The new feature film “Cult of Sincerity” is like a National Geographic documentary on the feeding, mating and social rituals of Williamsburg’s twentysomething hipsters.
And sometimes, the truth hurts.
Kensington-based co-directors Brendan Choisnet and Adam Brown were roommates with “Cult” screenwriter Daniel Nayeri when their concept was born, and the result is well worth inviting some friends over to your own home to watch the television premiere of their flick on Channel 13 on Aug. 23.
In their debut film, Joseph (played by Daniel Pettrow) counters the jaded ennui of his friends and contemporaries by declaring at an open mic night that he is going to begin a “Cult of Sincerity” — a mission to do the right thing, to commit to articulating genuine, heartfelt words and actions.
The story follows him as he embarks on his “vision statement,” clumsily stepping on the toes of seemingly everyone he interacts with, from strangers in McCarren Park to the uber-stylish, attractive members of his clique that includes a — surprise! — Johnny Depp look-alike filmmaker, a sexy actress and a painter from Canada.
While there are jabs at the clove cigarettes and ironic trucker hats and T-shirts that pepper the neighborhood, the three cineastes stress that they are poking fun at themselves as much as “hipster culture” in general.
“We moved to Kensington five years ago, and we’re in our 20s, and we’re filmmakers,” said Choisnet, “So I guess we qualify as hipsters, too. It’s not meant to point a finger, as much as it is holding a mirror up to ourselves. To me, that’s very important. There isn’t a holier-than-thou attitude.”
“We’re totally THAT douchebag,” concurred Brown.
Brown said that the film “didn’t seem to be offensive to viewers, as much as it ignited discussion — and that’s exactly what we want.”
WNET simply had to have the movie, according to Ana Ramos, curator of the “Reel 13 Indies” series.
“ ‘Cult of Sincerity’ was a natural: a clever, funny and touching attack on the chic cynicism among smart, trendy twentysomethings,” said Ramos. “Here was a fresh, thoughtful, local production … with Brooklyn as a backdrop — a terrific opportunity to celebrate the talent in our own backyard.”
Surprisingly, the “Cult” filmmakers chose not to go the festival route with their first flick, instead opting to be the “first to world premiere on [YouTube.com] in its entirety,” claimed Choisnet. “That’s how channel 13 found out about us.
“Our film is made for 20 to 30-year-olds — people from a variety of demographics have seen it and enjoyed it — but it would be most understood by our generation,” he continued. “We are all filmmakers and although we can’t tell you the last time we went to a film festival, we’ve been to [YouTube.com] in the last 24 hours. That’s the way our audience is consuming media now — they’re more apt to go online — so [YouTube.com] seemed a more natural fit.
“And our film has now been seen by more people — from all over the world — than it would have had it been in the top festivals all over the world.” At press time, the film had been seen by more than 33,000 viewers.
But Choisnet was quick to point out that the channel 13 screening will offer a better quality viewing experience.
“[On television] is the best way to see the movie — it doesn’t need a crowd to cheer along,” said Choisnet. “It’s an intimate film and should be seen alone or with a few friends at night.”
But for those who’d like to rub elbows with the cast and filmmakers, the trio is hosting a viewing party that’s open to the public on Aug. 23 at Stain Bar in Williamsburg, where important scenes in the film were shot, said Nayeri.
Shooting on location at Stain, Black Sheep bar and the Community Bookstore in Park Slope — and snippets of conversation like “Are you going to sell yourself for a daiquiri and a free ride to Bensonhurst?” — lend the film its ring of Kings County authenticity,
Truly, the film is like a love letter — albeit a barbed one — carefully documenting each hat’s crocheted flower or vintage leather blazer. After all — and this is a spoiler alert — Joseph gets together with the attractive, narcissistic Billyburg actress — not the nice girl from Canada.
“Cult of Sincerity” will be screened at 11:15 pm on Aug. 23 at Stain Bar (766 Grand St. at Humboldt Street in Williamsburg). For information, call (718) 387-7840 or visit www.stainbar.com.
REEL 13 presents “Cult of Sincerity” at 11:15 pm on Aug. 23 on channel 13/WNET. For information, visit www.thirteen.org.
©2008 Community News Group
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