Within the past few years, Williamsburg has become known as a kind of hipster central where all that is indie thrives so it’s no surprise that the only movie theater in the neighborhood just happens to be dedicated to independent film, Indiescreen. The area specific area the theater is located in isn’t much to write home about. It’s gritty, grimy and industrial. The graphitti lining the walls of the mildly dilapidated buildings devoted to housing products we use in our everyday live (like the Dominoes sugar factory that emanates an unusual smell) it reminds us of a history this city has mostly left behind, a history where gangs ruled this land without fear. Traveling here at night is definitely not for the overly cautious. It’s mostly empty, a kind of barren wasteland of industry. But then again, maybe I’m being too harsh of a judge; I’d have to experience the area during the daylight hours. Even the theater itself is nothing much to look at from the outside. In fact, if it was not for a relatively small sign on the outside corner, you might just walk right past it without ever thinking it was anymore more than a mere factory building or something. Once you’re past those front doors though, everything changes. The scenery is replaced with an edgy, modern design that stands in shocking contrast to the world outside of it. It’s as if you’ve stepped into a portal that warps you to some ritzy, artsy theater in Midtown. At the ticket booth resides a woman, blonde with an accent that I assume is British. Her name is Susan and she isn’t your typical ticket booth person. While you can tell that most ticket both workers are there just to do their jobs and nothing else, Susan gives off the feeling like she’s there for more than just to sell tickets. She really believes in the theater and what it could be. Besides bringing some extra culture to the most hip part of Brooklyn, she also sees it as a place where singles could hook up. “A lot of singles come here. After a film, they could grab a beer, go out in front and talk to others about what they just saw.” Oh, did I mention that this movie theater also has a bar? Not only that but it has a restaurant as well with a DJ booth overlooking the main floor. Sounds pretty cool, eh? Well unfortunately, despite how appealing the idea of having a movie and dinner all at the same place sounds, you won’t get to experience that here…at least not for now. The bar area of the theater is currently non-functional due to an apparent lack of alcohol license. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “At least there is still a restaurant to eat at, right?” Well, there was but in the words of Susan herself, “You can’t have a restaurant without alcohol”. The theater had the restaurant open before but unfortunately, there weren’t enough indie movie goers who wanted to sit down and eat a meal without getting a little buzzed. So they put the restaurant and bar activity on hiatus. Damn New York City’s alcohol laws!
It is no surprise that the curator, the artistic director of Indiescreen is Marco Ursino the very man who started Brooklyn Film Festival along with Susan Mackell and Mario Pegoraro in 1998. Yes, that Susan is the very same Susan manning the booth at Indiescreen. Coincidence? While the festival is meant to be a non-profit, the theater is meant to draw in some revenue. Both serve the function of exposing Brooklyn and beyond to avant-garde films of up and coming filmmakers. Fortunately, Indiescreen is still in its stages of infancy so despite not operating at 100%, it still has a lot of potential to draw in the indie crowd of Williamsburg. It just needs a bit more exposure.