Lit up on screen: Library’s film fest looks at writers • Brooklyn Paper

Lit up on screen: Library’s film fest looks at writers

Lit up: The film “Arthur Miller: Writer,” directed by the playwright’s daughter Rebecca Miller, will screen at the LitFilm Festival at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch on Feb. 21.
Arthur Miller

Call it motion picture literature.

A new film festival will showcase the private lives of some of the world’s most popular writers. The inaugural Lit Film Festival, debuting on Feb. 20 at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch, will screen a dozen films that examine their work of authors and their lives behind the pen, said the series programmer.

“Some of these of films are interesting because we are really looking at these subjects, their literary work, and the characters they conceived — and I think that is a very important part of literary heritage,” said Jakab Orsos.

The festival also gives new life to films that have languished in obscurity, said Orsos.

“I had the had idea after watching and learning about different documentaries, and it was nice to look into these films more, because most of the time they are broadcast once or twice and they disappear,” he said.

One of those old films is 1989’s “James Baldwin: Price of the Ticket,” screening on Feb. 22, a documentary that uses archival footage of the novelist and black gay activist, who died in 1987.

The opening day of the festival will feature a keynote address by Rebecca Miller, who directed an intimate documentary about her father, famed playwright Arthur Miller, who wrote “Death of a Salesman” and “The Crucible,” and the former husband of Marilyn Monroe. Her film, “Arthur Miller: Writer,” will show on Feb. 21 at 7:30 pm.

Other films look at the lives of authors Alice Walker, Susan Sontag, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and William S. Burroughs, along with one that examines the birth and legacy of the comic book character Wonder Woman.

Orsos hopes that the festival will help people to appreciate how difficult it is to make an interesting, in-depth film about a writer. The event will not only examine how the directors took on the person they profiled, but why these films are becoming necessary in the coming years, he said.

“It’s a very risky genre that can be utterly boring, but they took the risk and approached the subjects with liberty,” said Orsos. “The filmmakers have to have a deep understanding to give viewers a wider view of the writer, and for the future we are somewhat identifying a hidden genre, which is almost a new genre.”

“Literary Film Festival” at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch [10 Grand Army Plaza at Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights, (718) 230–2100, www.bklynlibrary.org]. Feb. 20–25 at various times. Free.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.

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