Last night the Brooklyn Academy of Music kicked off its 5th annual BAMcinemaFest, a 10-day showcase of independent films culled from Cannes, Sundance, TIFF, Berlin, SXSW and other festivals from around the world. Highlights from this year’s lineup include James Ponsoldt‘s teen romance “The Spectacular Now,” Sebastian Silva‘s druggy road trip adventure “Crystal Fairy,” Joe Swanberg‘s relationship comedy “Drinking Buddies,” Dustin Cretton‘s heartrending foster care facility-set drama “Short Term ’12” and many, many more. Check out the full line-up here. But for opening night they scored the NYC Premiere of perhaps the buzziest film out of Sundance this year, David Lowery‘s “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.” When we caught the film at Sundance we called it, “a wholly engrossing and impressive piece
of work that the movie world will be talking about all year long.”
The film centers on Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck), a bank robber sent to prison who must leave his lover Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara)
behind, and pregnant. Four years later, he breaks out and makes his way back to her to meet the child he’s never seen, but of course, it
won’t be easy. The ensemble also features strong supporting turns from Ben Foster, Nate Parker and Keith
Carradine and has drawn comparisons to films like “Badlands,” “Bonnie And Clyde” and “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” (to which the director told us he’d cribbed as an influence).
Set for an August 16th release from IFC, ‘Saints’ already nabbed a spot on our Best Films Of 2013 (So Far)… list, but the one minor suggestion we had back in January was that “some small trims throughout could help the pace a bit.” Funny enough, that’s exactly what Lowery did. Since IFC picked it up, the filmmaker went back to work sharpening and honing the piece. While there were no radical differences from the cut we saw in Park City, at a brisk 96 minutes the film is now about 10 minutes shorter than the earlier cut and tight as a drum. Lowery even mentioned that he managed to put some previously excised footage back in the film after noticing how well it played in the trailer.
The film premiered at the the grand unveiling of the historic 100-year-old BAM Harvey Theater,
which has now been outfitted with a brand new screen and stadium
seating for 800, making it the largest movie palace in the borough. This summer the Harvey will be showing everything from silent films by Alfred Hitchcock with a live orchestra to big screen epics like “The Godfather,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” to first-run films like Woody Allen‘s “Blue Jasmine.”
After the screening the auditorium emptied out for the after party where the filmmakers (including Lowery, Affleck, Foster and cinematographer Bradford Young) mingled with the 800+ moviegoers and the occasional HBO star (Alex Karpovsky, Anna Chlumsky, Clay Davis) at the nearby Skylight One Hanson. (Also spotted outside the screening was a brand new poster for the film which you can take a look at below.)
Like most of BAM’s events, the evening had a celebratory atmosphere and there were plenty of reasons to celebrate. After a few years of struggling to find an identity (it had originally been affiliated directly with Sundance before branching out and rebranding), BAMcinemaFest has grown into a fantastic little festival. If you don’t have a chance to make it to Sundance, SXSW and the rest, catching many of the highlights just a few months later right as Summer kicks off in Brooklyn is a pretty great consolation prize.
BAMcinemaFest runs through June 28th.
Poster removed by request of IFC Films.