BAMcinemaFest Announces 4th Season — Lots of Goodies!

The creme of the crop, or so that’s the term one hears bandied about when referring to BAMcinemFest’s annual program.  Just announced, the 4th season, of what is quickly becoming a major NYC film event.  If you don’t get to festivals like SxSW, Sundance or Cannes, don’t worry,  BAM brings a selection right to your neighborhood (or a short subway ride away).  Among the highlights last year were Septien, Catechism Cataclysm, Terri, If A Tree Falls, Where Soldiers Come From, and many others.

This year’s  lineup looks hardly disappoints and  Filmwax Radio is proud to be inviting a number of this season’s filmmakers to the show.  Stay tuned for air dates.

OPENING NIGHT: “Sleepwalk With Me” (Mike Birbiglia) NY Premiere Narrative
Opening the festival on June 20 is the New York premiere of “Sleepwalk With Me”, Mike Birbiglia’s adaptation of his hit off-Broadway one-man show. Co-written and produced by Ira Glass, who has featured Birbiglia on This American Life, this hilarious and poignant autobiographical exploration stars Birbiglia as a bartender at a Park Slope comedy club who moves in with his long-term girlfriend (Lauren Ambrose). On top of his struggles with his relationship and his stand-up career, Birbiglia also battles an extreme form of sleepwalking where he acts out his dreams—even going so far as to throw himself out of a second story window in Walla Walla, Washington. This bittersweet ciné-memoir is both earnest and surreal. Winner of an audience award at Sundance and a selection at SXSW, “Sleepwalk With Me” also stars cult legend Carol Kane and character actor James Rebhorn (“Meet the Parents”, “Independence Day”) as Birbiglia‟s mother and father; a typically snarky Alex Karpovsky (“Tiny Furniture”); and comics Kristen Schaal (“Flight of the Conchords”), David Wain (“Wet Hot American Summer”), Marc Maron (“Late Night with Conan O’Brien”, “WTF with Marc Maron”), Wyatt Cenac (“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”), and others. “Sleepwalk With Me” is an IFC Films release and opens August 24.  An IFC Films release.

CLOSING NIGHT: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Exposed: The Photography of Bob Gruen” (Don Letts) NY Premiere Documentary
The definitive portrait of a legendary photographer, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Exposed: The Photography of Bob Gruen”, directed by the equally legendary punk documentarian Don Letts (“The Punk Rock Movie”, “The Clash: Westway to the World”, “Strummerville”), is the festival’s closing night film presented in a free screening for its New York premiere on July 1. Most famous for the iconic black-and-white photo of a casual John Lennon in shades wearing a “New York City” t-shirt—Gruen was John and Yoko’s personal photo documentarian—the New York photographer redefined the still image in rock, with what Alice Cooper has described as “the ultimate backstage pass…This guy must have stories that nobody has!” Featuring hundreds of celebrated shots of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Chuck Berry, David Bowie, Elton John, Queen, Iggy Pop, The Clash, the Sex Pistols, Blondie, and more alongside dozens of interviews with Debbie Harry, Yoko Ono, Julian Lennon, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Billy Joe Armstrong, punk historian Legs McNeil, and, of course, Gruen himself, Rock ‘n’ Roll Exposed is the true history of rock ‘n’ roll from the 60s to the present.

SPOTLIGHT SCREENING: “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Benh Zeitlin) Narrative
A Fox Searchlight release. Opens June 27. Winner—Grand Jury Prize for Drama at Sundance Film Festival.
Winner of this year’s Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and an official selection at Cannes‟ Un Certain Regard, Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is the festival’s spotlight screening, on June 21. Deep in the backwoods of the Louisiana delta, dauntless youngster Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), her ailing father Wink (Dwight Henry), and their colorful band of neighbors defiantly resist the looming storm and rising waters that threaten to tear their community apart. Zeitlin’s feature debut is a visually lush cinematic folk tale worthy of comparison to the work of Terrence Malick and David Gordon Green’s “George Washington”—equal parts youthful whimsy, kitchen sink Southern fable, and poignant portrait of the Sisyphean struggle to protect a vanishing New Orleans way of life. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is a Fox Searchlight release and opens June 27.

“The Comedy” (Rick Alverson) NY Premiere Narrative
Drawing comparisons to “La Dolce Vita” and the work of Lars von Trier, Alverson’s divisive portrait of a privileged Williamsburg Brooklynite—played by a razor-sharp Tim Heidecker (“Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”)—pushes the boundaries of propriety. The result is a darkly affecting satire of our current anesthetized generation. With Eric Wareheim (“Tim and Eric”), James Murphy (“LCD Soundsystem”), and Kate Lyn Sheil (“Green”, BAMcinemaFest 2011).

“Compliance” (Craig Zobel) NY Premiere Narrative
Straight from its controversial Sundance premiere, the unsettling and polarizing sophomore feature by Zobel (“The Great World of Sound”) is a dark, transfixing psychodrama inspired by true events. The film follows a fast-food employee (“The Good Wife‟s Dreama Walker”) who is accused of theft and subjected to repeated acts of humiliation by her overworked supervisor (Ann Dowd), all at the behest of an authoritarian phone caller (Jim Healy). A Magnolia Pictures release.

“Crazy and Thief” (Cory McAbee) NY Premiere Narrative
The American Astronaut’s McAbee casts his seven-year-old daughter Willa (Crazy) and two-year-old son John (Thief) in this homegrown coming-of-age fantasy meets road sidewalk movie. The two children embark on a wide-eyed voyage through the streets of Brooklyn and beyond, embracing star signs, mythologies, and fairy-tale monsters.

“Detropia” (Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady) NY Premiere Documentary
BAMcinemaFest alumni Ewing and Grady (“12th & Delaware”, 2010) return with this lyrical exploration of the Motor City that follows intrepid Detroiters—young and old, frustrated and idealistic—as they grapple with the ever-changing landscape of America’s fastest-shrinking city.

“For Ellen” (So Yong Kim) NY Premiere Narrative
The latest from Kim (director of “Treeless Mountain” and the subject of a 2009 BAMcinématek ‘Next Director’ retrospective with partner Bradley Rust Gray) is a hypnotic, glacial portrait of an unstable, semi-delusional musician (Paul Dano) in his last-ditch effort to develop a bond with—and earn custody of—his young daughter. With Jon Heder (“Napoleon Dynamite”). A Tribeca Film release.

“Francine” (Brian M. Cassidy & Melanie Shatzky) NY Premiere Narrative
Academy Award winner Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”) delivers an unnerving performance as a reclusive ex-convict who rejects human connection, finding solace in her intimate bond with animals in documentary duo Cassidy & Shatzky‟s narrative feature debut.

“Gayby” (Jonathan Lisecki) NY Premiere Narrative
Longtime best friends Jenn and Matt, both single and facing diminishing dating returns, decide to fulfill a promise made back in college to conceive a baby together—yet with no turkey baster readily available, they’re gonna do it the old fashioned way. Lisecki’s hilarious first feature, based on an award-winning short of the same name, tells a resonant New York story about loneliness, aging, and the meaning of family. A Wolfe release.
Winner—Special Jury Prize for Narrative Feature at Independent Film Festival Boston.

“The Imposter” (Bart Layton) NY Premiere Documentary
This gripping nonfiction mood piece tells the unbelievable true story of Nicholas Barclay, a child who goes missing from his home in San Antonio, TX and turns up in Spain 3 years later. Returned to his overjoyed family, Nicholas relays haunting stories of imprisonment and abuse, but no one seems to notice the glaring differences in his appearance and behavior. Bolstered by candid interviews and atmospheric reenactments, “The Imposter” is a transfixing, layered mystery that becomes increasingly unsettling as it unfolds. An Indomina Group release.

“The International Sign for Choking” (Zach Weintraub) NY Premiere Narrative
A young American artist shacks up in a Buenos Aires guesthouse and ambles his way through the urban landscape in search of an unseen ex-flame, evading work constraints, befriending local skater-musicians, and half-pursuing a fleeting courtship with the literal girl next door (BAMcinemaFest alum Sophia Takal). His 2nd micro-budget feature, writer, director, and star Weintraub (Bummer Summer) crafts an airy, exquisitely composed tone poem of aimless expat life in “La Reina Del Plata.”

“Liberal Arts” (Josh Radnor) NY Premiere Narrative
In this lighthearted comedy, 30-something New Yorker Jesse (writer/director/actor Radnor, “How I Met Your Mother”) welcomes an invitation to return to his alma mater, hoping for a glimpse of the glory days of his youth. When he meets Zibby (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”‘s Elizabeth Olsen), an articulate 19-year-old with an infectious free spirit, Jesse is blindsided by their attraction and must decide whether or not to act on his feelings. With Richard Jenkins and Allison Janney. An IFC Films release.

“Nobody Walks” (Ry Russo-Young) NY Premiere Narrative
Russo-Young’s (“You Wont Miss Me”, BAMcinemaFest 2009) psychosexual comedy, co-written by Lena Dunham, stars Olivia Thirlby as a young artist who moves into the pool house of a young LA couple (Rosemarie DeWitt and John Krasinski) to finish a film project—and sets the relaxed family reeling. A Magnolia Pictures release.

“The Patron Saints” (Brian M. Cassidy & Melanie Shatzky) NY Premiere Documentary
Cassidy and Shatzky bring us another unflinching yet lyrical portrait of life on the periphery with a look at the forgotten souls of a rural nursing home. This ciné-essay, their nonfiction feature debut, is narrated by the facility’s youngest patient, whose candid account is by turns mournful and macabre.

“Pavilion” (Tim Sutton) NY Premiere Narrative
A sun-kissed, languid daydream of adolescence with its endless summers and fleeting friendships, Sutton’s debut feature is a simple, casual tale documenting laconic teenager Max who moves from an idyllic lakeside town in New York to his father’s home in arid suburban Arizona. Observational in style, the film’s mesmerizing images of hot summer bike rides and cool lakebound dives have the residual power of memory, capturing the ephemerality and mystery of youth.

“Radio Unnameable” (Paul Lovelace & Jessica Wolfson) NY Premiere Documentary
The 78-year-old legend and New York treasure Bob Fass, the father of free-form radio, has been the host of Radio Unnameable on New York‟s WBAI for almost 50 years. BAMcinemaFest alumni Lovelace and Wolfson (“Iowa Mixtape”, 2010) make incredible use of Fass’ personal archives: a priceless trove of first-person political reportage, early interviews with 60s icons Bob Dylan and Abbie Hoffman, and other far-out ephemera.

“Tchoupitoulas” (Bill Ross & Turner Ross) NY Premiere Documentary
Experienced through the eyes of three young brothers who miss their ferry home to Mississippi and are left stranded in the Crescent City, “Tchoupitoulas” is a poetic, sensual odyssey through the intoxicating smells, lights, music, and colors and explosive energy of a long night in New Orleans. Bill and Turner Ross follow the brothers as they encounter musicians, revelers, drag queens, and hustlers—the nocturnal creatures that make the city a unique and vibrant cultural mecca. Winner—Best Documentary Feature at Dallas International Film Festival.

“The Unspeakable Act” (Dan Sallitt) NY Premiere Narrative
Jackie’s romantic feelings for her brother Matthew form the unlikely backdrop against which the milestones of adolescence—choosing a college, losing one’s virginity—unspool in film critic Sallitt’s long-awaited directorial return (“All the Ships at Sea”, 2004), an unnervingly dispassionate take on the last taboo, set in Brooklyn’s Midwood. Winner—Sarasota Film Festival Independent Visions Prize.

“V/H/S” (David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Ti West & Adam Wingard) NY Premiere Narrative
This horror portmanteau film—helmed by the new generation of gore-teurs who brought you “The Innkeepers”, “A Horrible Way to Die”, and “Silver Bullets”—takes on found footage and anthology fright flicks and turns them on their respective severed heads. A group of burglars break into a rural mansion to steal a videocassette and find a dead body, a sea of video decks, and a frightful VHS compilation. A Magnet release.

“Walk Away Renée” (Jonathan Caouette) North American Premiere Documentary
Nine years after “Tarnation” stunned the documentary world, Caouette returns with this poignant evocation of his mother’s 40-year struggle with mental illness and the effect it had on their relationship—showcasing his singular blend of home-video montage, intimate confessionals, and a dizzying CGI dream sequence. A Sundance Selects release.

“Welcome to Pine Hill” (Keith Miller) NY Premiere Narrative
Miller’s debut feature obscures the boundaries of narrative and nonfiction, following newcomer Shanon Harper’s ambiguous journey from the streets of Brooklyn to the Catskill backwoods. This abstract, emotional drama was inspired by the director’s real-life happenstance encounter with Harper. Winner—Slamdance Grand Jury Prize, Sarasota Film Festival Special Jury Prize for Performance: Shanon Harper.