Jackie Robinson Playground

The Daily Plant : Thursday, July 8, 2004


As a booming multicultural metropolis, New York City has always been considered a cultural and artistic center. This next helping of summer film screenings in parks shows that the number of ways this city can express itself artistically is endless. From African cinema paired with music and dance to short films directed by New Yorkers, these four film festivals capture the true spirit of New York City as only the arts can.

The Socrates Sculpture Park’s On the Waterfront Festival will screen international films on Wednesday evenings, July 21 to August 25. This festival, sponsored by the American Museum of the Moving Image, Partnerships for Parks, and Socrates Sculpture Park, will also feature musicians, dancers, and regional cuisine.

The August 4 screening of Federico Fellini’s classic La Strada is a highlight of the festival. This Italian cinematic feat emphasizes both romance and realism in the story of a love affair that develops between a circus wrestler and his young female servant. The film is remarkable for its cinematography alone, and, for that reason, it fits in perfectly with the short film that will be shown before it. This, That, and Other Minor Misunderstandings is a personal film about the journeys of New Yorker Edin Velez. These screenings highlight the intersection between today’s New York film avant-garde and their international cinematic and cultural influences.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Summer Film Series at Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park will show both a feature and a short film every Thursday from July 8 through August 12 at 8:45 p.m. In addition to the films, which are free and open to all, attendees will be able to purchase refreshments, rent beach chairs, and enter raffles. The series, sponsored by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, offers a wide variety of films that are all related to Brooklyn.

The East River may not be home to the great white sharks that terrorize the New England coastline in Jaws, but Brooklyn is the birthplace of the film’s star, Richard Dreyfuss. Though the August 12 screening of Jaws probably will not inspire any trips to nearby Coney Island, no movie is more appropriate to watch outside in summer months. The screening is paired with the short film, Hic!, which follows a young Brooklyn girl through her neighborhood as she tries to cure a case of the hiccups. These films show the diversity of the Brooklyn experience from the perspective of both a child and a seasoned actor.

The Third Annual Historic Harlem Parks Film Festival: Through African Eyes presents films Wednesdays, July 7 through 28 at 7:30 p.m. Each screening will be held in a different Harlem park and will highlight both films and musical performances focused on people of African ancestry all over the world. This film festival celebrates the diversity of African experience through a variety of art forms. Harlem historically has served as a center of African American arts, and this festival highlights the variety of influences on the African American experience.

Next Wednesday, July 14, the festival comes to the 150th Street and Bradhurst Avenue basketball courts in Jackie Robinson Park for a performance by the Brazilian dance group Kurimbata Samba and the Congolese film, Pièces D'Identités/Identity Cards. The film, a modern day fable complete with a king, his beautiful daughter, her Prince Charming, and even a dragon, is much more than a fairy tale. It deals with the complex issues of identity that face members of the growing African Diaspora not just in the Congo, but also in places like Brazil and New York City.

Riverside Park’s Reely New York Series, presented by the Young Riversiders, offers a more light-hearted variety of comic films shot in New York City every Wednesday, July 14 to August 18 at 8:30 p.m. The films will be shown at 103rd Street on the Promenade.

In Ghostbusters, showing August 4, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray save the day by cleaning out the Big Apple’s ghost population. They may not be PEP officers, but these crazy parapsychology professors turned crime fighters are just as committed to keeping the city safe for New Yorkers to engage in everyday activities like, for example, attending film festivals.

Written by Rebecca Silverstein


"A grass-blade’s no easier to make than an oak."

James Russell Lowell
Poet, editor, and diplomat (1819-1891)

Directions to Jackie Robinson Playground


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