‘Bushwick Beats’ short films by local artists explore Brooklyn diversity

A forthcoming film set in Brooklyn puts the borough front and center as it explores the diverse community of Bushwick.

“Bushwick Beats” combines shorts by six filmmakers, all centered around the desire to be loved and accepted in times of adversity. It started filming earlier this month, using neighborhood locations including the relatively new dance spot, Tilt, and Ingrid Street as its backdrop.

“It’s ultimately an anthology,” said Julie Christeas, one of six producers working on the film. “It’s a collection of six different directors telling six different stories that are all about unconditional love in their very own unique ways. My producing partner Aleksey Ageyev and I said, ‘we’re living in such a polarizing time, it would be so wonderful to create something about this kind of love.’”

Bushwick was chosen as the focus specifically because the area “was changing so rapidly.” Christeas and Ageyev spent six weeks exploring and researching the area hands-on before selecting the six shorts that would come together.

“With so much diversity and so much happening, we said it would surely be a great place to tell a New York love story,” Christeas said. “We would love for people to walk away feeling like they got an authentic slice of Bushwick.”

One of the shorts, created by local filmmaker Anu Valia, 29, is set within the Bushwick School for Social Justice. “Wolves” follows a group of seemingly unconnected high school freshmen all longing to feel that they belong.

“When you’re a kid, all you want to feel is that someone does love you. Someone looks at you and loves you. So many kids don’t have that,” said Valia, who resides in Ridgewood.

Valia said her vision of “unconditional love” in Bushwick involved bringing high schoolers of diverse backgrounds together. 

“These different kids come together in this school with flashes of where they are in their life. It culminates with a huge intimate reveal, very publicly, at the end,” she said.

The cast of her documentary-style film is made up mostly of actors and extras who live in New York City. 

“We hired a lot of actors for that film, and tried to accurately recreate the demographic of the school,” she said. “Many of the kids are Indian American, black and brown — and I’m Indian American myself.”

The other films — “Celeste” by Brian Shoaf, “toy/tag/break” by A.S Moreno, “Long Time Distance” by James Sweeney, “Love Trumps Hate” by Sonejuhi Sinha and “No Matter What” by “Chloe Sarbib” — pursue a similar message of connectivity among locals within Bushwick, but do so by focusing on a variety of groups of people and topics, from trendy teens to budding artists.

“We have one story, ‘Long Time Distance,’ that deals with the young, upcoming hipster demo living in Bushwick now,” Christeas said.

The shorts each range from five to 20 minutes long and are slated to finish production by the end of the year. From there, Christeas said she plans to enter the movie into the city’s film festival circuit for distribution. Christeas said there are several scouts and reps already interested in getting it in front of New Yorkers.