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Allegory of the Kaves: Ridge artist featured in Brooklyn film fest short

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This lord is expanding his dominion.

A short film featuring Bay Ridge creative force Kaves — who founded hip-hop group Lordz of Brooklyn in 1992 — is showing at the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival on May 16. Kaves plays the lead role in the flick — called “Eulogy” — and is excited for the film’s first screening in Brooklyn.

“It’s our home turf, and we have to represent,” he said.

Renowned as a seminal graffiti-writer in the 1980s and a founding member of the Lordz, Kaves said he recently branched into film because he wanted a new way to tell stories.

“I started wanting to tell my story with a spray can, and it opened up a lot of doors,” Kaves said. “As I get older, I’m maturing into a new way to be a folklorist. I always felt I was a Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, story-teller, and this was the next step.”

He wrote and directed 2012’s “The Shoemaker” and has appeared in two other movies.

In “Eulogy,” Kaves plays Zef, the black sheep in an Albanian crime family, who nonetheless winds up in jail and is paroled to eulogize his brother after a suicide.

It is a brooding and tense 12 minutes that pick the scabs of deeper family tensions, and Kaves fit the bill for the lead, the director said.

“He is dark, emotional — exactly what I was looking for,” said director Don Capria.

The mononymic artist, whose given surname is McLeer, doesn’t have any Albanian blood to speak of, but he grew up among immigrants from the former Soviet Bloc nation, and some friends helped him prepare for the part.

“I tattoo a lot of Albanian friends, and so when I had them in the chair, I was picking their brain,” said Kaves, who also runs Brooklyn Made Tattoo on 93rd Street.

The film, released in November, is starting to make waves. The Queens World Film Festival awarded the short “Best Ensemble Cast” this year (the film also features “Sopranos” alum Federico Castelluccio and adult model Darenzia Elizabeth), and Hollywood producers are starting to take notice, Capria said.

“It was probably best award we could get in a short film,” Capria said. “It was a nice tip of the hat for us.”

But Capria entered “Eulogy” in the Brooklyn festival too late for judging, he said.

One organizer said the late entry was a shame but he’s glad they’re in the show.

“We’re happy to have a Bay Ridge guy in it representing Brooklyn,” said festival co-founder Anthony DeVito, a Ridge comic and filmmaker who created the festival to highlight artistic endeavours borough-wide and counterbalance the outsize focus on north Brooklyn’s creative scene.

“Eulogy” may not be up for any awards on May 16, but Capria and Kaves are just excited to screen it — especially if that leads to a longer version.

“The more festivals we get into, hopefully it will get into the hands of producer who wants to see this as a full feature,” Capria said.

“Eulogy” in The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival at St. Francis College (180 Remsen St. between Court and Clinton streets Downtown, www.theartofbrooklyn.org). May 16 at 8 pm. $10.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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