Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

The Sixth Annual BAMcinemaFest Lineup is Chock-Full of American Indies

By Indiewire | Indiewire May 6, 2014 at 2:32PM

The slate for the sixth annual BAMcinemaFest is set. Running June 18-29 in Brooklyn, BAMcinematek's festival will kick off with Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" and close with a special 25th anniversary screening of Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing."
3
Happy Christmas
Magnolia "Happy Christmas"

The slate for the sixth annual BAMcinemaFest is set. Running June 18th-29th in Brooklyn, BAMcinematek's festival will kick off with Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" and close with a special 25th anniversary screening of Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing." 

The Centerpiece feature will be Boon Joon Ho's first English-language film "Snowpiercer," and the Spotlight film will be David Wain's mockery of rom coms "They Came Together." In honor of these films' New York premieres, Boon Joon Ho, David Wain, Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler will be present at the BAM Harvey Theater. 

Check out the full lineup below: 

10,000KM (Carlos Marques-Marcet) NY Premiere Narrative

In this groundbreaking and moving look at 21st-century relationships, long-term couple Alexandra and Sergi live together in Barcelona, where they’re planning to start a family. But when she accepts a yearlong residency in LA, the pair decides to stay together despite the long distance. Using video chat to stay in touch—and attempt some awkward cybersex—they soon discover the limits of their digital connection, confronting a distance even the Internet can’t diminish. Winner of the Special Jury Award at SXSW for Best Acting, and opening with a virtuoso 20-minute long take that registers the painful push and pull between romantic commitment and individual desires, 10,000KM is a candid exploration of love in the age of the pixel.

Approaching the Elephant (Amanda Rose Wilder) NY Premiere Documentary

Without imposing traditional authority or structure, New Jersey’s Teddy McArdle Free School allows children to set their own rules and choose whether or not to attend classes. The teachers struggle to create a learning environment that instills the values of democracy and critical thinking, but an ongoing clash between two students tests the limits of the system. Evoking both the immersive style of Frederick Wiseman and such fictional dystopias as Lord of the Flies, Wilder crafts an inspired portrait of unfettered childhood within a radical model of education.

Appropriate Behavior (Desiree Akhavan) NY Premiere Narrative

Writer-director-star Akhavan helms this deadpan comedy about a bisexual Iranian-American woman adrift after a break-up. Finding new digs in Bushwick and a daycare job at a kindergarten film school, 20-something Shirin oscillates from conservative family gatherings (where she remains closeted) to hip Brooklyn parties and cold sexual encounters—punctuated with flashbacks to simpler times with her ex. Drawing comparisons to Annie Hall and Girls, this debut feature introduces a sharp new voice in independent cinema.

Concerning Violence (Goran Hugo Olsson) NY Premiere Documentary

Set to the voice of Lauryn Hill reading Frantz Fanon’s anti-colonialist call to arms, The Wretched of the Earth, this mesmerizing assemblage of rarely seen archival footage brings to light nine of the most pivotal episodes in the history of African revolution. Documenting decades of uprisings, from the Angolan War of Independence to the Mozambique Liberation Front and beyond, director Goran Hugo Olsson’s (The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975) propulsive and endlessly provocative docu-essay interrogates the role of violent revolt in the dismantling of colonial power and offers an impassioned tribute to the sacrifices made in the pursuit of liberation. A Kino Lorber release.

Ellie Lumme (Ignatiy Vishnevetsky) NY Premiere Narrative

Film critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky makes the leap to filmmaking with his debut narrative work, a self-described "ghost story without a ghost." When 22-year-old Ellie meets a slightly older, seemingly infatuated stranger, he soon becomes a constant -- and unwelcome -- presence in her life. As their relationship grows increasingly disturbed, this meticulously shot, subtly supernatural tale blossoms into a haunting psychological riddle.

Evolution of a Criminal (Darius Clark Monroe) NY Premiere Documentary

In this unique, autobiographical documentary, filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe revisits his journey from honors student to convicted felon at the age of 16. Feeling the anxiety of his family’s financial troubles, Monroe planned a bank heist that netted $140,000 in cash but landed him in jail for three years. Contemplating the ramifications of his crime, Monroe gathers interviews with relatives, accomplices, and victims, who react to his efforts to make amends in unpredictable ways. His unflinching and cathartic confrontation with his past examines how the effects of one bad decision reverberate throughout a community.

For the Plasma (Bingham Bryant & Kyle Molzan) World Premiere Narrative

In a remote house in Maine, two old friends analyze CCTV footage of the surrounding forest to predict shifts in global financial markets. From this cryptic premise grows a lo-fi mind-bender of intimate scale and startling relevance that flirts with sci-fi and horror conventions even as it subverts them. To the strains of an electronic score, For the Plasma juxtaposes pastoral imagery with surveillance technology, every shade and shadow captured in gorgeous 16mm.

The Foxy Merkins (Madeleine Olnek) NY Premiere Narrative

Fresh off the bus in New York City, Margaret embarks on a career as a lesbian prostitute, servicing upper-class Manhattanites under the tutelage of Jo, a straight and streetwise grifter with a knack for picking up women. Olnek’s raucous buddy comedy and Independent Spirit Award nominee (co-written with the two stars, Lisa Haas and Jackie Monahan) is an all-female riff on My Own Private Idaho by way of Midnight Cowboy, filled with eccentric characters and clever cameos, including Girls’ Alex Karpovsky as a shady merkin salesman.

Happy Christmas (Joe Swanberg) NY Premiere Narrative

Post-break-up and without a plan, Jenny (Anna Kendrick) moves in with her brother (Swanberg) and his wife (Melanie Lynskey) for the holidays, but her arrival triggers a whirlwind of drunken hijinks and irresponsible behavior that upsets the family’s balance. The ever-prolific Swanberg follows his indie hit Drinking Buddies with this charmingly relaxed comedy shot in 16mm, featuring Lena Dunham as Jenny’s outspoken high school friend and a scene-stealing performance by the director’s two-year-old son. A Magnolia Pictures release. Opens July 25.

Happy Valley (Amir Bar-Lev) NY Premiere Documentary

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal, many Penn State fans reacted with outrage—not over Sandusky’s actions, but to the dismissal of Joe Paterno, the popular head coach who shielded him from prosecution. Interviewing key parties, including Paterno’s family and one of Sandusky’s victims, director Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story) wades fearlessly into the controversy, probing the “football first” culture to better understand whether Paterno, the university, and the community turned a blind eye to the unspeakable.

The Heart Machine (Zachary Wigon) NY Premiere Narrative

Cody (John Gallagher Jr.) carries on a virtual relationship with Virginia (BAMcinemaFest regular Kate Lyn Sheil), who’s in Berlin studying abroad for six months—or so she says. As Cody becomes convinced that Virginia may, in fact, be in New York, he develops an increasingly unhealthy fixation with tracking her down. Part love story, part moody paranoid thriller in the vein of The Conversation, The Heart Machine is a tense, trenchant tale of obsession and alienation for the digital age.

I Origins (Mike Cahill) NY Festival Premiere Narrative

Director Cahill’s luminous, Brooklyn-set follow-up to his acclaimed Another Earth (BAMcinemaFest 2011) further plumbs the romantic and metaphysical dimensions of science. A molecular biologist (Michael Pitt) studying the evolution of the eyes finds his romance with an enigmatic young woman inextricably linked to a potentially earth-shaking scientific breakthrough. Intelligent and provocative, I Origins is a lush sophomore effort from one of independent filmmaking’s most intriguing voices. A Fox Searchlight release. Opens July 18.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (David Zellner) NY Premiere Narrative

In this absurdist adventure tale based on an urban legend, a Tokyo office assistant (Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi) becomes irrationally fixated on a scene in the Coen Brothers’ Fargo in which a briefcase full of money is hidden beneath a blanket of snow. With stolen atlas in hand, she ditches her overbearing mother and dead-end job, taking off for the Midwest plains in search of the buried treasure. Indie veterans David and Nathan Zellner journey to the edges of film-fueled obsession in this beguilingly off-kilter character study infused with deadpan humor and rapturous widescreen imagery.

L for Leisure (Lev Kalman & Whitney Horn) US Premiere Narrative

It’s Baywatch meets Rohmer in this gauzy, sun-kissed paean to vacation. Shot on glorious 16mm, L for Leisure follows a group of quasi-intellectual grad students circa 1993 as they jet off to various international destinations (Baja, France, Iceland, and beyond) in search of adventure. This deliciously retro first feature from directing duo Kalman and Horn boasts impromptu Greco-Roman wrestling, a boogie-boarding dog, and extended discussions about everything from alternative universes to Michael Jordan—all set to a blissed-out synth-pop soundtrack.

Life After Death (Joe Callander) NY Premiere Documentary

Having grown up in the shadow of war and genocide, charismatic but directionless Rwandan orphan Kwasa finds the guidance—and financial aid—he seemingly needs from a charity-minded Christian couple from the US. This multi-layered documentary begins with a wry examination of evangelical zeal, but slowly reveals that Kwasa’s benefactors are turning a blind eye to his puckish scheming and unrepentant carousing. Laced with comic touches, Life After Death is a clear-eyed portrait of both Rwandan youth struggling to rise above their country’s troubled history and the well-intentioned outsiders eager to help.

Low Down (Jeff Preiss) NY Premiere Narrative

Based on Amy Albany’s (Elle Fanning) memoir of her turbulent adolescence  with her father, legendary jazz pianist Joe Albany (John Hawkes), this richly evocative drama charts the pianist’s crippling struggles with heroin addiction. Graced with tour de force performances by a star-studded cast including Glenn Close, Peter Dinklage, and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) and a marvelous, moody soundtrack featuring Coleman Hawkins, Thelonious Monk, and Albany himself, this moving elegy to a bygone era by the multi-talented Preiss (cinematographer for the revered Chet Baker documentary Let's Get Lost) poetically captures the seedy romance of the 1970s LA jazz scene.

Memphis (Tim Sutton) NY Premiere Narrative

In a raw, seemingly autobiographical star turn, underground blues singer-poet Willis Earl Beal plays a musician who claims to have mystical powers but can’t seem to finish his next album. Trying the patience of his girlfriend and his producer, he drifts from Baptist church to bar to recording studio in a struggle to regain his creative spark. BAMcinemaFest 2012 alum Tim Sutton (Pavilion) treads the line between documentary and fiction in this sumptuously photographed, daringly abstract portrait of an iconic city, which features a haunting original soundtrack and supporting performances from legendary Stax musicians Larry Dodson and John Gary Williams. A Kino Lorber release.

The Mend (John Magary) NY Premiere Narrative

Mat, a reckless drifter pushing 40, shows up unexpectedly at his gainfully employed brother Alan’s Harlem apartment—and never leaves, turning his seemingly stable sibling’s life upside down. In this deliriously unhinged, unpredictable debut feature, Magary steers this dark comic tale of brotherly love and hate into increasingly freewheeling, nihilistic territory, the sense of disorientation heightened by a modern classical score.

The Notorious Mr. Bout (Tony Gerber & Maxim Pozdorovkin) NY Premiere Documentary

Known as the “Merchant of Death,” Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout achieved international notoriety following his 2008 arrest for supplying weapons to terrorists. This riveting, often black-comic documentary shows two Viktor Bouts: the amiable, upbeat family man who viewed himself as an entrepreneur and the ruthless criminal mastermind who abetted murderers. Bolstered by Bout’s own firsthand accounts and remarkable home video footage of his globe-trotting exploits, The Notorious Mr. Bout masterfully reveals both the man and the myth.

Other Months (Nick Singer) NY Premiere Narrative

After returning home from college, Nash dabbles in plumbing and maintains vague aspirations of becoming a writer, reveling in the cheap thrills of sex, alcohol, and the dance floor to wade through his post-grad listlessness. Divided into three chapters (February, July, and November) and partly based on Singer’s acclaimed short, Other Months traces the descent of its enigmatic protagonist in a rush of moody, surreal imagery, exhilaratingly shot by talented young DP Justin Zweifach.

Something, Anything (Paul Harrill) NY Premiere Narrative

In the wake of a life-altering tragedy, Southern newlywed Peggy confronts a profound spiritual crisis and sets out on a quest to discover a higher purpose. Without knowing what she seeks, Peggy jeopardizes her marriage, career, and friendships to find fulfillment. Harrill’s impressive debut feature is a meditative and quietly transfixing study of a woman attempting to put her life back together.

Thou Wast Mild and Lovely (Josephine Decker) NY Premiere Narrative

Psychosexual tensions boil over in this hair-raising erotic drama, set on an idyllic farm in the Kentucky countryside. When hired hand Akin (DIY staple Joe Swanberg) arrives to help out for the summer, he becomes increasingly entangled with the mysterious and emotionally manipulative relationship between farmer (Robert Longstreet) and daughter. Using time-lapse photography and shifting points of view, Decker imbues the bucolic scenery with a mounting sense of dread that evokes John Steinbeck and David Lynch. 

Wild Canaries (Lawrence Michael Levine) NY Premiere Narrative

Brooklyn DIY meets classic screwball mystery in this witty whodunit. Husband and wife team Levine (Gabi on the Roof in July) and Takal (Green, BAMcinemaFest 2011) star as a perpetually bickering couple who suspect something’s amiss when their elderly neighbor suddenly drops dead. Channeling The Thin Man's Nick and Nora, Levine and Takal recruit their roommate (Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat) to join the case, and the investigation that ensues takes them on a whirlwind tour of Kings County that yields both breezy comic delights and some sinister discoveries.

Special events, shorts, the complete festival schedule, and press screenings to be announced.

This article is related to: BAMcinemaFest, BAMcinematek, BAMcinemafest, Boyhood, Do The Right Thing, Snowpiercer, They Came Together, Festivals, Lineups





Win The Complete Twin Peaks on Blu-ray from Indiewire! in Indiewire's Hangs on LockerDome