The Bushwick Film Festival is back for its 16th run with a lineup of over 125 independent films. For the second year in a row, the screenings will take place at Williamsburg Cinemas off the Bedford L Stop. The four-day event kicks off on the evening of Wednesday, October 25, with a red-carpet reception at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall, and continues through Sunday, October 29.

The festival showcases narrative features, documentaries, and short films broken into around 20 thematic blocks. Categories include “NY Coming of Age,” which explores growing up in the city; “Halloween — Psychological,” which dives into the dark crevices of the human mind; and “Through the Fire,” which features subjects overcoming trauma and adversity.

In the latter segment, to be screened Thursday, October 26, director Anjini Taneja Azhar’s 16-minute thriller “Everywhere You Go” (2023) will recount the experience of Victoria Perry, a survivor of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting. The film, written by Azhar alongside Perry herself, explores the psychological torment of survivor’s guilt and grief.

At 5:30pm on October 26, the festival will show the narrative feature Know Your Place (2022), the tale of two Eritrean-American teenagers in the rapidly gentrifying city of Seattle. Another highlight will play toward the end of the event on Sunday: The documentary Storming Caesars Palace (2023), directed by Hazel Gurland-Pooler, tells the story of Ruby Duncan, a mother who spearheaded a late-1960s and early-1970s activist movement for welfare rights and guaranteed income. In 1971, she led a march down the Las Vegas strip.

“Everywhere You Go” (2023), dir. Anjini Taneja Azhar (image courtesy Anjini Taneja Azhar)
Short film “Andrew After Angola” (2022), dir. Will LaCalle, tells the story of Andrew Hundley, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole, and the rehabilitation program he started when he was released. (image courtesy Bushwick Film Festival)

The films come from creators across New York City and the world, highlighting the Bushwick Film Festival’s exponential growth over the past 16 years. Kweighbaye Kotee founded the event in 2007. She had recently graduated from New York University and moved to Bushwick the year prior. Kotee has continually emphasized the work of local filmmakers, the community of Brooklynites who have long called the neighborhood home, and the cultivation of sustainable careers in the cutthroat film industry. The festival went virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic and reemerged last year with its first partnership with Williamsburg Cinema.

Bushwick’s Be Electric Studios will host an industry networking event on the last day of the festival, October 29, and neighborhood bar Lot 45 will hold a “Sweet Sixteen” dance on the night of October 27.

Viewers can buy tickets for the short film blocks or for specific narrative features or documentaries. They can also purchase day or event-long passes. 

Elaine Velie is a writer from New Hampshire living in Brooklyn. She studied Art History and Russian at Middlebury College and is interested in art's role in history, culture, and politics.

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