Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oct 11: It don't pay to be an honest citizen at Freebird

Sunday, October 11, 7 pm

The Word on Columbia Street and Freebird Books host a rare screening of


Join us in the outdoor lot next to Freebird for refreshments and commentary from the director, Jacob Burckhardt.

Shot in and around Columbia Street twenty five years ago, the film features the debut of Vincent D’Onofrio as well as a cast of amateur thespians including William Burroughs (as a mafia don), Allen Ginsberg (posing as a lawyer), recent MacArthur genius Rakestraw Downes (as an angry lunch counter proprietor), filmmaker and photographer Rudy Burckhardt (as a raving bum), and poet Reed Bye (as the film’s erstwhile protagonist).

Based on the director’s own absurd experience being mugged in Red Hook in the late 1970s, the movie centers on the efforts of Reed Bye’s character to retrieve a precious canister of film. Though the muggers (portrayed in part by D’Onofrio) are caught immediately, the reel remains elusively out of his grasp. To recover it he must spar with the neighborhood’s most illustrious residents—legit and other.

IT DON'T PAY TO BE AN HONEST CITIZEN captures the community in the throes of transition, after containerization had brought an end to longshoremen culture and taken the teeth out of local gangs like the Gallos, but before gentrification became widespread. Filmed all along the waterfront it showcases now defunct bars and luncheonettes, familiar landmarks (including the interior of the 76th precinct headquarters), and buildings lost to the wrecking ball. One notable scene was shot inside an abandoned church at President and Van Brunt once famous as a Gallo hangout but later destroyed in the aftermath of a botched city sewer line.

Director Jacob Burckhardt and some of the cast members drawn from the neighborhood will be on hand to answer questions about the making of the film. Including, why is Midwesterner William Burroughs playing a cosa nostra kingpin?...

When: Sunday, October 11, 7 pm

Where: In the lot next to Freebird Books, 123 Columbia Street (between Kane and Degraw)

Image above from Gothamist. See a Gothamist interview with Director Jacob Burckhardt from a couple years back here.

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