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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

About the Other Weekend: Paul Thomas Anderson at BAM

BAMcinĂ©matek was honored to host director Paul Thomas Anderson for the beginning of the Jonathan Demme: Heart of Gold film series. He was joined by producer Edward Saxon, actor Paul Lazar, and Demme biographer Louis Black. We had four packed screenings of Something Wild, Melvin and Howard, Married to the Mob, and Citizen’s Band.

In in-depth Q&As, guest speakers shared personal and professional anecdotes about the late filmmaker, including some eclectic and hilarious behind-the-scenes knowledge. Some of the highlights involved the casting of Demme’s features.
 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Beautiful Game: An Interview with /peh-LO-tah/’s Marc Bamuthi Joseph

Soccer—as both an intricate, euphoric choreography and an exploited corporate cash cow—is the subject of /peh-LO-tah/, an electric meditation on the racial dimensions of the sport from multi-talented theater artist and performer Marc Bamuthi Joseph (red, black & GREEN: a blues, 2012 Next Wave). Using spoken-word poetry and fĂștbol-inspired footwork, Joseph and four performers dribble and pass their way from the pickup games of rural Haiti to the mega stadiums of Rio and Johannesburg, parsing the social justice of soccer to the sounds of hip-hop and samba. Against his own childhood memories of the game as a race-transcending source of happiness, Joseph posits a global reality in which black joy is all too often co-opted for financial gain, yet perseveres nonetheless. We sat down with Joseph to discuss the work in anticipation of its New York premiere this fall during the 2017 Next Wave Festival.

Photo: Bethanie Hines



Can you discuss the idea of soccer as a universal language?

Soccer isn’t just the world’s most popular sport, it is the activity to which we globally assign the most value as an emblem of cultural aesthetics. It isn’t just success on the pitch that communicates a nation’s character, it’s how the game is played, from Ghanaian grace to Brazilian flair to Spanish polyrhythm to German focus and consistency. That universality then is more pronounced against the stark contrast of political monocultures and repressive regimes. How do we register that universal joy in the shadow of South African apartheid? How do we reconcile with a country that meddles in the elections of other sovereign nations and also invites the planet to roam freely within its borders during the World Cup? In this case the sport reveals that joy is universal, as are the contradictions inherent among the men and women who passionately engage in it.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Jonathan Demme: Heart of Gold

Demme at work on The Manchurian Candidate. Photo: Paramount Pictures/Photofest


by Lindsay Brayton

Jonathan Demme: Heart of Gold is the most comprehensive retrospective to date of the late director’s work. The series showcases the depth of Demme’s cinematic genius with screenings of his classic films, such as the Talking Heads concert-documentary Stop Making Sense (screening Aug 18—24) and the Academy Award-winning The Silence of the Lambs (Aug 12), along with a number of Demme’s lesser-known documentaries.

When asked which of his films he felt was underappreciated, Demme responded Cousin Bobby (Aug 17), his 1992 documentary about his Harlem-based, politically passionate, Episcopalian minister cousin with ties to the Black Panthers. It’s a film about political awakening and crusading for civil rights—but with Demme’s trademark gentle touch.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Portrait of Pina (in 35 Objects)

In 1984, Tanztheater Wuppertal made its New York debut at BAM, performing what would become the two most iconic works of Pina Bausch’s extraordinary repertoire—CafĂ© MĂŒller and The Rite of Spring. More than three decades later, the company returns with a landmark restaging of that historic double bill this fall as part of the 35th annual Next Wave Festival.

How fitting, then, that back in 2012 we asked illustrator Nathan Gelgud to illustrate a list of 35 objects that evoke her and her work—portraiture by association. Peruse the pictographs below, but be sure to let us know if we left anything out!


Friday, June 23, 2017

Edgar Wright Presents Heist Society

Reservoir Dogs.





By Edgar Wright

Newsflash, BAM: Crime does not pay! Don’t let this criminally entertaining series of heist films influence you to go a-robbing and a-looting when you leave the theater. Avoid the sticky ends and time in the slammer by simply living vicariously from the cinematic thrills of these robbing hoods. Getaway this summer with 22 solid gold heist movies curated by the team at BAMcinĂ©matek and myself:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eat, Drink & Be Literary: Jacqueline Woodson



On April 5, acclaimed author Jacqueline Woodson came to BAMcafĂ© for the third installment of this season’s Eat, Drink & Be Literary series. She read from both her novel Another Brooklyn and her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which also received the 2014 National Book Award, a Newbery Honor Award, and the NAACP Image Award. After the reading, she chatted with The New Yorker's Deborah Treisman. Listen to the full reading and conversation after the jump:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Reflecting on the Refugee Crisis

This past February, BAM and PEN America brought together writers from around the world to address the many refugee crises facing the world today. South African author Jonny Steinberg (whose book was adapted for Isango Ensemble’s A Man of Good Hope) joined Ethiopian-American novelist and writer Dinaw Mengestu for a conversation moderated by Iranian-American writer Roya Hakakian.

Mengustu spoke about his new acceptance of the term "immigrant writer:"


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Portraits and Process: BAMcinemaFest 2017

The 9th annual BAMcinemaFest kicks off tonight with the New York premiere of Aaron Katz's Gemini in the BAM Harvey Theater at 7:30pm. Earlier this season, BAM had the pleasure of partnering with photographer Robin Holland to create a series of portraits depicting this year's filmmakers. During the shoot, we asked each director a series of short questions about process, inspiration and this year's festival. Their answers follow:

Photo © Robin Holland
Lauren Wolkstein & Christopher Radcliff

1. Describe your film in three words:
Lauren: Atmospheric road mystery.
Chris: Sad-boy-secrets.

2. What movie(s) made you want to become a filmmaker?
L: Blue Velvet is one of many for me.
C: I honestly don't remember.

3. What film(s) are you looking forward to seeing at this year's festival?
L: A Ghost Story.
C: Golden Exits. Also we both really want to see I Am Another You for a second time.

Friday, June 9, 2017

BAM 1968: Merce Cunningham’s First Major New York Season




This summer, in the Natman Room off of BAM's main lobby, a moment in BAM's history is celebrated—the first major New York run of Merce Cunningham Dance Company in May 1968. Stop by and check out the photos and artifacts that document the first run of many to follow by this renowned company.


In May 1968, as the Vietnam War raged on and the civil rights movement gained momentum, the cultural scene was undergoing a revolution of its own in Brooklyn. That month, choreographer Merce Cunningham and his company performed 12 dances in eight performances at BAM in his troupe’s first major New York season. It was part of the first full season of programming curated by Harvey Lichtenstein, the impresario who would go on to lead BAM for 32 years. That inaugural season emphasized dance and included runs by the companies of Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor, and JosĂ© LimĂłn, as well as poetry and symphonic and jazz music programs. (The following year, BAM presented the Festival of Dance, comprising Martha Graham, Anna Sokolow, Erick Hawkins, Twyla Tharp, Meredith Monk, and Yvonne Rainer, as well as the above.)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

BAM R&B Festival

The Suffers. Photo courtesy of the artists
On June 8, the BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech Commons in Downtown Brooklyn begins its 23rd season with a dynamic slate of live R&B, soul, and jazz. It includes familiar names—Ramsey Lewis, or the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band—plus new finds, chosen by longtime producer Danny Kapilian. Here’s a brief overview of the series lineup, which takes place on Thursdays from noon to 2pm, free of charge.

Jun 8—Ramsey Lewis was named a Jazz Master by the NEA. He has 80 albums, seven gold, and three Grammys. He became a fixture on the 1950s Chicago jazz scene, and worked with Earth, Wind & Fire, who appeared on his 1974 album Sun Goddess.

Jun 15—Raul MidĂłn sang backup for Shakira and worked with Stevie Wonder. This emotionally powerful singer is known for his improvisational mouth-horn technique, performing a “trumpet” solo with his mouth.

Jun 22—The Suffers of Houston, TX comprises 10 members. Its “Gulf Coast Soul” braids in threads of rock, Latin, country, and southern hip-hop. Its big horn section and vocals by Kam Franklin have earned accolades and TV appearances.

Jun 29—John Hammond, acoustic guitar legend, had Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix in his band—at once. This Blues Hall of Famer and Grammy winner has 33 albums to his name.

July 6—Sinkane, a four-piece led by Ahmed Gallab, offers Afrobeat cadences, funky guitar, and slinky grooves, celebrating life with a generosity of spirit.

Jul 13—Tank and The Bangas blend rhythmic soul and spoken word. This New Orleans outfit, with intriguing lyrics, funky synth, sax, and flute won the 2017 NPR Tiny Desk Contest.

Jul 20—Preservation Hall Jazz Band is the house band of New Orleans’ Preservation Hall. Now in its 50th year, the group combines a reverence for deep tradition with fresh explorations.

Jul 27—El Septeto Santiaguero of Cuba explores and updates traditional son music. Its seven players won the 2015 Latin Grammy (Best Traditional Tropical Album), honing their chops at the famed Casa de la Trova nightclub.

Aug 3—Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles are a six-piece led by Henry, who debuted at the Apollo. Henry has won two Grammys with Snarky Puppy and has a huge fanbase.

Aug 10—Liv Warfield, Judith Hill, and Shelby J: Love 4 One Another are proteges of Prince, and continue his incomparable legacy under his charity’s namesake.

Need more? Check out a playlist of this year's artists over on Spotify.



Forest City Ratner Companies is Presenting Sponsor of BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech.