Notes from the field: The importance of independent film festivals

Steve Swartz, one of our judges from last year’s GFF final selection talked to us recently about the benefit of film festival, in particular small film festivals. Here is what he had to say:

I would say that the film festivals – and especially the small ones – are the cinematic equivalent of the Irish monks who kept writing alive in the fifth and sixth centuries. If not for these festivals there would only be the Hollywood Hit Factory and its endless sequels and adaptations of comic books and graphic novels.

If cinema is to continue to be a reflection of our times, if it is to continue to be the voice of the dispossessed, the strange, the wonderful, the new, the vibrant – we need to celebrate and support the independent festival. By the time I had my movie at Sundance in 1990 the corporate entities were already taking over; you can only imagine what it’s like now. This isn’t to say that Sundance doesn’t still screen some amazing films, but it’s hardly the incubator for the truly unique, truly special little film that has been produces on a shoestring minus any “names”.

So I say ALL HAIL the small, independent festival. You are the lifeblood of cinema in these benighted times.

 

Steve Hellyard Swartz’s film “Never Leave Nevada” (which he wrote and directed and in which he co-starred) opened in Dramatic Competition at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival in January, 1990. A former two-time Poet Laureate of Schenectady county in upstate New York, Swartz has won numerous prizes for his poetry, been a four-time finalist in the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Competition, and won a Green Eyeshade Award for radio arts commentary given by the Society of Professional Journalists. He’s currently putting the finishing touches on a new novel, “Me Who Am Issued Amazed.”

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Notes from the field

We talked to Bruno Barros to ask him what he’s been up to since last March’s GFF16. He tells us that he has been fully immersed in the film industry after quitting his very lucrative IT job and that he is very happy. Here in his own words:

I work in the Locations department on a film set. One of the most important, but least known departments to someone outside of the industry. The locations department is in charge of finding the locations that productions shoot at and dealing with everything from agreements with the location owner as well as permits from the cities for shooting, parking the production trucks, firearm and smoke use and anything else that might be required for the production to legally be allowed to do what it needs to do.

When on set it is the locations department that deals with disgruntled neighbors and other complaints. We also act as an liaison, or messenger, between the production and the location contact. For example, if the electricians need to hang a light somewhere that was not previously discussed, they will contact a locations person to ask for permission. We then reach out to the contact to find out if that is okay or not.

Locations is usually the first and last department on set. We put up signs to insure production knows where to go and we also deal with the trash at the end of the day that was created by production.

It’s a tough department with long hours but it provides the opportunity to work with every department and learn what everyone does and needs to get their job done. Locations is a great department to work in for anyone trying to become a producer.

Bruno Barros comes from an IT background.  His goal is to be a producer/director full time. He quit his IT job and jumped into the film industry full time (vs. the part time he had been scheduling). Currently he is working for a TV show as a scout in order to learn as many aspects of production as possible and loves it. Last year Bruno began working with the Greenpoint Film Festival organizing all the final screening materials; he was the point person for everything technical. He continues to work with GFF17 in an expanded capacity.

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About Greenpoint 2016

Filmmaker Coleen Fitzgibbon and Artist Peter Fend, being asked to think of what’s going on in Greenpoint, took a boat ride in February on one of the most polluted bodies of water in the US. This is Newtown Creek, on the border of Greenpoint and Queens—and a Superfund site. Two boats were used, one paddled by artist Patterson Beckwith with of the North Brooklyn Boat Club, and the other run with an electric motor by artist Willis Elkins, Program Manager of Newtown Creek Alliance.

Fend had met Beckwith with at the American Fine Arts Company in the 90’s, which represented Fend and his company for art/science production, Ocean Earth Development Corporation. Fend, Beckwith and Elkins had also met through Momenta Art, through shows there relating to Newtown Creek and all of NY Harbor. Work through Ocean Earth with oceans, especially in seaweed-fish cycles, started in earnest in southwest France in 1993; it continued in the UK, NZ and Germany.

Fitzgibbon, with Betsy Sussler and Chris Burden, assisted Gordon Matta-Clark with his NYC water systems in 1974-75, which covered New York’s aqueducts, steam pipes and sewage systems. Fitzgibbon met Fend in 1979 at 5 Bleecker Store’s Manifesto Show, organized by her and Jenny Holzer, an early Colab show. All three artists subsequently were co-founders of Colab, and in 1979 of The Offices of Fend, Fitzgibbon, Holzer, Nadin, Prince & Winters. An incorporated successor to The Offices ensued, now called Ocean Earth Development Corporation. Fitzgibbon and Fend worked collaboratively through Ocean Earth in early 80’s, producing satellite surveys with NASA data for NBC, CBS, the BBC and the Cousteau Society. Ocean Earth went on to produce news coverage of Iran-Iraq, Chernobyl and Nicaragua, with UN press conferences and a commissioned report for the US Congress. Efforts continue: in 2013, Fitzgibbon made the film “Emissions,” on methane gas leaks in NYC, in conjunction with Gas Safety Inc, Damascus Citizens, and artists Ruth Hardinger and Becca Smith. As part of what could be a debate, Ocean Earth was producing methane gas from Otago Harbor and Lake Karapiro in New Zealand—thinking that, well, we could make electricity to stay clean.

Rosa Valado of the Greenpoint Film Festival suggested to Fitzgibbon that a new film could be made regarding environmental questions in Greenpoint; Fitzgibbon asked Fend to bring his broad, at-sea experience, developed with Ocean Earth stake holders in four countries. But, as this film showed, both of them were just now learning about what are the daunting problems in Newtown Creek. From its experience, Ocean Earth could propose an “organic dredging” of the contaminants with brown seaweed. But many questions must be answered.

A first reconnoiter by Fend, Beckwith with and Elkins is recorded here by Fitzgibbon, followed by a reality check(legalities..) from Sean Dixon of Riverkeeper, and a complementary ocean-site quest, just below the inlet of Newtown Creek, by two members of Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park. It’s learned that Greenpoint has huge potential for benefiting from its salt waters, not just in fuel production but also in removal of contaminants through growth and harvesting of marine plants.

Greenpoint 2016 is screening Sunday March 20th at 5:30pm.

About Coleen Fitzgibbon Co-Director of Greenpoint 2016

Greenpoint Rivers Map

I am an experimental and documentary filmmaker/artist since 1972 and often work in collaboration with other artists. I have been interested in the urban environment since the early seventies, and worked with artist Gorden Matta-Clark on his 1974 (unfinished) film on New York’s water systems and also my film LES on urban ghetto conditions.

Recently I collaborated with artists Ruth Hardinger and Becca Smith and made the film “Emmissions” on gas emmissions exuding from the gas pipelines in Manhattan.

I asked Peter Fend (who I worked with on several other projects with NBC, OECD and the Offices of Fend Fitzgibbon Holzer Nadin Prince and Winters) to collaborate with me on the Greenpoint Newton Creek environment as it’s a site of one of New York’s superfunds, as well as the Gowanus Canal.

We took a boatride up Newtown Creek with Willis Elkins of the Greenpoint Newtown Creek Alliance and Patterson Beckwith of the North Community Boathouse and photographer Jake Sigal to get an overview of the contamination and solutions that were in progress as to the creek’s clean up.

Peter Fend proposed an experimental seaweed growing lab on Newtown Creek and other NYC waterways to try to reduce pollution and at the same time generate gas to drive electricity.

I’ve interviewed several other organizations associated with the Greepoint area and will include them in the film, such as Riverkeeper and the Bushwick Inlet Park Organization.

Newtown Creek Revival

Greenpoint Fart Factory

By Peter Fend for the program Art & Activism Part II by
Coleen Fitzgibbon and Peter Fend

Probably the name was De Nieuwe Tuin Kreek, in Dutch.

The region was De Nieuwe Tuin, meaning “the new garden.” The rather wide stream was called “Kreek,” with its many “Kills,” or smaller streams. This stream was not a river. The whole basin of Nieuwe Tuin was probably a good source of healthful food for the Dutch settlers. Nothing like this occurs now. The basin is full of contaminants.

Throughout, the Creek has some salinity. The salinity fluctuates. Generally, it’s around 20/000; after heavy rains, as in our trip there yesterday, it falls to 12/000, even less near the ends of the Kills.

To revive the Creek, we use a technique developed under the name of Ocean Earth by Catherine Griffiths, Peter Fend, scientist Stephen Hughes, naval architect Marc Lombard and various colleagues in New Zealand, called “ORGANIC DREDGING.” Like the name of the company, the Creek is an interface between dry land and sea, between “earth” and “ocean.” The first successful test of organic dredging, or uptake of nutrients in seaweed, was in the Exe Estuary, in 2001. We produced methane gas consistently.

Materials on land flow into the water, especially after storms. These materials could fill up a channel, or creek, over time. The runoff from a colossal City like NY is huge. So, is much to dredge. The sea rushes in, from the East River tidal-strait, but not enough to wear away accumulations of sediment. Introduce plants that can absorb the accumulation from runoffs. Then harvest those plants, frequently. The sequence achieves the results of dredging—-with plants.

The plants would be a species of Laminaria that can tolerate fluctuations in salinity between 25 and 10 per thousand. If that’s not possible, we find another type of marine algae, perhaps Fucus. Ideally, a variety of species are used.

Short fronds of the species are tied at junctures of on rope nets, probably at 20-30 cm intervals. The nets could be 4 m x 4. They line the shore, the margins of the Creek. They are tethered to the shore, to avoid disturbing the bottom. They are placed especially at CSO outfalls. They can be moved around.

All servicing of the nets of marine algae with brackish-water tolerance is done with muscle-propelled boats. Versions of racing sculls are proposed. If not, versions of canoes. They would be outfitted with cutting blades. For stability, they are bound together with superstructures to become catamaran. These boars, with various equipment added, are used in four ways: to patrol the nets along the margins of the Creek; to cut, possibly with catamaran-mounted blades, any growth of plants extending downward from the nets; to move the nets around, particularly to CSO outfall sites after storms; to haul any harvest in sack-nets. All these technologies have been proven. for example, hauling harvested seaweed in a sack-net in the water is standard practice in western Ireland. Catamarans for dealing with water-clogging plants is standard practice in reservoirs in New Zealand. The cutting of plants, and the moving of nets holding plants, has been tested in Teesport, UK. We would set up such a growth and harvest practice throughout the Creek. We could start with a small bay, such as the No-Name Inlet near the NYC DEP sewage treatment plant.

All hauled plants are brought promptly to a shoreline site for maceration and fermentation. The maceration can be done with mallets by people. The fermentation can be done in brewery-sized fermentation tanks, with cowdung and some land-plant roughage added to facilitate the two stages in gas production; acidification, methanization. In the trip yesterday, Feb 27, we learned of a site next to the current NYC DEP waste treatment, which is still owned by the DEP, or some NYC agency, and could house the equipment for this work. Another host site could be National Grid, or even one of the hydrocarbon companies, as they have the space and much of the know-how. Electricity may be easier to produce, as the biogas is mixed.

Prior to the trip of Feb 27, it had been supposed, based on common news reports, that the oil seeping from the tank farm sites, owned by oil companies, was a serious problem today in Newtown Creek. Accordingly, we thought of ways to allow microorganisms to feed on the oil, converting it into what the oil-industry itself (BP, ENI) has pioneered as “single-cell protein,” or unicellular organisms grown on hydrocarbons. We learned, however, that the oil companies are working hard to prevent any leakage from reaching Newtown Creek. They are recovering leaking oil and doing what they deem best with it, with may well be its being refined again into marketable fossil fuel. They likely will not want to grow “single-cell proteins” on the oil; we can propose that as an option they already know. This proposal can be offered this week to entities with whom we, either Ocean Earth or TVGOV (a 60%-owned adjunct to Ocean Earth), are already talking, or have published.

Buckminster Fuller Institute dMASSS, their advisor on our eco-tax proposal Greenwaves, the BFI prizewinner to whom we are referred, in the Northeast Natural Resources Defense Council, which published a proposal based on our Exe-mouth work

Given what’s on deck with dMASS and BFI, we could expand any Newtown Creek project to include a satellite-based survey of property in the entire watershed, towards identifying who pays a charge according to pollution at site, particularly as it affects the one thing comment to the basin, the Creek.

For Ocean Earth Development Corporation, stakeholders of which are Peter Fend (NY), Kevin Gannon (Pittsburgh), Catherine Griffiths (LA, with in-water experience in UK and China), Heidi Mardon (NZ) and Eve Vaterlaus (NY, with much in-water experience in NZ). The eco-tax proposal, for assessing charges for basin management, was given to BFI, with interest now from dMASS, by TELEVISION GOVERNMENT, or TVGOV, 60% held by Ocean Earth, and including Sofia Bastidas, Nicole Doran, Peter Fend, Guillermo Leon Gomez and Agustina Woodgate. The group is based in Miami.

Peter Fend, working with Coleen Fitzgibbon, a founding shareholder of, and first-project TV-new collaborator with, Ocean Earth.

We intend to exhibit this project in a videotape during the Armory Show and the Greenpoint Film Festival, both in NY.

Any exhibition is aimed at raising the money to DO THE WORK.

This compels hiring teams of collaborating and innovating rowers, net-makers, cutters, macerators, fermenters and even electricity producers, many of them people with no profession yet.

Feb 28, 2016 Fend

Greenpoint Film Festival 2014 Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SEPTEMBER 8, 2014

Woven Spaces, Inc. Presents the

Fourth Annual Greenpoint Film Festival
Sept. 18
th-21st, 2014
Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Announcing the 2014 Greenpoint Film Festival, from September 18 through 21 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with four days of curated and competitive programs. Most screenings will be held at the Wythe Hotel Screening Room, at 80 Wythe Ave.

The exciting schedule of shorts and feature-length films was chosen by a panel of six judges from a competitive field of over 200 submissions in four categories: Narrative, Documentary, Experimental, and Animation.

The festival kicks off September 18th with Brooklyn Unemployed by James Arrabito, the Winning Narrative Feature, a slice of reality about making it in New York as told by members of our local creative community, as well as Noah Shulman’s Confluence, a mesmerizing array of images from the microscopic world and this year’s winning Experimental Short. Katie Damien’s My Toxic Backyard, winner of Best Documentary Feature, opens Program I on Friday, followed by a fabulous lineup of archival and current films about Greenpoint, North Brooklyn and Newtown Creek. Friday’s Program II culminates with Magnus: A Spring Day, winner of Best Documentary Short.

Saturday includes a diversity of films from across the world:  England, Australia, Japan, and Winning Narrative Short Les Papillions Noirs, by French director Antoine Blanchet.   The David Lynch Foundation curates Program I on Sunday, not to be missed. Program II, “Community,” features the work of one community member, or member’s recommendation. This year, the festival is happy to present outerspace innerborough (unisphere@50), directed by Seth Fein.

Tickets can be purchased online and at the door. Check out the schedule at for detailed information and film synopses.We look forward to seeing you there!

The Greenpoint Film Festival is produced by Woven Spaces, Inc, a Brooklyn-based non-profit arts organization designed to create art/community projects. The festival is inspired by the regenerative opportunities in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, once labeled one of the most polluted places in the United States. The themes of renewal and reclamation continue to play a major role in the social and creative fabric of the Greenpoint Film Festival as it constantly expands into a platform for new thinking, as well as a showcase for great art and great film.

Selection Jury – GFF13

Jeremy Kipp Walker is a New York-based producer/ director and partner at the independent film production company Journeyman Pictures. Among the films that he has produced are Sophie Barthes’ Cold Souls, starring Paul Giamatti, David Strathairn, and Emily Watson; and Mark Heller’s The Passage, starring Stephen Dorff and Sarai Givaty.

By day, Keith R. Higgons is a cube dwelling scallywag and by night an avid media enthusiast. He is a playwright, writer, short film maker, blogger, publisher, entrepreneur and balloon contortionist. He is a long time resident of Greenpoint and Wiliamsburg who currently lives on the South Side. You can find him at keithrhiggons.com and @krhiggons.com

Michael Sayers has spent most of his time in New York working at movie theaters, including Bleecker Street Cinema, 8th Street Playhouse and twelve years at Film Forum (including two as repertory programming associate). He currently owns and operates PHOTOPLAY VIDEO & DVD in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Rachael Guma is a filmmaker and sound artist currently living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Her films have screened at the San Francisco Cinematheque, RX Gallery, Mono No Aware, Northern Flickers, Microscope Gallery, Millennium Film Workshop, and Another Experiment by Women Film Festival (AXWFF). She has curated screenings for Millennium Film Workshop and Anthology Film Archives.

Tom Jarmusch is an artist and filmmaker. His work includes films, videos, installations and photography. His work has been shown internationally in Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America and at festivals around the world. He has worked for movies as an Art Director, Prop Master, and in the Locations department for Directors including: Robert Frank, Claire Denis, Aki Kaurismaki, Ang Lee, Michael Almereyda, and his brother Jim Jarmusch. He lives and works in NYC.

Film lineup for GFF13 !

Animation:
“Elk Grass”, Abbey Luck, Best Animation Short

“The Pyrotechnician’s Daughter”,
Courtney Taniguchi, Official Selection
“Silent Voices”, David O’Brien, Official Selection

Narrative:

“La Vallée des Larmes”, Maryanne Zehil, Best Narrative Feature
“Your Side of the Bed”, Jason Jeffrey, Official Selection Narrative Feature
“Mojave”, Peter Sasowsky, Best Narrative Short
“Epilogue”, Dylan Allen, Official Selection Narrative Shorts
“The Windermere Guest”, Greg Slagle, Official Selection Narrative Shorts
“The Sleepy Man”, Oona Mekas, Official Selection Narrative Shorts

Documentary:

“The Hill”, Lisa Molomot, Best Documentary Feature
“At the Corner of 3rd and 3rd”, Max Kutner, Best Documentary Short

Experimental:

“Dans L’Oeil de la Forgeronne”, Pierre Bundock,
Guy Pelletir, Best Experimental Short
“C.A.G.E.”, Richard Evans, Honorable Mention Experimental Shorts
“Culebra Jr.”, Daniela Delgado Viteri, Honorable Mention Experimental Shorts
“Two Seconds After Laughter”, David Rousseve, Official Selection Experimental Shorts
“Sleep”, Karl Nussbaum, Official Selection Experimental Shorts
“Ambients VOL.1”, Aaron Leeder, Official Selection Experimental Shorts

A BIG THANK YOU

TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED IN MAKING GFF 12
INTO AN EXCITING AND SUCCESSFUL YEAR !!!

GFF 2012 Thank You Collage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click above for a fullsize downloadable version.

OPENING NIGHT GFF 2012!

Eventbrite - Greenpoint Film Festival 2012 Opening Night - Thu 9/20

The 2nd Annual Greenpoint Film Festival opens Thursday, Sept. 20 with the winner of the Documentary Features competition, Judy Lieff’s Deaf Jam, a mind-opening look into the world of American Sign Language (ASL) Slam Poetry!

6:00pm Opening Reception
7:00pm Screening of Deaf Jam
8:15pm Q & A with director Judy Lieff, main character Aneta Brodski with ASL interpreter Veronica Staehle.
8:30pm After Party

Location: 186 Huron Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Between Manhattan Ave & McGuinness Blvd.

Directions:
Subway: G line to Greenpoint Ave station. 
Bus: B62 or B43 to Manhattan Av/India Street.
East River Ferry: to Greenpoint/India Street.

Deaf Jam Aneta Brodski

Aneta Brodski in Deaf Jam directed by Judy Lieff

 

GFF12: Narrative Feature Louise and Her Lover

Director: Ryan Balas
Running Time: 72 min

Lines get blurred in this erotic thriller testing the nature of

relationships and boundaries. Lousie and Lilly, two young models, and Johanna, a young painter, become involved in a twisted three-way relationship that once started as civil then shifts into complicated territory. Beautifully shot, this is the world premier screening for “Louise and Her Lover”.
 
Louise and Her Lover

Opening our ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM at the Newtown Creek Visitors’ Center

Opening our ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM at the Newtown Creek Visitors’ Center location is David Leitner’s NEWTOWN CREEK DIGESTOR EGGS: THE ART OF HUMAN WASTE.
The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, epitomizes wha

t can be achieved by progressive government working with local activists to adopt the latest technology – but it’s the award-winning architecture and design courtesy of New York City’s Percent for Art program that will drop your jaw, especially those eight magnificent Digester Eggs.
An unusual marriage of form and function energizes the jaw-droppingly beautiful Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn, New York.
Filmmaker will be present.
 
Newtown Treatment Plant - Diggester Eggs

GFF12 : Bill Morrison Selection curated by Paul Dallas

GFF12 : Bill Morrison Selection curated by Paul Dallas

Bill Morrison’s re-workings of rare archival footage often paired with rich soundtracks have earned him international recognition as “one of the most adventurous American filmmakers.”

His work addresses collective mythologies and forgotten narratives, both real and imagined.

Paul Dallas will be presenting a selection of short and feature films spanning over 10 years of Morrison’s career.

 

Bill Morrison

GFF12: Last Call at the Oasis

by Jessica Yu, 105 min

Screening as part of the curated environmental section at the Newton Creek Visitor Center.

Cinematic journalism at its best, Jessica Yu’s startling documentary, is a call to action regarding the current water crisis. The film exposes the consequences of human and corporate decisions made affecting our water on a local and global scale.

http://www.lastcallattheoasis.com/

Last Call at the Oasis

Highlight from Themed Section: Community -The Domino Effect

by Daniel Phelps, Megan Sperry and Brian Paul, 50min

The Domino Effect is a documentary which explores the Domino Sugar Factory development project in Williamsburg and its projected impact on the neighborhood. Told through the voices of longtime residents, the film conveys the personal impact of gentrification while also shedding light on the controversial process of real estate development in New York City.

Stay tuned for program details.

http://www.thedominoeffectmovie.com/

The Domino Effect

GFF12 Festival Highlight: Golf in the Kingdom, Winner of Best Narrative Feature

Directed by Susan Streitfeld – Produced by Mindy Affrime, 86 min

Golf in the Kingdom, is adapted from Michael Murphy’s 1972 classic novel. A blend of sport and mysticism, it tells the story of Michael, who in 1956 is bound for an ashram in India when he stops over in Scotland to play one last game on a renowned course named Burningbush. There he encounters Shivas Irons, a pro with a philosophical and metaphysical bent, who profoundly alters the young man’s perceptions of golf and life.

Stay tuned for program details.

http://golfinthekingdommovie.com/

Golf in the Kingdom

 

GFF12 for Micro-Budget: Love Stalker

Shot in the environs of St. Louis in five weeks with a $20,000 budget and a Canon 5D Mark II, filmmakers Brian Bowls MacLean and Matt  “Mugs” Glasson crafted together a witty and semi-gritty “un-romantic comedy” feature. Love Stalker is the highlight of GFF12’s Micro-Budget category.  Q & A with the filmmakers will follow. Stay tuned for program details.

http://www.lovestalker.com/

Love Stalker

Another highlight for GFF12’s upcoming program

Bestiaire

Director Denis Côté Canada/France, 2011, 72 min, color

Bestiaire is an elegant meditation on the nature of sentience and the boundaries between nature and “civilization”. We observe animals, they also observe us and one another; the mutual beholding initiates a shift in consciousness. We are left with an awareness of the constraints of captivity and of some liberation of mental constraint.

Bestiaire buffalo