BAM Rose Cinemas, presents The Films of Azazel Jacobs. Azazel Jacobs has spent the last few
years forging his cinematic vision—he is a unique independent filmmaker in an age when
American independent cinema is faced with a creative drought. This series gathers three features by Jacobs— son of famed avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs—including his recent Sundance Film Festival hit Momma’s Man, along with two films selected by Jacobs. Momma’s Man will be released on August 22 by Kino International.
The series starts on August 11 with Azazel Jacobs’ sophomore feature The GoodTimesKid
(2005). Described as “an unexpectedly beguiling romantic comedy” by The New York Times,
The GoodTimesKid is the story of three characters told with little dialogue: Rodolfo (played by Jacobs), his girlfriend Diaz (played by Jacobs’ real-life girlfriend, Sara Diaz), and a stranger
named Rodolfo (Gerardo Naranjo, director of Drama/Mex , a close friend of Jacobs and
co-writer of the script). When Jacobs’ character is drafted for military service, he leaves his
girlfriend in Los Angeles and Naranjo’s character moves into Diaz’s life. “Minimalist to the
max, Azazel Jacobs’ second feature, The GoodTimesKid emerges as an absurdist and nearly
wordless urban dance between two men and a woman over 24 hours in Los Angeles,” writes
One of Jacobs’ selections and a source of inspiration for The GoodTimesKid (among Jacobs’ other films) La Vie de bohème (1992) by Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki follows on August 12. An adaptation of Henri Murger’s Scènes de la vie de bohème, which was also the basis of Puccini’s La Bohème, this black-and-white film version features performances by Jean-Pierre Léaud and Kaurismäki regular Matti Pellonpää, as well as appearances by filmmakers Samuel Fuller and Louis Malle. The film concerns three penniless artists in contemporary Paris:
Rodolfo, a painter, Marcel, a playwright, and Schaunard, a composer, as well as the barmaid with whom Rodolfo falls in love. “[A] slow-and-steady mood piece,” says The Washington Post. The film was the winner of the FIPRESCI prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Jacobs’ first feature, Nobody Needs to Know (2003)—set in New York City and featuring a soundtrack comprises rap and reggae by Brooklyn-based bands—plays on August 13. Jacobs has cited diverse influences including Federico Fellini, The Clash, and Lenny Bruce, for this unconventional film. “[T]his black-and-white metafiction by Azazel Jacobs interweaves three story lines,” notes Chicago Reader, “an anonymous black guy peers into and then disappears behind the camera, his voice-over a mix of whimsical rap and omniscient narration; an aspiring actress suggestively named Iris (Tricia Vessey) ponders the meaning of her profession
while waiting for a callback about a movie role; meanwhile, a series of attractive women in slips audition for the same film by acting out death scenes for a director (Matt Boren) who becomes increasingly confused as to what he’s after.” The film had its world premiere at Rotterdam Film Festival, where Jacobs told the Daily Tiger (Rotterdam), “Nobody Needs to Know was more influenced by reggae music and The Clash than traditional
filmmaking, where a director shoots some scenes that he has rehearsed with the cast. Although there is one director I am really excited about—Finland’s Aki Kaurismäki.”
On August 14 is the second of Jacobs’ picks in the series, British cult film Rude Boy (1980), directed by Jack Hazan and David Mingay. Rude Boy is part drama and part rockumentary, featuring performances by The Clash, a strong influence on Jacobs’ work, as it follows the perspective of protagonist Ray Gange, a fan and roadie for the band. “[S]tudded with electrifying concert footage,” notes Chicago Reader, while Channel 4 Film calls Rude
Boy “a must-see for anyone with an interest in The Clash.”
The Films of Azazel Jacobs concludes on August 15 with a sneak preview of the director’s newest, much acclaimed Momma’s Man (2008) followed by a Q&A with Azazel Jacobs. Momma’s Man mixes fictional and autobiographical elements with his father, avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs, and his mother, visual artist Flo Jacobs, starring as the bohemian parents of the protagonist, Mikey (Matt Boren). The film was shot in the Tribeca apartment where the director grew up and where his parents continue to live. Jacobs writes in his
director’s statement, “Momma’s Man began as a way of documenting the place where I grew up…I wound up casting my parents to play the parents—really because I couldn’t picture anyone else in their bed, in their kitchen, in their place.” He continues to comment on the casting choices: “I wrote the part of their son, Mikey, for Matt Boren, who I had worked with on my first feature Nobody Needs to Know. He was someone that I thought of from the first line on…For the rest of the roles I used either the real person it was based on, or actors
that brought with them their own particular styles, hoping to create a cross-section/mish-mash of realities where some interesting things could emerge.”
In Momma’s Man, Mikey returns to his hometown of New York for a visit, and ends up staying longer than intended with his parents—neglecting his wife and child back home in Los Angeles. The New York Times comments, “[T]he film beautifully combines the idioms of independent fiction narrative with the personal expressiveness of the avant-garde for a work of surprising emotional and structural complexity. This is independent cinema defined.” The film will be released on August 22 by Kino International.
Tickets are also available by phone at 718.777.FILM, or online at BAM.org. For more
information, call the BAMcinématek hotline at 718.636.4100 or visit BAM.org.