Film short: 8 Hours in Brooklyn


Photo from Next Level Pictures gallery

New York is, and forever shall be, one of those cities where you could point a camera anywhere and get a great image. A cross-section of different cultures, religions, architecture, experiences, it’s one of few world cities that feels like its own nation, rather than part of some other, greater country.

While it’s Manhattan, with its impossible skyline and endless list of attractions, which is usually the subject of stunning photography – not to mention literally hundreds of movies – Jonathan Bregel’s short focuses on one of the other five boroughs of the city: Brooklyn.

Perhaps New York’s finest example of a multicultural milieu, the area on the other side of the East River to Manhattan is home to almost every type of community one can imagine: hispanic family neighbourhoods, trendy over-priced apartment blocks and downtrodden, out-of-sight-out-of-mind locales amongst many others. All of which makes Bregel’s film something altogether unlike the traditional depictions of the city which so frequently flood our senses.

Eschewing these rather more hackneyed portraits of a metropolis, Bregel’s camera finds its way into the cracks in the pavement, condensing the urban sprawl into a few recognisable images of community. Just as the tattoo artist’s pulsing needle at the film’s close leaves a lasting mark, so too Bregel’s images make an indelible impression. His unique style – a kind of time-lapse crossed with slow-motion approach, detailing every fleck of water or strain of muscle – makes for extraordinarily intense, compelling filmmaking.

The standout sequence of these scant three minutes, a series of skateboarders rolling down their streets bathed in an amber sunset, is a knockout, the slow spins of the board’s wheels catching the sun just so, the stretching and relaxing of man and object united in one movement.

8 Hours in Brooklyn, in its brief running time, communicates ageless values, and pays homage to an area where everyday people, not monolithic skyscrapers, are what’s remarkable.

Luke Grundy is a fervent assimilator of media living amid the bright lights of London, England. If he’s not watching films or listening to music, he’s probably asleep, eating or dead. An aspiring writer, journalist and musician, he is the creator of movie/music blog Odessa & Tucson and lives for epistemology.