BAM150, Brooklyn Academy of Music Documentary, to Air on THIRTEEN, 4/19
To commemorate its sesquicentennial, BAM (Brooklyn Academy Of Music) commissioned BAM150, a feature length documentary conceived by award-winning director Michael Sládek that weaves together the institution's vibrant past, present, and future presenting a rich history that mirrors the evolution of performing arts in 20th century America. This landmark film premiered last year at the Tribeca Film Festival and will air on Friday, April 19 at 10pm on THIRTEEN.
Through verité footage of recent performances, intimate interviews, and an astonishing trove of 150 years' worth of archival film, photography and ephemera, Sládek's film shows that BAM's 150 years were hard earned, and are a testament to the power and stamina of the institution that launched Brooklyn as a cultural mecca-while also serving as a home to such greats as Pina Bausch, Robert Wilson, and Merce Cunningham.
With unprecedented access, the film's crew captured the institution behind-the-scenes, embedding viewers in the artistic process at BAM. Footage of company arrivals, rehearsals, and backstage activity convey the complexity and variety of performances mounted in one season. Robert Wilson's production of The Threepenny Opera, the Baroque opera Atys featuring William Christie's Les Arts Florissants and Paris' Opéra Comique, Beijing Dance Theater's US debut (in Haze), choreographer William For- sythe's I don't believe in outer space, composer Darcy James Argue/visual artist Danijel Zezelj's Brooklyn Babylon, BAM's annual public tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., and a gala celebrating The Bridge Project's Richard III are seen from a rare fly-on-the-wall perspective.
Interviews with BAM performers and directors including Mark Morris, Robert Wilson, Peter Brook, Steve Reich, Meredith Monk, Isabella Rossellini, Laurie Anderson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, William Forsythe, and Alan Rickman add fascinating and candid first-person anecdotes to the narrative. Other luminaries seen participating in BAM events include film director Wim Wenders, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and more.
To convey BAM's dense history, the BAM150 film crew worked in tandem with BAM archivist Sharon Lehner, sifting through hundreds of hours of performance footage and using the recently published tome BAM: The Complete Works as a reference. Sládek interviewed cultural experts and historians; writer Phillip Lopate and Pulitzer Prize- winning historian/author Mike Wallace shed light on the cultural development of a borough establishing its identity apart from Manhattan in the 19th century. Cultural critic John Rockwell discusses BAM's more recent history, beginning with Harvey Lichtenstein's bold vision for the moribund establishment four decades ago and continuing with the work of his successors-President Karen Brooks Hopkins and Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo-who, amid a now-transformed Brooklyn, are forging the next steps for the revered cultural destination.
The film also underscores the adventurous spirit as well as the social consciousness that drew speakers to the BAM Opera House stage, including Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain, Ann Sullivan and Helen Keller, and American presidents of the pre-television age (including a pre-World War II speech by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt). The research process for BAM150 revealed many archival jewels, including film footage of its original Montague Street building ablaze in 1903.
"BAM's visceral and multi-dimensional history made film the perfect medium through which to convey our story during this landmark anniversary," says Karen Brooks Hopkins, BAM's president. "When BAM supporters James H. Ottaway Jr., Martha A. Rubin, and Robert S. Rubin stepped in to generously underwrite the project, we were fortunate to find Michael Sládek, an accomplished film director and long-time BAM fan who could hit the ground running, creating an artful, dramatic, and significant chronicle of this organization."
"Telling the history of BAM is essentially telling the history of live performance in the US from the mid-19th century," says Sládek. "It was important for me to show an early BAM not only as an underdog, but a rabble-rouser in terms of the art and speakers it featured. BAM has, for me, always been an oasis in this city. Being commissioned to tell such a riveting story of its rise, fall, and rise again (and the borough that gave it birth) while experiencing such amazing performances from the inside out, has been an honor and great joy."
BAM150 is directed by Michael Sládek, produced by Greg Loser and Michael Sládek, and is edited by Joseph Krings and Michael Sládek. BAM150 director of photography is Ramsey Fendall. BAM150 was shot by Ramsey Fendall and Michael Sládek.
Brooklyn Academy Of Music's (BAM's) mission is to be a home for adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas. America's oldest performing arts institution, it is recognized internationally for innovative dance, music, and theater programming-including its renowned Next Wave Festival. BAM also features an acclaimed repertory film program, literary and visual art events, and extensive educational and Community programs. The institution is led by President Karen Brooks Hopkins and Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo. www.BAM.org
In 2013, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THIRTEEN, New York's flagship public media provider. As the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and the operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children's programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state's unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and, MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region.
Plug Ugly Films, Inc. was founded in 2000 as a platform to create and provide production support for feature films, music videos, art films, commercial videos, TV programs, animated works, live performances and live events. Recent feature films include the lauded documentary Con Artist and the dark comedy Devil's Are Dreaming. Headed by Director/Producer Michael Sládek, the Brooklyn-based company works with various producers and talent on a project-by-project basis, executing intensely creative work. The company's title reflects Plug Ugly Films' roll-up-your- sleeves, take-no-prisoners approach to producing superior, eclectic and engaging content. www.PlugUglyFilms.com