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Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island Film Festival’

The Longest Friday of the Year by Jim McDonnell

Ray Valenz and Betty Bloomerz of the Coney Island Sideshow ride the Thunderbolt in this still from Jim McDonnell’s The Longest Friday of the Year

The 15th Annual Coney Island Film Festival kicks off tonight, September 18, with a doc about burlesque duo Trixie Little and The Evil Hate Monkey and an opening night party featuring live sideshow, burlesque and an open bar. This year’s selections include over 100 films in 16 programs, wrapping up on Sunday evening with a roster of Coney-centric films and a Coney Island style awards ceremony at the famed “Bump Your Ass Off” Eldorado Bumper Cars.

Several films screening at the film fest were made by or are about ATZ friends and acquaintances. We asked them to share behind the scenes anecdotes about the making of their films.

Jim McDonnell

Still from Jim McDonnell’s The Longest Friday of the Year

Photographer and videographer Jim McDonnell is following up his 2014 “Made in Coney Island” winning short doc “Thunderbolt” with a documentary feature “The Longest Friday of the Year” (Program 16, Sunday, 6pm). The Friday of the title is June 19, 2015, the first weekend and the first fireworks show of summer and the eve of the Mermaid Parade.

It was my goal to show a day in the life of Coney Island from and give a glimpse into the lives of some of the people that work in the amusement district. There were 11 different people that shot footage for me that I staggered over the course of the day, and that’s not including myself. We shot from 4:30 in the morning until 1:15 the next morning.

Despite only being a one day shoot – it was the largest and most ambitious production I’ve ever done. Some of my cinematographers were Coney greats including Bruce Handy, Eddie Mark, Lloyd Handwerker, Kenny Lombardi and Raymond Adams (just to name a few).

I conducted a total of 22 interviews/conversations but only used 18. Some of the interviewees are DJ Vourderis from the Wonder Wheel; Ray Valenz, Betty Bloomerz and Patrick Wall from Coney Island USA; Louis Beard from Eldorado; and Fernando Velasquez from Luna Park. I really wanted to emphasize the diversity of the community.

This Side of Dreamland by Patrick Reagan and Joshua Glick

Still from This Side of Dreamland, a documentary portrait of banner painter Marie Roberts by Patrick Reagan and Joshua Glick

“This Side of Dreamland” by Patrick Reagan and Joshua Glick (Program 16, Sunday, 6pm) is about Coney Island artist Marie Roberts, whose sideshow banners have emblazoned Coney Island USA’s building since 1997. Lester A. Roberts, Marie’s uncle, was a talker extraordinaire with the Dreamland Circus Sideshow in the 1920s.

I think they looked at a bit of Coney Island through me. I started a painting on camera (which I cursed myself no end for doing, it was the Kavadlo Brothers painting, and I had to use a photo) and I worked over that thing a lot. Patrick’s eye was sensitive, he got my arm painting, which was really the important thing in the shot.

I think they got me, and the culture of the place, the amusement part anyway, and that they did an incredible job in less than ideal situations. They even got the animals. There is a scene in my yard with the Dreamland animals graves and Hyjinx from CIUSA (all buried there). Momma cat appears, Patrick put some animated cats in which I am not wild about but he is.

As the story goes, Lester came back from his traveling sideshow and left the snake and monkey at the house. My father took care of them. Have photo of him and monkey. She died because the house was drafty and she caught a cold. They are buried in the yard along with Hyjinx and my Floyd and Bessie cats. Graves were not marked but my father pointed them out many times. There are flowering bushes there now.

This Side of Dreamland by Patrick Reagan and Joshua Glick

Still from This Side of Dreamland a documentary portrait of banner painter Marie Roberts by Patrick Reagan and Joshua Glick

In previous years at the Coney Island Film festival, Lou Dembrow has shown short docs about John Dorman of Philips Candy of Coney Island, which moved to Staten Island, and Jimmy Prince, who retired from Mermaid Avenue’s Major Market. In 2012, her film about the Wonder Wheel won Best Documentary Short. This year’s entry is “Deno’s 2007, A Kaleidoscope View” (Program 16, Sunday, 6pm).

A kaleidoscope is a cylinder with mirrors that creates a colorful pattern, due to the reflection of beads or pebbles, off the mirrors. I used the ‘mirror’ filter in imovie to create the kaleidoscope effect and edited the film in Final Cut,” says Dembrow. These images from the movie demonstrate the kaleidoscope effect.

Deno

Still of Airplane Ride from Deno’s 2007, A Kaleidoscope View by Lou Dembrow

Painter Marc Kehoe, for whom Coney Island has been an inspiration for more than 25 years, is also a film school alum who has two films in Program 2, Saturday, 2pm.

“When” is a film noir set in the near future of a large coastal city- after the climate and environment have radically changed, causing rising waters to engulf the city at unpredictable intervals. Our guide through this disturbingly upended society is the Narrator, an operative who works for The Control an agency or a person that/who maintains order in the city-or what is left of it. The Narrator recalls his own version of what daily existence was before the waters began rising. Love, Art, Freedom & Trust converge during the films climax, in the ruins of what was once the city’s beach resort. It was shot off season in Coney Island, soon after Luna Park was opened. There are shots of the late great AstroTower.

WHEN by Marc Kehoe

WHEN, a film by Marc Kehoe. Program 2, September 19, Coney Island Film Festival

“Ruby’s Last Call,” also by Marc Kehoe, was shot on November 6, 2010. (Luckily, Ruby’s later won a reprieve and a lease.)

“Ruby’s Last Call” records what was touted as the last day of business of Ruby’s Bar and Grill, the venerable Coney institution on the Boardwalk between W 12th Street and Stillwell Avenue. Ruby’s, along with other long-term businesses, was threatened with eviction – at very short notice. The film depicts a celebration/protest featuring Ruby’s daughters Cindy and Melody, patrons and concerned citizens- and music by local bands Sean Kershaw and the New Jack Ramblers. The finale features a poetic surprise.

Ruby's Last Call

Michael Sarrel in Ruby’s Last Call, a film by Marc Kehoe

The Plight Of Cecil is the pilot for Carla Rhodes’ upcoming web series starring Cecil Sinclaire and directed by Ed Hellman. Rhodes, who has been a ventriloquist since she was nine, performs monthly at the Slipper Room with her sidekick Cecil in a show featuring burlesque and vaudeville.

“The Plight Of Cecil” is my opus and my attempt to modernize ventriloquism again and break boundaries as an artist. I used such varied inspiration as I Love Lucy, Shari Lewis, The Marx Brothers, Joe Franklin’s Office (for aesthetic purposes) and my head full of geeky ephemera.

I enjoyed adding little touches like casting my actual pet dove, Pearl Friday as Cecil’s secretary. She changes between a real dove and a puppet dove (for action shots) as a throw-back to early TV. I’m such a geek there is even Morse Code in the episode that spells out a hidden message which no one has noticed or deciphered yet. These are little touches that I always loved seeing in TV/film.

The idea behind the series is Cecil Sinclaire is a vaudeville agent in modern times, and I’m his modern assistant. Potential clients come in and audition with the hopes of being added to Cecil’s roster, and each episode is sponsored by a product. Just like early tv!

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September 27, 2010: Video: The Museum of Wax by Charles Ludlam

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This weekend, the 13th Annual Coney Island Film Festival will screen 88 films in 16 different programs beginning with Friday’s opening night film and a kickoff party featuring sideshow, burlesque and an open bar. This year’s selections include films starring Coney Island characters past and present—photographer Matt Weber, sideshow talker Scott Baker, sideshow performer Tyler Fleet AKA Tyler Fyre, Coney Island Dancers “Commander in Chief” Rican Vargas and Ruby’s longtime bartender Sammy Rodriguez. There are also films featuring vampire bikers played by veteran actors from ‘The Warriors,” Coney handball champs, Coney strongmen, and Superstorm Sandy. A special late night screening of “The Warriors” is scheduled for Saturday.

Here are ATZ’s top 10 picks for this year’s Coney Island Film Festival. Yes, all of the films on our must-see list happen to be documentary features or shorts! The last three films are part of the popular Coney Island-themed Program 16 that closes the festival on Sunday night.

More Than the Rainbow – Opening Night- Friday, September 20, 7:30pm

Matt Weber’s striking black and white photos of Coney from the 1980’s –The Atlantis, the ruins of Stauch’s Baths, signage for Philip’s Salt Water Taffy, the Cyclops atop Spook-A-Rama — were our first intro to his work. “I’m very nostalgic, I like things from the the 30s, 40s and 50s,” says the New York City cabbie turned street photographer in this clip that follows him and his young daughter around Coney Island. Couples on the beach, a family in front of Nathan’s and daredevils diving from the pier are among his subjects. Directed by Dan Wechsler with cinematography by Arlene Muller, this engaging character study is set to the music of Thelonius Monk. Documentary feature, 83 minutes.

One Wall: Kings of Coney Island – Program 3 – Saturday, September 21, 3:00pm

From September 25-29, the U.S. Handball Association’s National One-Wall Championships will be held at Coney Island’s Seaside Handball Courts at Surf Avenue and West 5th Street as they have for more than 50 years. If the sport were basketball, volleyball or tennis, chances are you’d know about it already and the names of the players would be on the tip of your tongue. As Coney Island-born handball champ Joe Durso says in Joe Glickman’s film, “You need an iconic figure that can capture the public’s interest. There is no future of handball without such a figure.” The film follows Durso and other athletes as they compete for the championship in 2011. You can watch the trailer on Vimeo. Documentary feature, 86 minutes.

Mad Santa – Program 5- Saturday, September 21, 5:00pm

Mad Santa

The Coney Island Sideshow’s longtime outside talker Scott Baker is a trained actor with many stage and film credits, but we had no idea he is also New York City’s #1 department store Santa. This documentary short by Scott Shire follows “Mad Santa” as he brings seasonal cheer to young and old and tells tales from Christmases past. Baker also appears in two other films at this year’s film festival: The documentary short “The Rehearsal” (Program 15 – Sunday, September 22 – 5:15pm) follows Baker’s rehearsal of his new magic act. “Welcome to Madness” is a horror film set in the world of the theater (Program 8 – Saturday, September 21, 2013 – 8:00pm).

Scattered – Program 5 – Saturday, September 21, 5:00pm

Filmmaker Lindsay Lindenbaum uses home movies from her childhood in the 90s to delve into family memoir and discover the true story of her late father. Based on the riveting trailer, it’s clear he liked to take her to amusement parks. The clips show Six Flags and Wildwood in New Jersey, and Disneyworld as well as local fairs and carnivals in the tri-state area, says Lindenbaum. Earlier this year, she successfully raised more than $13,000 on Kickstarter to complete the film. “I started this film in the fall of 2011, soon after my father passed away. After being estranged from him for most of my life, I was left with many questions that I thought would forever be unanswered. As I started putting the pieces of his life together and delved through over 100 hours of his home movies, I began to see his world and understand his story through his own eyes.” Documentary short, 26:28 minutes

The Commander in Chief – Program 11 – Sunday, September 22 – 1:00pm

Commander in Chief

Photographer and videographer Jim McDonnell’s Coney Island Dancing videos compiling a summer’s worth of dance moves have been something to look forward to every September since 2010. ATZ has enjoyed and posted every one of them. Last year, Jim, who works professionally as a footage guru, got the idea to make a documentary feature about Rican Vargas, the founder and “Commander in Chief” of Coney Island Dancers, and his Boardwalk dance parties. With the idea of showing what is takes to get ready for the season, filming began in the fall, just after Sandy, and ended on the first day of summer at the Mermaid Parade. As it turned out, a few weeks after filming ended, Vargas made claims of racism against some members of the community, went into seclusion, and disbanded Coney Island Dancers, leaving many of his followers baffled by his actions. It will be interesting to see what “Commander in Chief” reveals in retrospect about this charismatic and controversial Coney Island character. Documentary Feature, 77 minutes. World Premiere.

Bending Steel – Program 13 – Sunday, September 22 – 3:00pm

“Bending Steel” opened at the Tribeca Film Festival to stellar reviews and is currently on the film festival circuit with upcoming screenings in Calgary, Maine, Kansas and Florida. Dave Carroll’s documentary touched viewers because the introverted Chris Schoeck doesn’t look the part of an old time strongman nor does he have the panache of a sideshow performer. His quest to become both is inspirational. The film follows Schoeck as he attempts to become a professional strongman, from training in his small basement storage unit and getting pointers from a fraternity of strongmen to his first performance onstage in Coney Island.”The sight of this very strong man tackling a moment of complete vulnerability gives ‘Bending Steel,’ however briefly, the hold-your-breath drama of a fine sports film,” said a review in Hollywood Reporter. Before and immediately after the screening, there will be live strongman demonstrations from three of the films stars–Chris Schoeck, Chris Rider and Adam Realman. Documentary feature, 93 minutes.

The Down Home Daredevils – Program 15 – Sunday, September 22, 5:15pm

Lucky Devil Thrillshow Stereovision Photo

The Lucky Daredevil Thrillshow‘s Tyler Fleet aka Tyler Fyre was the outside talker, fire-eater and sword swallower at Coney Island Circus Sideshow from 1998 till 2004. For the past several years he and his wife “Thrill Kill Jill,” snake charmer and sword swallower, have been touring the country in their Airstream. The arrival of two boys – Hank and Duke – has made for some adorable family photos, not to mention the challenge of juggling their sideshow career with parenthood. The documentary by Corcoran College of Art new media photojournalism students Ben Dorger, Jenny Harnish and Emma Scott follows the family from their home in West Virginia to the Hell City Tattoo Convention in Columbus, Ohio. Documentary Short, 12:07, World Premiere.
(Update October 6, 2013… You can watch the short online here.)

Sammy’s 80th Birthday Party at Ruby’s 2007 – Program 16 – Sunday, September 22, 6:00pm

Sammy Lou Dembrow

Sammy Rodriguez came from Puerto Rico and worked as a porter, fry cook and bartender in Coney Island for six decades. The story goes that he had a job at the spot “under the boardwalk” before Ruby Jacobs bought the place and kept him on. As one of my friends says, “He helped create Ruby’s as we know it.” Sam’s birthday is October 1st. When Lou Dembrow shot “Sammy’s 80th Birthday Party at Ruby’s 2007,” old friends came out to meet and greet the beloved bartender, who had already been retired for five years. Dembrow won Best Documentary Short at the 2012 Coney Island Film Festival for her film about the Wonder Wheel. Documentary short, 4:30 minutes, World premiere.

The Storm – Program 16 – Sunday, September 22, 6:00pm

The Storm Charles Denson

Last October, Coney Island historian Charles Denson took dramatic photos and video of the devastation at Sea Gate on the western end of Coney Island the morning after Hurricane Sandy. He rode out the hurricane in Sea Gate where his apartment flooded up to the windows and his car floated away, ultimately destroyed by the storm surge. The film covers preparation for the storm, the surge at Coney Island and Sea Gate, and the storm’s aftermath. In 2009, Denson’s film “The Prince of Mermaid Avenue” was awarded Best Documentary Feature at the 9th Annual Coney Island Film Festival. You can view some of his films and trailers on his Coneyologist channel on YouTube. Documentary short, 20 minutes. World premiere.

Last Ride…First Ride – Program 16 – Sunday, September 22, 6:00pm

Last Ride First Ride Daniel Turkewitz

When Daniel Turkewitz shot footage at the Eldorado Bumper Cars and Arcade “Last Ride of 2012” party, it wasn’t clear if the famed attraction would reopen for the 2013 season. The lease renewal was up in the air. Posters advertised “Bump Your Ass Off…The End of an Era” and everyone came out to party one last time. There were sideshow stars and go go dancers on the Skeeball lanes and a raffle of Eldorado merchandise. A few days later, the lease came through but the Eldorado was wrecked by Sandy. The documentary chronicles the last ride of 2012 and Gordon Lee’s struggle to reopen in the spring. After the film, everyone will troop next door to the Eldorado for the Coney Island Film Festival Awards Ceremony followed by a spin on the bumper cars. Documentary short, 13:10 minutes. Brooklyn premiere.

The 13th Annual Coney Island Film Festival, September 20 – 22, 2013, at Coney Island USA, 1208 Surf Avenue, Coney Island

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One of the films in ATZ’s “5 Coney Must-Sees at the Coney Island Film Festival” is now on YouTube after premiering over the weekend. “Gotta Love Coney Island” by Brooklyn native and Coney Island regular Jay Singer is frenetic and hypnotic. If you’re at work, you may want to adjust the volume before watching. The soundtrack is Faith No More’s “Woodpecker from Mars.”

Scenes of the filmmaker being catapulted into the sky in Scream Zone’s Slingshot are intercut with vintage footage of Steeplechase Park’s Parachute Jump and Human Pool Table. “It is 275 separate scenes at various speeds composited into a ‘one reel’ experimental film,” Jay told ATZ last week. “The goal was to capture the ‘pulse’ of Coney Island on a busy day, with intercuts of vintage footage filmed by my grandfather alongside contemporary footage of my own.” “Gotta Love Coney Island” is dedicated to Scott Fitlin, the operator and DJ extraordinaire of the Eldorado Bumper Cars, which appears at the beginning of the film.

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Jim McDonnell

The Longest Saturday of the Year, Documentary Short by Jim McDonnell. Photo © Jim McDonnell.

We’re always excited to see the selection of Coney Island-themed films at the Coney Island Film Festival. This year, 16 of the 74 selections are categorized as Coney Island films. ATZ selected five –four shorts and one feature– and asked the filmmakers to send a screengrab and tell us how it fit into the film as a whole. The majority of the filmmakers have been working on their films for at least a year with the idea of entering the 12th annual festival, which runs from September 21 through 23 at Coney Island USA. A schedule of film screenings and ticket info is available here.

Jim McDonnell, an amusement park aficionado whose photos and videos of Coney Island appear frequently on ATZ, had this to say about his entry “The Longest Saturday of the Year”: “The film is a 15-minute synopsis of the Saturday of the Mermaid Parade which technically is the longest Saturday of the year as it’s the first Saturday after the Summer Solstice – it covers from dawn to midnight. More than anything it was an exercise/practice attempt at creating a longer piece than I have previously in my goal of creating a true full length piece in the future. While the Mermaid Parade is definitely the centerpiece of the film, I really tried to capture the full day as well as the large cast of characters and places that make Coney Island such a special place to me.”

The Wonder Wheel

The Wonder Wheel, Documentary Short by Lou Dembrow. Photo © Lou Dembrow

In previous years at the film festival, Lou Dembrow has shown documentary shorts about John Dorman of Philips Candy of Coney Island, which moved to Staten Island after 54 years in Stillwell Terminal, and Jimmy Prince, who retired from Mermaid Avenue’s Major Market after 60 years. This year, in addition to “Jimmy’s Rant,” also featuring Prince, Lou is showing the 18-minute short “The Wonder Wheel” about Coney Island’s oldest ride and the Vourderis family’s loving and labor-intensive maintenance of it. “Landmarked in 1989, the Wonder Wheel is a beloved Coney Island icon,” says the filmmaker. “The film takes a behind the scenes look at the efforts to preserve the historical aspects while embracing innovation.”

“The film was shot in 2008 and 2009,” says Lou, who has been working on it for the past year while learning Final Cut Pro. “This is just the first Wonder Wheel movie, an exercise really. There is so much to show about the care of the wheel: that’s this coming year’s project. I’m just beginning, I am still learning, I am a passionate amateur. I’ll try my best!”

Gotta Love Coney Island

Gotta Love Coney Island, Experimental Film by Jay Singer. Photo © Jay Singer

Brooklyn native and Coney Island regular Jay Singer is a big fan of Scream Zone’s Slingshot. He’s the screamer on the right in the screengrab. “I actually went on it 50 times! Several of my trips are in the movie,” he says of his experimental short “Gotta Love Coney Island,” which is also the name of his website. “The film is only 10 minutes long, but it took me over a year to make, 8 months of editing alone! It is 275 separate scenes at various speeds composited into a ‘one reel’ experimental film. The goal was to capture the ‘pulse’ of Coney Island on a busy day, with intercuts of vintage footage filmed by my grandfather alongside contemporary footage of my own.”

The concept for the film came from a discussion about “the amusement pulse” with Scott Fitlin, the operator and DJ extraordinaire of the Eldorado Bumper Cars. “Originally Scott was going to make the film with me, he contributed a lot of ideas for the basic storyboard and was going to do a sound mix,” says Jay. After Scott’s death in 2010, Jay shelved the project until the birthday gift of a flip video camera reignited his enthusiasm. After the film screening on Sunday, the award ceremony will be at the Eldorado Bumper Cars. There’s also a Saturday night party at the Eldorado Arcade with sideshow entertainers and go-go dancers.

The Wheels by Jack Kyser

The Wheels, Short by Jack Kyser. Photo © Jack Kyser.

Last September, Jack Kyser created an IndieGoGo campaign which successfully raised funds to produce “The Wheels.” The filmmaker describes his 10 minute narrative short as “a very personal story about an alcoholic father and his young son, and a study of their strained relationship over the course of a long day at an amusement park.” The film won the Best Student Film award at the 2012 Metropolitan Film Festival of New York City for Kyser, a third-year film student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

“It was such an honor to get to shoot at the Wonder Wheel!” said Kyser, who filmed at the park one day last October. In one of the key scenes the father and son ride a swinging car. In another they play a water race game in the park. “Harry (Daniel Hasse) asks his father, John (Tom Corbisiero) to play a water gun game,” says Kyser. “John, an alcoholic, struggles to shoot the water gun straight, and Harry, humiliated, eventually sprays his father with his gun.”

“The Wheels,” along with “The Longest Saturday of the Year,” “The Wonder Wheel,” and “Gotta Love Coney Island” and four other Coney-themed shorts screen on Sunday, September 23rd at 6pm.

Lost in Coney Island

Lost in Coney Island, Feature by Eric Rivas. Photo © Eric Rivas

“Lost in Coney Island,” a parody of “The Warriors,” begins with Spade (Eric Rivas) on location in Coney Island ready to shoot a remake of the 1979 cult classic. An argument with his feisty cinematographer and a long-repressed romantic interlude with his production assistant ensue when the actors are late because of a bus accident en route. Life begins to imitate art in the film within a film when the P.A.’s jealous ex incites a real outlaw biker gang to come after the actors. “They were a little more extreme than we were yet we were willing to confront them,” says Rivas. The screengrab above shows the actors playing the Warriors after a training session on the beach.

Rivas, a Brooklynite of Puerto Rican-Argentine heritage tells ATZ that as a teen growing up in Kensington/Boro Park in the late ’80s and early ’90s, he was a member of a crew called the “East 2nd Posse” who identified very deeply with the Warriors. “You stuck together so if anything happened you had each other,” Rivas said. “We considered ourselves The Warriors. We went up against really tough guys. We survived. That’s what life was like growing up in Brooklyn until I was 22 and went on with life.”

For the past decade, making movies has been Rivas’s passion, starting with a video camera on vacation and trading up to a Canon 7-D. During the film shoot, Rivas and his crew struck up a friendship with some of the actors who were the original Warriors. “We’ve got Cleon (Dorsey Wright) and Snow coming to the opening with us and Apache and Cochese (David Harris) hanging with us on Saturday,” says Rivas. “Lost in Coney Island” screens on Saturday, September 22nd at 4pm on a program with five Coney-themed shorts. The Coney Island Film Festival’s annual screening of “The Warriors” is also on Saturday at 10:30pm.

Lost in Coney Island Eric Rivas

Lost in Coney Island, Feature by Eric Rivas. Photo © Eric Rivas

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September 27, 2010: Video: The Museum of Wax by Charles Ludlam

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On opening night of the Coney Island Film Festival, the first film up was Charles Ludlam’s silent horror short “The Museum of Wax,” shot in the late 1970s in Coney’s World in Wax Musee. It is a little gem, but seeing Lillie Santangelo’s long-vanished museum was eerie and sad, especially now that the Henderson Building, where it was located for more than 60 years until closing in 1984, is being demolished to make way for Thor Equities’ strip mall.

Equally eerie and sad was seeing the late and much-missed Charles Ludlam‘s brilliance on the silent screen. Ludlam’s over-the-top performances in campy melodramas like “The Mystery of Irma Vep” at his Ridiculous Theatrical Company in Sheridan Square were a must-see for us in the 1980s.

Unfinished at the time of Ludlam’s death from AIDs in 1987, this rarely seen 16 MM film was remastered by Queer/Art/Film as part of the Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. OutfestLA has also made the 20-minute film available in three parts on their YouTube channel.

At Friday’s screening, Coney Island USA founder and artistic director Dick Zigun referred to the film as “a work of film genius” and noted that it was last screened in Coney Island on Halloween in 1981. The occasion was a day-long theatrical extravaganza called “Tricks or Treats,” which Zigun curated at the Wax Musee. The film was shot in a few days after Zigun introduced Ludlam to Lillie Santangelo, the elderly proprietress of the wax museum. “It was a 100 percent found location,” says Zigun, who had discovered fifty wax heads, which appear in the film, in the museum’s storage area.

“Not much was planned. It was just go for it,” recalled actor Everett Quinton, who was Ludlam’s partner and muse. Quinton, who appears as the second convict in the film, compared it to “the unfinished Michelangelo sculptures that lead up to the David. It is unfinished.” According to Outfest’s website, until the recent digital re-mastering and the addition of a new score by original composer Peter Golub, “Museum of Wax” had not been seen in over 20 years.

In an act of programming genius by Coney Island Film Festival director Rob Leddy, “The Wax Museum” shared the opening night bill with “Shape of the Shapeless,” a new documentary exploring the gender bending life and performance art of Jon Cory aka Rose Wood, and the effervescent “Dirty Martini and the New Burlesque,” which won best documentary feature.

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CI film festNext weekend, the 10th Annual Coney Island Film Festival will screen 90 films in 17 different programs after Friday’s opening night screening and kickoff party. The must-see list includes JL Aronson’s “Last Summer at Coney Island,” Gary Beeber’s “Dirty Martini and the New Burlesque,” and a special event honoring Darren Aronofsky and a screening of his “Requiem for a Dream.” Our selection of SFW teaser trailers from films in the festival begins after the jump.

ATZ attends the Coney Island-themed programs every year and this year is no exception. Here’s a shout out to our friends who are premiering films in Program 13 on Sunday, Sept. 26, at 2 pm! “Gizmo Kaleidoscope,” an experimental short by artist Susan Shaw, is described as “a multilayered love poem to Coney Island. It’s like being inside a ****ing pinball machine.” (Not our asterisks!). In the short “Coney Island: Secrets of the Universe” by historian Charles Denson, “Coney’s iconic cosmology comes into play when a mysterious crypto-governmental force seeks domination of the island.” Photographer and filmmaker Lou Dembrow’s documentary “Last Night in Astroland with Jimmy Prince” features the owner of Mermaid Avenue’s Major Market.

Ticket prices range from $6 for the majority of screenings to $45 for a weekend pass. Some of the programs, including a special screening of “The Warriors,” are expected to sell out, so it’s best to purchase tickets in advance via the festival’s website. Kudos to Indie Rob Leddy for once again assembling a stellar selection and Happy Tenth Anniversary!

Opening Night, Friday, September 24th…”Shape of the Shapeless” by Jayan Cherian. “This documentary tells the story of the spiritual quest of a performer, a yogi, and an artisan who transgresses the boundaries of traditional notions of body, gender, and sexuality.”

Program 6, Saturday, 6 pm…”Last Summer at Coney Island” by JL Aronson, Feature. “Coney Island is known throughout the world as the birthplace of the hot dog, the roller coaster and popular culture itself. But Coney Island is not what it used to be and the area has lingered for years as a specter of its former magnificence. Now, after years of false starts, change is coming. This film profiles a legendary amusement park at the precipice of transformation; a time and place where every summer feels like that last.”

Program 9, Saturday, 9 pm…”Springtime in November” by Jane Dorogoyer. Documentary. “A pastiche of playful images and heartfelt emotions from a Coney Island Polar Bear Club wintertime swim off the beach of Coney Island.”

Program 15, Sunday, 4 pm… “Gelber & Manning in Pictures” by James Lester. A short pilot featuring a vaudeville couple trying to keep from being torn apart in an era when gangsters ruled and burlesque sizzled.

The Coney Island Film Festival. September 24-26, 2010, at Coney Island USA, 1208 Surf Avenue, Coney Island

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August 28, 2010: Video: Grand Prize Winner of Luna Park Coney Island’s Film Contest!

March 30, 2010: Super 8 Movie: I Had A Dream I Went To Coney Island

September 27, 2010: Video: The Museum of Wax by Charles Ludlam

September 28, 2009: Q & A with Filmmaker Craig Butta: “Sea Legs” at the Coney Island Film Festival

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Last October, Sherwin Akbarzadeh’s experimental film “I Had A Dream I Went to Coney Island” came all the way from Australia to premiere in Brooklyn at the 2009 Coney Island Film Festival. Now this evocative eight millimeter movie is up on YouTube as a submission for Berlin’s Road Junky Film Festival. You’ll catch a glimpse of the stars shining on Astroland’s vanished Surf Ave. Gate at 2:20…

The Road Junky Travel Film Festival is offering 1500 euros in prizes for five minute films that change the way we see the world. On May 28, travelers and film makers will converge in Berlin to screen their documentaries and stream them live over the internet as they’re shown. Submission deadline: April 10, 2010.

Call for entries for the 2010 Coney Island Film Festival, named one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals” by MovieMaker Magazine, is open as well. The 10th annual event is set for September 24-26, 2010 at Sideshows by the Seashore and the Coney Island Museum. Submission deadlines: April 23, 2010. Late deadline: June 25, 2010. Extended deadline: July 2, 2010. Check festival website for details.

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