Since 1998, the Brooklyn Film Festival has exposed a wide range of independent film each June and promoted NYC’s most populous borough as a cinema destination. This year’s edition, held today, June 1, through Sunday, June 10, is organized around the theme “Decoy,” encouraging audiences to explore multiple perspectives and meanings in the films in its lineup of features and shorts.
Among the festival’s more than twenty feature-length films are eight documentaries. I’ve seen and can recommend three of these already: Katie Dellamaggiore’s already acclaimed junior-high chess team film, BROOKLYN CASTLE, which I wrote about upon its world premiere at SXSW here; Mareike Wegener’s MARK LOMBARDI – DEATH-DEFYING ACTS OF ART AND CONSPIRACY (pictured), an involving consideration of the late artist whose obsessive work mapped surprising connections between money, power, and geopolitical events; and Sven Zellner’s PRICE OF GOLD, depicting the illegal and dangerous mining of gold by Mongolian nomads.
Two of the offerings present new work by notable Brooklyn filmmakers reflecting on the dramatic changes to their neighborhoods: Su Friedrich’s GUT RENOVATION (pictured), a personal film about the “revitalization” which forced the acclaimed filmmaker out of Williamsburg; and Kelly Anderson’s MY BROOKLYN, an exploration of the unholy union between corporate and political interests that led to the gentrification of Downtown Brooklyn and the Fulton Street Mall.
The final three feature docs also focus on individuals’ relationship to their homes: Dara Kell and Christopher Nizza’s DEAR MANDELA address the South African governments attempts to eliminate shantytowns and the resistance its residents put up to defend their homes; Raul Santos’ THE ROCK (pictured), the story of two communities being forcibly separated by the edict of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco; and Antonio Tibaldi’s [S]COMPARSE, in which a feature film crew disrupts the lives of the inhabitants of a small island between Sicily and Africa.