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BAM Announces June Theater Reopening, Plus Plans for All-Virtual BAMcinemaFest — Exclusive

After being closed for over a year and cancelling the 2020 edition of its festival, the Brooklyn mainstay is ready for its return.

NEW YORK, United States - Photo taken April 22, 2011, shows a building in Brooklyn, New York, where BAMcinematek is located. Japanese director Kaneto Shindo's 1952 film depicting the horrors of the atomic bomb, ''Children of Hiroshima,'' made its U.S. premiere the same day at the theater, as the director, who is from Hiroshima City, turned 99 that day. (Kyodo)

BAM in downtown Brooklyn


After being closed for over a year due to COVID-19, BAM Rose Cinemas will reopen Friday, June 11 for in-person screenings of first-run and repertory films, the Brooklyn mainstay has today announced. All four screens will reopen, with approximately 20 to 50 seats available in each theater, in accordance with reduced capacity New York State guidelines (as of this writing, the current capacity is due to expand to 33 percent later this week).

The theater will also be implementing a variety of enhanced safety measures, including mandatory masks unless eating or drinking (concessions will be available), socially-distanced seating (thanks to assigned seating, a first for the theater), enhanced HVAC filtration, and increased time between screenings to facilitate thorough cleaning and minimize interactions.

The theater will play a variety of new releases and older selections when it opens, including several titles that initially premiered as virtual cinema titles, such as Ousmane Sembène’s “Mandabi,” which first played on the virtual platform in February. “Sembène is an artist I love to see on the big screen,” senior film programmer Jesse Trussell told IndieWire. “His images still seem startlingly new even 50 years on.”

BAM fans not ready or able to attend in-person events will still be able to participate in this year’s BAMcinemaFest, which will screen entirely virtually June 23 – 29 after cancelling its 2020 edition. The lineup features five New York premieres, including Bassam Tariq’s “Mogul Mowgli” starring Riz Ahmed; the world premiere of BAMcinemaFest alum Ougie Pak’s “Clytaemnestra”; an artist spotlight on the work of Fox Maxy; as well as documentary and experimental shorts programs, and filmmaker Q&As.

“It’s been remarkable to watch colleagues experiment and innovate over the last year,” Trussell said. “One of the things I’m most excited about is the way virtual festivals tear down walls that prevented people from having access before. This year, we are able to reach people who for any reason can’t make it to BAM, as well as provide a sliding scale for ticket prices.”

He added, “I also think the virtual space provides an interesting location for the work of a filmmaker like Fox Maxy, whose extraordinary films combine diaristic practice, oppositional form, and play with the visual language of online life.”

For the first time, the festival will offer an all-access pass allowing audiences to watch the entire lineup at any time during the festival’s screening dates. Since 2009, BAMcinemaFest has spotlighted highlights from the U.S. festival circuit with a focus on emerging new voices.

The remainder of BAM’s other spring offerings will take place virtually and throughout the borough, including What to Send Up When It Goes Down in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Pop-Up Magazine on the streets of Fort Greene.

This year’s BAMcinemaFest selection committee members are Natalie Erazo and Trussell, with assistance from Andreea Drogeanu. The 2021 lineup will include the following films, with all synopses provided by the festival:

“Clytaemnestra” (2021) Dir. Ougie Pak. When a young South Korean actress is invited to Greece to perform in a renowned playwright’s adaptation of Agamemnon, she believes she’s landed the role of a lifetime. However, what begins as a dream opportunity soon descends into a hellish nightmare in this new work by BAMcinemaFest alum Ougie Pak. 70 min. World Premiere

“Fruits of Labor” (2021) Dir. Emily Cohen Ibañez. A Mexican-American teenage farmworker dreams of graduating high school when ICE raids in her community threaten to separate her family and force her to become her family’s breadwinner. Fruits of Labor is a lyrical, coming of age documentary feature about adolescence, nature, and ancestors. 76 min. New York Premiere

“I Was a Simple Man” (2021) Dir. Christopher Makoto Yogi. Set on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawai’i, the island’s ambient noises—the waves, the wind, the birds—are present throughout the film’s time-shifting chapters, from the pre-World War II sugar plantations of Oahu to Hawai’i statehood to the present gentrification of Honolulu. As the main character gets sicker, he is visited by ghosts of his past, including his wife, Grace (Constance Wu), who helps shepherd him into the beyond. 100 min. New York Premiere

“Ludi” (2021) Dir. Edson Jean. Ludi, a hardworking and exhausted nurse, battles coworkers, clients and one impatient bus driver to learn her self worth as she chases the “American dream” in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood. 80 min. New York Premiere

“Mogul Mowgli” (2020) Dir. Bassam Tariq. Zed, a young British rapper, is about to start his first world tour, when a crippling illness strikes him down and he is forced to move back in with his family. He tries to find himself between an international music career and Pakistani family traditions. 90 min. New York Premiere

“Superior” (2021) Dir. Erin Vassilopoulos. When Marian is on the run, she goes to the only place she knows is safe: her childhood home. She is greeted there by her estranged sister, Vivian, a stay-at-home housewife struggling to conceive and on the verge of a failing marriage. Though they are identical twins, they live opposite lives. When Marian’s haunting past finally catches up to her, their separate worlds collide, catapulting both sisters into grave danger. 99 min. New York Premiere

Recent Films by Fox Maxy

Trickster forces lead us through curious journeys of time, memory, identity, environments, and opposition within these recent films by artist Fox Maxy.

“Maat Means Land” (2020, 30 min)

“San Diego” (2020, 32 min)

“Watertight” (Rough cut, 2022, 40 min)

“Gush” (2021, 30 min)

Shorts Program 1: Intercepted

Through notions of Black family preservation, accessibility, and feminist collectivity, these stories look at points of connection that prevail amid legacies of state-sanctioned family separation.

“This is an Address” (2020) Dir. Sasha Wortzel, 18 min

“Video Visit” (2021) Dir. Malika Zouhali Worrall, 21 min

“I’m Free Now, You Are Free” (2020) Dir. Ash Goh Hua, 15 min

“They Won’t Call It Murder” (2021) Dirs. Ingrid Raphaël & Melissa Gira Grant, 20 min

Shorts Program 2: Remembrance

Gathering together cinematic experiments from collage to archival tributes, these dynamic shorts offer meditations on migration, loss, reconciliation, and the circular nature of time.

“we didn’t see it as a tidal wave” (2021) Dir. Gi (Ginny) Huo, 2 min

“Two Sons and a River of Blood” (2021) Dirs. Angelo Madsen Minax & Amber Bemak, 11 min

“I ran from it and was still in it” (2020) Dir. Darol Olu Kae, 11 min

“What Happened to a Dream Deferred” (2020) Dir. Esery Mondesir, 25 min

“Sanctuary” (2021) Dir. Shahkeem Williams, 10 min

Shorts Program 3: Symbiosis

These sites of resilience, camaraderie, and care offer a soft landing for contemplation and interdependence.

“Bug Farm” (2020) Dir. Lydia Cornett, 14 min

“What The Pier Gave Us” (2021) Dir. Luna X Moya, 6 min

“Queenie” (2020) Dir. Cai Thomas, 20 min

“The Cut” (2021) Dir. Zac Manuel, 7 min

“Choir” (2021) Dir. Aisha Amin, 10 min

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