Expecting the unexpected at the CIFF

Brooklyn Currents | 9/24/2014 | 0 comments

Brooklyn Currents Associate Editor

The CIFF ran the gamut from "The Redemption," – a film about an alcoholic who loses his family, friends and job but thinks he can redeem himself by ridding the world of pimps and online child predators – to "The Caddywhompus Years," about two young women who came to New York hoping to succeed as Broadway dancers only to discover it's harder than it seems.

And what film festival would be complete without a film about love at first sight?  In "Just Ask…" a young man bumps into the girl of his dreams several times but is afraid to ask her on a date. 
But this year's big surprise was "Famous Nathan," a documentary detailing the entire life of Nathan Handwerker, the man who founded Nathan's Famous hotdogs,  from his early childhood to his death and finally the sale of the famous New York franchise, directed by his grandson, Lloyd Handwerker.

"He was a workaholic. He never wanted to retire," Lloyd said of his grandfather during a Q & A after the film. This sentiment is expressed throughout the film by the people who worked with Nathan. A former store manager interviewed in the film describes how, on his first week on the job, he saw an old man opening boxes of raw hotdogs and biting a hotdog from each box. He thought it was a stranger who had sneaked into the restaurant through the back door. As he was about to ask the stranger to leave, another employee interceded, telling him it was just Nathan, the owner, tasting the food for quality.                                    
Lloyd Handwerker said the film took him about 30 years to complete, mainly because he had to track down people who had worked for his grandfather. He hopes people will take away from the film his grandfather's successful recipe for business: keeping costs low while paying his employees a living wage.

"There's also something special that's come about-- because with a thirty year span you have a perspective of people at a certain age, then getting much older and looking back on their life. So it became something much richer for me.

"The vision of the film, and what you want to say, change over time. It took a very long time and it was hard to put together. I had 300 hours of footage -- you have to carve it."

The CIFF films are a look into the human soul, a journey through the heart of darkness, a trip through the belly of the beast. At times the memories are painful, other times inspirational -- but they're all at America's favorite playground by the sea.

The CIFF Awards for 2014 

Feature - Samuel's Game, Jared Outten
Documentary Feature -
Famous Nathan, Lloyd Handwerker 
Short -
Down In Flames: The True Story of Tony "Volcano" Valenci, William J. Stribling
Documentary Short -
The Birth and Death of the BTK Band , Amy Grumbling 
Horror -
The Heebie-Jeebies, Todd Slawsby 
Experimental -
The Next Stop, Peter Meng
Music Video -
Vamp Bikers Music Video, Eric Spade Rivas
Animation -
Fifi Va A La Plage, Kathryn Roake
Made in Coney Island – Thunderbolt, Jim McDonnell


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