In what was an inspired choice of venue, day three of the Greenpoint Film Festival took place at the Newtown Creek Visitors Center with a selection of environmentally and community themed documentaries. Opening the program was the must-see “The Domino Effect” – a very timely chronicle of the ongoing saga of the former sugar plant along the Williamsburg waterfront which was part of the city’s planned rezoning efforts to turn the facility into luxury and “affordable” housing.
In the informal Q&A afterwards, co-producer Brian Paul said that the building has switched from its previous owner and is now back on the market. Greenpoint assemblyman Joe Lentol was also in attendance, and was able to shed light on some of the latest developments of the complex.
Following the discussion, several short documentaries that dealt with the troubled history of the Newtown Creek oil spill and the sewage plant were screened. Presenting a short short on the treatment plant’s “eggs,” director David Leitner opened up the room to further conversation with his three minute “Newtown Creek Digester Eggs: The Art of Human Waste.”
Tom Jarmusch’s 80-minute documentary “Sometimes City” played at the Huron Street venue for the festival later in the day. It was a rugged and raw collection of personalities from Tom’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio offering their various perspectives on the living and working conditions of the city. With shaky, hand-held camerawork and unapologetically jagged editing, the jumbled juxtaposition of personalities and stories (including a tired and wary-for-this-world Harvey Pekar) manages to weave an earnest and real account of the city as Tom Jarmusch sees it. There is nothing fake or exploitative in what Jarmusch manages to do in capturing the spirit of a city that hovers on the edge of self-destuction, and one couldn’t help but to feel the sly optimism in showcasing the resilience of the human spirit. A visibly nervous Tom Jarmusch was presented the well-deserved award for “Best Experimental Documentary Feature” and had a lively dialogue with the audience after the screening.
The festival is having its final round of screenings throughout the day on Sunday. A microbudget filmmaking panel will follow the 4 PM screening of Love Stalker at Awakening NY (607 Manhattan Ave.) with a closing night reception happening at 7:15 PM at the Greenpoint Garage (186 Huron Street). Check the festival’s website for the official program and times.