Tuesday, June 24, 2008

2008 Festival - A Smashing Success

In its second year, the festival grew in ways we only dreamed of. The rain this year was a colossal bummer for the first few days but hearty film fans still showed up to fill the tent in the wind, thunder, and rain most nights.

The true capacity of the festival was reached on the beautiful nights of Thursday and Friday with around 750 people filling the beach both nights. Barbeque night was a hit and brought
 NYC barbeque pitmasters Robbie Richter, Scott Smith, and Andrew Fishel to the beach. Robbie and his team made a barbeque chicken with a Birmingham, Alabama inspired white sauce as
 Scott and Andrew turned out succulent pulled pork sandwiches. A line of over 200 waited for free samples of both and over 150 pounds of barbeque were handed out. It was the perfect food for the screening of Max Shores' Holy Smoke Over Birmingham. We also screened Matthew Graves and Joe York's The Rise of Southern Cheese and had excellent Woolwich Dairy goat cheese and Jarlsberg to match.

On Friday we began the night with the first ever NYC Food Film Festival Awards Show. For the 2008 winners click here. To see the official festival Slotted Spoon Award click here. Best Feature went to Craig Noble director of Tableland who came in from Vancouver, BC for his
 screening that night. The soon-to-be-prestigious Food Filmmaker of the Year award went to Donna Lennard for her involvement with the festival supplying an olive oil tasting for 200, for allowing the festival to premiere her film La Raccolta, and for the promise that she'll make more food films. We heard a rumor that a salt film is in the works. Director Adly Rizal from Malaysia understandably could not make it to Water Taxi Beach to accept an award for his super-short The Sloppiest Burger in Malaysia, but he emailed an acceptance speech that was played for the crowd of 750.
The feature of closing night was Craig Noble's Tableland which was matched with a vegan tasting menu made from local ingredients and prepared by Chef Matteo.

Overall the 2008 festival was an unequivocal success. Next year will be even better and we are already planning fun events. Cooking demos matched with films are planned at a yet-t0-be-announced Manhattan event space. Harry and I are also planning on re-creating a huge drive-in movie experience in the enormous commuter parking lot at the beach complete with the audio dialed into your AM radio and food delivered to your car...stay tuned.

The call for entries will go out a bit earlier this year (mid-November) giving us more time to plan. See you next year.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Currywurst, Pizza, and Olive Oil

It has been quite a week. Following the free cheesesteak extravaganza and a day off, the NYC Food Film Festival braved the rain once again and celebrated the Berlin street food Currywurst with a screening of Grace Lee's Best of the Wurst. We closed the evening with Su Friedrich's portrait of coffee production From the Ground Up and we thank Su for being on hand for the screening. We'd also like to thank the hearty souls that ventured out to the beach on such a soggy night. We are considering changing the name of the festival to the NYC Food Film & Weather Festival since the thunder, lightning, and torrential rain are becoming part of the entertainment.

On Tuesday, the festival successfully moved to Brooklyn for one night and we actually lucked out on the weather. It was a beautiful night and around 175 people crammed into the parking lot between Toro Asian Fusion and Grimaldi's Pizzaria to watch three short films. The owner of Toro, who generously donated his lot for the evening, spent the day with a large crew cleaning out the lot so we could set up the screen and 50 rental chairs. It was a great NYC social
experiment in free cinema that even attracted Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz who came by to say a few words to the audience. Directors Fabrizia Galvagano and Julia Haslett were on hand for the screening of their Pure and Simple as well as the star of their pizza film Anthony Mangieri from Una Pizza Napoletana. Grimaldi's surprised the crowd by sending over 10 pies for tasting that were quickly devoured. The event went so well that I promised to be back in the same parking lot next year for the screening of my yet-to-be-completed documentary Brooklyn Pizza.

last night we were back on the beach and greeted by more weather. A brief downpour around 6:30 forced us to set up once again in the enormo-tent for the World Premiere of Donna Lennard's La Raccolta (The Harvest). The event was heavily publicized so despite the weather hundreds showed up. We also screened the award-winning A Love Supreme (accompanied by hand-made samosas) and The Mighty Humble Blueberry (Harry's tasty blueberry gin drinks were available). Thanks to director Nancy O'Mallon for attending the screening of her blueberry film as well as the creators of The Death and Life of Ice Cream who showed up to see their internet sensation on the big screen. A HUGE thanks goes out to Donna Lennard who was on-hand to offer the enormous crowd toasts drizzled with the olive oil portrayed in her film.

Tonight is barbeque night. Bring your appetite and feast on pulled pork from R.U.B. and chicken prepared by the award-winning Queens pitmaster Robbie Richter. To accompany all that 'que is the film Holy Smoke Over Birmingham.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cheesesteak Heaven

Wow what an opening night! The rain dumped from the sky, thunder roared, lighting struck something in the parking lot, and Manhattan disappeared into the think clouds, but AMAZINGLY 200+ hearty souls still showed up to the first night of the 2008 festival. Thankfully, we were all crammed into but dry under the enormo-tent. I called the audience 'nuts, but smart', smart because they were the ones who would benefit from eating authentic Philly cheesesteaks, made by Tony Luke III (pictured holding my cheesesteak) who came up from Philly in the pounding rain with enough ingredients for hundreds of cheesesteaks. Last night, those smart filmgoers were able to eat the real thing while watching Ben Daniels ode to his favorite sandwich This Is My Cheesesteak. A huge thanks goes out to Tony Luke's for supplying free cheesesteaks for the crowd, to Ben Daniels for flying in from LA for the event, and to all those who attended. I can only imagine how big the crowd would have been had the weather been better. A big thanks also goes out to Amy Levine from the film Donut Day who also came in from Michigan for the screening of her film. See you Monday at the beach (check the schedule).

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Festival Starts Tonight!

The rain will not deter us! If it rains tonight we'll be under the huge tent at Water Taxi Beach. Tony Luke III is coming up from Philly and bringing with him enough meat and rolls for over 200 authentic cheesesteaks and Tony himself will be manning the griddle. Director Ben Daniels (pictured) of This Is My Cheesesteak will be at the beach as well as Director Amy Levine from the film Donut Day. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Festival Trailer is Complete

Each year I create a montage of the films screening in the festival. I just showed this year's to the wife and she said it was 'great'. It's so good not because I'm such a great editor but because the selection of films we have this year are first-rate. The music for the trailer was graciously donated by friends of mine in the NYC blues band French Cookin' Blues Band and was originally recorded for a scene in my film Hamburger AmericaClick here to view the trailer and make plans to come to the beach mid-June for the festival!