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A Cinephile's Best Week Ever: Three Film Festivals Kick Off in Brooklyn and the Bronx

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The weather may be getting nicer, but this week's film offerings are enough to keep cinephiles indoors in the cool dark of a cineplex. Three intriguing film festivals — the Northside Film Festival in Williamsburg, the BAM CinemaFest at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the ninth annual Bronx International Film Festival at Lehman College — start screening films on Thursday.

The films run the gamut in terms of topic and genre. Uptown in the Bronx, films like "Below New York" take a look at the lives of New York City subway buskers. Other films screening in the Bronx, like "Zero Percent" and "Boom Boom,” take viewers into Sing Sing prison and explore the relationship of a woman and her paralyzed husband. In Brooklyn, the BAM fest will screen films that got buzz from other festivals, like “The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye,” which won awards at festivals in Berlin and France and was selected for the Tribeca film festival, and a documentary about the Brazilian racecar driver “Senna,” which took the World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance in 2011. The Northside festival offers viewers a selection of animated shorts curated by Animation Block Party as well as documentaries with a homemade feel as part of the DIY Film Festival curated by UnionDocs.

Filmmaker Hanley Valentin is excited to show his short, "Positive Buy," in the Bronx which was inspired by his brother's experience as an undercover cop. Valentin said the Bronx film festival redefines the neighborhood where he grew up.

"You know, the Bronx isn't just jeans, sneakers, drugs, blue-collar," he said. "Hey, we can be like Tribeca Film Festival. We can be like South by Southwest."

For Brooklyn-based filmmakers Alex Ross Perry and Michael Tully, screening their films during the third year of BAM CineFest is like a homecoming. Perry fell in love with the city while playing hooky from N.Y.U. film school, where he saw at least 200 films a year. 

Since he made his feature "The Color Wheel," Ross said he's screened the movie to audiences all over the United States at various film festivals. But it means much more to show it in Brooklyn.

"The only audience I know in the movie theater is the New York audience," he said. "I'm particularly excited to see what my familiar audience makes of my movie."

Tully agreed, saying that he hoped the Brooklyn audience would appreciate the artistry -- he and Ross both shot in grainy 16-millimeter film instead of high definition -- that went into his filmmaking.

"I'm always really impressed by the crowd that shows up there," Tully said. "It seems like it has its own unique mix of cinephiles and movie lovers who aren't involved in the industry."

Check out highlights from the festivals below.

"The Color Wheel," directed by Alex Ross Perry, will be screened at BAM on Sunday June 19 at 7 P.M.

"Septien," directed by Michael Tully, will be screened at BAM on Tuesday June 21 at 9:30 P.M.

"Beatboxing: the Fifth Element of Hip Hop" directed by Klaus Schneyder, will be screened at the Bronx International Film Festival on July 9 at 8 P.M.

"Tabloid" directed by Errol Morris, will be screened at the Northside Film Festival on Saturday June 18 at 8 P.M.