5 Movies You Should See at the Brooklyn Film Festival

05/08/2014 4:06 PM |
Kate Lyn Sheil in Intimate Semaphores, a movie by TJ Misny premiering at the Brooklyn Film Festival

A local festival like BAMcinemaFest culls from indie showcases like Sundance and South by Southwest, finding (like the New York Film Festival does with Toronto and Cannes) the most essential titles for New York audiences. By comparison, the Brooklyn Film Festival (whose 17th annual iteration will run May 30-June 8 at Williamsburg’s IndieScreen and its next-door neighbor Windmill Studios) is smaller, focusing on films a bit more off-the-radar, and thus it’s harder to predict what’ll be worth your time and money. And yet, thanks to familiar names and compelling descriptions, we can tell you these five movies look like pretty safe bets. Don’t believe us? Make a bet of your own: many great films—like Gabi on the Roof in July, My Brooklyn and Brooklyn Castle—played at this festival before we ever heard of them.

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Intimate Semaphores
The world premiere of the festival’s co-opening night film grabs our eyes for a few reasons, most of them the leading actors. The omnibus’ three shorts, all directed by TJ Misny, feature noted indie actors like Kate Lyn Sheil (about whom just this week we joked “might literally be in every movie ever made by an indie director since 2009″), Brooklyn funny people like the stars of Broad City and recent SNL addition Sasheer Zamata, and more. For their milieu, that’s a bunch of high-profile people!

I Believe in Unicorns
The other opening night film, getting its New York premiere, features a supporting performance from Amy Seimetz. After being impressed by her acting in movies like Upstream Color and A Horrible Way to Die, as well as her directorial debut Sun Don’t Shine, we’re willing to bet on anything she’s attached to.

Who Took Johnny?
Directors Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky (here teamed up with David Beilinson) are local celebrities for their last film, Battle for Brooklyn, which chronicled the fight against the Atlantic Yards project and played at a previous iteration of this festival, at outdoor rallies, on television, and elsewhere. Their latest documentary tells the story of an Iowa paperboy who disappeared and became the first child to appear on a milk carton.

Movement and Location
Brooklyn-based director Alexis Boling directed this feature about a woman who travels 400 years back in time to “live out an easier life in [our present-day] Brooklyn,” carving out a life with a roommate, job and love interest that’s thrown into disarray when she meets a teenager also from the future. A local setting + a compelling sci-fi backstory is enough for us. Also, it’s the first film that used the crowdfunding website Seed and Spark to premiere at a festival.

Born to Fly
This is the New York premiere of Catherine Gund’s documentary, which will have a theatrical release at Film Forum in September, about choreographer Elizabeth Streb, a one-time MacArthur Fellow who went on to found her Extreme Action Company as well as Williamsburg’s Streb Lab for Action Mechanics, or SLAM, a performance and rehearsal space (that once claimed as an instructor Phillippe Petit, the Man on Wire subject who once famously walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers!).

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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