It was fitting that the Coney Island Film Festival opened last Friday night with a horror oriented documentary as Coney itself felt like the set of an eerie horror movie with it’s lights all off. No sound of the Cyclone and no Wonder Wheel lights, just darkness on Surf Avenue, the only things open were the bumpercars, a deli and Nathan’s.
The festival however was happening, particularly on Friday night. The sold out opening film American Scary took a fun look at television horror movie hosts from all over America. Apparently Ohio was the hotbed of these TV shows, and there were even some folks who drove all the way from Ohio to see this movie! I was fascinated with the interview with Vampira, who is now in her 80’s and living on social security in Hollywood. The producer, Sandy Clarke, graciously answered my barrage of questions about her later at the opening party. Did you know that Vampira is an ex-dominatrix that channeled Dostoevsky and Nora Desmond to get into her character? Well now ya do.
Oh yeah, the party! Lots of fun, great entertainment and a very chatty mix of people. Here's some photos……Actors from "King of Sorrow". They were in from L.A .(can ya tell?!) Kim Coates (center) told me he found the Coney Island Film Festival atmosphere as "nothing he had ever experienced in a festival before" when I chatted with him. I hadn't clue that he was a big budget Hollywood actor who was in "Black Hawke Down" and movies like that...Sandy Clarke, Producer of "American Scary".The Reverend Jen & burlesque performer "Pookie Patootie"Party host The Great Fredini in his street clothes, I apologize for not getting him in his fab black velvet rhinestone suit! ( F.I.B needs a camera that takes pictures indoors!) He is on the board of directors at Coney Island U.S.A and told me that they bought the building in August and next on their agenda is raising $600,000 to get heat and air conditioning installed. Art Auctions are starting to be planned to help reach this goal in the upcoming months. P.S- He told me "on the record" that he thinks Astroland will be leveled and barren next summer.
I went back on Saturday and saw many films, both features and shorts. Highlights for me were:
Celluloid #1” Steve Stasso. A beautifully filmed Warholian style feature about self-destructive celebrity (think Lindsey, Paris & Britney but with brains). Lots of dialogue, sex, drugs and mental unraveling but done with a sense of humor.
“Night of the Living Gay” Lola Rock’N’Rolla Hilarious John Waters style zombie movie starring the World Famous *BoB*,whom also performed at the opening party.
King of Sorrow Damian Lee. A dark and VERY disturbing film about a crack smoking cop. Not done with a sense of humor!
“Coney Island” Ramen Cromwell. Romantical film about a guy with a miserable home & work life who meets and then hangs out with a woman who he thinks is a mermaid for the day.
This festival closed out yet another fantastic (yet tumultuous) summer at Coney Island U.S.A . Rob Leddy, Film Festival Director and also of indiefilmpage.com co-presented this festival with Coney Island USA and all involved did a fab job supporting these underdogs and treating them like the stars that they are!