Beloved BAMcinemaFest to return in-person for first time since 2019

A still from ‘100 Ways to Touch the Border,’ a reflective documentary about the ‘radical artistic practice’ of Mexican performer Guillermo Gómez-Peña and his troupe, La Pocha Nostra.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music is gearing up its first in-person BAMcinemaFest since 2019, coming to the Rose Cinema in historic Fort Greene from June 23 through June 30.

Organizers are thrilled to present a program “overflowing with funny, moving, challenging, and thought-provoking discoveries” and will recognize some of the filmmaker’s feature debuts, according to BAM.

“This year’s festival is a celebration of all that movies can be when bold, uncompromising artists are empowered to tell their own stories,” the organization said in a release.

The eight-day film fest will open with a screening of “Aftershock,” an award-winning documentary that spotlights Black women and bereaved partners who have been failed by America’s maternal health system. The showing will be followed by a panel discussion “to inspire and empower the trailblazing work being done to ensure the best birthing outcomes for all Americans,” according to BAM.

BAMCinemaFest will continue with the New York premiere of a restoration of Ayoka Chenzira’s first feature film “Alma’s Rainbow” (1993) with a screening of her animated short picture, “Hair Piece: A Film for Nappyheaded People” (1984).

“In this satirical short, Chenzira utilizes mixed media and animation to unpack the stereotypes associated with Black hair while critiquing the limits of the European beauty standard,” reads a description of the film on BAM’s website. “She draws attention to the physical pain Black women endure to straighten their hair, and the emotional pain that comes as a result of the pressure to conform.”

A still from “Hair Piece: A Film for Nappyheaded People,” on view during this year’s BAMcinemaFest.BAM

The program’s full lineup features a total of 15 films, including “Ferny and Luca,” a romantic comedy directed by Andrew Infante that follows the hot and cold relationship of Ferny, a “sweet and naive pretty boy, and Luca, a rough-and-tumble disco queen,” and “100 Ways to Touch the Border,” a reflective documentary about the “radical artistic practice” of Mexican performer, Guillermo Gómez-Peña and his troupe La Pocha Nostra. 

According to Jesse Trussell, senior film programmer at BAM, sharing stories from New York City and BIPOC writers and directors is an important driving force for the team.

“We try to pride ourselves in the fact that it’s really well curated, really interesting films [and] some hard hitting films but also we want to make it open and accessible and a place where all are welcome, ” Trussell said.

And being in person again for the first time since before the pandemic will make this year’s Cinema Fest even more special, he said.

“I’m thrilled to have BAMcinemaFest back in person and to spotlight this incredible lineup of filmmakers,” Trussell said. “As we close in on a year since BAM Rose Cinemas reopened, it’s a joy to be able to gather and celebrate this art form as a collective experience.”

According to Trussell, having a live audience is vital to the excitement of the show and the experience of the movie presenters. 

“One of the most special things that we have at the festival that we can offer to filmmakers is an incredible audience,” he said. “The people here in Brooklyn that come out are attentive and interesting and have the best questions [for] Q and A’s and I think people always really enjoy the experience of showing their work to a Brooklyn audience.”

For more information on BAMcinemaFest or to purchase tickets, visit BAM’s website.