From 'Bodies in Irreversible Detriment' to 'Famous Nathan,' it's all here at the Coney Island Film Festival

Brooklyn Currents | 9/18/2014 | 1 comments

Brooklyn Currents Associate Editor

As another season at America's Playground by the Sea winds down, you can still catch the fun and experience the magic at the 2014 Coney Island Film Festival this Friday through Sunday, Sept. 19-21st at Coney Island USA.

Something old and something new, but always relevant, CIFF presents a batch of 98 films starring Brooklyn landscapes and much more. As usual the festival serves up a variety of Shorts, Features, Documentaries, Horror, Music Videos, Experimental and Made in Coney Island films.

The festival opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday with a nostalgic ride through what was once an American pastime, the drive-in movie theater with, "Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-in Movie." Beginning in 1933 and lasting through the '80s, Americans could experience Hollywood through their front windshields, but new technologies made this form of entertainment extinct. Will there be a resurgence of rollerskating servers bringing burgers and shakes to the luxury of your front seat? Find out!

Sunday opens with a family-friendly program at the Coney Island Museum at 1 p.m., $5 for kids, $8 for adults.


Visit www.coneyislandfilmfestival com  for more information about the festival, as well as for some highlights of the festival and other events and activities at America's Playground 


From drive-ins to pizza, the ever-changing neighborhood flavors are explored in "Brooklyn Slice," a documentary about Johnny's Pizzeria, located in Sunset Park  at  59th Street and  5th Avenue.  Johnny's was opened in 1968 by a family of Italian immigrants. At the time the film was made, a Papa John's pizzeria had opened right next door. Watch the family, their friends and members of the community as they discuss the changes of this part of Brooklyn.

Another documentary that will make your mouth water is Lloyd Handwerker's, "Famous Nathan," Lloyd is the grandson of Nathan Handwerker, a Polish-Jewish-American entrepreneur who, with his wife, Ida,  founded Nathan's Famous Hotdogs in 1916. Through historical archives, home movies, photographs and rare audio recordings, the grandson details the life of his grandfather growing up in a poor Polish  village, arriving in America and running Nathan's for more than 40 years.

Of course, no New York City documentary series is complete without a view of its skyscrapers and subways. "Aerial NYC" is a view of the city by way of a ride in a quad-copter, and  the documentary "SUBTONES" is a trip through the subway system synchronized with a similarly dizzying soundtrack.

Music enthusiasts will appreciate another tragic story about the life of a famous rock star. Watch legendary guitarist  Johnny Thunders' life crash and burn right before your eyes  in "Looking for Johnny," from Danny Garcia, director of "The Rise and Fall of the Clash." Many famous musicians have attested that they were influenced by his unique "glam" guitar sounds. Thunders  grew up in Queens and went on to modest success as a member of the New York Dolls, a glam band that formed on the Lower East Side and is famous (or infamous, depending on perspective) for blending androgyny and rock music a  bit more than Little Richard did (we don't think Little Richard ever wore a dress onstage). Thunder's went on to a solo career that was marred by drug addiction, and to this day it's not known for sure what he died from.

This year's feature films range from the fantasy and escapist, to the nitty-gritty, realist, sometimes fatalistic point of view of the big city.  CIFF presents the world premiere of "Samuel's Game." When an artist from Pennsylvania moves into an old Brooklyn building and saves a young Spanish girl from a near death experience,  they witness a terrifying haunting that lurks throughout the building. In another world premiere, "Redemption," a man tries to piece his life together after a series of misfortunes.

Thunders' former band member from the NY Dolls and Staten Island native, David Johansen appears in a Short called  "Bodies in Irreversible Detriment." It's a strange tale about people suffering from "Body Integrity Disorder" (you'll just have to see the film to find out what that is).

Other Shorts include: "The Man from the City,"  about a mysterious businessman who wants to leave the big city and visits a small town with questionable intentions. It stars SAG award-winner Robert Clohessy of  "Boardwalk Empire," Blue Bloods and Wolf of "Wall Street" fame, and Sean Young from the films "Blade Runner," "Ace Ventura," and "No Way Out."  "Coney Island Dreams" warns of a desperate young woman eager to return to her native Ireland, who seeks help from an older man who offers to pay for her flight in exchange for one last job, luring an unsuspecting iron worker to a dark Coney Island street.

Saturday night at 10:30 is the annual screening of the Coney Island classic "The Warriors"

The festival concludes with the wildly popular Made in Coney Island program, Sunday at 6 p.m. Get your tickets fast for your favorite screenings because seating is limited and programs tend to sell out quickly.

Filmmakers who have gone on to work in Hollywood after appearing at CIFF include writer, director and actor Jay Duplass, and a 2013 selection called "Mr. Hublot" by Laurent Witz won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short

The festival begins with an opening night party, Friday at 9:30 p.m. at Sideshows By the Seashore at 1208 Surf Avenue, then another party Saturday night at 8 at El Dorado Arcade 1215 Bowery Street. It wraps up Sunday night at 8 with the awards ceremony at Eldorado Auto Scooter at 1216 Surf Avenue.


The D, F, N and Q subway lines all go to the Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue stop.



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