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If It’s Thursday, It Must Be Showtime At Sputnik Film’s Always the Hot Topic At The Screening

The midweek crowd at Tillie’s takes little notice of Kim Steger as she settles in at a comfortable table and boots up her laptop — glowing computer screens are not unusual in these WiFi friendly environs on DeKalb Avenue. Across from her sits a young man by the name of Marquise Smalls. “Tell me about yourself,” Steger says. “What are you expecting? Where do you see this project going?” The images that Smalls has supplied to Steger begin to play out across her computer screen and she likes what she sees. Smalls’ Hip-Hop comedy is delightfully funny. It definitely will be a great addition to Steger’s popular interactive film series now playing at Sputnik on the last Thursday of each month. “It’s the interactive aspect that I’m looking for,” Steger says. On Thursday nights at Sputnik, the trendy Clinton Hill hangout for neighborhood locals and creative types on Taaffe Place, the lively Q&A sessions with provocative filmmakers routinely last longer than the short films shown from 7 to 10 p.m. “We encourage a forum for artists,” says Steger. The Nashville transplant came to New York City back in 2000 to study media management at the New School. But after completing her first film project on her own, Steger says she felt a little “bashful” about showing it. Her solution to overcoming her trepidations was simple: get others to present their films along with hers at a special showing. The Screening series now showing at Sputnik just grew from there. “I did this because I had to,” says Steger. “There’s so much to learn.” And she hopes that the artists, editors, writers, actors and musicians who present their work every month at The Screening do learn a lot from the well-thought out and considered feedback they receive from the series participants. “Most don’t work in film professionally,” Steger explains. “Some have works in progress, but most have completed projects and they’re just looking for another group’s take on their work.” Filmmakers eager to draw on the inspiration, networking and collaborative opportunities available at The Screening, or just take in the cool energy that seems to permeate the place, have come from as far away as Vancouver, London and India. Most of the time, the selection process that Steger uses in choosing filmmakers for the Sputnik screenings on behalf of her Flatfootfete production company, begins with the kind of intimate chat over coffee described above. “I’m enthralled with the stories and the creative process,” says Steger. “The artists who I’ve worked with seem to appreciate it,” too. It’s good food.” The one-on-one nature of the meetings affords Steger an opportunity to take a more holistic approach to a filmmaker and his or her project. That interaction in turns makes for more lively discussions before live audiences back at Sputnik. “I look for material that I believe has some aesthetic value, or some emotional impact,” Steger says. “There’s always a good story that comes out of these sessions.” The meetings also afford Steger the opportunity to be a little nurturing, too. As a filmmaker herself, she knows how tough it is trying to get your work out to the public. “If we have to pass on something, I may say [to a filmmaker], ‘You might want to talk to x, y or z. They’d be a great help. They have a lot of tools.” She’s facilitated meetings between a large cross section of many different kinds of artists and pointed others in the direction of distributors. Kevin Everson showed his work at The Screening back in November and has since followed up that experience with a trip to this year’s Sundance Film Festival. “Filmmakers want creative feedback,” says Steger. “They just don’t want to be out there with other movies with $15-20,000 budgets.” Steger tries to apply her substantial background in marketing in everything that she does, and Sputnik’s “funky” and “dynamic” space - creatively appointed with video monitors broadcasting seemingly endless loops of Kurosawa flicks and Adult Swim Cartoons – is all part of the winning package. “We have a very laid back atmosphere here,” Steger says. “And that’s very good for the creative aspects of business.” Sputnik’s “great eats” which filmgoers can enjoy while taking in The Screening don’t hurt either. “They have amazing fries,” says Steger. It all adds up to an environment conducive not only to jittery filmmakers, but generally caring and supportive audiences as well. “It’s a really cool environment,” Steger emphasizes again. Upcoming events at Sputnik include the latest installment of Smalls’ aforementioned Hip Hop comedy series, as wells as some other fascinating abstract and narrative works. Sputnik is located at 262 Taaffe Place. The Screening series is free. For more information call 718-398-6666. Filmmakers interesting in submitting work to The Screening should e-mail Steger at Sputnik can also be reached online at

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