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BAMcinemaFest 2016: What to see at the Brooklyn film festival

BAMcinemaFest, among the most essential annual surveys of independent cinema anywhere, returns to Brooklyn beginning this week with a slate of movies that stands out because it stands apart from the clichés one typically associates with the sort of movies that excite the Sundance crowd.

None of these films are quite like the others. The roster includes the latest philosophical exploration by Werner Herzog, a documentary that equates the rise of the internet to changes underway in the fundamental human condition (“Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World”); another hardened vision from Todd Solondz (“Wiener-Dog”); the portrait of a Somali refugee in Minneapolis (“A Stray”), and a whole lot more.

There’s no simple way to categorize any of this, except that programmers offer 23 New York premieres and two North American premieres that collectively illustrate an industry that is, creatively speaking, alive and well.

The festival runs June 15-26 at BAM Rose Cinemas. These are some of the movies that have our interest piqued:

'A Woman, A Part': June 19, 2016

Elisabeth Subrin's film stars Maggie Siff as an
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Subrin

Elisabeth Subrin's film stars Maggie Siff as an L.A. actress who, amid an emotional crisis, abandons her glamorous life as an Emmy-winning TV star to return to the Brooklyn apartment and life she once occupied.

'Kate Plays Christine': June 18, 2016

Robert Greene's genre-spanning nonfiction piece follows actress Kate
Photo Credit: Grasshopper Films

Robert Greene's genre-spanning nonfiction piece follows actress Kate Lyn Sheil as she researches the life of newscaster Christine Chubbuck, who killed herself on the air in 1974, for a project that might not actually exist.

'Morris from America': June 24, 2016

This coming-of-age picture, a Sundance award winner, follows
Photo Credit: Sean McElwee

This coming-of-age picture, a Sundance award winner, follows an African-American teenager and aspiring hip-hop star (Markees Christmas) as he adjusts to life in Germany after moving there with his father (Craig Robinson).

'The Childhood of a Leader': June 23, 2016

A choirboy (Tom Sweet) shows an inclination for
Photo Credit: Agatha Nitecka

A choirboy (Tom Sweet) shows an inclination for despotism in this film by Brady Corbet, loosely inspired by the work of Jean-Paul Sartre, that is a thinly disguised allegory about the early days of World War II dictators.

'Wiener-Dog': June 17, 2016

Todd Solondz doesn't make easy, palatable movies with
Photo Credit: Amazon Studios / IFC Films

Todd Solondz doesn't make easy, palatable movies with optimistic messages about the human condition. He's sardonic, sarcastic and, often, essential. His latest, starring Greta Gerwig, Ellen Burstyn, Kieran Culkin and others, follows a dog throughout her life.

'Lo and Behold, Reveries of a Connected World': June 19, 2016

There is simply no better subject for Werner
Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures

There is simply no better subject for Werner Herzog than the internet, its past and its future. The man has a knack for exploring the biggest and most existential concerns in documentary form.

'Little Men': June 15, 2016

Ira Sachs isn't just a terrific filmmaker; he's
Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Ira Sachs isn't just a terrific filmmaker; he's a great New York filmmaker. His previous films "Love is Strange" and "Keep the Lights On" offered portraits of love and loneliness set against the harsh realities of life in the big city. His newest movie tackles what might be the most pervasive issue of all for New Yorkers: Gentrification, as Brooklyn parents and landlords raise the rent on the mother of their son's new friend, who owns the shop downstairs.

'In a Valley of Violence': June 18, 2016

Ti West (
Photo Credit: Focus World

Ti West ("House of the Devil") does the gonzo Western thing in a revenge picture starring Ethan Hawke as a former soldier out for vengeance after he's wronged by the kin of a small frontier town sheriff (John Travolta, overacting as usual). It's not a great movie, but there's certainly entertainment value in these actors going after each other.

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