From animation to experimental, it's all at the CIFF

Brooklyn Currents | 9/17/2013 | 0 comments

Brooklyn Currents Associate Editor
The 13th Annual Coney Island Film Festival kicks off Friday, Sept. 20 and runs all weekend until Sunday's closing night Awards Ceremony at the Eldorado bumper cars. Where else can you enjoy movies, rides, tasty food, shopping and a relaxing breeze by the beach all in one great spot?

From "More than the Rainbow
In keeping with a 12-year tradition, this year's festival showcases 88 of the best films from around the world, as well as local talent from Brooklyn and New York City.

"Because we're a Brooklyn- based film festival, we receive about 80 percent of our entries from the local tri-state," said Rob Leddy, CIFF director. "The criteria has never changed, we have quality films from all over, and like any other festival, some form of a local premiere helps."

Opening the festival Friday night at 7:30 is the film, "More than the Rainbow," chronicling the life of street photographer and former NYC taxi driver Matt Weber. The work melds New York City images with a great jazzy soundtrack.

Several world-premiere extravaganzas will be screened in categories ranging from full-length feature films to Horror, Documentary, Animation, Experimental, Music Videos and Made in Coney Island films.

Saturday, those old Warriors from Coney dust off their leather vests and team up with last year's festival winner for best documentary in a horror ride that will flip you off your seat. The Warriors Dorsey Wright, Brian Tyler and Apache Ramos, from the original Cult Classic, star in Eric Spade Rivas's "Vamp Bikers."

CIFF says Rivas is a publicity wizard, and after he finished the short film,  "Lost in Coney Island," he reached out to the original Warriors and they agreed to star in his new film about a town terrorized by an ancient clan of blood-thirsty bikers.

Sunset Park resident Amy Grumbling returns this year with "Carrying Place," a film she produced with her sister. Amy has been a Brooklynite for almost a decade after moving here from Maine.

See Eric's interview with Amy, below

"No theme, although, for obvious reasons we did receive and select quite a number of films about Superstorm Sandy, which affected us directly at Coney Island USA, Leddy said, adding, "All proceeds from the Festival go directly to Coney Island USA's ongoing Sandy recovery."

Another entry is Fernando Cuestas's "Shoe Shine Chicken." Based on real events, it follows a pair of homeless children who survive by shining shoes on the Coney Island boardwalk during the summer of 1963. The film's scenery and music seem so authentic that you're transported back in time.

"Give Chase" by Russell Cramer follows a bicycle messenger so dedicated to his job that he tries to elude a corporate hitman with orders to steal a package in a chase through industrial Brooklyn.

Following Friday night's screening is the opening-night party at the Freak Bar and Sideshows by the Seashore, with an evening of live performances from the Coney Island Circus Sideshow.

The Coney Island Film Festival is one of the "25 Coolest Film Festivals, declares MovieMaker Magazine, so sit back, pop open a cool beverage and get ready for a memorable experience. There are so many intense and diverse films playing every hour that if you miss one that's visually pleasing, you can catch another that's cerebrally tantalizing.

Leddy offers a tip: "We throw great parties. Advance purchase is always advised, because we do tend to sell out many programs."


The Coney Island Film Festival
September 20, 21 and 22, 2013

Films screen at Coney Island USA's Sideshows by the Seashore (Ground Floor) and the Coney Island Museum (2nd Floor), both located inside the landmarked Coney Island USA building at 1208 Surf Ave., between Stillwell Ave. and West 12st in Coney Island, Brooklyn. 718-372-5159.

By Subway: D, F, N or Q lines to the Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue stop.

Full Festival Pass (excludes "The Warriors"): $50
Opening Night Screening: $7
Opening Night Party: $25
Saturday Screening Pass (excludes "The Warriors"): $15
Saturday Night Screening of The Warriors: $12
Sunday Screening Pass: $10
Any Individual Program Screening: $7

Advanced tickets for all programs and events are on sale now at our website. Remaining tickets and passes are available day of, at the box office 1208 Surf Ave.

For the full schedule and a complete list of films and events at the festival, visit:

All proceeds from this year's film festival go to Coney Island USA's ongoing Sandy Recovery, officials said.


'I love being at the Film Festival'

Eric Lima sat down with Amy Grumbling, director of "Carrying Place," to be screened at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22 at the festival --

In her home state of Maine, Amy made VHS movies with video recorders in high school. She remembers making a variety of short films, from slasher to musicals, to comedies as well as public service announcements for her high school. After graduation she attended Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., majoring in anthropology and video production. In the mid-2000's Amy moved to Brooklyn in search of work.

It didn't take her long to discover Coney Island.

"Coney Island USA is an awesome arts organization that has amazing events, from the film festival to the Mermaid Parade to Burlesque at the Beach, and I love being there," Amy said.

She's submitted a film to the CIFF every year since 2009, when  "Silent Film Star vs. the Undead" -- which she co-produced and acted in --  was accepted.

 "Rob Leddy and everyone at CIUSA do such a great job with the festival - I've been to quite a few festivals across the country, and very few have been anywhere near as fun as CIFF, especially for the filmmakers," she said. "I also love seeing the sense of community in the audience during the made-in-Coney Island films, especially the documentaries."

Her entry this year,  "Carrying Place" (one wonders if the title has anything to do with Maine Horror maestro Stephen King's film "Carrie"), is set in Maine in the 1950s, when an aging woman's teatime with her husband is interrupted by a ghostly visitor.

During the making of "Carrying Place," Amy said, she thought she saw a ghost.

"On Friday we dressed the set, doing a magical transformation that turned a bachelor pad into a 1950s era farmhouse kitchen," she recalled. "Megan and I finished our tasks late that night, and as we sat down with a beer to go over our shot list for the next day, all the lights went out in the apartment. Just before midnight on Friday the 13th, while getting ready to shoot a horror film in an eerily '50s kitchen, we had to put on headlamps and search the entire apartment for the circuit breaker. We couldn't find it anywhere, until Megan remembered where it was and we started lifting the floor boards in the kitchen. She opened up a hidden hatch that led into a dirt floor basement that in the '20s had been a chicken farm. I had to go into the pitch black cellar to find the circuit breaker, and I may or may not have seen a ghost."

Next up for Amy, a love story… Coney Island style. Amy and Megan began it a few years ago. It contains scenes shot at the old Coney Island USA Sideshows by the Seashore, the Shoot the Freak, and some streets, beach fronts and alleyways that are all gone now. The film also features cameos from Coney Island USA artist's including, Donny Vomit, Scott Baker, the Great Throwdini, Kita St. Cyr, and Ms. Tickle.  

Amy now lives in Sunset Park working as a video producer and editor, mostly on corporate, educational and documentary projects.


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