With some 2.5 million people, Brooklyn would be one of the United States’ biggest and most dynamic cities if it stood apart from the rest of New York. And, of course, any great city deserves its own prestigious film festival.
BAMCinemaFest, which celebrates its fifth anniversary beginning tonight, is precisely that event for the county of Kings. With an impressive roster of 25 New York premieres culled from the most significant film fests across the globe, it’s a showcase of the latest and greatest in independent film that rivals any comparable event outside of Sundance.
This year’s edition kicks off with “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” an extraordinary film from director David Lowery about a bank robber (Casey Affleck) who escapes from prison and begins a long, perilous journey to be reunited with his wife (Rooney Mara) and young daughter.
Other showcase films include “The Spectacular Now,” a coming-of-age romance starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley that critics have likened to Cameron Crowe’s “Say Anything.” You’ll get a very different look at Michael Cera in “Crystal Fairy,” in which he plays an American spanning the Chilean landscape in search of a hallucinatory cactus.
The narrative offerings feature “Museum Hours,” an observational drama from local filmmaker Jem Cohen that considers how and why we view art from the perspective of a Viennese museum guard. “Hellaware” is a dark satire about a photographer working with an Insane Clown Posse knockoff group. “Mother of George” is about a Nigerian couple who run a restaurant in Brooklyn, director Andrew Dosunmu.
There are documentaries galore at BAMCinemaFest, including “After Tiller,” which considers the state of the abortion debate in the wake of Dr. George Tiller’s murder and “The Crash Reel,” about snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s recovery process after a debilitating injury.
It is summer, of course, and outdoor movies are the thing. So the festival offers an under-the-stars screening of “Drinking Buddies,” This year’s strong and diverse survey of independent cinema closes with a screening of “Short Term 12,” a drama set in a halfway house.
In short, BAMCinemaFest offers a sharp, well-curated nine days at the movies. Brooklyn deserves nothing less.
BAMCinemaFest runs Wedesday through June 28. For more info, go to bam.org/bamcinemafest