Every year, it feels like as soon as we call "Action" it's time to yell "That's a wrap!" And in the blink of an eye, the 2015 Art of Brooklyn Film Festival is in the history books. Months and months of planning, plotting, scheming, zigging and zagging culminated in a Filmnado of screenings and events, and our strongest group of Official Selections to date. We programmed 53 world-class films — including 13 World Premieres — and are honored they all chose to enter AoBFF.
When we open submissions each year, we never know what we’re going to get. Will it be a comedy-heavy year, or will short docs dominate the schedule? Since our guidelines and mission are unique, only films with a Brooklyn connection are eligible. That means AoBFF is always a reflection of what’s going on in our scene right now.
And there is a LOT going on.
Our entries are always mind-bogglingly diverse, with indies in all genres created from so many kinds of artists. Filmmakers born and raised in Brooklyn and NYC see the world differently from those who grew up somewhere else and came here to make their art. And international filmmakers who shoot in Kings County bring own their perspectives. The stories they choose to tell, and the experiences they bring to their filmmaking never cease to amaze and inspire us. Brooklyn is a big place — and not just geographically. Viewpoints and backgrounds change across neighborhoods and backgrounds. AoBFF was created in 2011 to welcome all of them. To us, all Brooklyns are created equal, and everyone is invited to our party.
And speaking of parties, we had ours al fresco in the lovely garden space of Trilok Fusion Arts. We had a great turnout, delicious food from Baba’s Pierogies, Dassara, the Park Bench Café, Short & Sweet cupcakes, beer from Sixpoint and plenty of meeting and greeting. Trilok also graciously donated a full week of time in one of their professional editing suites, which we gave to the winners of our Best Director award. We’re so glad that Megan from Trilok spotted one of our posters in Bay Ridge and decided to get in touch. Brooklyn supporting Brooklyn is what we’re all about.
And it’s what our sponsors Focus Camera, Investors Bank, HBO and St. Francis College are all about too. They all returned in 2015 because they believe in what we’re doing and want to help us do it. Their support allowed us to create memorable events and to deal with the inevitable curve balls that come with producing a world-class festival. We hope to work with them all for years to come.
Our 5th Anniversary had many highlights, including the lively Actors Roundtable we hosted with Annabella Sciorra (Sopranos, Jungle Fever, AoBFF judge) Craig “muMs” Grant (Birdman, Oz, 2015 AoBFF selection Lazarus), Leslie Lopez (Power), Nico Tortorella (The Following, Younger, 2015 AoBFF selection Hunter&Game) and more. This diverse group talked about why they act in indie films, the ups and downs of working for little or no pay, and how indies fit into their larger careers. A great, honest discussion with the “unsung heroes” of the independent film world… the actors.
In addition to Founders Hall and Maroney Theater at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, AoBFF returned to PS/IS 30 in Bay Ridge for our Comedy Block. We got such a great reception from the school and audience in 2014, and this year was no different. We’re the only festival that screens in neighborhoods all over Kings County, especially ones that don’t usually host film events. Who knows what zip codes we’ll hit in 2016?
But before we start planning for next year, we’re proud to announce our 2015 winners. It was a very tight race, as the quality of our selections was through the roof. We thank all the films who screened at AoBFF and wish them nothing but the best as they continue their festival runs and showcase Brooklyn-centric talent to the world.
2015 AoBFF Winners:
Best Super-Short (Under 10 min.)
TEST – Comedy, Directed by Jay Lifton – Brooklyn Premiere
Best Short, Narrative Subject
When The Gun Goes Down – Western/Drama, Directed by Ali Eldin – Brooklyn Premiere
Rhythm of the City – Directed by Julie Gratz – World Premiere
Best Short Documentary
Blade #1 – Directed by Zuzka Kurtz – World Premiere
Best Feature Documentary
Three To Infinity: Beyond Two Genders – Directed by Lonny Shavelson – World Premiere
Vanguard Award for Experimental/Non-Linear Films
Confluence – Directed by Noah Shulman
Hunter&Game – Comedy/Mockumentary, Directed by Kevin Alexander – East Coast Premiere
Christopher Phelps and Maxim Van Scoy, Co-Directors of Lake Nowhere
Audience Choice Award
Living With The Dead – Drama, Directed by Christine Vartoughian – NYC Premiere
Congratulations to our winners and to all the films, casts and crews who made the 2015 AoBFF a very special event. And a big Brooklyn thank you to all of our intrepid volunteers who helped us run it smoothly. Now, we start thinking about 2016. Okay let’s be honest, we’ll be taking a few days off first. But then, 2016!