Directed by Michael Sladek
2012, 86 minutes
Purchase: $ 195 / classroom rental: $125
A captivating history of the nation's oldest performing arts center - which mirrors the evolution of performing arts in 20th century America - BAM150 chronicles the vibrant past, present and future of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Through footage of recent performances, intimate interviews, and an astonishing treasure trove of 150 years' worth of archival materials, BAM150 is a testament to the power and stamina of the institution that established Brooklyn as a cultural mecca—serving as a home to such greats as Pina Bausch, Robert Wilson, and Merce Cunningham.
Directed by award-winning filmmaker, Michael Sladek, BAM150 features interviews with Laurie Anderson, Peter Brook, Meredith Monk, Isabella Rossellini, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Chuck Davis, William Forsythe, Phillip Lopate, Mark Morris, Steve Reich, Alan Rickman, Robert Wilson, historian Mike Wallace, Wim Wenders, and more. With unprecedented access, the film's crew captured the institution behind-the-scenes, allowing viewers a peek into 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 Forsythe'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 fly-on-the-wall perspective.
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. Sladek 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 unique identity 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, in a transformed Brooklyn, are blazing new trails for the revered cultural destination.