2008-06-13 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

The Rockaway Literary Arts And Film Festival

The Best Of Rockaway Comes To Fort Tilden

AWave Review By Columnist Norman Scott

Congratulations to Stuart Mirsky and the supporting crew for their efforts this past weekend. Attendance wasn't what one would have hoped, but that old heat wave will send people at a beach community to, guess where? I was not at the beach, but happy I got to meet legendary DJ Pete Fornatale, now a Rockaway resident. He signed his new book on Simon & Garfunkle's "Bookends" album. Pete is one of the few Djs and commentators on music who doesn't just spin records but puts things together in interesting ways so get a deeper understanding. I remember when he played the Beach Boys "California Girls" juxtaposed with the Beatles' "Back in the USSR" and I went "Eureka!" (OK, so I was a little behind musically at the time.) Don't miss his "Mixed Bag" show on Saturdays from 4-8pm on WFUV (90.7fm).

The festival was dedicated to the memory of the wonderful patron of the arts in Rockaway, Barbara Eisenstadt, whose filmmaking daughter Debra and son-in-law Brett Morgan (also Rockaway residents - are we becoming the artistic capital of the world, or what?) both showed their films, which I enjoyed very much. Brett's film about producer Robert Evans ("The Kid Stays in the Picture)" was at Sundance and Cannes and is one of the most uniquely edited films I've seen, especially from the viewpoint of someone who has done some film editing.

Brett's latest is "Chicago 10," about the trial of protesters at the 1968 Chicago democratic convention. One commentator on a blog said: " it reenergized me politically which is important with elections around the corner… it's been far too long since I've seen something like Chicago 10 on the big screen, something that speaks to revolution and the forces that try to stop it." (Do we have another leftie like me in Rockaway to battle it out with Stu Mirsky?) Being involved with a lot of people working on social justice issues, I look forward to seeing it.

Brett said he is basing his production company here in Rockaway (he recently filmed a Bank of America commercial on 129th St. and is opening an office on 116th St.) Make sure to comb your hair whenever you leave your house. You never know when you will be tapped as an extra.

Brett should take a look at the BloomKlein debacle as part of the attack on public Ed all over the nation. Such a film would make Michael Moore's "Sicko" look sick and pale in comparison.

Speaking of film, Bob Sarnoff's "Dispatch" was shown, a film I spent a year working on with my partner Mark Rosenhaft as co-producers, editors and cinematographers. We played a major role in structuring the film, which began life as a documentary based on Rockaway's Belle Rock car service but morphed into something else - a mixture of fact and fiction.

Mark and I were not comfortable with the direction the film took, but we continued to work on it because we love the process of shaping a film in the editing room. At some early screenings, the question of ethics was raised in terms of leading the audience to think they are watching a documentary but switching gears on them midstream, so that at the end it is not clear what was fact or fiction. A filmmaking friend of ours said he felt "betrayed" after investing a certain amount of time in watching the film and then realizing it was not what it seemed. But this could be considered "artistic license" or "creative non-fiction" and I think the concept can work. I hope to explore this further using "Dispatch" as an example when I have time this summer. Can you write a review of a film you co-produced? Call it artistic license.

Mark and I have used some of the footage to cut a much shorter straight documentary version focused on Belle Rock dispatcher Jim Urban, which we have tentatively titled "Belle Rock." We're still not sure whether we like it enough to take it further, but at least the year we invested in making "Dispatch" has resulted in a documentary along the lines we started out to make. And we feel better ethically.

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