Fort Greene

CinemaFest to bring short films to BAM

June 17, 2015 By Benjamin Preston Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklynite Terence Nance’s film “Swimming in Your Skin Again” is on display at the festival. Image: Terence Nance
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If you go by the old adage that less is more, then you might not want to miss the collection of original short films interspersed with the features selected for CinemaFest at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) this month. 

The festival kicks off Wednesday evening with “The End of the Tour,” starring Jason Segel as author David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as reporter David Lipsky. James Ponsoldt’s screenplay, based on Lipsky’s memoir, follows five days spent together by author and reporter.

Other feature-length film events on the schedule include a 20th anniversary screening of “Kids” and a restored rendition of “The Decline of Western Civilization,” which chronicles the early 1980s punk rock scene in Los Angeles. One of the features, Richard Linklater’s “Slacker,” will screen for free at Brooklyn Bridge Park on June 25.

CinemaFest’s bite-sized fare includes three world premier shorts, as well as nine showing for the first time in New York. Among them are “Jazzy for Joe,” Owen Kline and Andrew Lampert’s 13-minute documentary about Joe Franklin, a radio personality who adopts an orphaned child; “Gary Has an AIDS Scare,” about a Vietnam veteran living in Thailand and “Maryland Public Television Interviews the Reagans,” a documentary about the First Couple’s very unique television appearance.

Three of the shorts are “extracurricular” pieces directed by New Yorkers who work in the city’s independent film community (albeit usually not in the director’s chair). One is C. Mason Wells, who is based in Brooklyn and shot his vacation tale, “Judy Judy Judy” on Super 8 film to provide an intimate home movie experience as the backdrop for characters engaged in the turmoil of a sour honeymoon.

“This film is such a small, delicate thing, so it’s great that BAM is taking a chance on it,” he said in an interview. “So often these things fall through the cracks.”

Wells said that although Super 8 doesn’t offer the best quality, he felt it was the best way to recreate the rhythms of relaxation, nostalgia and languor vacation is supposed to embody. On top of the hazy images of good times, he said he also wove in vibrations of tension.

“I have a huge thing for bad vacation movies,” he said. “I like seeing people out of their comfort zones.”

The other two are “The School is Watching,” by Dan Schoenbrun, and “Muck,” by BAM’s membership manager, Bruce Smolanoff. Schoenbrun, who does film work for Kickstarter, arranged a humorous collection of awkward high school announcement videos from the 1990s, while Smolanoff tackled the weightier subject of a female comic’s battle against isolation and sexism in her craft.

Terence Nance is another Brooklynite who will have his work on display at the festival. Nance promised that his piece, “Swimming in Your Skin Again” will be an abstraction of sorts based upon the music of his brother, Norvis Jr.

“The film was subconscious driven, or maybe even not driven at all,” Nance said in an email. “Hopefully it doesn’t really move forward or backwards through time. Hopefully it needn’t propel itself forward and instead feels more like an experience that exists all around you at all times.”

Nance expressed hope that his brother’s Brooklyn fans will add to a good reception for the film.

CinemaFest runs through June 28. Visit BAM’s website for scheduling and further information.

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