Emma Penaz Eisner, 11, took the trip from San Francisco with her mom for the screening of her short called “The Long Night.”
Inspired by her mother Jane Eisner’s poem – a piece that was previously published in The Journal in England – about “the spaces between things, and the desire that’s woven through them.”
“I was in kindergarten or first grade when I started reading the poem,” Penaz Eisner explained. “About 90 percent of the images fell into my head when I read it for the first time.”
The young aspiring director, writer, actress and producer has been submitting her film just about anywhere she can since its release earlier this year.
“It seems pretty awesome,” she said of her journey to the East Coast. “So little films get into the festival, so it must be pretty selective. Plus the other films looked pretty interesting to me, so I decided to come out.”
The two were joined in a packed house of filmmakers and film lovers at the Wythe Hotel basement theater for the festival opening last Thursday.
Karl Nussbaum’s latest abstract short entitled “Night Blooming Flower“ was also among the opening night screenings.
The initial inspiration was from the death of a friend suffering from cancer, as well as how his mother survived cancer. Nussbaum wrote and produced the eerily woven piece in their honor.
“The only thing I could wish for my friend is that he die peacefully,” Nussbaum said. “So I made this film thinking about him.”
The Clinton Hill resident has been in the community for the last 34 years and said screening his work at the festival was important because the borough is his home.
“I really wanted to screen in Brooklyn because I live here,” he said. “I screen all over the world - a lot more in Europe than I screen in America – and in New York I rarely screen because they don’t do as well as they do there.”
Greenpoint Film Festival founder Rosa Valado said she was pleased at the increased turnout this year and participation in the interview segments that followed each screening.
“I was so impressed and pleased with how engaged the audience was,” Valado said. “They were really excited in the films, in the filmmakers and the discussions were very exciting.”
Jens Rasmussen, Special Programs curator of the festival, also worked on two of the films submitted by the North Brooklyn Boat Club, an organization that has worked to raise awareness of some of the environmental issues surrounding the neighborhood and Newtown Creek.
“I think if you’re going to do Greenpoint-specific films, it’s really hard to miss that environmental angle,” Rasmussen said. “It’s such a factor that has shaped the ecosphere of the neighborhood and affected the fabric of the interactions because of the activism that grew up around fighting these environmental issues.”
Rasmussen and his friends sat in the bar of the Wythe Hotel screening room before the kickoff event last week in preparation of the first screening.
For them, the festival was not only a time to show their own hard work from throughout the year, but it was also a night to celebrate their home and the future of Brooklyn.
“I think you’re going to see a change in this film festival,” he said in anticipation of the years to come. “With the amount of film production that’s happening here, I meet more and more people working in the film industry that are moving to the neighborhood. So this is a like a little Hollywood that is going to happen here over the next decade.”