BAMcinemaFest features indie highlights starring Awkwafina, Jeff Goldblum and more

Awkwafina plays the lead and shows off her dramatic acting chops in "The Farewell."  Photo Credit: A24

The annual festival offers 22 features from across the independent film spectrum, including many set in New York.

Awkwafina plays the lead and shows off her dramatic acting chops in
Awkwafina plays the lead and shows off her dramatic acting chops in “The Farewell.”  Photo Credit: Jamie Francis/www.travelportland.com

The signature event on BAM’s annual movie calendar returns with its independent spirit fully intact.

BAMcinemaFest, which runs through June 23, offers nearly two dozen features from across the indie spectrum.

These range from the family dramedy “The Farewell,” starring Awkwafina, which premiered earlier this month, to an experimental movie shot in an Olympic village (“Olympic Dreams”).

They are united only in their shared status as independent movies in a real sense, not mainstream Oscar bait made for an eight-figure budget that masquerades as something it really is not.

NYC-set documentary "The Hottest August"
NYC-set documentary "The Hottest August" Photo Credit: Courtesy of the filmmaker

Here’s a rundown of some of the more noteworthy premieres still to come at the festival, though you can’t go wrong by taking a chance on any of the selections:

‘Olympic Dreams’

Speaking of seeing a new side of an actor, Nick Kroll (yes, that Nick Kroll) stars as a dentist who forges a relationship with a cross country skier named Penelope (Alexi Pappas) during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Again, the movie by Jeremy Teicher was shot on location, which is a fascinating detail.

‘South Mountain’

Talia Balsam stars in Hilary Brougher’s drama about a Catskills woman facing an intense personal crisis. There’s a lot of buzz around the performance from Balsam.

‘The Mountain’

The latest movie from Rick Alverson, who specializes in strange and unsettling stories, stars Tye Sheridan opposite Jeff Goldblum, who plays a lobotomist, just so you know what you’re getting into.

‘So Pretty’

An adaptation of 1980s German novel "So Schön" by Ronald M. Schernikau, this feature film follows a group of trans and queer artists and activists as they create their own space in New York City. It’s a sweeping work shot in a small-scale way.

BAMcinemafest runs through June 23 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Visit bam.org for full schedule.

Robert Levin