BAMcinemaFest announces initial 2016 lineup
BAMcinématek has announced the competition lineup for this year’s BAMcinema Fest. Running June 15-26, the independent fest has a bunch of cool stuff in this year’s lineup, most of which are new York Premieres. There’s the buzzy new Todd Solondz movie Wiener-Dog, Ti West’s new Ethan Hawke-starring western In A Valley of Violence, Ira Sachs’ NYC gentrification drama Little Men, and the Sundance comedy Joshy (which features a score by Devendra Banhart), all with centerpiece slots at the festival.
Beyond that there’s a ton of cool, buzzed-about stuff that mostly premiered at Sundance. There’s Author: The JT Leroy Story, Goat (which stars Nick Jonas and is about fraternity hazing), the new Werner Herzog documentary about the internet Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, The Childhood of a Leader (which features a score by Scott Walker), The Alchemist Cookbook (which is Joel Potrykus’s followup to last year’s excellent Buzzard), Kate Plays Christine and Morris From America, among many others.
Tickets go on sale to BAM members on May 19 on to the general public on May 26. The whole schedule has yet to be announced, but for now you can check out the full slate with descriptions below.
BAMcinema Fest — 2016 Lineup
OPENING NIGHT: Little Men (Ira Sachs) NY Premiere Narrative
CLOSING NIGHT: Dark Night (Tim Sutton) NY Premiere Narrative
CENTERPIECE: Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz) NY Premiere Narrative
SPOTLIGHT: In a Valley of Violence (Ti West) NY Premiere Narrative
SPOTLIGHT: Joshy (Jeff Baena) NY Premiere Narrative
The Alchemist Cookbook (Joel Potrykus) NY Premiere
Narrative Young outcast Sean has isolated himself in a trailer in the Michigan backwoods, setting out on alchemical pursuits with his cat Kaspar as his sole companion. Filled with disdain for authority, he’s escaped a society that has no place for him, but when he turns to black magic to crack nature’s secret, he rouses a malevolent force that threatens to dismantle both his otherworldly goals and his very being. This micro-budget genre-bender echoes the absurdist, visceral tones in Potrykus’s previous films, Buzzard and Ape, which were showcased in a BAMcinématek retrospective in 2015. An Oscilloscope Laboratories release.
Another Evil (Carson Mell) NY Premiere Narrative
There are spirits in the secluded vacation home of Dan (Steve Zissis) and Mary (Jennifer Irwin). Fed up with this supernatural nuisance, Dan hires Os, a professional exorcist (Mark Proksch) whose fragile emotional state after a recent divorce leads him to cling to his client as a potential new best friend. After a boozy week of bonding, it becomes clear Os answers to a boss much greater than his client, and will go to great lengths to please him. An inventive, risk-taking blend of horror and comedy, Silicon Valley writer Carson Mell’s feature debut explores the unholy mess that emerges when a paranormal infestation is accompanied by a woefully human one.
Author: The JT LeRoy Story (Jeff Feuerzeig) NY Premiere Documentary Armed with a tortured backstory and some scintillating subject matter, gender-non-conforming teen author JT LeRoy burst onto the literary scene in the late 90s, finding friends and champions among the likes of Winona Ryder, Billy Corgan, and Gus Van Sant. Two novels, one film adaptation, and several media appearances later, this much-publicized wunderkind was exposed as the fabrication of Laura Albert, a Brooklyn mother with a fake British accent and a troubled past of her own. Drawing on tell-all interviews and a wealth of archival material, including an unforgettable phone recording with Courtney Love, Author authoritatively unravels one of the most elaborate hoaxes in contemporary American fiction.
An Amazon Studios/Magnolia Pictures release.
The Childhood of a Leader (Brady Corbet) North American Premiere Narrative Independent film mainstay Brady Corbet (Mysterious Skin, Martha Marcy May Marlene) delivers one of the most audacious directorial debuts of the year (winning two major awards at the Venice Film Festival) with this allegory of totalitarianism in the wake of World War I. Loosely inspired by the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre and Margaret MacMillan, The Childhood of a Leader is a nightmarish coming-of-age tale charting the early stirrings of despotism in a French choirboy (chillingly assured newcomer Tom Sweet), whose father is a high-ranking diplomat assisting President Woodrow Wilson in the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Corbet’s ambitious reflection on the dark forces of history features a special appearance by Robert Pattinson and a thunderous orchestral score by avant-garde icon Scott Walker. A Sundance Selects release
collective:unconscious (Lily Baldwin, Frances Bodomo, Daniel Patrick Carbone, Josephine Decker, Lauren Wolkstein) NY Premiere Narrative
Five of New York’s most innovative independent directors adapt each other’s dreams for the big screen in this ambitious omnibus film. Formally audacious and wildly unpredictable, this cinematic descent into the surreal ranges from the ominous to the absurd: a gym class is conducted from inside a volcano; the Grim Reaper hosts a chilling game show; one man’s risky quest changes a brainwashing tower signal; former prison inmates reflect on their first moments of freedom; and a mother-to-be realizes a beast is growing in her womb. Producer Dan Schoenbrun’s (The School is Watching, BAMcinemaFest 2015) project captures the hypnotic visions that result when gifted filmmakers are given unlimited creativity.
Fraud (Dean Fleischer-Camp) NY Premiere Documentary
While digging through the cyber-heaps of footage readily available on YouTube, filmmaker Dean Fleischer-Camp (Marcel the Shell) came upon more than 100 hours of home movie video documenting the birthday parties, afternoons spent at the playground, and mall trips of an unknown American family. Commenting on the fluid natures of digital storytelling and voyeurism, Fleischer-Camp masterfully re-edited the footage to create Fraud, a provocative narrative that paints a wild new portrait of the family and their day-to-day lives. A found-footage film in the truest sense, Fraud explores what happens when a new, unexpected narrative is imposed on the virtual detritus of our lives.
Goat (Andrew Neel) NY Premiere Narrative
Binge drinking, threats of forced bestiality, loads of piss and vomit: Andrew Neel’s dystopian vision of college Greek culture doesn’t skimp on the grotesque details. This unflinching adaptation of Brad Land’s
memoir (co-scripted by David Gordon Green) dives into the merciless pledge period at Phi Sigma Mu, the fraternity that sensitive-but-jockish freshman Brad (Ben Schnetzer) hopes to join, and to which his swaggering older brother Brett (Nick Jonas, in a breakthrough performance) proudly belongs. Recently a victim of a car robbery and assault, Brad sets out to reaffirm his masculinity by submitting to the humiliation of the society’s hazing rituals. Cataloging the vagaries of this grueling process, Goat is both an indictment of sadistic machismo and a surprisingly sensitive look at brotherly intimacy. A Film Arcade/Paramount Pictures release.
Kate Plays Christine (Robert Greene) NY Premiere Documentary
In 1974, Florida newscaster Christine Chubbuck made headlines (and became an inspiration for Sidney Lumet’s Network) when she committed suicide on live television. In this Sundance Special Jury Award-winner, actress Kate Lyn Sheil (House of Cards, The Girlfriend Experience) heads to Sarasota to investigate the facts as she prepares to star in “a stylized cheap 70s soap opera” version of the story that
may or may not be in production. Questioning the assumptions that often fuel cinematic recreations of the past, Robert Greene’s latest film is a mercilessly self-interrogating nonfiction thriller that explores the ethical pitfalls of media representation. A Grasshopper Film release.
Little Sister (Zach Clark) NY Premiere Narrative
“Fail to see the tragic, turn it into magic!”—Marilyn Manson. Zach Clark’s (White Reindeer, BAMcinemaFest 2013) fifth feature is an insightful, oddball exploration of family and trauma set during the run-up to the 2008 presidential election. Ex-goth-girl-turned-nun Colleen (Addison Timlin) returns to her childhood home in North Carolina to reconnect with her recently-disfigured military vet brother (Keith Poulson). Though she uprights the cross above her bed upon arrival, her teenage feelings of angst and alienation soon resurface. GWAR dance sessions, awkward mother-daughter conversations (featuring a wildly entertaining Ally Sheedy), and drug-fueled Halloween parties ensue over the course of her visit. Clark “pleasingly meshes a scuzzy digital aesthetic with dreamy pop-art intrusions” (Variety), resulting in a feel-good trip about despair, joy, and everything in between.
Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (Werner Herzog) NY Premiere Documentary
Indefatigable chronicler of curiosities grand and modest, Werner Herzog sets his latest sights on the most awe-inspiring wonder of our times: the Internet. The virtual world grows exponentially larger—and more invasive, interactive, and dynamic—each day. Comprising interviews with an eclectic selection of subjects—victims of online harassment, video game addicts, advanced robotics engineers, and brilliant pioneers who envision life on Mars—Lo and Behold contemplates the greater implications for humankind. These fascinating snapshots offer avenues through the endless digital expanse, allowing Herzog to ask the big questions about love, morality, and the future. A Magnolia Pictures release.
The Love Witch (Anna Biller) NY Premiere Narrative
“She loved men… to death.” A gorgeous throwback to 60s Technicolor erotic movies, Anna Biller’s tale about a love-starved, murderous witch is wicked feminist fun. Beautiful enchantress Elaine (Samantha Robinson) uses every spell at her disposal in order to make men fall in love with her. Once entranced, however, these would-be lovers reveal themselves as wholly unappealing romantic partners. The body count rises in her luscious gothic Victorian apartment as she disposes of her failures and pines ever more desperately for a worthy sweetheart. Shot and presented on sumptuous, color-soaked 35mm, The Love Witch offers a stylish, fantastical examination of gender and female desire.
Morris from America (Chad Hartigan) NY Premiere Narrative
This heartwarming coming-of-age comedy centers on Morris (Markees Christmas, in an incredible breakout performance), a 13-year-old who has just relocated with his father, Curtis (Craig Robinson), to Heidelberg, Germany. Morris is a complete fish-out-of-water—a self-proclaimed budding Notorious B.I.G. in an EDM world. He falls hard for a cool, rebellious classmate, and sets out against all odds to take the hip-hop world by storm and win the girl of his dreams. Chad Hartigan’s (This is Martin Bonner, BAMcinemaFest 2013) delightfully original take on growing up and finding your voice won two prizes at this year’s Sundance Film Festival: the Waldo Salt Screening Award and a Special Jury Award for Robinson, whose touching, nuanced performance has been receiving tremendous praise. An A24 release.
Newtown (Kim A. Snyder) NY Premiere Documentary
In this devastating documentary, community members of Newtown, Connecticut—police officers, parents, emergency responders, teachers—speak out on the grief and trauma that will weave them together forever. Given exclusive access to the homes of those who lost loved ones in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, documentarian Kim Snyder captures intimate cycles of mourning and anger, coping and disbelief, electing to document the reverberations one act of violence can have on a town and its residents. This compassionate portrait suggests that while grief echoes far and wide, the collective conscience of this heartbroken town is also bonded by empathy, resilience, and hope.
Radio Dreams (Babak Jalali) NY Premiere Narrative
In this Rotterdam Film Festival award-winning comedy, beloved singer-songwriter Mohsen Namjoo—often hailed as “the Bob Dylan of Iran”—stars as Hamid, an esteemed author who moves to San Francisco and makes a career shift as the director at a financially struggling Farsi-language radio station. With his Einstein-ian shock of hair and cantankerous disposition, he presides over a resolutely uncommercial program, whose owners hope to cash in with an on-air jam session featuring Afghan rock band Kabul Dreams and their longtime idols, Metallica. Charting the course of a day at the station’s claustrophobic offices, where the staff wait anxiously for the arrival of Metallica—whose drummer Lars Ulrich ultimately makes a special appearance—Radio Dreams explores art, commerce, and assimilation with a deft blend of deadpan humor and melancholy.
Slash (Clay Liford) NY Premiere Narrative Fifteen-year-old Neil is both a shy, questioning high-school freshman and a burgeoning author of slash fiction—steamy stories written with a homoerotic bent about iconic characters in fantasy and sci-fi pop culture. When his writing is involuntarily shared at school, Neil is ostracized by everyone in the community save uninhibited classmate Julia. A fellow erotic writer, Julia encourages him to share his prose about Vanguard, the hyper-masculine hero of a major sci-fi franchise who, with Neil’s help, has explosive pansexual encounters across the galaxy. Clay Liford’s (My Mom Smokes Weed, BAMcinemaFest, 2010; Wuss; Earthling) compassionate exploration of adolescence, fandom, and sexuality finds its heroes discovering the courage it takes to be their most authentic selves.
Spa Night (Andrew Ahn) NY Premiere Narrative
Andrew Ahn’s debut feature is an atmospheric journey through the churches, karaoke bars, and 24-hour spas of Los Angeles’ Korean immigrant community. Tight-lipped 18-year-old David Cho (Sundance Award winner Joe Seo) struggles to balance the pressures of college admissions with the odd jobs he takes to help his financially struggling parents. When a gig at an all-male spa gives him his first glimpse at an underworld of gay hookups, he begins to explore his burgeoning sexual desires. Interweaving family drama with scenes of frank eroticism, this luminously shot drama upends clichés of the gay coming-of-
age film. A Strand release.
A Stray (Musa Syeed) NY Premiere Narrative
On the run from a host of misfortunes, Somali immigrant Adan (Barkhad Abdirahman, Captain Phillips) finds himself on the streets of Minneapolis after his mother kicks him out and his friends deny him refuge. His prospects start looking up when he finds shelter and a new job at a local mosque, but he’s evicted when he brings in a stray dog, whose presence is deemed impure by members of the Muslim community. Homeless again, he must navigate the pressures brought on by his newfound faith, past friends and an old flame, and an FBI agent who hopes to enlist him as an informant. Gritty and beautifully shot, Musa Syeed’s sophomore feature is a moving look at the Twin Cities’ underrepresented refugee community.
Suited (Jason Benjamin) NY Premiere Documentary The HBO documentary film SUITED, directed by Jason Benjamin, spotlights Bindle & Keep, a bespoke tailoring company based in Brooklyn that caters to a diverse LGBTQ community and looks beyond the gender binary, creating custom-made suits for gender non-conforming and transgender clients. Clothier duo Rae and Daniel take a holistic approach to their work, considering each client’s personal narrative, which becomes inextricable from the creation of the perfect suit. From Derek’s emotional journey as he prepares for his wedding, to Everett, a law student in a conservative environment, to Mel, who simply wants to look good for her 40th birthday party—the need for well-fitting garments represents deeper meaning around identity, empowerment, and feeling good. Produced by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, the film documents a cultural shift that is creating a new demand—and response—for each person’s right to go out into the world with confidence. A HBO Documentary Films release.
Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell (Martin Bell) NY Premiere Documentary Thirty-two years after the landmark documentary Streetwise introduced viewers to an indelible teenage girl known as Tiny—then a 14-year-old prostitute living on the streets of Seattle—director Martin Bell revisits the tumultuous life of Erin Blackwell. Chronicling her rocky path from drug addiction and poverty to an all-too-fragile stability as the mother of ten children, this intimate follow-up—produced by the late, legendary photographer Mary Ellen Mark, who chronicled Blackwell’s life for 32 years—is a compassionate portrait of a woman scarred by life, but who remains resilient.
A Woman, A Part (Elisabeth Subrin) North American Premiere Narrative Forty-something, Ritalin-dependent TV star Anna Baskin (Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men, and Billions’ Maggie Siff) is in emotional freefall. In the hopes of escaping her Emmy-winning screen persona, she impulsively walks of the set of her LA show and flies back to New York. Squatting in her old rent stabilized Brooklyn apartment, she makes awkward attempts to reconnect with friends from her old theater company, unleashing unresolved dynamics from the past. Multidisciplinary artist Elisabeth Subrin, whose credits include critically acclaimed films and installations such as Lost Tribes and Promised Lands (2010) and Shulie (1997), makes her narrative feature debut with this “poignant and compelling” (Artforum) examination of sexism, professional burnout, and the porous boundary between our authentic and performed selves.