Flop-house cinema: W’burg film fest celebrates bad movies • Brooklyn Paper

Flop-house cinema: W’burg film fest celebrates bad movies

Movie tragic: For “Bad Film Fest” creators Shawn Wickens, left, and Starr Kendall, a thumbs down is really a thumbs up.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Brooklyn has festivals for cat films, motorbike films, and science fiction films. And now it has a festival for bad films.

The second annual “Bad Film Fest” will take place at Williamsburg performance space Cloud City on April 11 and 12. The festival, organized by a pair of New York City writers and performers, celebrates pieces of cinema that are “so bad they’re good.”

“We felt it would be a fun way to program a very diverse festival and it would sort of set the bar low to be able to say yes to a wide variety of films,” said Shawn Wickens, who is organizing on the event with long-time collaborator Starr Kendall.

The duo have selected 62 films from both local and international filmmakers for this year’s fest — some coming from right here in Brooklyn, others as far away as Estonia.

Selections include a commercial parody shot on VHS in 1987 in Canarsie, and a short filmed in the swamps of Florida with a budget of four six-packs and a bag of Doritos.

Most of the films have an average running time of only 3–4 minutes, so even if some turn out to be so bad they’re just plain bad, it won’t be a problem, said Wickens.

“Even if you come and see something you don’t like, it will be over soon,” he said.

Just what makes a film “bad” is open to interpretation, and the pair — who also put on an annual “Bad Theater Festival” — hopes the event prompts filmmakers and audiences to think about the question “what does bad mean to you?”

“We try to fit as many things as we can under the umbrella of the word ‘bad,’ ” said Kendall.

But the duo said they definitely place a premium on films that push the boundaries of good taste.

“Stuff that sometimes scares us is what we look for,” said Kendall. “If there’s something that makes us a little nervous about screening, it’s likely that we’ll eventually put it in the line-up to rattle our chains as well as the audience’s,”

“Bad Film Festival” at Cloud City (85 N. First St. between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, www.badtheaterfest.com). April 11 and 12 at 7 and 9 pm. $7 per session.

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