Walking along the boardwalk at Coney Island Beach on a hot summer day giving out my promotional “Margarita Island” cards. Back and forth I walk giving them out to potential customers who look like they can use a frozen drink. I decided to take a break and lay out on the sand to enjoy the cool sea breeze, then I spot some people setting up a huge blow up movie screen. Curious about what is going on I decide to go check it out. I gathered my things and strolled over. There I saw a “TriBeCa Film Festival” tent with people promoting a viewing of some short films on the beach that night. Excited and intrigued I decided to stick around to check it out.
Around eight o’clock people started gathering on the sand with their folding chairs and blankets in front of the huge inflated movie screen. I went to get a coffee and a snack for myself and at a quarter to nine I claimed my spot on the sand. Nine o’clock the first documentary came on about the artist John Baldessari.
Baldessari is known for conceptional works featuring found photography and appropriated images. He started creating art in the 60’s in California. Baldessari started out as a painter then in the 70’s worked with print, video, installation, sculpture, and photography. He created thousands of works and they are featured in over 200 exhibitions around the world.
One of my favorites of the night a documentary about some of the history surrounding the beginning of Coney Island, “Under the Coaster“. Telling the story about one of Coney Island’s most influential ladies, Mae Timpano.
Mae lived underneath the Thundebolt with long time love and companion Freddy Moran. The documentary illustrated some of the memories the couple shared at Coney Island and the taboo that came along with a Catholic girl hanging around a Jewish boy. Mae was by Freddy’s side up until the day he passed away. Mae stayed inside the tiny house under the coaster until is was torn down. Coney Island was no longer the same, infested with violent gangs and drugs. Mae Timpano, Miss Coney Island herself passed away in 2005. Taking the fond memories of the coaster and the Brooklyn beach with her.
Creative yet odd documentary called “Bottle” which is an animated film about the beach during different seasons. Showing the beach in the warm weather with a figure made out of sand and in the winter with the figure made out of snow. The documentary illustrated the journey of the empty glass bottle using the animated figures as they move like clay or play-doo.
This documentary hit everyone pretty hard being New Yorkers and most of us actually experiencing this tragic event first hand, Sept 11, 2001 the collapsing of the Twin Towers. It showed actual real life footage of that day and what happened through this young film makers eyes. This footage was amazing and some footage I have never seen of the attack on New Yorkers. The real shock, terror, and panic on people’s faces. Dust and debri from the fallen towers filling the air and covering the ground and people.
The film also captured stories of the individual experiences of the young people who lived and worked around the World Trade Center buildings. One young female talking about how it affected her life and how things are forever changed in the city. Another young female talking about how it shifted media coverage in the city. How it created panic, hate, and frenzy. Noticing what was once all over the news didn’t seem so important or dangerous. The terrorist took media away from minority based crimes and shifted the focus.
Certainly not the last film of the festival but the last one I will talk about. It is called, “Pioneer” and it is the story of a man’s journey who he is telling his son at bedtime. As you hear more of the story you realize that it is way too graphic for a child that age, but it is a story he needs to hear. The story of how this man survived a war, met his mother and fell in love with her. He built a home in the woods for them to live, until she was killed. She was pregnant and the baby she was carrying was no where to be found. The little boy was the baby and his purpose in life was to take care of this miracle baby. Protect this child and teach him to find his purpose because we all have one. To find the reason why we are still alive on this earth.
It was certainly a treat to catch this rare free viewing of these artist TriBeCa films. These film creators worked hard in making these productions and I am upset I didn’t get to camp out for the entire show. I am not sure when the TriBeCa film team packed it up but I left around 10:15p. Satisfied on what I had seen and keeping in mind that it was getting late and I have spent the entire day at the beach already. I will definitely be waiting for the next big event at the beach. You never know what you will see at Coney Island, Brooklyn’s most exciting summer location.