizes the imposing inhumanity of monuments by making walls without openings and blocked lines of sight. Korina’s Chapel mimics the shape of a church but she has broken the church into components and replaced them with rhyming forms from everyday life, to locate the germ of transcendent belief in the ordinary, material experience of space and time.

While Korina intentionally makes confusion and frustration a part of the viewer’s experience, she also depends on her audience’s familiarity with her visual and formal references. Since many of them are particular to the Russian context, we offer this glossary to remove at least one layer of opacity from Chapel.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What's cooking for Eat, Drink & Be Literary with Keith Gessen?

by Jessica Goldschmidt

Keith Gessen illustration by Nathan Gelgud
In preparation for tomorrow’s Eat, Drink & Be Literary event with Keith Gessen (founding editor of n+1) and his sister Masha Gessen (author of The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin), we asked Keith a bit about his Russian background, literary preferences, and his and Masha’s sibling dynamics.

Where are you from and where do you live?
I was born in Moscow and grew up outside of Boston. I've lived in Brooklyn since 2005, first in Prospect Heights, now in Bed-Stuy.

What are you reading right now?
This isn't always the case, but right now I'm reading some books about the 1930s in Russia.

MetroTech Preview: Mint Condtiion

by Robert Wood

The BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech—BAM's free summertime showcase of heavy hitters from R&B, reggae, funk, and other genres—runs this year from June 6 until August 8, with concerts happening (almost) every Thursday at noon. That means lunchtime for most folks, so for the full MetroTech experience, we suggest bringing a meal and making an afternoon (or a long lunch break) out of it if you can. Check back every week for these previews, which will also suggest appropriate eats to enjoy along with the music, and pigeons, in Downtown Brooklyn.

Mint Condition
Thu, Jun 6 at 12pm
MetroTech Commons | map

In a nutshell:
Ridiculously suave Twin Cities contemporary R&B band celebrating their 20th anniversary.

What to know:
Kings of the come-hither slow-jam and deeply influenced by fellow Minneapolis native Prince, Mint Condition truly arrived when it was hand-picked by the latter to be a part of his Welcome 2 America tour, which also featured acts like Maceo Parker, Chaka Khan, and the indomitable Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. Its single “Not My Daddy” (featuring Kelly Price) was nominated for two Grammys, and it remains one of the few high-profile self-contained black R&B bands around.