The Brooklyn Film Festival (BFF) has chosen Katie Dellamaggiore’s SXSW hit Brooklyn Castle (pictured) to kick off this year’s event, which runs from June 1-10.
The documentary follows the students and teachers at I.S. 318, an inner-city school in Brooklyn that has the highest achieving junior high school chess team in the United States.
The film caused a stir following its world premiere at SXSW in Texas earlier this year, when Sony Pictures and Scott Rudin optioned the remake rights to the film, before it had even signed a distribution or TV deal. The film went on to pick up the festival’s Documentary Feature Spotlight Audience Award.
Among the other documentary highlights this year will be the world premiere of My Brooklyn, a film tracing the transformation of Downtown Brooklyn and the Fulton Street Mall over the course of several years; and the U.S. premiere of Dear Mandela, in which a group of South African friends fight to stop government plans to close down the shantytowns they call home.
Also playing is the Mark Lombardi: Death-Defying Acts of Art and Conspiracy (U.S. premiere), which investigates the life of a Brooklyn-based artist; and The Rock (U.S. premiere), which is billed as a “Romeo and Juliet love story” between the Rock of Gibraltar and its neighboring Spanish city of La Linea.
In addition, this year’s BFF will also host the ‘BFF Exchange’ in Williamsburg on June 9. The event is a mini-conference designed to make the BFF a destination for filmmakers and film industry people, and to expand the scope of the festival.
It will feature a pitch session for documentary filmmakers, at which works-in-progress will be presented to a panel of industry professionals, for feedback.
Including fiction titles, the BFF will present 104 films from 29 different countries, including 28 world premieres, 28 U.S. premieres, 25 East Coast premieres and 21 New York premieres. The films were selected from more than 2,000 submissions from 111 countries.