BAM's annual indie-cinema showcase, this year running June 20-July 1, has announced its first round of titles, featuring the New York premieres of a few choice selections from Sundance and elsewhere.
BAMcinemaFest is perhaps the major NYC launching pad for the independent American films that make their debuts west of the Mississippi at the outset of the year; what's notable this year as well is the strength of the films with NYC ties.
Twentysomething local filmmaker Ry Russo-Young and "voice of a generation" Lena Dunham (L Mag interviews with Russo-Young and Dunham) cowrote Nobody Walks, from Sundance, starring Brooklyn Magazine covergirl Olivia Thirlby. (Magnolia will release the film theatrically; they're also bringing Craig Zobel's very fine Compliance, a hit at Sundance and SXSW, to Brooklyn.) Local cinephile Dan Sallit's film Unspeakable Act (made in collaboration with a number of other rep-house rats and critics) will bow as well after its debut in Sarasota, and Prospect Heights's So Young Kim brings her For Ellen (Sundance), with Paul Dano. And from Sundance and SXSW, The Comedy, set in and around Williamsburg, and starring Tim Heidecker, in baby-blue Ray-Bans, as a self-loathing self-parody of trust-funded entitlement (his PBR-swilling enablers are played by Heidecker's Adult Swim partner Eric Wareheim, and rock and roll star James Murphy).
BAM will announce additional titles, including SXSW premieres, next month. Their descriptions, cut-and-pasted newswire-style from their press release, after the jump:
The narrative slate will include:
The Comedy (Rick Alverson) NY Premiere
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!)—pushing the boundaries of propriety, 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).
Compliance (Craig Zobel) NY Premiere
Straight from its controversial Sundance premiere, the unsettling and polarizing sophomore feature by Zobel (The Great World of Sound), is a darkly transfixing psychodrama based on 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. A Magnolia Pictures release.
For Ellen (So Yong Kim) NY Premiere
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).
Francine (Brian M. Cassidy & Melanie Shatzky) NY Premiere
Academy Award winner Melissa Leo (The Fighter) delivers an unnerving performance as a reclusive ex-convict who rejects human connections, finding solace in her intimate bond with animals in documentary duo Cassidy and Shatzky's narrative feature debut.
Nobody Walks (Ry Russo-Young) NY Premiere
BAMcinemaFest alumna Russo-Young's (You Wont Miss Me, 2009) psychosexual comedy, co-written by Lena Dunham, stars Olivia Thirlby as a young artist who, in order to finish a film project, moves into the pool house of a young LA couple (Rosemarie DeWitt and John Krasinski), and sets the relaxed family reeling. A Magnolia Pictures release.
The Unspeakable Act (Dan Sallitt) NY Premiere
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, an unnervingly dispassionate take on the last taboo, set in Brooklyn's Ditmas Park.
Welcome to Pine Hill (Keith Miller) NY Premiere
Miller's debut feature obscures the boundaries of narrative and nonfiction and follows newcomer Shannon Harper's ambiguous journey from the streets of Brooklyn to the Catskill backwoods in this abstract emotional drama inspired by the director's real-life happenstance encounter with Harper. Winner-Slamdance Grand Jury Prize.
The documentary slate will include:
Detropia (Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady) NY Premiere
BAMcinemaFest alumni Ewing & Grady (12th & Delaware, 2010) return with this lyrical exploration of Motor City, following intrepid Detroiters—young and old, frustrated and idealistic-as they grapple with the ever-changing landscape of America's fastest—shrinking city.
The Patron Saints (Brian M. Cassidy & Melanie Shatzky) NY Premiere
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.
Radio Unnameable (Paul Lovelace & Jessica Wolfson) NY Premiere
78-year-old legend and NY treasure Bob Fass, "the father of free-form radio," is the host of "Radio Unnameable" broadcast from 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.
Walk Away Renée (Jonathan Caouette) North American Premiere
Nine years after Tarnation stunned the documentary world, Caouette returns with his singular blend of home video montage, intimate confessionals, and even a dizzying CGI dream sequence in this poignant evocation of his mother's 40-year struggle with mental illness and the effect it had on their relationship. A Sundance Selects release.