City Cinemania: BAMCinemaFest

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Last week BAM’s Cinematek launched its inaugural BAMCinemaFest with the New York Premiere of Don’t Let Me Drown and a kick off after-party at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Brewery. The breakout film was chosen as it was still coming off the height of its success from Sundance this January. Most of the other films in the line-up were chosen due to their subject matter hitting close to home, literally, as a good deal of the selected films are set within the five boroughs.The CinemaFest is a brand new festival that will for sure give Brooklyn Film Festival, running near simultaneously, a run for its money. It features 18 new films, outdoor screenings, artist Q&A’s, all night movie marathons and more. The festival seems to be taking a few hints from Tribeca’s success and applying it quickly to their own layout and design.

By far the most interesting program is the BAM Cinematekalogue, where the festival pays tribute to all the “unique moments in BAM Cinematek’s ten year history.” The Cinematekalogue screens a series of special films that have helped build BAM’s wonderful film program over the years.  Screenings include: The Leopard, The Dead Man, Sorelle, and An Evening with Arnauld Desplechin with a screening of The Royal Tenenbaums, among others of course.

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This past Friday night I went by to show my support of BAM’s newest development and caught a screening of Robert Seigel’s Big Fan. The crowd support for the director prior to, during and after the film was overwhelming.  This adequately showcased that this festival truly is about supporting the  arts and the ideas that these directors, actors, writers, and more have and more so, their accomplishment. In that, I support Robert Siegel. He was present during the film, gave a few unprepared words prior to the screening and stayed after for audience Q&A. The festival provides a family environment that embraces everyone, even those who are not deep in tune with the film community feel part of the magic that is presented at the festival.

As for the film itself, it came up a bit short in both plot and character development. Patton Oswaldt’s titular referenced character, Paul, is a big fan of the New York Giants and especially their quarterback. He is a 37 year old man still living at home, working as a toll collector in a parking garage on Staten Island who sits and watches the games on television from the stadium parking lot. He also makes weekly calls into the local radio station voicing his prepared thoughts on the Eagles to a Philadelphia fan of, what we can expect, the same caliber life and situation. The plot takes a strange turn when Paul gets hospitalized from an attack by the Giant’s QB and refuses to carry on a case against his attacker solely due to a desire for the game to not be threatened. This seems to be the focal point of the story but neither the character nor his situation induce enough emotion for the audience to connect to either. Then, the climax of the film is provided in a wholly unrelated or unnecessary side plot back to the Eagles fan, whereby Paul seemingly decides to assassinate his enemy fan. This does prove to be the most unique and creative part of the film, but still provides no sense of accomplishment. The end is quaint and humorous as we recognize our main character, to whom there truly is no attachment, has not changed or learned any lesson. I can applaud this idea even if the execution was not done quite so well. The film seemed to go over highly with the football fans in the room who were familiar with the crazed fans who do nothing more than find new things to say to the radio jockeys.

Big Fan screens again tonight at 9:30pm with a second round of Q&A’s with the director as well the actress Marcia Jean Kurtz.

BAMCinemaFest runs through the 27th. Tickets are on sale through BAM.org. The event is sponsored by Nationalgrid and the Irene Diamond Fund.

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