Bronx Week Film Festival Established

Thomas Edison started the American film industry in the Bronx. Now, the organizers of the first-ever Bronx Film Festival are trying to bring it back.

The festival took place during Bronx Week 2011, starting on Monday, May 16 and wrapping up on Thursday, May 19. Its organizers, as well as its sponsor, the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, believe the festival can be a springboard to establishing a Bronx-based movie and television industry.

“The film festival was great because it showcased a lot of talent in the Bronx and a lot of positive things about the Bronx,” said BOEDC President Marlene Cintron. “It’s also showed filmmakers, producers and writers that we are willing to put money where our mouth is.”

The BOEDC approached seven-month-old Bronx-based Olympia Film Locations about running the festival in March. Olympia’s four-persons staff had just 30 days to put the event together.

A total of 12 Bronx-made films were shown during the festival. All except one were screened at Bruckner Bar & Grill on Bruckner Boulevard and Third Avenue. The grand finale was a film industry party on Thursday, May 19 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

The movies, however, did not have a Hollywood feel. All were independently produced and financed. The availability of home editing equipment for personal computers makes producing a feature length-film a lot easier on the pocket than it was 10 or 15 years ago.

Throggs Neck resident Anthony DeBellis produced and starred in ‘Krackoon,’ which screened at the festival. Its total budget was about $20,000.

“There are a lot of Bronx people making films now,” he said. “Costs have come down so now it’s feasible.”

Low-cost, however, does not mean low quality. ‘Krackoon,’ as well as all the 11 other movies, have been shown at film festivals across the country.

“They’re all good,” DeBellis said. “As a Bronx filmmaker it makes you really proud and the fact that residents now have somewhere to show their movies is really important.”

Besides nurturing the borough’s grassroots film culture, the BOEDC has visions of making the Bronx a destination for high-budget film and television productions.

Men in Black 3 filmed in Morris Park in April and several other large-scale productions have expressed interest in shooting in the Bronx since the Bronx Film Festival ended.

The plan is to have Hollywood level productions boost the borough’s film industry and turn support local writers, directors and producers.

Peter Zotis of Olympia said his company is an example of one that is banking on a burgeoning Bronx movie scene.

“It’s a beautiful county and it’s underutilized,” Zotis said. “These guys are making full productions, so we want to keeping teaching young people and keep building the industry here.”

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