The Bushwick Film Festival 2023 is a community film festival that reflects the diversity of Bushwick, a center of Brooklyn’s Latin, and especially Puerto Rican community. The Festival was founded in 2007 by Liberian-born Kweighbaye Kotee to provide opportunities to filmmakers of color.
16th Bushwick Film Festival 2023
The 16th Bushwick Film Festival 2023 uses its “Sweet Sixteen” to focus on stories about life’s defining moments. A diverse selection of more than 125 films is screening at Williamsburg Cinemas in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; from Wednesday-Sunday, October 25-29, 2023. Films $19. Passes available.
The theme is an astute commentary on the ephemeral nature of life, especially in a world rattled by climate change, environmental degradation, the pandemic, social media extremism, identity politics, migration, and war. Life changes much more quickly than it used to, and in ways most of us have little prior experience to rely on. Life changes more quickly, and we must find our own way without the social guardrails that guided previous generations. And the changes keep coming throughout our entire lives.
Another big change we are all going through is that after the police lynching of George Floyd, it’s time to be proud of our heritage, all of it.
Special events include:
- Opening night red carpet reception at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Wednesday, October 25.
- Movie Industry Conference with filmmaker discussions and networking opportunities at Be Electric Studios.
- Sweet 16 Party at Lot 45.
Awards include Best Feature Narrative, Best Feature Documentary, Best Short, and a Best Web Series.
The festival has partnered with The Bolivia Lab to promote more South American films, including the U.S. Premiere of Brazilian film “Bittersweet Rain” (Saudade Fez Morada Aqui Dentro) by Haroldo Borges. 15-year old Bruno suffers his first heartbreak, while slowly going blind, and figuring out how to be LGBTQ+ in a small Brazilian town. Being LGBTQ+ in New York is one thing. Being LGBTQ+ in the socially conservative Latin world can be life-threatening. Shot with non-professional actors, it won “Best Film” at Argentina’s Mar del Plata International Film Festival.
“Know Your Place” by Zia Mohajerjasbi follows two Eritrean American teens has they deal with identity and displacement in a gentrifying Seattle. 🇪🇷
In “Playing Sam” by Emmy nominee Ramon Filipe Pesante, Samantha discovers her own inner Latinx actress after an ex-boyfriend’s acting career takes off.
In “Don’t Worry About India” by Arjun Jr and the Nama Film collective, an Indian filmmaker turns his camera to his homeland and sees how the world’s biggest democracy has a culture rooted in inequality and right-wing populism. Indian culture is Latin through Trinidad. 🇮🇳
“Bad Like Brooklyn Dance Hall” by Ben DiGiacomo and Dutty Vannier looks at the Jamaican party music in Brooklyn. Dancehall comes from reggae which has clave, the African and Latin rhythm in it. 🇯🇲
“Woyane” examines the importance of journalism during the Tigray genocide in Ethiopia. 🇪🇹
“Estamos Unidos” highlights the resilience of Central American migrants. This touches on the migrant situation in New York City right now. There is no way to stop Central and South American migration. Have pity on migrants. They didn’t come for a bigger television. Climate change and the violence of gangs deported from Los Angeles jails forces people to leave immediately or face death. You would migrate too. Some have walked from Venezuela to the border in sandals, carrying their children, and with no money. It’s a hard, dangerous road. People find their way by sticking together. Once they settle in, they will become great New Yorkers and great Americans who lift the entire country up.
“Storming Caesers Palace” by Hazel Gurland-Pooler illuminates the feminist anti-poverty movement led by Black women in the 1960s-70s, and their influence on today’s fights for social justice. 🇺🇸
“Esú and the Universe” by Thiago Zanato documents the struggle of a Nigerian professor in Brazil to prove that Esú, the Candomblé (Yoruba) orisha is not the devil. Brazil has the world’s largest African Diaspora population. The government claims there is no racism, but there is. If you complain about it, you get in trouble for complaining against the government. The Nigerian who made the first Yoruba translation of the Bible, translated the Christian devil as Esú, and that association has stuck, even though it is completely false, nothing more than a competitive rant between religions. 🇳🇬 🇧🇷
[Editor “Kiko” Keith ~ If you think Esú is the devil, then you are reading the words of the devil himself. Esú is the Nigerian Yoruba orisha of the crossroads, the decision points in life’s journey. If that reminds you of bluesman Robert Johnson, you are correct. But Robert Johnson didn’t make a deal with the devil, he connected with his African roots and that made him great. The blues comes from North Africa via the Caribbean. Esú is Elegúa in Cuba and Puerto Rico, Papa Legba in Haiti, and Elegbara in Brazil. I was crowned Elegúa by Cubans the day I moved to Puerto Rico. I had no idea who that was, but as I had my own life-defining experiences and studied the Yoruba orishas, I can only agree. I am a personification of Eleguá. He was there at the beginning of creation so he knows the beginning and end of things. He is a divine messenger. In African Diaspora tradition, before we dance, we ask Eleguá to connect us with the divine because dance is how we pray. When a salsa song starts, “E le le le-le-le,” that’s the call to Eleguá. He brings people together, loves to dance, clown around, and make people laugh. He opens and closes the paths of our personal destiny. I am a journalist who brings Latin and other people together. As a journalist I can open and close most doors. I’m one of the best Argentine tango dancers in the Caribbean and love to dance anything. I became funny in Spanish, though I was never funny before. Sometimes when I reveal my orisha, I have to explain that I don’t do witchcraft and I’m not the devil. The devil is a construct of one of my ancestors, the Persian prophet Zarathustra. His idea of heaven and hell was picked up by the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. European colonizers considered anything not European to be the devil. We are still decolonizing. There is no devil in Yoruba tradition. The devil is nothing but fear in your own head. Esú does not bring evil. At every step in life, you have a choice. You can make a good decision or a bad decision, but the decision is yours. Don’t blame Esú for your own mistakes, or take all the credit for your blessings. It’s just the power of opportunities presented by chance combined with your own decisions. This is how life works. Àṣẹ]
There is a lot more to this festival, and it’s cool in a very Brooklyn way that these diverse perspectives get a screening. Get tickets and more information at bushwickfilmfestival.com