Another film festival is coming to Brooklyn.

LitFilm, a six-day festival opening February 20 at the Brooklyn Public Library, focuses on both documentaries and fiction films that explore literary subjects. Fifteen films will be shown in total; all are free but require reservations.

“Arthur Miller: Writer,” a documentary about the titular playwright made by his daughter, Rebecca Miller — who will also provide the keynote — will open the festival.

brooklyn public library literary film festival

Rebecca Miller and Arthur Miller. Photo by Inge Morath via The Inge Morath Foundation/ Magnum Photos / Courtesy of HBO

“It’s a hidden genre,” said BPL’s Vice President of Arts & Culture László Jakab Orsos. “And one of the reasons we are doing this is to ask the questions: What can film add to the written word? Where’s the intersection of these two disciplines, and what can they reveal?”

The lineup combines big names — films about Joan Didion, Susan Sontag, James Baldwin — but also explores work by lesser-known writers. “We wanted to offer a healthy mix of subjects,” Orsos said. The library brought in Joseph Shahadi, the executive director of the Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, to help shape a diverse program.

When asked what he was most excited to show at the festival, Orsos offered “Write Down, I Am an Arab,” a film about the influential Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, who passed away in 2008, and “Citizen Havel,” about the playwright Václav Havel, who served as the first president of the newly formed Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003.

brooklyn public library literary film festival vaclav havel

‘Citizen Havel.’ Image via Občan Havel

“When you think about it, a documentary about a writer can be utterly boring,” Orsos admitted. Many exist: polite and predictable accounts of writers that offer nothing new to a viewer.

“But you can also take it to another level, and it becomes a different genre,” he added. “That’s why we want to show these films to people. It’s a totally different kind of work.”

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The new owner of this onetime paper doily factory in a mixed-use district turned to Ridgewood-based husband-and-wife architects Glickman Schlesinger to renovate the entire circa-1900 structure.

The 3,500-square-foot ground floor was rented out to a preschool, while the architects divided the upper level into two living lofts, one a two-bedroom for the owner’s family of four and the other an open space conceived as an artist’s live/work rental.

The utilitarian building, with its heavy timber frame and large windows, hadn’t been touched except for some minor renovations in the 1930s, Adam Glickman said.

Find your Brooklyn design inspiration

‘He wanted to keep the space as raw and loft-like as possible,” said Lauren Schlesinger. To that end, they exposed the ceiling beams on top floor, which had been covered up, and refinished the existing maple floors. “It was common factory flooring and it’s great, a mix of curly and other types of maple.”

The enormous ceiling opening in the owner’s unit, seen in the photo at top, is original to the building. “It’s such a large opening, we didn’t want a flat skylight” for fear of excessive heat, Glickman said. Instead, the architects designed an enclosure to rise up from the opening with a sawtooth skylight sloped to capture northern light.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Glickman Schlesinger Williamsburg

Some of the original windows were bricked in; the architects unblocked them to make use of all the available openings.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Glickman Schlesinger Williamsburg

A long kitchen wall of blue tiles from Ceramica Bardelli distinguishes the owner’s unit.

“The kitchen is big and open and meant for entertaining,” Schlesinger said. The huge Wolf range was a must on the homeowner’s wish list.

The gray cabinetry is from IKEA, with a lava stone countertop from ABC Stone and “a few custom elements plugged in,” Glickman said, including the walnut shelving by Wood by Design.

Utilitarian Lightolier track lighting hangs between the exposed ceiling beams.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Glickman Schlesinger Williamsburg

A custom walnut desk and bookshelves, also handcrafted by Wood by Design, were fitted into a corner of the kitchen wall.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Glickman Schlesinger Williamsburg

Near the entrance, a corridor leads to two bedrooms and two baths. The rest of the space is open.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Glickman Schlesinger Williamsburg

The kids’ room has a large skylight and, like the rest of the loft, exposed beams that were cleaned up a bit but not otherwise treated.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Glickman Schlesinger Williamsburg

Brilliant yellow tiles from Ceramica Bardelli decorate the children’s bath.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Glickman Schlesinger Williamsburg

In the rental unit, there’s a dining table designed by the architects, which is part of their ongoing product line, along with a vintage Arne Jacobsen sofa and an IKEA bookcase used as a room divider. The kids’ table and chairs are by Pkolino.

Interior Design Ideas Brooklyn Glickman Schlesinger Williamsburg

A simple galley kitchen in the rental unit is built of IKEA components, with a fridge from Fisher Paykel and a freestanding stainless steel counter.

The open space of the rental unit made exposing the ductwork an easy solution, one in keeping with the desired industrial sensibility.

[Photos by Lauren Coleman Photography]

The Insider is Brownstoner’s weekly in-depth look at a notable interior design/renovation project, by design journalist Cara Greenberg. Find it here every Thursday morning. Got a project to propose for The Insider? Contact Cara at caramia447 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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A homeowner is laying out a garden level rental unit and is trying to figure out the best placement for the kitchen. They were thinking of putting it in the middle of the unit, replacing the pantry and a closet. Have other homeowners done this rather than placing the kitchen in the rear? What are the pros and cons?

Please chime in with your advice.


Need a professional opinion? Try Brownstoner Services, where you can talk to a concierge (it’s free) or browse our community of pros. >>


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Here’s a fine figure of an Italianate brownstone, a late 19th century number with plenty of intact details and tasteful updating. Built circa 1869, it’s at 403 Clermont Avenue, in the Fort Greene Historic District.

Twenty feet wide and roughly 41 feet deep, it offers a triplex over a garden rental. The triplex is an above-average living space, with a lovely, high-ceilinged parlor floor, offering a living room with floor-to-ceiling windows with a vertical pier mirror in between, an ornate, carved marble mantel (one of six in the house), elaborate ceilings and an arched set of pocket doors leading to the kitchen.

Said kitchen is a spacious one, with a lengthy stone-topped island, a wine fridge, another floor to ceiling window and a door leading to a small balcony.

Save this listing on Brownstoner Real Estate to get price, availability and open house updates as they happen >>

With approximately 3,280 square feet, there are five bedrooms above, with three large windows and wide-ish plank oak flooring in the front bedroom.

There’s central air conditioning and a rear garden accessible from the duplex via a spiral staircase, with a bluestone patio.

Listed by Vicki Negron of Corcoran, the house wants $3 million. What do you think?

[Listing: 403 Clermont Avenue | Broker: Corcoran] GMAP

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Fort Greene at 403 Clermont Avenue

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Fort Greene at 403 Clermont Avenue

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Fort Greene at 403 Clermont Avenue

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Fort Greene at 403 Clermont Avenue

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Fort Greene at 403 Clermont Avenue

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Fort Greene at 403 Clermont Avenue

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Fort Greene at 403 Clermont Avenue

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Fort Greene at 403 Clermont Avenue

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Fort Greene at 403 Clermont Avenue

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Fort Greene at 403 Clermont Avenue

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Fort Greene at 403 Clermont Avenue

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Fort Greene at 403 Clermont Avenue

 

Brooklyn Homes for Sale in Fort Greene at 403 Clermont Avenue

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A client approached the team at Madera with a wish: He had grown up with a unique herringbone floor, and he wanted to re-create it in his four-story brownstone in Bed Stuy.

James Robb, co-owner of Madera, provider of sustainable wood flooring and wood products for the building industry since 2013, knew that reclaimed wood was the wise choice, for these three reasons:

reclaimed wood nyc

1. It’s got wabi-sabi: “It has what the Japanese call ‘wabi’ — that worn elegance and imperfection that you can’t re-create through a new product,” he said. “But we also didn’t want something so rustic that it looked like a barn.”

2. It’s about…forgiveness: No matter the choice, reclaimed wood is more forgiving, and won’t suffer from the same amount of seasonal contraction — when cold winters rob a room of humidity, new wood shrinks and gets damaged. “Reclaimed wood has done a lot of its expansion and contraction already,” said Robb.

reclaimed wood nyc

3. Keeps wood out of landfill: Madera sources their reclaimed material from places like old tobacco barns and warehouses in the Carolinas, a bourbon distillery in Kentucky, and the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg. “Iconic places with history,” explained Robb. “But more important, it saves the wood from the scrap heap.”

So it was settled: wine tank material, sourced from the Pleasant Valley Winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York (yes, the wood did smell like wine).

reclaimed wood nyc

Before the contractors took up the old linoleum floors in the brownstone, the Madera crew came in for a consult, alongside Reggie Young of Brooklyn Lime Work, to select the right product for the site conditions —- an algorithm influenced by the presence of concrete slabs, or radiant heating, among other things, as well as the owner’s aesthetic.

“These can make the difference between choosing a wide-plank barn oak or heart pine, with clean interior face or original dirty face,” said Robb.

reclaimed wood nyc

Madera got wind of the Bed Stuy project from Young, a conservation consultant and project manager who spends much of his time researching and teaching green preservation and conservation techniques. “He incorporates sustainable technologies into as many of his projects as possible,” said Robb.

reclaimed wood nyc

And in Brooklyn, for the last five years, those projects have been on the upswing. “We’re able to provide Brooklyn residents with wood floor options without having to go to a fancy showroom in Manhattan,” he said, adding that the market has been “gangbusters” for the past several years.

“We’re all craving authenticity,” he said, “and reclaimed wood gives us a genuine connection to real materials, to our heritage.”

For more information call (718) 484-7260 Ext.2, or go to the Madera website.

There was a consensus in the room, if only slightly.

Residents who gathered in the Crown Gardens Community Room in Crown Heights for Community Board 9’s ULURP Committee meeting Tuesday night were unanimous about their displeasure regarding the main topic on the agenda, which was the redevelopment of the old spice factory, originally Consumer’s Park Brewery, at 960 Franklin Avenue in south Crown Heights.

For the redevelopment to happen, the developer is seeking a rezoning of the site under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program.

community board 9 agrees on not rezoning crown heights

Photo by Craig Hubert

“This is the equivalent of a neighborhood rezoning,” Esteban Giron, a member of the Crown Heights Tenant Union and part of CB9’s land use committee, told the audience. “This is major.”

The current proposal comprises six towers, ranging from 15 to 37 stories high. Included will be 1,500 apartments, half of which will be affordable, with 300 of those at 50 percent of the area median income, according to Michael Liburd, chair of Brooklyn Community Board 9’s ULURP committee, which considers land use and zoning variances.

brooklyn development crown heights consumers brewery 960 franklin avenue

Photo by Susan De Vries

Continuum, the developer, said they will have a new proposal in the new couple of weeks, Liburd told the crowd. “I doubt that the new plan calls for reducing the size of these buildings,” he added. “I expressed that this community is looking to downzone, so 37 stories is a nonstarter.”

Everybody who spoke was in agreement, even if some took issue with exactly how they should proceed. When Liburd began, his words signaled a compromise between the community and the developer.

“What should we be asking for around this project?” he asked.

“Nothing!” a number of people shouted back.

community board 9 agrees on not rezoning crown heights

Michael Liburd. Photo by Craig Hubert

Liburd attempted to quiet down the crowd numerous times, some of whom expressed they were becoming increasingly frustrated at what they felt was a discussion that was going in circles and a general lack of input from the public. At times, minor arguments derailed conversations, and a general confusion over the details being discussed caused the meeting to quickly lose focus.

“We do not need to engage the public at these meetings,” Liburd said at one point, seemingly out of frustration, to the dismissive shouts of those who felt they were not able to speak.

While Liburd attempted to unite the crowd by reminding them that they were all on the same page in terms of their rejection of the proposal, others such as Tim Thomas, a CB9 member and author of the Q at Parkside blog, remained skeptical. “My cynicism just keeps growing,” he said. “Basically, the die has been cast on most of this stuff. But I think keeping up the fight is important.”

community board 9 agrees on not rezoning crown heights

Alicia Boyd. Photo by Craig Hubert

The activist Alicia Boyd, who for most of the meeting stood in the corner, filming the proceedings, thunderously spoke of the proposed development’s relationship to the nearby Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park.

“We are now considering the idea that we can negotiate to have a 40-story building impede on the garden when the whole reason it was downzoned was to protect it,” she said. “This is our neighborhood. That is our garden.”

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For eight hot weeks in the summer of 1988, Spike Lee took over an entire block of Stuyvesant Avenue, between Quincy Street and Lexington Avenue, in Bed Stuy. As crews began to transform the street — cleaning up some of the buildings, while erecting new ones on two adjacent lots — the neighborhood watched from their windows and glanced from the sidewalk.

Some were elated, others concerned. Was this beneficial to the community or an intrusion? The documentarian St. Clair Bourne was there to capture it all. He and his small crew were hired by Lee to produce a behind-the-scenes film, which were standard components of press kits. Most of the time, these don’t go beyond the average fluff of promotional material. But Lee wanted something different. He was convinced what he was making was unique and needed somebody to film every facet of the creative process.

a portrait of the bed stuy block when do the right thing was filmed

Filmmaker St. Clair Bourne while making ‘The Black and the Green.’ Photograph by Roy Lewis via First Run Features

The 81-minute “Making ‘Do the Right Thing’” stretched beyond what Lee and his collaborators were doing preparing for the film. Screening at the Metrograph as part of a larger series about St. Clair Bourne — including films about Amiri Baraka and Langston Hughes — that opens on Friday, February 16, Bourne’s film is an intimate portrait of a neighborhood amidst transition, attempting to determine how the arrival of a big-budget film production will change their neighborhood.

“My family has been here for 125 years,” says a local woman in the film. “So we have seen the changes. My mother, when she came here, it was gas lights and carriages and horses.”

Bourne grew up in Bed Stuy and his personal connection to the people is felt at different points throughout the film. “He pushed to get as much depth to the story as he could,” said J.T. Takagi, a sound recordist, filmmaker and the Executive Director of Third World Newsreel, who worked with Bourne on the film. She remembers that Bourne also, in the spirit of the film Lee was making, insisted on having a diverse crew around him for the shoot.

a portrait of the bed stuy block when do the right thing was filmed

Image via First Run Features

This helped him get access to the local residents. “Bourne was a very charming man,” Takagi said, remembering that he was able to convince people to talk on camera who may have had no interest when the conversation began. This leads to some of the most fascinating parts of Bourne’s film, including the ongoing story of a woman who, attempting to stay out of a shelter, manages to secure a job cleaning up every morning for the film’s production crew. When she struggles, disappearing for a few days, the community helps her out, and she is able to get her job back.

While the documentary also observes members of the Nation of Islam, who were hired by Lee, helping to clean up a building on the block that was occupied by drug dealers, others in the neighborhood find their efforts futile.

a portrait of the bed stuy block when do the right thing was filmed

The boombox carried by Radio Raheem in the film. Photo via the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

“The movie itself is not going to bring patrolmen on the corner; it’s not going to bring us a stoplight,” a skeptical local man tells Bourne in the film. “These are things themselves that people in the neighborhood need to work on. The President of the United States can come through here — they’ll clean the street for one day, but that’s it.”

Others in Bed Stuy took inspiration from the film’s presence. “I’m talking about trying to keep our community together,” another local woman says. “Being interested in our property, and our children, and getting things done around here. There’s a lot out here.”

While Bourne’s documentary is attached to Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” it’s better to think of them as adjacent. The documentary takes the position of the community, ending on a film shot of an empty lot on the corner of Stuyvesant Avenue where a set once stood. The film crews have disappeared, the business of that summer now in the past. But the block still remains, the same as it was but looking differently into the future.

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It’s not difficult to explain why The Decker, an eight-story condo building at 21-10 44th Drive in Long Island City, is nearly 70 percent sold.

“Location, location, location,” said Mary Beth McGill, licensed sales person at Modern Spaces, referring to the 7 train nearby at Court Square. “And for the people from Long Island and Brooklyn who are looking at these homes, they love the easy access to the Long Island Expressway too.”

queens homes for sale in LIC

Like a red-brick buoy in Court Square’s sea of glistening glass spires, The Decker was conceived by Kora Developers and Zproekt Architectur as a tribute to the Newtown Creek Towing Company’s wooden workhorse, the W.O. Decker — a steam-powered tugboat built in the 1930s.

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Its lobby is fitted with cage lamps, exposed brick, and wooden overhead beams, but the mix of studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom units feature decidedly more modern touches — a Daikin HVAC system for individual heating and cooling, for one.

queens homes for sale in LIC

McGill says one item that’s gone over big is the storage units — tall cages for suitcases and skis — that are included in the price. “A $25,000 value,” she said. Separate bike storage can be purchased for $1,000.

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The finishes, such as 4-inch-wide natural oak flooring, have been favorably received by a mix of buyers, including local renters and Manhattan residents, Modern Spaces brokers said.

queens homes for sale in LIC

The building has no shortage of options for unwinding, such as a lounge, a recreation room with a pool table and other amusements, and a fitness center. An outdoor “backyard” space has barbecue grills, greenery and lounge furniture. The Manhattan views never seem to get old — neither does a virtual doorman.

queens homes for sale in LIC

Long Island City’s Court Square surrounds The Decker, with shopping and dining. Stop by MoMA PS1 or stroll through Gantry Plaza State Park for an authentic nautical experience inhaling the riverside air and fishing from its piers.

There are playgrounds and running paths too. Nearby are Michelin-rated restaurants Casa Enrique and M. Wells Steakhouse.

queens homes for sale

All sales and marketing are being handled by Modern Spaces.

For more information, check out the building’s website.

Prices start at $725,000.

Now, ahoy.