Saturday, June 03, 2006


BiFF: A film festival grows in Brooklyn

The 9th Annual Brooklyn International Film Festival kicked off its 10-day run at the Brooklyn Musuem on Friday with an Italian-themed opening night. Mary Ann Cino, deputy chief of staff for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, declared that Brooklyn is "becoming the creative capitol of America," calling it "Hollywood East," due primarily to Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which she said is the "biggest film production facility in the East Coast."

The festival's executive director Marco Ursino, wearing a black suit and baseball cap, observed that "the films in this festival are often controversial and out there." BiFF boasts 15 narratives, 21 documentaries, 33 shorts, 19 experimental films and 32 animated entries (120 total). The opening film - Libero De Renzio's Blood, Death Does Not Exist (Sangue, La Morte Non Esiste) - lived up to Ursino's prediction.

A brother and sister carry on an illicit affair during a drug-filled adventure that culminates at a rave, which police ultimately break up. The third section - the comic epilogue - is a prolonged farce set in a church that reminded me of a Marx Brothers send-up. No wonder the program descibed the movie as having "Fellini-esque lunacy."

A gala party followed the film, with free champagne and beer, cheeses and a performance by the Italian quartet, Avion Travel.

BiFF resumes today at 1 pm with several shorts programs. Tonight's features are both docs: Australian director Wayne Coles-Janess' In the Shadow of the Palms: Iraq (7 pm) and Beth Bird's Everyone Their Grain of Sand (9 pm), which is set in Tijuana. The festival continues through next Sunday.

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