The 2011 Brooklyn Film Festival (BFF) took place from June 3rd to 12th, 2011 and presented over 100 film premieres from 26 different countries. As the Director of Programming for the festival, I led a team of screeners and programmers to select these films from a field of more then 2,400 submissions coming from over 100 different countries.
While all of the selected films merit equal attention, several had subjects related directly to this website's themes, especially in the documentary category. Locally, Battle For Brooklyn (Best Documentary and Grand Chameleon Award) documented the struggle against the Atlantic Yards development site and the fight against eminent domain abuse in Brooklyn, while Bed Stuy Do Or Die (Audience Award for Documentary) captured the gritty reality of life in Brooklyn, riding along with the Bed Stuy Volunteer Ambulance Corp. Outside of Brooklyn, Mann V. Ford focused on one of the worst environmental disasters in the United States, a doubly toxic Superfund site located just a few miles from New York City. Scrapper (Spirit Award for Documentary) was filmed on the fringes of society, in California's Chocolate Mountain bombing range, and presented a story of missile-scavenging, meth-using outlaws living in a militarized post-apocalyptic landscape.
On the fiction side, My Last Day Without You (Best Production Award) was a romantic feature film that made excellent use of locations around the recently superfunded Gowanus Canal, while Money Dog presented a time capsule view of 1980's Bronx dog fighting culture, and Siberia, Monamour (Best New Director Award) told the story of a young boy and his grandfather trapped by wild dogs in a half-abandoned complex at the edge of Russian society.
Additionally, the official trailer and poster for the 2011 festival were shot at S&S Machinery in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, a location which was featured on this website in 2010. The trailer was directed by Corey Wascinski and produced by Nicholas Weissman, the filmmaking team who created The Minutemen, which won the Grand Jury prize and Best Documentary award at the 2010 Brooklyn Film Festival. Their trailer for BFF 2011 can be viewed online here.
The complete film lineup can be seen at the Brooklyn Film Festival's website.
On June 3rd, 2011, the Brooklyn Film Festival presented the United States Premiere of "Battle For Brooklyn" as its opening night film. This screening - called "the perfect combination of movie and event" by the NY Daily News - took place at the Brooklyn Heights Cinema, and was followed by an Opening Night Party at the powerHouse Arena in Dumbo.
"Battle For Brooklyn" is a feature-length documentary directed by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley which tells the story of the controversial Atlantic Yards development site in Brooklyn. Over the course of seven years, it follows Daniel Goldstein, a neighborhood resident whose life is radically transformed by the threat of losing his home to eminent domain. While struggling to keep his property from being seized by private developers, Daniel helps organize his community to fight back against the developers plans, working with the group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn. This "amazing grassroots movement," according to the NY Daily News, "came closer than our leaders dare admit to stopping Atlantic Yards."
As the Director of Programming for the Brooklyn Film Festival and as a documentary photographer living in Brooklyn, I've had the privilege of getting to know many of the Brooklynites who battled against the Atlantic Yards. "Battle For Brooklyn," however, is a film that all residents of Brooklyn should be proud of, as it fairly presents the opposing sides of the issue and captures the passion that Brooklynites have for their borough, no matter where they stand on the Atlantic Yards.
The US Premiere of "Battle For Brooklyn" was covered in the NY Post as one of the "Best of B'klyn Fest" films, and in L Magazine in an article about "The Atlantic Yards Odyssey." Additionally, the NY Daily News wrote three articles about the film's premiere at the Brooklyn Film Festival, saying of the screening "the timing couldn't be more perfect" and "it would be hard to find a better movie to open this year's Brooklyn Film Festival than "Battle for Brooklyn." The film went on to win both Best Documentary and the grand prize for best film at the Brooklyn Film Festival.
On June 17th, "Battle For Brooklyn" opened in theaters, with excellent reviews from many sources - it was a New York Times Critics' Pick, and received 4 stars from Time Out New York and the New York Daily News. In their review of the film, NPR wrote "this story is pertinent far beyond New York." On November 18th, 2011, "Battle For Brooklyn" was among the 15 documentary films shortlisted for an Oscar from the 84th Academy Awards.
For more information on the film, please visit battleforbrooklyn.com. For more information on the Atlantic Yards - and on some of the Brookly residents who have fought against it - please visit Norman Oder's Atlantic Yards Report, Lumi Michelle Rolly's No Land Grab and the website of photographer Tracy Collins, who has been documenting the Atlantic Yards project since its inception. Also, several other films have captured aspects of the Atlantic Yards story, including Vicente Ortega's documentary "Freddy's" - which had its World Premiere at the 2010 Brooklyn Film Festival, the Meerkat Media Collective's short documentary "Brooklyn Boondoggle" (2009), "Stadium Status" (2010) by the Internets Celebrities, and "Brooklyn Matters" (2007) by Isabel Hill. In addition, in 2007 several photo essays were published on this website exploring inside the tunnels underneath the Atlantic Yards development site.