An upcoming film festival is looking to its host borough for inspiration—and finding it on virtually every street corner.
The 11th annual Brooklyn International Film Festival is themed “Cinergy,” a play on cinema and synergy—of which Brooklyn has plenty.
“We are trying to translate the concept to the screen by mixing a bunch of different films that apparently have nothing to do with each other—but all together, have a great synergy,” said Marco Ursino, the executive director of the festival, which runs from May 30 to June 8.
This year, directors will be younger than usual, Ursino said, an effort to give voice to new and local filmmakers.
“We feel we live in a great place that is so mixed—there is so much variety,” he added.
Films will be shown at both the Brooklyn Lyceum Theater, 227 Fourth Avenue, (featuring 36 two-hour film programs) and Brooklyn Heights Cinema, 70 Henry Street (featuring 31 two-hour film programs).
Each film selected will be shown twice, at different times/venues. Opening night will be celebrated on May 30 at the Brooklyn Lyceum. Sidebar shows will run at the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza, East Coast Aliens, 216 Franklin Street in Greenpoint and Lumenhouse, 47 Beaver Street in Bushwick.
While the lineup has not yet been finalized, Ursino said audiences can expect a “stunning project.”
The festival is competitive—prizes totaling over $80,000 in film services, products and cash will be awarded to winners. A single prize of $5,000 cash, the “Diane Seligman Award,” will be given to the best documentary.
Festival organizers have in the past shown a commitment to young audiences, and this year will be no different.
The festival’s fourth annual Kidsfilmfest will be held on June 1 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Brooklyn Lyceum. Kidsfilmfest exposes and promotes children’s filmmakers within the established forum, and is free for children 12 and under.
The program will be tailored for children of all ages; films will be rated G.. It will consist of numerous short animation, documentary, and narrative films. Directors will be on hand to talk with the audience and there will be a filmmakers’ workshop and other activities after the films.
Ursino, 48, started the festival, originally called the Williamsburg Film Festival, in 1998, initially as a way to promote his own film. Originally from Italy, Ursino visited New York back in 1988, and moved to Williamsburg in 1994. “I found a home,” he said.
Today, the festival draws submissions from around the world, and operates on a $1 million budget. Its 2008 sponsor is Stella Artois, the Belgian brewer.
As Ursino sees it, television, newspapers and radio seem to vary in their levels of objectivity, often pushing a particular political agenda.
Good films, he said, have the chance to clear away societal cobwebs.
“People need truth now, and I strongly feel that independent movies still are the most honest medium,” he said.
“Young filmmakers are really there to tell the truth—to talk about little problems that affect everybody,” he said.
For more information, visit www.brooklynfest.org.