Summer Fests: Oak Cliff FF and BAMcinemaFest

Summer is typically a pretty slow time for film festivals but with the Spring and Fall months becoming more and more crowded, plenty of new festivals have cropped up in the last decade or so to bring some life to the warmer months. Here are two that have caught my eye recently. 

If you’re a film buff in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the Oak Cliff Film Fest is probably already on your radar. Set primarily at the Texas Theatre (yes, that Texas Theatre) but branching out to other historical venues in the area, OCFF is run by a cadre of filmmakers and film lovers who defy the ongoing homogenization of cineplex cinema in favor of a spicier mix. Films programmed this year include pictures from Texas producers like Beaver Trilogy Part IV and a shorts program titled “Cinema 16 Shorts” which, though the program guide doesn’t say so explicitly, is presumably a collection of films made on 16mm film. (I’m waiting on confirmation from the festival that this is true.)

In an unusual move for such a young festival (the fest was founded in 2012), OCFF now has a Filmmaker’s Grant program to support Texas filmmakers with cash and production resources. (With Texas governmental film incentives sadly on the decline, emerging filmmakers in the state can use all the support they can get.)  

Naturally, OCFF has other Texas advantages to attract visitors from out of town – the repeated social media mentions of smoked meat and tacos by attendees have stirred more than a little envy in the heart of yours truly. 

I’m a little sorry I didn’t get this article published before their fest began but there’s still some time to see the last day of screenings -- or at least make plans for next year

BAMCinemaFest at the Brooklyn Academy of Music is comparatively mature (in its 7th season this June) but still flying under the radar for many filmmakers. That could be because of the relatively modest number of films it plays (35 on this year’s slate) or the fact that they’re largely curated from other fests. The festival does take submissions and there’s no entry fee, but only through their own web site. (Most other fests rely at least partially on discovery through submissions platforms like FilmFreeway and Withoutabox.) 

That low profile hasn’t kept the local film community from being impressed, however – the festival’s home page touts kudos from The New Yorker and a proclamation from the Village Voice of the event’s status as the Best Film Festival in New York.  Given the rise of Brooklyn as the new and (barely) affordable section of the city where the young and artistic do their thing, it’s not hard to predict that BAMCinemaFest is positioned to become a prominent player in the New York festival scene. There are dozens of “upstart" festivals in New York already, of course, but few with as much apparent infrastructure and the community support (it boasts both the Wall Street Journal and Delta Airlines as sponsors) required to succeed. 

Programming choices for this year include Sundance selections like Tangerine and Advantageous, as well as retrospective screenings like the 20th anniversary screening of Kids and a free outdoor screening of Slacker

 Tickets are on sale now for BAMCinemaFest, which runs June 17-28.