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NYC Film Festivals

Outdoor Series Carries a Tune

A scene from Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail, which will screen Thursday at Celebrate Brooklyn! accompanied by Alloy Orchestra (Photo: BRIC)

By John Lichman

Now in its 29th year, the Celebrate Brooklyn! arts series has created one of the best combinations ever to help endure the heat: Outdoor events at Prospect Park, including its Music & Movies series that returns this Thursday with a restored print of Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail and a new score performed live by the cinephile favorite, Alloy Orchestra.

“[The film] was recommended by the director of the Telluride Film Festival, where we usually do a film every year,” said Ken Winokur, “junk percussion” and clarinet player of Alloy Orchestra. After a brief investigation, Winokur found a new print from the British Film Institute and was pleasantly surprised to not have to wade through a copyright war to obtain it. Alloy Orchestra has spent the last two years touring with Blackmail, relying less on the “junk metal” sound it made popular during its performances with Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

“Actually this is a much more subtle and melodic score than our usual ilk,” Winokur said. “That was the challenge for us: How do you work with the film and not overpower it -- not destroy the mood that Hitchcock has created so carefully?”

You shouldn’t expect anything less from the festival, which also features an evening of silent Laurel & Hardy films July 27 accompanied by an exclusively commissioned score by the Millennial Territory Orchestra. “We have been doing this Music & Movies series for about 10 years, and we started at a time when there really wasn’t much of it around,” said Jack Walsh, director of Celebrate Brooklyn. “But our take on it is to either have live music performed to the film or, on occasion, we’ll thematically program some music that precedes the screening, which is the case of the Bollywood [performance.]”

That being the 1977 classic Hum Kisi Se Kum Nalin, which Walsh is quite confident in calling “one of the quintessential 1970s gangster films”; one second the rival gangs are out for blood in the streets of Mumbai -- and then comes the dancing. The Aug. 10 screening begins with a “Bollywood disco” featuring DJ Rekha spinning, making all of your own dancing dreams a reality in Prospect Park. And did we mention it’s the largest outdoor screen in the city? Walsh said he checked with Bryant Park, too.

“I think the one thing that Celebrate Brooklyn can say, looking back at what we’ve done, is we've offered a very eclectic line-up year-to-year." Walsh said. “Also very diverse. We like to push the boundaries a little bit and get people thinking and trying out some new things. We’re always trying to push the envelope a little bit."

Celebrate Brooklyn!'s Music and Movies series runs through August at the Prospect Park Bandshell. Admission is free ($3 suggested donation); shows go on rain or shine. Visit the festival's Web site for more information.

Posted at July 16, 2007 7:52 AM

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