Screenings in order of appearance with total TRT: 85:48
Brooklyn College prepares students for real careers in the motion picture industry.
The Latest Talent
RAMON – Director Jeniffer Hernandez)
AGAINST THE CURRENT – Director Albert Negrete
BACK HOME – Director Haruka Motohashi
MY FAMILY REUNION – Director Elmo King
DEAR FRIEND CHINATOWN – Director Tian Leng
THE BANNED – Ali Reza Khoshkjan
TO THE SEA – Director Vicky Lee, Henry O’Reilly
MEAT HOOK – Director Maria de la Guardia
YOU FOUND A HOME – Director Chris Omar
Director: Jeniffer Hernandez
Synopsis: Dominican Republic immigrant Ramon Pina works a Queens deli counter during the weekdays to make $$$ to send to his wife and kids back on Hispania, and freelances as a clown on the weekends to make kids smile.
Marvelously bittersweet. Ramon clowns to make kids smile and be suffused in happiness at parties and celebrations. The story telling is exquisite. It says mountains about the Dominican experience in America. Scenes segue to Ramon working in a Queens deli to make $$$ for his family then to treasured moments with his kids in Santa Domingo – via the ubiquitous cellphone – then back to the deli and then to his gigs. They gnaw subliminally at one’s heart: His kids close yet so far away.
Ramon putting on his clown face – prepping for the parties and events – was meticulously done and moving. He puts on a face to entertain kids just as he puts on a face for his kids so that they don’t know how heavy his heart without them. Wow! Hernandez packs a lot in the short one second under 7 minutes. Makes one wonder what else she has in store for the future.
AGAINST THE CURRENT
Director: Albert Negrete
Synopsis: Dion walks around New York City with a flag campaigning for Donald Trump to spice up the political conversation.
Bravo Director Albert Negrete. A lot springing from his cinematic imagination. To spice up the political conversation? Hmmm. Five-hundred-thousand Big Apple residents – many living in in Staten Island – cast ballots for Trump in 2016. Aspiring torch bearing Dion, in Trumpian bling regalia, goes where this reviewer imagines few Trumpian acolytes would dare to tread without a security escort, such as for a soakboxing in Washington Square Park, a bastion for soapboxing liberalness.
There are jarring scenes of Dion, a supporter of a racist-sexist-homophobic-fascistic misanthropic U.S. President, standing his ground and trying to reason with anti-Trump supporters whose vituperative comments and menacing are ferocious. Yet, Negrete’s AGAINST THE CURRENT is nonjudgemental of this political supporter of a racist-sexist-homophobic-fascist misanthrope who deserves the withering enmity. But does Dion?
Nevertheless, the Trump acolyte is also a kayaker and he replenishes his soul by taking to the Manhattan’s East River. Bravo Director Negrete, you may be a film student now but the motion picture industry must be on high alert.
Director: Haruka Motohashi
Synopsis: An autobiographical documentary about the filmmaker’s journey to reconcile the rift between her and her estranged mother, who is about to have a hip operation in Tokyo. Her visit relives past trauma.
The family is the most violent institution in society, except for police or the military in time of war, Drs. Murray Straus and Richard J. Gelles wrote in Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family. Director Motohashi’s cinematic derring-do to open up the secret cache about her painful childhood caused by her mother is clinically and cinematically impressive. Note: Though physical violence was not the source of the trauma, emotional trauma is just as lethal, nevertheless.
BACK HOME opens with Motohashi arriving to the apartment of her mom’s Tokyo apartment in a highrise building. She lugs a suitcase as she is facing the camera. The rift has been for five years. The film ends with her walking out of her mom’s apartment, back to the camera, and heading to the airport. In between is a mother-daughter interaction fueled by a mother’s decision to force her daughter out of the home when she was young. It was either the daughter or the father and mom chose her husband. Was the conflict resolved? You have to see this documentary that flows like a narrative film. Resolved or not resolved, Haruka Motoashi does what millions of us do: Try to move on!
MY FAMILY REUNION
Director: Elmo King
Synopsis: After 16 years, the filmmaker brings his family back together in the only way possible.
This nostalgic story telling is compelling. Fuller review in the works.
DEAR FRIEND CHINATOWN
Director: Tian Leng
Synopsis: A poetic exploration of the space and time in Manhattan’s Chinatown. In the form of a postcard to a close friend, DEAR FRIEND CHINATOWN documents daily life and sees culture, community, and religion through a nostalgic lens.
The synopsis says it all. Has considerable depth and perception that results in more than a tourist view of Chinatown. See this film. Those of us who visit Chinatown frequently will see it in a new way.
Director: Ali Reza Khoshkjan
Synopsis: The Banned delves into the lives of Iranian-Americans affected by the travel ban.
Presidential Executive Order 13769, January 27, 2017, Titled, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, is also known as the Muslim Ban or Travel Ban. Iniquitous as it was meant to be by a U.S. President who supports white nationalism and all forms of bigotry and racism, especially directed nefariously at Muslims and Muslim Americans, it was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Thousands and thousands were impacted. Director Ali Reza Khoshkjan’s delving is a your-eyes-will-never-leave-the-screen action-adventure about lives effected by evil incarnate.
TO THE SEA
Directors: Vicky Lee & Henry O’Reilly
Synopsis: A glimpse of the unique quality of the RNLI Lifeboat Station and it’s volunteers in Moelfre, a Welsh town.
Directors Vicky Lee’s & Henry O’Reilly’s glimpse is more than a glimpse. Rather it’s a cinematic picture post card of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution that claims to be “the largest charity that saves lives at sea around the coasts of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man as well as on some inland waterways.”
Director: Maria de la Guardia
Synopsis: At a butcher shop in Brooklyn, workers carve, saw and hack at half-pigs and slabs of meat. MEAT HOOK sensorially examines the skill, violence and surprising beauty of whole-animal meat processing.
Beauty in the butchering and dismembering of flesh and bone? You bet. So well done artistically providing a behind-the-scenes look of an ecological view of man-woman & beast & abattoir that there is no need for a vegan/vegetarian disclaimer at the start of the film. That’s this reviewer’s tongue-in-cheek about this five-star flick.
YOU FOUND A HOME
Director: Chris Omar
Synopsis: In the midst of the #MeToo movement, a Brooklyn College student makes sure her voice is heard by the school administration after being sexually harassed by an employee of the privately owned, Residence Hall @ Brooklyn College.
Director Chris Omar accentuates the voice of intrepid student Christine DeLisser, raising it to a clarion call. How this bravura filmmaking came about about is reported in an article by journalist Zainab Iqbal, writing for the Brooklyn College newspaper The Excelsior in an October 29, 2019 article with the headline, “Brooklyn College Filmmaker Documents the Story of Christine DeLisser Who Was Sexually Assaulted at the Residence Hall.” Iqbal’s lead paragraph is enough to catalyze paroxysms of rage.
“Sometimes you girls act like you don’t want it when you really do,” a maintenance worker told Christine DeLisser. They were in the elevator at the Residence Hall (RHBC). Just the two of them. One was a man abusing his power. The other? A young student. He started to gyrate toward her until she put out her hand and pointed to the camera. “Oh, them shits don’t work,” he said.
A zinger of a documentary that reveals the institutionalized sleaze and moral turpitude that can exist at a public institution of higher education and that can put students a risk. YOU FOUND A HOME snarls, growls and roars. The seeds of a feature length motion picture?
Gregg W. Morris can be reached at email@example.com