Posts Tagged ‘documentary film’

Restaurants with amusement rides in the U.S. tend to be of the Chuck E. Cheese variety, but deep in a forest in Treviso, Italy, the Osteria Ai Pioppi offers a magical playground of handmade, human-powered amusement rides. The documentary “Ai Pioppi” released last week on Vimeo, where it was a staff pick, features a tantalizing peek at the park and an interview with Ai Pioppi’s creator.


Homemade Slide at Ai Pioppi, Treviso, Italy. Photo via aipioppi.com

“The first big ride I made was that iron slide and that was forty years ago,” says Bruno, who built the rides in his workshop after learning how to weld. “At that time it was big news. There were not many strange rides like that.”

Ai Pioppi

Homemade Roller Coaster at Ai Pioppi, Treviso, Italy. Photo via aipioppi.com

Ai Pioppi’s swings, gyroscopes and roller coasters call to mind the hand-cranked carousels of the earliest days of amusement ride history and the Swingin’ Gym carnival ride of the 1960s. The source of Bruno’s inspiration? “A branch falls, a leaf floats down, a stone rolls. And I say to myself. Maybe I can use this movement. That’s how my ideas are born.”

Beautifully photographed by Coleman Guyon and written by Luiz Romero, the documentary was produced by a team from Treviso-based Fabrica, a communications research center, studio and school.

Ai Pioppi

Homemade Gyro Gym at Ai Pioppi, Treviso, Italy. Photo via aipioppi.com


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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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Zipper, Coney Island.  Photo © brooklynnfoto via flickr

Zipper, Coney Island. Photo © brooklynnfoto via flickr

A tweet from zipperfilm, aka documentary filmmaker Amy Nicholson, made us feel happy and sad at the time: “On our way back from shooting in Honduras. The Zipper is alive and well and scaring the crap out of kids on a beach there. Viva la Zipper!”

It makes us smile to think Coney Island’s beloved Zipper ride, which was evicted by Thor Equities in September 2007, has found new life as an expat. It makes us sad that nearly three years after the Zipper was dismantled and trucked away, its spot on West 12th Street remains empty and devoid of fun. Call it Thorland instead of Coney Island because real estate speculator Joe Sitt has managed to erase amusements from the property and blight the block.

Before Thor: View of W 12th Street with Go Karts and Zipper. April 15, 2006. Photo © frankko via flickr

Before Thor: View of W 12th Street with Go Karts and Zipper. April 15, 2006. Photo © frankko via flickr

The Honduras footage will provide a satisfying coda to “The Last Day of the Zipper,” which Nicholson and cinematographer Jerry Risius have been working on for the past three years. We’ve been looking forward to their film ever since we met the duo on the last day of Coney Island’s 2007 season. A synopsis posted on twitter says “A small-time carnival operator is forced to sell his ride and vacate his lot when he becomes the victim of a power struggle over the future of Coney Island.”

On the Zipper film’s newly launched website, the intro shows Zipper operator Eddie Miranda uncannily disappearing and reappearing on the empty lot. “A story about politics, greed, land use and public policy, Last Day of the Zipper chronicles a critical period in Coney Island’s history and examines the impact of redevelopment on a place that has always provided affordable entertainment for the masses. In a market driven world, where revenue and profits often trump nostalgia, Eddie and his Zipper may only be the beginning of what is lost.”

We don’t expect THE Zipper to ever come back to Coney Island, but wouldn’t it be nice to see some kickass carnival rides including a replacement Zipper and Go-Karts on Thor’s empty lots this summer? Let the countdown till Summer of Hope 2 or Dreamland 3 begin!

Thorland, August 2, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Thorland, August 2, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr


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March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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January 8, 2010: Coney Island 2010: Good Riddance to Thor Equities Flopped Flea Market, Hello Rides?

October 30, 2009: Video: Joe Sitt Talks Sharing his Coney Island Sandbox, Hotels & Brazil

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