It’s no secret that Brooklyn is becoming a formidable home for independent cinema. The borough of Brooklyn, which has so many people that it would be the fourth largest city in the country if it was an independent city, is fast becoming an important player in independent film exhibition. In the past few years, Indiescreen, reRun, Spectacle and Nitehawk Cinemas have all joined Rooftop Films and the BAM cinemas in creating an exciting exhibition culture. As more cinemas are opening in the borough, the BAMcinemaFest is becoming a robust force in the indie world. Brookyn is also, of course, the home to many of the world’s most exciting filmmakers.
For such a big place, though, screening series for niche audiences often head to Manhattan. There is BAMCinematek and recent additions Spectacle and Light Industry, but Adam Schartoff has been strategically partnering with venues, filmmakers, and film organizations to create more venues for indie filmmakers to screen their work to small audiences in Brooklyn.
Schartoff left his job at Sony Music when the industry started to flounder. He didn’t have a background in film careers, but he was raised as a cinephile. “When you’re seeing all the classics as a child,” he told Indiewire. “You’re not necessarily interested in the films, but it does inform you.”
Currently, his organization Filmwax is hosting a series of films called Brooklyn Reconstructed, about the borough’s gentrification, at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture. Included in that series are films like “My Brooklyn,” the Oscar-shortlisted “Battle for Brooklyn,” and “The Domino Effect.” Filmwax is also hosting a monthly screening series with IFP for independent feature narratives at the bar Franklin Park. An exciting partnership with PBS’ POV will see Filmwax hosting a screening series at the Brooklyn Museum. Filmwax will also leave the borough once a month when Schartoff presents a film at the Maysles Cinema uptown in his Docularious! series for comedic documentaries.
“There’s definitely a hunger for these films,” Schartoff told Indiewire. “I’m getting really good at being on the ground and getting people in local communities out to screenings in their neighborhood. There’s a ton of young, creative folks in Brooklyn. I can tap into films from emerging filmmakers. There are so many people who love these festival films, and people here seem to be open to an alternative to mainstream studio pictures.”
In addition to hosting these screening series, Filmwax also has its own online radio show, available as a podcast on iTunes and on Brooklyn-based Internet radio station BBOX. Recent filmmakers on the show have included Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing of “Detropia,” Vikram Gandhi (“Kumare”), and Jonathan Caouette (“Walk Away Renee,” “Tarnation”). According to Schartoff the show is about independent film. “There’s a local focus,” he added, “so we love having local filmmakrs on. But if there’s a filmmaker in town and they’ve got a great film, we’re not going to overlook that.”
Favorite Film: “The Conversation”
Favorite Director: Mike Leigh
Favorite Film Set in Brooklyn: “The Landlord”
Favorite Film Set in New York: “The French Connection”