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Sternberg Park hosts Wednesday film series

“Hi! Come on in! We’re showing a film!” encouraged City Councilmember Diana Reyna, as an audience of 30 wandered into the handball courts at Sternberg Park (Lorimer and Boerum streets) Wednesday night to see the debut of what could become a summer tradition of outdoor screenings in Williamsburg.

After two months of planning, Moviehouse, a Brooklyn-based film collective, unveiled its inaugural CinemaParque free film series, featuring short works by local Latino filmmakers in both English and Spanish.

The organization has been developing a lively reputation for showing provocative short films and promoting local artists during its one-year residency at 3rd Ward Brooklyn (195 Morgan Avenue), but Moviehouse Director Chris Henderson wanted to bring the experience to new audiences in a public space.

“We’ve been doing shows for three years and it feels really to be out in Sternberg showing on these handball courts, surrounded by Mitchell Lama Housing.It’s great to see kids from the neighborhood showing movies in the neighborhood they live,” said Henderson.

How Moviehouse came to project video on a handball court in the first place is the result of a fortuitous conversation between Henderson and Open Space Alliance’s Stephanie Thayer, who wanted more programming in parks but was wary of the costs.Henderson proposed setting up a film series that would cost only a couple hundred dollars.All he needed was a big flat surface and a handball court was perfect.Both agreed that Sternberg would be a better venue than McCarren Park because of the glut of programming already occurring on Williamsburg’s northside, including the L Magazine Summer Screen series.

“I respect what they’re doing, showing big Hollywood summer movies,” said Henderson.“We’re doing smaller independent local stuff in Spanish with English subtitles.”

Wednesday’s opening featured short films from six young Brooklyn filmmakers, Desiree Camacho, Mike Vasquez, Josh Carrero, Jeremy Lopez, Bryan Lopez, and Patricia Torres, who worked with the New Children/New York program over the past year to tell stories based on their families and personal experiences.

The results were riveting, sensitive portraits of growing up in Brooklyn, grappling with issues of underemployment, labor rights, immigration, and sexuality.

Ericka Vasquez, who appeared in her younger brother Mike’s film, “Wrong Way,” said that working with him helped improve their relationship.

“It’s really helped us out,” said Ericka, who is also a filmmaker.“I have my own film world and so does he, and we tend not to talk about our lives together, but this opportunity helped defy that.”

Queens residents Josh Itzkowitz and Hadas Fruchter heard about the event through the Moviehouse listserv and came away impressed with the venue and the art.

“I loved how it was a relaxed setting and an exhibition of young people’s work.I wish more people showed up but once it gets going, more will come,” said Fruchter.

On July 15, Moviehouse: CinemaParque will feature short films from Spain, borrowed from the Festival Internacional de Cortos FIB, which Henderson promises will be very different but also very good.

Moviehouse: CinemaParque will take place on Wednesdays at sundown this summer, including July 15, July 29, August 12, August 26, and September 9 on the Sternberg Park Handball Courts at Lorimer and Boerum streets.All events are free.For more information, visit http://moviehouseat3rdward.blogspot.com/

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