Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge movie wins Manhattan Film Festival award

‘A Box Came To Brooklyn’ named best comedic short

July 28, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Writer-director Jason Cusato (standing third from right) and members of the cast and crew of “A Box Came to Brooklyn” celebrate the award. Photo courtesy of Jason Cusato

Hey Bay Ridge, you’re a star! A movie filmed on a street in the Southwest Brooklyn community has won an award at a major film festival.

“A Box Came to Brooklyn” was named Best Comedic Short at the 2015 Manhattan Film Festival, making writer-director Jason Cusato very happy.

“The entire cast and crew worked extremely hard on this project and I am so excited about the reception ‘A Box Came to Brooklyn’ has received from audience members and film festivals thus far. I am proud of the job everyone has done and hope the positive feedback continues,” Cusato wrote in an email to the Brooklyn Eagle.

The 26-minute, black and white short, which was filmed on Madeline Court — a quiet, dead-end street — is an updated, comedic version of “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street,” a classic episode of “The Twilight Zone” that depicted the dangers of paranoia during the Cold War era.

“A Box Came to Brooklyn” had its premiere at the Manhattan Film Festival on June 13.

Cusato, a native of Park Slope, is the co-writer, editor, producer and director of “A Box Came to Brooklyn.”

The film explores the themes of gentrification and paranoia. The plot revolves around a mysterious box that suddenly pops up on Schenectady Street (Cusato changed the name of Madeline Court for the film). Residents wonder how the box got there and turn against one another.

Watching the “Twilight Zone” episode fueled Cusato’s imagination.

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“I started thinking about what was happening in a lot of neighborhoods, particularly in Brooklyn, where people who have lived there all of their lives are seeing other people move in,” Cusato said. “The people moving in aren’t doing anything to make the long time residents feel unwelcome, but they feel unwelcome. All of the changes make people feel like they’re being forced out.”

The movie took two weeks to film, according to Cusato who said the residents of Madeline Court were warm and friendly toward him and his film crew. One resident even allowed the crew to store equipment in her basement.

Cusato said he’s excited about the film’s success.

“A Box Came to Brooklyn” has been accepted as an entry in three more film festivals and has been nominated for four awards, including Best Comedy Short, Best Director of a Comedy, Best Concept and Best Ensemble Cast. 

At the Chain NYC Film Festival in Long Island City, the movie will be shown on Saturday, Aug. 8 and on Tuesday, Aug. 11. The festival will mark the film’s premiere in Queens. 

After that, “A Box Came to Brooklyn” will be shown during the BrightSide Tavern Film Festival in Jersey City on Sunday, Aug. 16.

The film was also accepted into The Boonies International Film Festival in Pennsylvania, which runs Aug. 19-22. The screening dates have not yet been announced.

Cusato, who was born Brooklyn in 1975, said growing up here has been a major influence on his work. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, he has more than 40 film projects to his credit, ranging from features to short films and documentaries.

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