BAMCINEMAFEST ANNOUNCES INITIAL SLATE

by
in Filmmaking
on Mar 28, 2012

Today the BAMcinemaFest unveiled a selection of the films that will play at Brooklyn’s BAM between June 20 and July 1. The slate is dominated by titles that premiered in at Sundance, although there are also films here that bowed at Toronto and Cannes last year. The vast majority of the films announced here are also made by New Yorkers — many of them Brooklynites — while Brian M. Cassidy & Melanie Shatzky (named in our 25 New Faces back in 2007) enjoy the rare coup of having two films in the fest: the narrative Francine and the doc The Patron Saints.

Two films worth flagging up are Dan Sallitt’s The Unspeakable Act and Jonathan Caouette’s Walk Away Renée.  A film critic who has made two previous features, Sallitt (who lives a stone’s throw from BAM) will debut his bold and surprising portrait of an unconventional brother-sister relationship at next month’s Sarasota Film Festival in advance of its date at BAM. I saw the film at a cast and crew screening recently and am very excited to see how it will be received. Walk Away Renée first played at Cannes last year and has since slipped below the radar, but the word is that Caouette has since re-edited the road trip doc and that it will be a somewhat different incarnation of the film screening in June. It is scheduled for a fall release through IFC/Sundance Selects.

The full list of films is below:

The Comedy (Rick Alverson) NY Premiere
Drawing comparisons to La Dolce Vita and the work of Lars von Trier, Alverson’s divisive portrait of a privileged Williamsburg Brooklynite—played by a razor-sharp Tim Heidecker (Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!)—pushing the boundaries of propriety, is a darkly affecting satire of our current anesthetized generation. With Eric Wareheim (Tim and Eric), James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem), and Kate Lyn Sheil (Green).

Compliance (Craig Zobel) NY Premiere
Straight from its controversial Sundance premiere, the unsettling and polarizing sophomore feature by Zobel (The Great World of Sound), is a darkly transfixing psychodrama based on true events. The film follows a fast-food employee (The Good Wife’s Dreama Walker) who is accused of theft and subjected to repeated acts of humiliation by her overworked supervisor (Ann Dowd), all at the behest of an authoritarian phone caller. A Magnolia Pictures release.

For Ellen (So Yong Kim) NY Premiere
The latest from Kim (director of Treeless Mountain and the subject of a 2009 BAMcinématek “Next Director” retrospective with partner Bradley Rust Gray) is a hypnotic, glacial portrait of an unstable semi-delusional musician (Paul Dano) in his last-ditch effort to develop a bond with—and earn custody of—his young daughter. With Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite).

Francine (Brian M. Cassidy & Melanie Shatzky) NY Premiere
Academy Award winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter) delivers an unnerving performance as a reclusive ex-convict who rejects human connections, finding solace in her intimate bond with animals in documentary duo Cassidy and Shatzky’s narrative feature debut.

Nobody Walks (Ry Russo-Young) NY Premiere
BAMcinemaFest alumna Russo-Young’s (You Wont Miss Me, 2009) psychosexual comedy, co-written by Lena Dunham, stars Olivia Thirlby as a young artist who, in order to finish a film project, moves into the pool house of a young LA couple (Rosemarie DeWitt and John Krasinski), and sets the relaxed family reeling. A Magnolia Pictures release.

The Unspeakable Act (Dan Sallitt) NY Premiere
Jackie’s romantic feelings for her brother Matthew form the unlikely backdrop against which the milestones of adolescence—choosing a college, losing one’s virginity—unspool in film critic Sallitt’s long-awaited directorial return, an unnervingly dispassionate take on the last taboo, set in Brooklyn’s Ditmas Park.

Welcome to Pine Hill (Keith Miller) NY Premiere
Miller’s debut feature obscures the boundaries of narrative and nonfiction and follows newcomer Shannon Harper’s ambiguous journey from the streets of Brooklyn to the Catskill backwoods in this abstract emotional drama inspired by the director’s real-life happenstance encounter with Harper. Winner—Slamdance Grand Jury Prize.

The documentary slate will include:

Detropia (Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady) NY Premiere
BAMcinemaFest alumni Ewing & Grady (12th & Delaware, 2010) return with this lyrical exploration of Motor City, following intrepid Detroiters—young and old, frustrated and idealistic—as they grapple with the ever-changing landscape of America’s fastest-shrinking city.

The Patron Saints (Brian M. Cassidy & Melanie Shatzky) NY Premiere
Cassidy and Shatzky bring us another unflinching yet lyrical portrait of life on the periphery with a look at the forgotten souls of a rural nursing home. This ciné-essay, their nonfiction feature debut, is narrated by the facility’s youngest patient whose candid account is by turns mournful and macabre.

Radio Unnameable (Paul Lovelace & Jessica Wolfson) NY Premiere
78-year-old legend and NY treasure Bob Fass, “the father of free-form radio,” is the host of “Radio Unnameable”  broadcast from New York’s WBAI for almost 50 years. BAMcinemaFest alumni Lovelace and Wolfson (Iowa Mixtape, 2010) make incredible use of Fass’ personal archives—a priceless trove of first-person political reportage, early interviews with 60s icons Bob Dylan and Abbie Hoffman, and other far-out ephemera.

Walk Away Renée (Jonathan Caouette) North American Premiere
Nine years after Tarnation stunned the documentary world, Caouette returns with his singular blend of home video montage, intimate confessionals, and even a dizzying CGI dream sequence in this poignant evocation of his mother’s 40-year struggle with mental illness and the effect it had on their relationship. A Sundance Selects release.