“TRUE NEW YORK”
Five Award-winning Short Documentaries about New York City
New York is a city of stories as it should be with 8 million people living there. In fact, I bet everyone that visits New York has a story as well— I know I do. About three years ago as I was checking into a hotel, the desk clerk asked if I was “the Amos Lassen” and I asked who is “the Amos Lassen”? Come to find out that I had reviewed his book some years earlier.
“True New York” is a compilation anthology film that features five award-winning short documentaries set in New York City.
Jordan Roth’s “C-ROCK” looks at the Bronx tradition and it features stunning cinematography and staggering footage of cliff diving. We see a group of Bronx boys who leap off the 100-foot tall cliff known as “C-Rock” and into the Harlem River. This is a dangerous rite of passage going back generations in the Bronx that captures the rawness of youth while at the same time revealing a wistful nostalgia for a changing neighborhood. Together, boys on C-Rock face jumps up to 110 feet into the Harlem River and they know that by growing up, they have to leave this thrilling tradition behind.
“TAXI GARAGE” from director Joshua Z. Weinstein is a powerful and touching look inside a taxi depot in Queens filled with classic New York personalities and immigrants who dream of making it in America. The film focuses on Johnnie “Spider” Footman, a colorful man in this eighties who has been a cab driver his entire life and it today the oldest taxi driver in New York City.
Jeremy Workman in his “ONE TRACK MIND” shares the story of Philip Coppola, who has over forty years been to cataloging, archiving, and sketching every station in the New York City subway system. Coppola is a man whose obsession is the unique artistic idiosyncrasies. Using his own resources, he has self-financed a multi-volume “study” of the design-work found within New York’s underworld. It came to be long ago and is unnoticed by most. The buildings are made up of mosaic, tin-glazed earthenware, terra cotta, tile, and steel. Coppola’s passion is shared only by a few others. The documentary was shot almost entirely in the subway system in post-9/11 New York.
“A SON’S SACRIFICE” from Yoni Brook is a classic immigrant story and father/son tale. Imran is just another 27-year-old New Yorker struggling to take over his family’s business, which happens to be a halal slaughterhouse in Queens. Imran has to deal with his mixed Bangladeshi-Puerto Rican heritage and gain acceptance from his father’s conservative community.
“BLACK CHEROKEE” directed by Sam Cullman and Benjamin Rosen looks at street performer Otis Houston Jr., a self-taught artist from Harlem who performs before a captive audience of car-bound commuters along Manhattan’s FDR Drive. The film is a meditation on family, inspiration, creativity and success. It gives us a chance to see Houston’s unique charisma and art.