Greenpoint Gazette

First Annual Greenpoint Film Festival Kicks Off this Weekend

BY Kylie Jane Wakefield

On October 27th, the Greenpoint Film Festival will make its debut. Inside Broadway Stages, movies from avant-garde, indie filmmakers will be screened, as will the work of cult favorite David Lynch. Throughout the four-day event, a wide variety of films with diverse themes covering environmental issues, local happenings, and social commentary are going to be shown.

The Festival Director is Rosa Valado, the founder and director of Woven Spaces, a local nonprofit arts organization. The project’s theme, regeneration, is a nod to the ongoing cleanup of toxins and environmental hazards in local water and underground. $5,000 was raised, through a Kickstarter campaign, to put up the weekend celebration. “We’re launching the festival this year and everything is totally new,” said Valado. “It’s a really exciting and non-competitive festival this year.”

The only film premiering at the festival is Jonas Mekas’ “My Mars Bar Movie,” about a dive bar in downtown Manhattan the director used to frequent before it was shut down. Mekas, an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor who made Williamsburg his home after World War II, has long been at the forefront of avant-garde film making. “My Mars Bar Movie” will be screened on Thursday, October 27th, with Mekas appearing in person for the event.

Scott Nyerges is a local filmmaker and photographer currently working on a two-year long photo project on the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm. For the Greenpoint Film Festival, he curated “In the Garden” and “Growth and Regrowth,” programs that are part of “Radical Green Day,” on October 30th, which is dedicated to environmental films.

Roger Beebe

An “In the Garden” film being screened is “Green Streets,” which took filmmaker Maria DeLuca a decade to make and distribute. The 1989 documentary features the community and urban gardens that popped in New York City during that time. DeLuca considers it to be “a counterpoint to [environmental] disaster films that are hard hitting and demoralizing to some people.” A documentary that’s a bit darker in terms of environmental issues is Roger Beebe’s “Rock/Hard Place,” showing Morro Bay, California’s famous rock and volcanic plug, which sits next to a giant power plant.

Penny Lane, who is presenting at Nyerges’ “Growth and Regrowth” portion of the Greenpoint Film Festival, made a documentary about European starlings, and how they were released into Central Park in 1890. This led to the subsequent growth of the bird, considered a nuisance in the bird watching community. “It’s in defense of starlings because people usually hate them, even bird lovers,” she said. “I cast them in a prototypical, classical, American immigrant success story in a tongue and cheek way.”

Although the festival will show David Lynch’s famous feature “Eraserhead,” they’re also screening his lesser-known works such as “Inland Empire” and his commercials. On the lighter side, “Little Rascals” movies will be shown throughout the event, since they lived in a town called, you guessed it, Greenpoint.

Whether the discussion is about avant-garde or experimental filmmaking, the importance of community, or environmentalism, the Greenpoint Film Festival has got it covered. Lane is excited to be apart of the dialogue, and wishes only the best for the festival in years to come. “It’s looking like Nyerges is trying to start a conversation about environmentalism and the effect of the environment on people in an urban setting,” she said. “I think he’s done a really good job of putting together films about that. I’m excited to see how people think my film relates to the others. I also hope the festival is a big success and they do it every year.”

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