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‘Art of Brooklyn Film Festival’ returns with premiere of Aiello’s last film

Some in-person events reintroduced in Sunset Park

May 31, 2021 Jaime DeJesus, Brooklynreporter.com

Brooklyn is bringing back a well-known film festival, this time including in-person screenings for the first time in two years. And the highlight will be a showing of Danny Aiello’s final film, “One Moment.”

Starting Tuesday, June 1, The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival is returning for its 11th year, in a mixed virtual and in-person format.

The festival was founded in 2011 in an attempt to engage both local fans of films and talented filmmakers in all parts of the borough. Ten festival premieres have gotten theatrical distribution to date — and one became an HBO series. Prior to COVID, the festival held events in 19 different venues in nine neighborhoods across Brooklyn.

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Because of COVID-19, last year’s annual event was hosted using a digital format. Despite the change, Anthony DeVito, co-founder of the festival, said 2020’s festival was a success.

“It was a scramble, but we kept to our original dates, and actually increased our audience with people watching in over 15 countries,” he said.

This year will include a similar format along with in-person events.

“Audiences love the platform since it’s easy and they can attend from anywhere; filmmakers loved the quality and that we kept as many of the elements of a traditional festival as we could, including live stream Q&A sessions following each screening,” he said.

What makes this year extra special is that the festival will open with actor Aiello’s “One Moment,” about two middle-aged siblings trying to live their own lives while also caring for their aged father, played by Aiello.

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Aiello, a native New Yorker who died in December 2019 at 86, starred in several popular films that were filmed in Brooklyn, including Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing,” “Moonstruck” starring Cher (in which Aiello played Cher’s first fiance before she met Nicolas Cage), and the lesser known “Brooklyn Lobster,” about the hero’s efforts to save his wholesale seafood business in Sheepshead Bay.

“His beautiful performance as an aging widower is the heart of this film,” DeVito said of his last role. “He passed away a few weeks after production wrapped, and it’s an honor to be able to screen it.”

Deirdre O’Connor, who wrote and directed the film, was also finalist in the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival‘s 2018 screenplay competition, with the same script. Three years later, she’s opening the festival with her completed film.

“I am so grateful to the Art of Brooklyn for letting me share this film with everyone,” O’Connor said.

The festival is streaming online this year on the Eventive platform, and the Aiello film will premiere throughout North America on Wed. June 2 at 7 p.m. A livestream for the filmmaker talkback will take place right after the screening.

The launch party for the festival will take place at Mama Tried, a bar at 787 3rd Ave. in Sunset Park, on Tuesday, June 1. Food will be provided by L&B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst, and drink specials will be given to everyone with an Art of Brooklyn Film Festival badge.

In addition, a free outdoor screening of short films from 2020 will be held on the main lawn of Sunset Park (the park itself) on Friday, June 4.

The festival will end June 12.


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