After four days of screenings, panels and film community events, the 11th annual Bushwick Film Festival concluded on Sunday at LightSpace Studios with an awards ceremony that highlighted the works of filmmakers from around the world and where Brooklyn was a recurrent theme.
This year, filmmakers submitted over 1300 short, feature, documentary films and web series for screening. Only 100 films were selected by festival programmers, and from that pool, juries of film industry experts selected a best and a runner-up in five categories: Best Web Series, Best Feature Narrative, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Short.
BRIC TV's Brooklynification won "Best Web Series." Directed by Keith Miller, the series makes light of the rapid gentrification transforming the borough and turns the awkward misunderstandings that arise when yuppies and old-timers collide in a Brooklyn brownstone into comedy gold.
"There's a cracker joke in one episode," said Miller, describing one of the series' most memorable moments as he accepted the award. In the episode, a school child says that crackers are taking over his neighborhood, and the teacher thinks of the kind you eat with cheese.
"When we played in Bentonville, Arkansas, there was a long silence after that joke. Not last night in Bushwick. There was a big laugh," Miller said.
The winner of "Best Narrative Feature Film" went to Anissa 2002 by French Director Fabienne Facco. The film follows 16-year-old Anissa who travels to Morocco with her parents for an arranged marriage and then rebels against them by running away.
Facco accepted her award, pledged to honor it and to think of Brooklyn when she sees it on her shelf, to which the audience responded with a collective "Awwwww!"
Other festival award winners included Oleg by Aleksandr Brodsky and Boris Krichevsky for "Best Short Documentary," The Shuttle by Lu Han for "Best Narrative Short" and Victorious by Robert Mac for "Best Documentary Feature."
After a small reception with an open bar and a DJ, the festival's founder Kweighbaye Kotee took the stage to thank all participants and contributors and to present the "Rising Star" award.
The award was instituted in 2017 to recognize returning filmmakers who have grown in their craft since their first festival entry. This year, the award went to Stefon Bristol, director of the 2017 film See You Yesterday, which follows two boys in Brooklyn as they build a time machine to stop their friend from being murdered by a cop.
Bristol accepted his award and thanked Kotee for being his mentor, and for founding the festival which showcased his early work.
"Just give it a few years," said Bristol. "The Bushwick Film Festival is going to be bigger than Tribeca."