2009 Brooklyn International Film Festival

The 12th Brooklyn International Film Festival (BiFF) took place in June 2009. BiFF presented over 120 films that were selected from more then 2,750 submissions coming from 111 countries. As the Documentary Programmer for the festival, I presented a program of 20 documentaries which were selected from a field of over 870 submissions.

While all of the selected documentaries merited equal attention, several had subjects related directly to the themes of this website. Locally, Diary of a Times Square Thief presented a portrait of the "Times Square area when it was still a dramatically brutal urban jungle" while Milk In the Land used footage of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn to illustrate the history of milk. On the international level, One Day After the Tenth Day was filmed in a ruined, almost medieval landscape on the outskirts of an Iranian city, while Don Roberto's Shadow was filmed in a Chilean ghost town which was once a prison camp. Salt in the Scars documented the salt harvesting industry of India, Left Behind told the story of illegal coal miners working in abandoned mines in the Lower Silesian Coalfield, and The Hillside Crowd captured life in a modern-day Deadwood - a gold rush town in the hills of Burkina Faso.

An in depth article about the documentary lineup was featured on The New York Times website "The Local" - and began "There is a pretty amazing-sounding 10-day film fest starting tonight in Brooklyn Heights, the Brooklyn International Film Festival..."

The award for Best Documentary (aka the Diane Seligman Award) which includes $5,000 in cash, was won by The Hillside Crowd. The Spirit Award was won by The Sari Soldiers and the Audience Award for documentary was won by Between the Folds.

Williamsburgh Savings Bank - Part 2

May 18th, 2009 -

A second visit to the Williamsburgh Savings Bank reveals more of it's hidden spaces. Inside the bank vault, strange graffiti is illuminated. In unfinished luxury apartments on upper levels, blueprints are left on display. And at the very top of the building, the dome awaits. Accessible only through a maze of trap doors, rickety ladders, and temporary scaffolding, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank dome is the highest point in Brooklyn, topping out at 512 feet. While the bank's clockworks are surprisingly small, the dome is an overwhelming piece of architecture. It is a giant golden cage, completely open to the elements. It consists of metal panels, arranged in concentric circles around a massive brick smokestack. These panels descend from the very top of the building like a fountain of gold, the sunlight glinting off their gilded surface.

Photographs from a previous exploration of the bank can be seen here. Other photos from this expedition can be seen at Bluejake.

Central Column

Fountain of Gold

Gilded Sheen


Oval Windows at Base

The View from the Highest Point in Brooklyn

The Penthouse

Foreman's Desk

The Blueprint

The Vault, Lit

Inside the Vault

Pancho's Mark