I love the tradition of clapping after each screening. Why leave applause only for live performances? It was exciting because many films had their New York premiere at the festival and the overall selection was pretty good, but I always feel like a pearl fisher on the lookout to find those few movies that really strike a chord.
One was a brilliant documentary “Born to Fly” about Elizabeth Streb and her Extreme Action Company called STREB located in Williamsburg. Director Catherine Gund captured much more than just the facts. It seems that she was capable of showing the emotional content of Streb’s work and it showed on the screen. I haven’t been that moved by a documentary in a long time. Elizabeth Streb’s necessity of risk in art translates way beyond dance. She seems to be always asking questions and demanding more and more from herself and others but with a great faith in unlimited possibilities.
Another noted feature was “Paradise Cruise,” directed by Matan Guggenheim from Israel, who was voted Best New Director at the BFF. This film leads the viewer through a labyrinth of unconsciousness, reality, dreams and sensuality. On top of all this, two main characters communicate with each other in three different languages. It’s a love story but as every memorable one it’s about something more than just love.
I loved the actors in the Turkish “The Impeccables” by Ramin Matin. Esra Bezen and Suna Selen played two sisters dealing with their difficult past. Their acting is daring, raw and bold. Especially the last scene that is almost theatrical. I commend the director and actors of not being afraid of appearing not pretty or polished. What they got is a strong voice about violence against woman. It’s a different take on that important matter.
It’s impossible not to mention few good shorts at the festival. One of them is a brilliant animation by a Polish director Ewa Borysewicz called “To Thy Heart.” It’s about a hurly-burly in love. It’s naughty, it’s sexy. I haven’t seen such a strong voice in animation, well, ever. Must see.
There are also few short documentaries worth mentioning.
“Peter Pan Bakery” directed by Keif Roberts and Peter Haas captured the heart of a popular Greenpoint hangout. A classic. It has a vintage feel it as the place itself is over 60 years old.
“The Last Bread” by Maria Badia tells a story of La Villita bakery from Willimsburg that had to closed its door to many people that treated it like home due to impossibly high rent. It’s really upsetting because it’s one of many places that are sharing this fate because of changes in the neighborhood. It’s great that Maria Badia told the story about the pioneers of the real Williamsburg who had more soul than it has now. And it’s important to never forget people who refused to raise their prices, because they felt it’s unfair to their beloved customers who can’t afford it. How many of those kind of people and places are left?
Where do you even start with “Toñita’s” that won Brooklyn Pride Award? It was an extraordinary piece that let us in into the colorful world of The Caribbean Sports Club in Williamsburg (on the same block as the Trash Bar). Beyza Boyacioglu & Sebastian Diaz Aguirre did a fabulous job in capturing the soul of Maria Toñita, the owner of the club. This movie is full of delicious moments showing longtime residents of Williamsburg who are also the heart of both: the club and the movie.
As Ingmar Bergman wrote in his autobiography The Magic Lantern, “Film is a dream, film is a music. No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul. A little twitch in our optic nerve, a shock effect: twenty-four illuminated frames a second, darkness in between, the optic nerve incapable of registering darkness.”