Second Annual Picture Farm Film Festival This Weekend

I had a great time at the very first Picture Farm Film Festival last year (which I previewed and recapped for Greenpointers). I am looking forward to attending this year’s edition. It takes places this weekend, Saturday 2/7 and Sunday 2/8. I highly encourage you to come see a bunch of great films for free at the Picture Farm Gallery (338 Wythe Avenue). To get you excited, read on for more information and some interviews with the festival organizers and some of the filmmakers. The Picture Farm Film Festival presents a diverse array of shorts – narrative, documentary, animation, and experimental – from local, national, and international filmmakers. There will be four themed blocks: Help! (3:00 PM Saturday), Past & Future (5:30 PM Saturday), Good Intentions (4:00 PM Sunday), and Film Fatales (6:30 PM Sunday). Each contains 6 to 9 films, and all will be followed by a panel Q&A of directors. There is also a feature that will screen on Saturday night at 8:00 PM called Stolen Moments: Red Hot & Cool.

You can find more details on the films and filmmakers plus a selection of trailers at the festival website. There is also a bunch of information on the Facebook event page. The opening reception is at 2:00 PM on Saturday and the bar will open at 3:30 PM on Sunday. As I said before, it is free. The event is sponsored by Fast Ashley’s and Bronx Brewery. So come on out and see films, hear from the filmmakers, and mingle with a bunch of other aficionados. It’s a lot of fun.

Before we get to this year’s interviews, I have a quick update regarding one of last year’s filmmakers. Jeremy Waltman, the director of the feature Locomotive, which screened on the first evening, recently made a music video for Brooklyn musician Ted Limpert’s song “On My Mind.” It’s a neat story told with style, and the song is good too. Check it out here, and keep your eye out for his follow-up feature It Plays Like Love.

Ok, back to the present. I had a few questions for organizers Eleanor Wilson and Arianne Culley of Picture Farm about this year’s festival. I also got to hear from some of this year’s filmmakers. Check out the interviews below:

Eleanor Wilson & Arianne Culley – Picture Farm

Greenpointers: I enjoyed attending the first edition of the festival last year and, to me, it seemed like a success. Having another one is also a good sign, but I was still curious to hear about how the first one met or exceeded your expectations.

Picture Farm: We were blown away by last year’s fest. Firstly, by the amount of incredible films that we got to screen, and then by the amount of people who turned up for the screenings! North Brooklyn is such a supportive environment, and it was wonderful to see so many people come for one particular screening and then stay for more films after. The Q&A’s got really interesting as well; seeing as many of the filmmakers were there, they often ended up as candid conversations between the directors rather than traditional interviews. 

Greenpointers: Is there anything different or new about this year’s festival? 

Picture Farm: One thing we did do was spread out the sessions a little more. We realized that having time to chat about the film over a beer in between sessions is almost as important as the showing of the films themselves. We try to program thought provoking works as much as possible and people like to mingle and discuss afterwards, ourselves included. So there’s 45 beer drinking minutes in between each session this year! (Thank you Bronx Brewery)

And the popcorn machine is back.

Greenpointers: I’m sure you could just say “everything,” but what are you excited about in this year’s festival? Anything you’d like to highlight?

Picture Farm: I’m particularly excited about the Film Fatales block on Sunday which is all female filmmakers from New York and really strong. All but one of those directors will be in attendance for the Q&A so it should be a really interesting discussion afterwards. And being a female filmmaker myself, I’m always excited to highlight the outstanding work of the ladies in our biz. Here’s a little more about Film Fatales, FYI.

Still from The Public Square

This year, we’re really lucky to be showing two short docs from Academy Award nominated directors Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady ( Their two shorts “The Public Square” And “The World Is As Big Or As Small As You Make It” are playing as part of the Good Intentions program on Sunday afternoon.

Still from Stolen Moments

I’d also love to point out an awesome film of Earle Sebastian’s that we’re showing on Saturday night. This film documents the impact of AIDS on the African American community and the album Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool that was made to raise awareness. The album features collaborations between renowned jazz performers (including Herbie Hancock, Roy Ayers) and hip hop artists of the day (The Roots, Michael Franti). 

There are so many gems though! Here are a couple of my favorite trailers: Saturday 3pm Saturday 5:30pm Sunday 4pm Sunday 6:30pm

The Filmmakers

Greenpointers: How would you describe the film you have screening in the festival?

Earle Sebastian (director of Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool): Produced in 1994, Stolen Moments has become than just a landmark center stage music event. It’s a compelling film montage of what’s happening in communities of color around the difficult issues brought on by the stunning rise in AIDS cases in recent years. If you’re interested in going back in time and applying what can be today to help the future generation with regard to this disease, get ready for a lesson in life and some tips to live by!

Still from Body

Christopher Baker (director of Body): My film “Body” looks at the nature of desire between people.  To be desired, to desire, and how one’s perception of that desire changes with age. Love, lust, infatuation, moments realized, missed, regrets, joys. One of the most basic and powerful things in life.

William J. Sribling (director of Down in Flames): “Down in Flames” is, above all else, a celebration of weirdness. It’s about a man’s grand dreams for himself and the lengths he’ll go to achieve them. Tony “Volcano” has always reminded me of Don Quixote; it’s hard not to be inspired by the guy, even if you know that he definitely shouldn’t be doing what he’s doing.

Brandon Boudreaux (director of Neighbors): “Neighbors” is a New York City set thriller that plays to one of the biggest questions everyone has, “who really lives behind those closed doors?”

Sebastian Diaz (co-director of Tonita’s): It’s a love letter to the Nuyorican culture of the Southside of Williamsburg. We spent time in the last remaining social club in the neighborhood and fell in love with the music, the dancing the warmth and the colorfulness of the people.

Chell Stephen (director of Crystal): “Crystal” is a dark comedy about a 17-year-old asshole with big, dancerly dreams. I thought it would be fun to write a character who can’t help but escalate every situation to its worst conclusion, and indeed it WAS super fun both to write and to shoot. My little sister Kate plays the titular character with all the attitude and sass required. The film itself is campy in tone, with bright colors, loads of music and fantasies… it’s a big gumbo of all my favorite things & influences from John Waters’ Crybaby to Britney Spears music videos and more. It features music by some of my favorites as well, including Greenpointer Matt Whyte’s old band Earl Greyhound.

Roger Young (director of Keys, Money, Phone): It’s a film about a failed night out. Losing your keys and not being able to get into your apartment. That’s the surface. But it’s really about entitlement, misogyny, and micro-aggressions. Here in South Africa, polarised into racial groups by apartheid, we, by and large, still harbour mistrust toward “the other”. I was interested in how people who have these attitudes don’t see how awful they’re being to other people and don’t see how the world sees them. I don’t want to make white privilege films my whole life, but this (and its just completed companion piece “Boat Girls”) was something I needed to clear out my head before I could start shooting my, unrelated, feature, Love Runs Out.

Greenpointers: If you are a local NYC filmmaker, what do you think of the filmmaking community? If you aren’t local, where are you based and what is your community like?

William J. Sribling: I used to be a local NYC filmmaker but recently moved to LA. I’m a pretty firm believer that people of similar tastes and intentions will naturally gravitate toward one another. You have to surround yourself with people that support you and challenge you at the same time, and I’ve been really lucky to work with such people on all of my films.

Brandon Boudreaux: While there are variety of different showcases for filmmakers in NYC what makes the Picture Farm Film Festival unique is that it gives people who usually work behind the scenes on commercial or advertising projects a chance to come together and show another side of their creativity.  For many of us making these films was something we had to do in our spare time. Raising the money or investing their own, shooting on the weekends, or editing after working 10 hour days are struggles that many of these filmmakers faced and to be able to appreciate each other’s hard work is just a wonderful experience.

Sebastian Diaz: I think the filmmaking community in NYC is quite unique in comparison to Mexico, where I’m originally from. Not only is there a great diversity of backgrounds and styles of the filmmakers, but because there’s so many of us here, and so many people creating such good work, I feel like there’s less of an ego trip. I find the community to actually be quite open to network and share resources and being approachable.

Chell Stephen: Until very recently I was based in Brooklyn. My filmmaking collective Think/Feel is about half LA-based half NY-based now. We all enjoy working on both coasts, bouncing back and forth. I’m so fortunate to have the collaborators I do – we share resources like office space and equipment, and then ideas + feedback too… it allows us all to grow together and is just a lot more fun than some of the more solo ways of working. It’s the most fun, and often helpful, to talk to other people currently dealing with the similar hows, whys, whats of the work, as you are.

Roger Young: There is finally a new sense of collaboration in the South African filmmaking community. After years of it being dominated by a sort of Hollywood model, a new bunch of filmmakers, such as Oliver Hermanus, Sibs Shongwe-La Mer and Jenna Bass have shown just how popular, and critically successful film can be if you adopt more localised approaches. We have a bunch of film events, like festivals, film nights, and short film programmes at small cinemas. There will always be insular filmmakers, and collaboration always falls on a spectrum but in South Africa there is a new awareness that we are all in this together.

Greenpointers: Besides seeing your own film, what are you looking forward to about the festival? Any other films you want to see?

Earle Sebastian: Check out “W8”, a short film written and produced by the very talented Dion Sapp (co-starring himself and Michael Kenneth Williams). it screens @ 4pm on Sunday.  

Christopher Baker: I am looking forward to seeing all the short films and meeting the other filmmakers.

Brandon Boudreaux: The thing I’m looking forward to the most is the chance to talk with fellow filmmakers about some of the challenges they had to overcome in making their films and to show appreciation for the hard work that went into making these films. The three films I’m most looking forward to are: “Crystal” by Chell Stephen, “Dear Lucas” by Winnie Cheung, and “Off the Line” by Patrick Burns, Jr.

Sebastian Diaz: I always love to engage with the audience at a festival, as well as meet other filmmakers. And I’m just really curious to see what kind of films are curated by a creative communications agency who does a festival just out of their passion for film. I’m looking forward to checking out “Kumeyaay Land” by Dylan Verrechia and “Elvis Loses His Excess & Other Tales From The World’s Longest Yard Sale” by Riley Hooper, both of whom I know as fellow Brooklyn-based filmmakers.

About Stephen F

Stephen does economic development for North Brooklyn businesses and writes about music at the online site Those Who Dig. He's only ever lived in Greenpoint while in NYC and he hopes it stays that way.

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